Saturday, October 25, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Lady Madonna

LADY MADONNA
PMCPP ANALYSIS #13
Key: A Major
Rhythm Used: Chunk with some octave jumping

OK, I'll admit it, I was on the fence with this one. This is one of those songs that almost sounds complicated enough to make it into PMSTDS, but eventually I leaned toward this side of the argument. It wasn't hard to do that since the only person I was arguing with was myself, but I can be quite the fighter sometimes. I'm going to move on before this gets even more creepy.

THE PIANO: This one, as I said, was a close call, and will probably be the most complicated thing you see in a PMCPP analysis. But no matter how nice it sounds, it still remains true that this is nothing more than somewhat complicated chunking. Actually, it's 100% chunk in the right hand, the only thing that had me going was the right.

The left hand here is doing absolutely nothing of note. It starts on an extended A chord and slowly moves downward into an equally long D chord. The pinky is remaining on a high A the whole time, so the biggest thing to worry about here is cramping your hand from leaving it on the same note for too long. Them cramps is a bitch, eh Paul? For the bridge the left hand sticks on a repeated 4-on-the-floor style smack on a Dm-G7-C-Am progression. (This starting to look ominously familiar? We'll get to that.) Eventually it finishes on more 3 note chords going C-Bm7-E. Amazingly, he finds a way to put the E chord in without any sharps by making it a sus2 chord instead of a Major.

The most difficult part to play in the song takes place in the right hand, but looking at it more closely shows that it's really not all that difficult of a stretch to play it, since all it requires is the amazing ability to keep your hands the same distance apart for about 200 measures. It is the barest bones style bass line possible to be called a boogie woogie bass line, but still somehow manages to get the title out of Alan Pollack. He shoots up a very bluesy A Major scale (READ: AN A MINOR SCALE) in repeated octaves, one finger at a time throughout the entire verse. Go grab a piano and see if there is any trouble with you, who cannot play piano just like Paul, to go up an A minor scale in octaves. A small jump occurs where he bridges the octaves with a C#-C between the A and D, fitting the only piano sharp into the verse. Other than that, though... straight up.

The bridge does absolutely nothing except now, instead of going UP octaves with no sharps in the bassline... WE'RE GOING DOWN OCTAVES WITH NO SHARPS IN THE BASSLINE! :O Sorry, lost my focus.

I mean, seriously, I can play this song. And I suck at piano, so that should tell you something.

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: Yeeeah. I'm just going to start out with the obvious here with the chord structures. We have I and IV chords taking up everything in the verse but 2 notes, which are stuffed with the bVI and bVII chords. So 4 chords, 2 of them elementary and 2 of them not given any more credence than one quarter note among the fairly quick tempo. We'll get to the bridge in a second, because it requires it's own section for me to yell at. Pretty much every section of the song is a cliche and easy 8 measures long, which is actually surprising for the Beatles. Sure, most of the odd phrase length working was done by John, but even Paul had all sorts of ideas for that among his repertoire.

All right, so guess what we've all been waiting for? That's right, this song in A Major has a shift to C Major for the entire bridge. (HOY DOY!) And considering that there are 3 entire bridge sections in the song and he also sticks a C chord into the outro, this song is barely even in A anymore, it's just some horrid bastard love child between the two keys of A and C. Paul enjoyed Frankensteining with those two, didn't he?

That, and I have no idea how the lyrics make sense. So there's a woman who has 6 kids and she is busy? There's a stretch! Alan Pollack suggests that he does not list Saturday because that's the one day she takes off. I think Macca just ran out of ideas. "Well what else do kids do to annoy their mom or need to learn about life?" This is even funnier because he suggested she spent an entire day teaching a kid to tie his shoes. "Ms. Madonna? I think your children have problems."

HOW PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: OK, I'll be the first to admit this is one of my favorites of Paul's, shoddy piano work aside. Lennon himself said it was a nice piano lick, but he was probably just amazed at that point when Paul managed something that didn't sound like a musical coma. And if you want sharps in your A Major, I suppose you can't do much worse than the ACTUAL boogie-woogie bass line held by the Bass guitar.

That, plus the only competition for the single was obviously The Inner Light, so screw that. I'll take this over George's Indian shit any day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Your Mother Should Know

YOUR MOTHER SHOULD KNOW
PMCPP ANALYSIS #12
Key: A Minor
Rhythm Used: Chunk

This may very well be Paulies worst song ever. Seriously, the man couldn't even come up with real lyrics, and it's in a bare bones chord progression with an easy key signature. This one may be painful, especially since I tend to listen to the songs in question as I write these. Pardon any spelling errors, I will be typing really fast.

