Monday, November 21, 2011

I Will

Robert Bunter: An interesting case. In the midst of The White Album's dark moods and unsettling undercurrents, McCartney offers a slight, seemingly inconsequential love song. You're thinking to yourself: well, of course he did. That's his modus operandi. But I think there's more than meets the eye here. By shoehorning this lightweight "Beatles VI" outtake (it's not really, I'm trying to make a point about its anachronistic sound while offering the usual scornful derision for the Capital/American butcher albums) onto the uncontested heavyweight champion of heavy Beatles records, I think Paul was trying to prove a point to his sullen, sardonic colleagues. There's nothing wrong with simple tunes of limited ambition but lovely sentiment; if the lyrics seem corny or half-baked, it's because you've spent too much time swilling acid segments, screaming about your childhood or pondering the infinite in Rishikesh. This is a nice melody and it will be selected by young newlyweds for untold future generations as their first dance. They will look into each others' eyes and smile gently while shuffling awkwardly to the mild gallop of the beat and vocalized bassline. For them, "Piggies" and "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" are worthless. They're just trying to enjoy the moment of a lifetime and then hopefully sit down and get a chance to try the roast beef without being constantly interrupted by well-wishers. These are the nice moments of life.

Richard Furnsten: I agree completely. Imagine leaving the dank overcoat and toothless grime of London for the cheerful kurtas and toothless majesty of Rishikesh. I'm frankly surprised that The Beatles didn't write more variations on "Butterfly Kisses" in that setting. Mike Love alone could be inspired to write endless Indian fingerpicked fantasies about does gently lapping the pools of an emerald waterfall. "I Will" is a true wonder. Paul's melody is one of his guaranteed red stamp all time "how did this not exist before Paul wrote it" treasures. John throws on a bunch of percussion without slipping in his old British lady voice or making jokes about erections or disabled people. Ringo plays some nice bongos and boy oh boy I wish there were some beautiful photographs of him hitting the calf skins on this session. The visual in my brain is striking and I wish the rest of the world could see it.

Robert Bunter: You know, I don't think "I Will" was among the tracks the boys previewed to each other on the Esher demos. Hold on, let me consult my copy of "From Kinfauns To Chaos" disc one. Wait a sec.

Richard Furnstein: Oh for chrissake. The fact that you still rely on "Kinfauns" for your Esher demos needs instead of something credible like the Acoustic Masterpieces box, the purplechick bootleg master, or one of the lovely Vigotone editions is total proof that you are out of your element.

Robert Bunter: What? I'm back. Nope, "I Will" was not on the Esher demos. That actually makes some sense; two of the White Album songs that sound most like Esher demos ("Blackbird" and "I Will") were not actually recorded on that magical, mythical day. The mostly-solo acoustic presentation, with lo-fi recording ambience and playful background percussion is a beautiful setting for Beatlemusic. I wish they'd done more of it. Luckily I'll always have my copy of "From Kinfauns To Chaos!"

Ringo plays some nice bongos and boy oh boy I wish there were some beautiful photographs of him hitting the calf skins on this session. The visual in my brain is striking and I wish the rest of the world could see it.

Richard Furnstein: Makes complete sense to me. Why do you need to demo "I Will" and "Blackbird"? They both just existed in the magical air before Sir Paul could conjure the collective melody dust and present the gift of vision to the world. You don't need to record loose acoustic versions in George Harrison's house to preserve these fleeting melodies (no offense to John, who dominates the Esher sessions). "I Will" isn't a delicate song despite its wispy qualities. "I Will" was meant to exist eventually. It's structure and lyric were a gift from God. He just decided that the world was ready for this song in 1967. God let a lot of cavemen go to hell before he decided to drop Jesus into their lives. Paul is indeed the light.

Robert Bunter: The placement of "I Will" in the crazy tracklisting of the White Album is worth mentioning. Paul flaunts his bad-boy side with the freaky blues grease of "Why Don't We Do It In The Road," then does an abrupt 180 into cutesy-Romeo mood with "I Will." Our ears are becoming accustomed to the low-key acoustic sound palette, which John proceeds to deploy to devastating effect in "Julia." The Beatles displayed more emotional range and breadth of inspiration in that single three-song excerpt than most other bands manage to conjure in an entire career. I'm talking about limited artists like Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, the Cars, Joni Mitchell, Tribe Called Quest and Radiohead. I'm sorry but it's the real truth.

Richard Furnstein: Sure, but pick any three song stretch on The Beatles and prepare for a mindblow. "Honey Pie"->"Savoy Truffle"->"Cry Baby Cry"? Complete annihilation, man. And that's like the weakest corridor on that album!

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