Friday, April 13, 2012

Got To Get You Into My Life

Richard Furnstein: Welcome to the Revolver building. Why yes, this building does have a thirteenth floor. Great question, young man. Let's check it out. (Elevator door opens to beefy horn blasts.) Now, you may ask, is this really The Beatles? Sure, we love them for their hard charging rock like "It Won't Be Long" and loping jangle of "Ticket To Ride," but this sounds like alien soul music. The horn arrangement sounds like ambulances powering down a highway in the middle of the night. Ringo and Paul are united in this discrete (and surprisingly) gentle pulse, defined more by tambo slaps than the deep groove explorations like "Paperback Writer."

Robert Bunter: Huh? What’s that? You’ll have to excuse me, I was just picking my face up from the floor because it’s been blasted off by this high-powered Beatles track. Whoo-whee. SHAKE IT! Let’s talk about album sequencing – this would have made a fantastic opening track for Revolver, with its expectant mood and surging exuberance. Any other band would have done that, but, characteristically, the Beatles had a better idea. By placing “Got To Get You Into My Life” second-to-last on side two of what has already been an astonishingly brilliant album, they create the surprising impression that the record is actually gaining new momentum as it nears the finish line. Then, of course, they up the ante dramatically with “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Game over. Revolver is a microcosm of the exponential development arc of the Beatles’ pre-White Album career. It starts out great, then it just gets better and better and better. Better than you ever could have dreamed. Then, all of a sudden, it gets 500 times better than that. Hyperbole? THAT’S AN UNDERSTATEMENT.

Richard Furnstein: You're not wrong! Listen, "Got To Get You Into My Life" is a top ten song. "But The Beatles have a ton of great songs, Richard. How can you say that?" Listen, man. I'm not talking top ten Beatles, I'm talking top ten all time. I couldn't tell you if it's about drugs or love or sunshine, but I can tell you that hearing this song is as close as we humans will come to actually levitating. I'm talking gliding down the sidewalks like in a classic Spike Lee trolley shot, the gladiolas blur past our faces stunned in bliss. Are we heading towards the sun? Of course we are. Good Lord, there may be two suns in the sky. Anything is possible right now.

Robert Bunter: Did you hear McCartney on Fresh Air the other week? Terry asks him if he felt concerned about notions of authenticity when they were young, white English kids attempting to play American rock and R & B. Paul says something like, “We weren’t sophisticated enough to worry about stuff like that, we just thought it was fun to have a go. We knew we couldn’t compete with the masters.” That’s exactly the point: American music styles (in this case, Motown/Stax) were just more dabs of paint on the palette. They could plunder and appropriate genres for their strengths, without feeling any need to prove their authenticity. British artists who didn’t learn from this wise example fell flat on their faces. Listen to Eric Burdon’s putrid bellowing or the flatulence of Alvin Lee “singing the blues” and try not to barf.

Richard Furnstein: The difference is that The Beatles would root their genre explorations in actual songs, rather than just hairy chested moon howls over a blues dirge or damp noodle bellows over flute escapades. With that in mind, "Got To Get You Into My Life" is actually a pretty light song for McCartney. The demo version from Anthology exposes the delicate underpinnings of the song, an organ drone and some rough background vocals. This early version highlights the strength of the horn section and George Martin's arrangement. The Revolver alternate takes are the highlight of the Anthology discs, and "Got To Get You Into My Life" is the best of the bunch. It's almost a completely different song in its naked state, revealing the incredible creativity at this phase. It's what I like to call "the departure point."
Revolver starts out great, then it just gets better and better and better. Better than you ever could have dreamed. Then, all of a sudden, it gets 500 times better than that.

Robert Bunter: Yeah, I just listened back to that version, too. One of the things that struck me was the Eastern-sounding harmonies of John and George’s backup vocal parts (first appearance at :43). There are some very similar moments of non-Western diatonic dislocation in the vocal tracks of “I Want To Tell You” (during the fade), “Love You To” (“You don’t get time / to hang a sign / on meeeeeeeeeeeee”), McCartney’s “Taxman” guitar solo and it’s backwards reappearance in “Tomorrow Never Knows.” I must say, in the case of “Got To Get You Into My Life,” I wish they’d left them in. It was a nice, freaky motif for the album. Leave it to the Beatles to take something as unappealing as moaning, dissonant backup vocals and turn it into a glorious asset. One point of disagreement: “Got To Get You Into My Life” is the best of the Anthology Revolver outtakes? How unfortunate that your defective copy does not include the happy giggle version of “And Your Bird Can Sing,” which is universally acknowledged as such.

Richard Furnstein: The giggle take is fun, but life isn't a slumber party goof fest. You would certainly rejoice at the altar of EMI if they released the 27 minute version of "Helter Skelter" with Mal Evans making fart noises over top.

Robert Bunter: “You’re not wrong!”

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