THE PIANO: This really isn't going to be a shock by this point of the series, but this piano part could be performed by a monkey with Alzheimer's in his sleep. Several times throughout the part he simply changes chords by keeping the same 3 notes in the right hand while going down bass note whole notes with his left. A good example is in the very first 2 measures of the verse as he shifts from Am to FMaj7 with one simple finger movement. Ingenious ability to lazy up his piano playing, I say!

Also unshocking is the fact that the entire song he does not at all deviate from his 3 note chunking with Whole notes in the bass, minus a few measures where he moves in parallel thirds up in seconds between the bass and treble, nothing special. There is also one point where he shifts into whole notes in the treble with quarters in the bass. (This is where you insert the facepalm.jpg)

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: Simply beginning with the key signature of A minor you can probably see where I'm going here. 6 total chords are used in various form, all of them in streams of bass notes that make the song as easy to stick together as possible. The song is dominated by Am, C, G and FMaj7, basically making this entire song a piece in A minor trying as desperately hard to get to C Major (the old standard) as possible. It never really succeeds, due to various chords like E and A major that get stuck in as passing chords. The E chord, by the way, is not nearly as exotic as you might think, it's just a result of a temporary shift to harmonic minor from the regular natural minor the rest of the song is rooted in.

The lyrical content of this song is the idea of "write one verse and then repeat it 30 times" that he also utilized in Why Don't We Do it in the Road?. The difference here of course is that WDWDIITR is not supposed to be serious. This one is so damn serious it's hilarious to listen to. Macca obviously decided that since he couldn't come up with anything new, he'd just SCAT to one of the verses, which almost makes it worse. If it could get worse, I don't wanna know.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: This is the epitome of a stupid song on the Magical Mystery Tour album. Macca really just sort of phoned in sick on that album and made his songs even worse. (Remember All Together Now?) So I won't totally fault him for this one. Totally anyway.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The problem!

The reason I have not updated much recently is because my brother stole my Beatles songbook. I haven't been able to read various voicings and things to finish up some of the analysis I'm working on. (The End and Lady Madonna are both being worked on right now, along with the first PMSTDS analysis.)


Nobody reads this anymore, do they?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Back In The USSR

BACK IN THE USSR
PMCPP Analysis #11
Key: A Major
Rhythm Used: Chunk

We're back in the PMCPP! Welcome to a wonderful installment of PMCPP where the last P stands for both Piano and Percussion! (Thanks for the term, Dakota. Heh.) As we all know, Paul played both his keys and Ringo's set for this one, so we may be in for a long tedious ride. Although I suppose you deserve it for having to wait a month between me writing these. Whoops.

THE PIANO: As you'd probably expect by now, this piano part is nothing new to us. 3 or 4 note chunks in root position, mostly in eighth notes throughout the song. On rare occasion, he does do a bit of a 16th note trill with his chords, but nothing besides the note value changes there.

The piano actually starts up straight after the jet noise intro and the vamping on the V chord. It's not hard to hear at all, it's quite high in the mix. And that loud banging he's doing on it would probably be audible even if the fader was mostly turned off - it'd only be loud crunching noises at that point, but my point still stands. DYNAMICS, MACCA DO YOU SPEAK IT.

Every verse contains the same basic pianic (that's totally a word, shut up) structure with the piano blasting those eighth notes endlessly throughout. Never does the piano stop, but as the verses get later on in the song, he does occasional bursts of those trills I was talking about earlier. There seems to be no rhyme or reasoning for when he does them, but whatever. The refrains contain no difference.

The bridges see him switch to a different method of SYNCOPATED chunking on off beats. Even when different jazzy additions are made to the underlying chord, his piano stays pretty much the same throughout, not that we'd expect anything else from him. Adding dominant 7ths to the chord requires all that work, after all.

THE PERCUSSION: Being a drummer myself, listening to this makes my poor ears bleed. As you probably know, all 3 of the non-Ringo Beatles played drums on this one, and Paul's version was considered "best." (lol let's see who gets that pun) All I have to say is that George and John must've played some of the worst drumming in the history of the universe to do worse than what Paul came up with.

The rhythm he uses is the old standard "I've been a drummer in a rock band for about 2 days and this is the easiest thing to play so I'll do it for every song" drum riff. For those of you unfamiliar with it, just hit the hi-hat on every eighth note with bass drum on 1&3 and snare on 2&4. There you have it, the entire song. However, Paul even manages to screw THAT up.

