Friday, January 16, 2015

Every Little Thing

Robert Bunter: This song (from 1964’s Beatles For Sale LP) sits solidly among the late early period (or the early middle period). The acoustic textures, chiming 12-string guitars and harmonic maturity point the way ahead to Help! and Rubber Soul, but the simplistic boy-girl lyrics seem to be a relic of an earlier time. This is one of those songs where I can’t quite tell who was the primary songwriter, and I’m not going to cheat by looking it up. John and Paul blend their voices in practiced unison on the verses, although Lennon seems to dominate. In the chorus it’s the opposite, with Paul’s high harmony in the foreground. The absence of barbed lyrical wordplay and edgy expressions of hurt and anger lead me to believe it was Paul. What do you think Richard? Am I right?

Richard Furnstein: You are deep in the groove in this one, old friend. It was written by Paul but sung by John. This bit of rock and roll masquerade fits nicely next to Ringo's "Honey Don't" on Beatles For Sale; the Carl Perkins song used to be sung by John back in the rock and roll toilet days. I hear "Every Little Thing" as the last Beatles tribute to the American girl group sound that dominated the first two albums. That's why I think Lennon is the perfect lead on this track; he absolutely captured the angst and fury of the girl groups in their early repertoire. "Every Little Thing" is definitely one of those minor but pleasant transition numbers for the group. Imagine "Every Little Thing," "You Like Me Too Much," "It's Only Love," and "Tell Me What You See" comprising an extended play in early 1965. These songs find the band stretching out ever so slightly. They just lack the inspiration and pharmaceuticals to blast off to the next level.
Throw a Lennon wheezing harmonica over the instrumental breaks and I'd be in heaven!

Robert Bunter: I will imagine it. [pause] Wow! What a terrific EP! The prospect of hypothetical should-have-been Beatle records from this period is intoxicating. Of course, they did what they did and it stands perfectly as it is, but if they’d taken just a few different steps, we might have had even more and better discs to cherish. How about this scenario: John explores his nascent interest in downhearted Dylan-influenced folk rock on a solo LP. Meanwhile, the boring ‘50s rock and roll crap on Beatles For Sale gets shunted off to an EP, to accompany the early ’65 just-starting-to-spread-their-wings EP you described above. So where does that leave Beatles For Sale? I’ll tell you where: with another dozen bracing, innovative rockers like “I Feel Fine” (released alongside Beatles For Sale as a standalone single backed with “She’s A Woman.”) Here are the titles: “Without Love,” “Think About It,” “Take A Number,” “You’ll Always Know,” “After Someone,” “Call To Her,” “Until Another Time,” “Suit Yourself,” “Your Love Is Still Here,” “Look Out My Door,” “Every Letter” and an uninspired 12-bar-blues instrumental called “Squeaky.” Beatles For Sale? I’M BUYING.

Richard Furnstein: What a pants-shifter of a dream, my dear pal. Your album of mid-period mediocrity would have surely been a huge hit with the power pop universe of grown men in ill fitting dungarees singing vague songs about teenagers in love. Imagine if Matthew Sweet or the jugband cretins in Brinsley Schwarz grabbed hold of another cache of indifferent 1964 Beatles songs. It's easy to think about the "what if" scenarios in the Beatles For Sale/Help! era as the exhausted band was trying to find the next big thing while legions of Americans with shaggy haircuts and Rickenbackers were approaching their throne. Beatles For Sale is a little unsettling because the band isn't quite sure how to set themselves apart, both in terms of songwriting and the sonic touches. The mopey-Lennon-does-Dylan direction has promise but little box office appeal. Beatles For Sale was definitely rushed for Christmas delivery, so even the production innovations and mood swings from A Hard Day's Night are largely absent. "Every Little Thing" has more of a spark than most of the songs on this set, but it suffers from a drag on the verses, dopey lyrics, and stale 12 string touches. I'd love to hear a version of this with a bit more of the With The Beatles amphetamine flexing. Criminy, throw a Lennon wheezing harmonica over the instrumental breaks and I'd be in heaven!

Robert Bunter: Yeah, but these are all just so many pennywhistles and monkeydreams. Let’s keep our feet on the ground in the real world and deal squarely with the plain facts: Beatles For Sale served up a relatively lean meal and left listeners wishing for more. It’s a nice album to discover tucked in the back of the cupboard after you’ve gorged yourself sick on the more immediately appealing platters, but when push comes to shove you’re left sitting there with an empty bowl and some crumbs stuck on your face.

Richard Furnstein: Welcome to my lifestyle, mon frere.