Thursday, October 23, 2014

All My Loving

Robert Bunter: To this day, I can't tell the story without getting emotional. Furnstein and I went to the Paul McCartney concert together. He opened the set with some Wings stuff, to build the tension ("Venus And Mars / Rock Show" into "Jet"), then launched into "All My Loving." The video screen lit up with iconic black and white footage of screaming girls and the smiling young Beatles. In an instant, every one of the thousands in attendance had the exact same thought: "Mother of God, that is really him. He's from the Beatles and HE'S RIGHT HERE WITH ME NOW." It was like getting punched in the soul. Tears rolled down my face and I was far from the only one. It was a cheap showbiz trick, in a way; the kind of contrived, premeditated dazzlement that has long been Paul's primary approach (in stark contrast to Lennon's raw, in-the-moment inspiration). But how else could he have handled it? That moment needed to happen and Paul deployed it with the confident touch of a master. "All My Loving" was the perfect song choice. It stands tall among the very best of their earlier work, yet it never really garnered the reputation as a cultural milestone assigned to "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You." It almost managed to feel like an obscure album cut, even though it was probably the first Beatles song most Americans ever heard.

Richard Furnstein: What a great moment in our lives together as Beatles fans and friends. I wish I scooped up one of your careless tears and captured the shimmering drop in clear perspex: a testament to the power of time, love, and memory. What a feeling! I wanted to stomp my feet on the ground like those reckless teenaged girls in grainy black and white clips, but I was worried about crushing my nacho tray purchased before the show.

I always considered it a bold choice to kick off their first Ed Sullivan appearance with "All My Loving." It's a cracker to be sure, but it's a Paul song in an era where John was clearly being presented as the closest thing to a front man of the group. John, the group's primary songwriter during that period and the throat shredder who lead most of their songs, stood tall in the center of the pack: legs boldly parted as he strummed his custom Jet Glo Rickenbacker, smacking bubblegum, and his pointy nose acting as a divining rod to the teenaged American moistness ahead.. Paul was merely the side attraction during this era: the loose balloon-eyed, soft cheeked romancer who didn't even warrant his own microphone. Yet, there he was, leading the charge of The Beatles into foreign shores. "All My Loving" was the perfect choice. It's essentially a sequel to previous triumphs, building on the letter within a song format of "P.S. I Love You" and "From Me To You." This conceit managed to touch on both the innocence of young love and the hopeful correspondence of lovers in the previous wartime generation. "All My Loving" also suggests the day after the initial fumblings detailed in "I Want To Hold Your Hand." Nighttime was the right time. Now we have to figure out where we stand, babe.

Paul was merely the side attraction during this era: the loose balloon-eyed, soft cheeked romancer who didn't even warrant his own microphone.
Robert Bunter: The surging chord progression and irresistible triplet rhythm make the song throb with tumescent, propulsive inevitability. The genteel, politely romantic sentiments of Paul’s epistle are belied by the jackhammer pant-grind of the music track. The mental image is a young man seated at a constrictive desk composing a letter to his beloved in cursive script with a quill pen, but meanwhile he is bouncing up and down violently and pawing uncontrollably at himself with the other hand. His hair is disheveled and his face glistens with sweat. His eyes betray the brittle intensity of a madman. More ape than human, he nearly knocks over the inkwell as he stumbles around looking for envelopes and a book of stamps. The demented, hollering 13-year-olds who dampened the seats of every concert hall the Beatles ever played understood that rhythm in their bones. The four young men on the TV screen were wearing fresh-pressed tailored suits and had their hair washed squeaky-clean, but that was just a subterfuge to sneak the primal sex rhythm onto the staid airwaves of a repressed nation. The children understood.

Richard Furnstein: Paul was seen as the romantic of the band, but there's a sleazy quality to the lyrics that suggests that the heart and groin can't quite meet up. "I'll pretend that I'm kissing the lips that I'm missing." Love the one you're with, indeed. Imagine Paul sending that dedication out to his girlfriend from a pungent, tossed Manhattan hotel room. A cigarette dangles from his chapped bottom lip as he dampens the envelope on the cream colored top sheet. "Fly away little bird" he says as he slides the letter to grotesque errand boy Mal Evans at the hotel restaurant. Then it's a quick adjustment of his trousers as he heads out into the brisk February night. It's a disgusting cycle, but we're all just animals. The Ouroboros can't eat itself forever.

Robert Bunter: Ew gross. How about the U.S. stereo mix on this one? Right channel is all vocals, left is all music! Isolate the right channel and you can really pick out some fascinating details, like Paul’s huffing for breath at 1:52. Meanwhile on the left channel, I think Paul hits a wrong note on his little bass at 1:19. That bass line is nuts … as Carol Kaye said in that Beach Boys documentary, “That’s a JAZZ FEEL, man!” George takes the guitar to some nice places on his little solo segment. Speaking of “solo segments,” you’ve got Paul’s voice double-tracked in unison on the first two verses, then in harmony later. Why didn’t John or George jump in there? I’ll tell you why: because Paul cut the damn track perfectly. It didn’t need any other voices on that lead, and the others were cool enough to recognize that and not make a big fuss about it.

Richard Furnstein: "How about the U.S. stereo mix on this one?" Did you honestly ask me that question? Put that mix in the garbage can with the rotting banana peels and used adhesive bandages. It's not even on my radar, man. You know my original issue Parlophone mono is one of my prized possessions. Do I look like some stupid slack jawed teen buying Meet The Beatles! at a Woolworth's in Baraboo, Wisconsin? "All My Loving" as a side closer? No thank you, sir. Please get yourself the hell out of here already. There's the door, you monster.

Robert Bunter: Ha! Great! Terrific!