Listening closely to the song you may notice that near the beginning Paul is draggin' like an old monkey's balls. He eventually catches up, but not before missing the snare drum twice. Paul, the snare drum is like a foot across at least, how the hell can you miss it so much? Seriously, the first time I ever played the drum set in my life I did better than this. And I was playing JAZZ for Christ's sake!

The drum fills he uses are elementary and all similar. Find one instance in the song where he doesn't just do "and 2 and a 3 e and a 4 e and one" or "and 2 and 3 and 4" as his fill. (So far the only instance I could find was around the end where I think he missed the tom on one of the hits) Even worse is the fact that in the whole song his fills take place on the snare or on the topmost tom. No floor tom excepting the intro is used, and he doesn't even use more than one crash cymbal! Jeez, did Ringo take half his set with him when he walked out? I KNOW he has at least 2 toms and cymbals. Variety is the spice of life, Paul! TAKE NOTES.

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: All right, this one is easy. The chords used here are the old standard rock set of I IV V and flat-III. Nothing else is ever used, and the V chord only winds up being seen during the intro and the very tail end of the bridge. Basically he spends 3/4 of the song doing the same progression between I-IV-flatIII-IV-I. Nice and symmetrical, but also eventually a bit boring.

The guitar riff that punctuates most of the song isn't all that difficult of a riff, going in downward chromatics in the various 3 chords you've already seen. Thankfully it does provide some semblance of movement in the otherwise fairly melodically static song. Even the vocal part doesn't move around much outside a small range.

I'd also like to point out that this is yet another example of Paul sticking C chords (the flat-III) into stuff written in A. It's like he needs a fix of C every time he writes in A, just to get himself comfortable. I'm just glad he didn't do a full blown key change this time.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Uh... the awesome jet noises? The blatant Beach Boy references? I don't know. I guess it's just some KICK ASS ROCK 'N ROLL AMIRITE?

All right, so this wasn't my best analysis, but I'm getting into the swing of things again, dammit!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Love Me Do

LOVE ME DO
PMCPP Analysis #10
KEY: G Major
RHYTHM USED: Again, no.

All right, so I'm totally getting off on a tangent with these non-piano songs, but when I found out that Paul wrote Love Me Do, I couldn't resist covering it, piano or not. So let's get this over with so I can cover something that actually includes a god-damn piano.

THE GUITAR: I do think this deserves special mentioning, the guitar part. Straight quarter note strums (with a very rare eigth note thrown in) on 2 different chords for most of the song? That's seriously about as easy a guitar part as you can get. No riffs? Not even any rhythmic fun with it? Come on, even for the first song by this band it's not up to par with most starter songs. Hell, a 8 year old could write songs more playable than this.

All right, I'm done, on to the laziness!

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: Basic repeating of what you already know is in evidence here, such as the easy home key of G and the usage of just I IV and V chords. It's the WAY they are utilized that sucks ass especially here.

Most of the song is spent on I and IV in an unholy lovefest of happily switching between those 2 chords every measure without fail. The ONLY exception to this rule is during the bridges. A V chord shows up twice per bridge, giving it a grand total of 4 measures of appearance in the whole song. Considering the verse section appears in some form 6 different times in the song, I'd say it's in the vaaaaaaaast minority of harmonics here. Anyone else catching glimpses of All Together Now here?

I don't really think I have to bring the lyrics into this, since it's fairly obvious how skimpy they are. There are a grand total of 16 different words used in the song. Considering that every other freakin' word is "love", that's made even more pathetic sounding. I suppose I should give kudos to them for making such little material somehow spread out evenly over a 2 minute lag-fest.

Also of note is the fact that originally the harmonica part wasn't in the song after Macca wrote it. Lennon came up with it. (thanks for pointing out my previous error, spookierthanu!) What's this mean? Originally, this song was even MORE generic and without merit without that harmonica part. And what was Lennon supposed to do before he got the harmonica part? Another guitar part? I don't think so Tim.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Give him a break, it was one of his first songs. Although I must say it does give a nice glimpse into the future of lazy songwriting for Mr. McCartney, I'll give him a pass this time.

Just once though.

- UZ

Friday, July 4, 2008

You may have noticed

I'm not doing those Wednesday updates anymore. I just suck at scheduling myself for anything, plus I'm doing writing for Blogcritics now, meaning I have to write for more than just this.

You can still expect one or two of these a week, though. You just won't know which ones. :O

Thursday, July 3, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: All Together Now

ALL TOGETHER NOW
PMCPP Analysis #9 (number 9... number 9... number 9...)
KEY: G Major
RHYTHM USED: Uh... None, really.

Whoo, we're back! This song is a fine example of Paul simply being a total doofus in his songwriting. Seriously, people bought an album with this song on it and didn't notice how bad it was? I guess maybe George's stupid sitar songs might've confused them... but come on.

THE P-: OK, never mind on that one. Let's just have fun with the laziness, shall we?

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: Oh, jezz. Where to begin?

What?

The lyrics?

All riiiight. Anyway, the lyrical content in this song leaves a lot more than just SOMETHING to be desired. It sounds like it was written by a 7 year old who had just recieved a rhyming dictionary. Or perhaps by a retarded 40 year old who recieved the dictionary. It's really just a matter of intellect here. Congratulations to Paul, by the way, for figuring out the alphabet by the time he was in his 20's.

Also he can't pronounce ORANGE. Owange indeed. I don't know what this has to do with the songwriting, I just figured I'd point it out.

The key here is in our old standard G Major, unsurprising for the content of the song overall. Actually, I'm shocked Paul didn't TOTALLY devolve into childhood and just stick with C Major. I guess he was going for something DARING here. Daring for Paul, anyway.

The strumming pattern on the guitar is your basic open chords of G, C and D in an all straight eigth notes sort of fashion. Normally even Paul sticks a V-V or iv or even flat-VII chord into most of his songs, but nothing fancy here. I IV and IV reign supreme in this one, with a sort of Love-me-doesque usage of almost exclusively I and IV chords for most of the song. (V only appears on "I love you" and "Look at me" lyric-wise. It's also used once for the final cadance when the song speeds up near the end.) Love Me Do is also in the same key as this one. Hm.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Seriously, nobody is quite sure. Perhaps they were trying to divulge into the wide demographic of 7 year olds? Actually, if I was going to ask someone to write a song with 7 year olds in mind, I guess Paul would be the one, eh?

- UZ

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

updat and wotnot III

Hello all. It's been rather slow around here as of late, but I'm still here, never fear.

Today I added Blogcritics.org to my sidebar, as I now work for them doing gaming reviews and such. The original plan was to host some PMCPP articles there to increase the visibility of this dump, but I was refused by one of their editors who said my analysis' were too mean-spirited and not invasive enough. What am I, a theorist?

COMING ATTRACTIONS:
1 new analysis this week, and it should be easy enough to get out.

ALL TOGETHER NOW, one of the most lame and easy to play songs I think I've ever heard. This should be a fun one! :D

Saturday, June 21, 2008

UMFOTOB PRESENTS: Old Brown Shoe

OLD BROWN SHOE
PMCPP Analysis #8
KEY: C Major
RHYTHM USED: Chunk
SONG WRITER: George

Welcome to our first study of UMFOTOB, everyone! Today I take on a song by George. Well, at least they say it's by George, (lol, BY GEORGE!) I'm still not sold on that fact. This sounds 100% like something Paul could've written. From the Piano to the key... Yeah. Let's just get going.

THE PIANO: This piano part has all the skill and finesse of... well, Hello Goodbye, the difference here of course being that THIS piano part is supposed to be in the very foreground. It's just repeated 3 note chunks on mostly C7 chords in the 2nd inversion, not too difficult. It obviously changes with the chords, but the amount of actual difference is not really statistically viable here, ZING!

But wait, when I look in the Instrument files for this song... BEHOLD LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! Paul is playing that piano, all right. As if we couldn't tell from that insistant SMASHING on the keys. Man, have you no love for dynamics? The only time he ever plays quiet notes is on the off beats of Ba-Dum songs.

Oh, sorry, get back to George, right. Anyway, the entire rhythm here is smacking on off-beats the entire intro, verse, pretty much everywhere but the solo and bridge. Then it's really the same thing, but at double speed. If you listen closely, Paul actually forgets what he's doing at one point when the solo starts and is still playing the verse "riff". I'm really not comfortable calling that a riff, it's just loud smacking... Technicalities!

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: Gee, how long did THIS one take to come up with? A good LARGE chunk (pun totally intended) of the song is spent on that boring ol' I chord. It takes quite a while for anything even remotely exotic other than I, ii or V to show up, and even then it's the all-together random bVI chord that fattens our harmonic selection. Eventually a V-V and some others add to the fun, but even with that, it can't stop the annoying repetitiveness of that I7 chord banging away measure after measure. You could probably get away with playing that I7 chord for the entire verse and nobody would notice.

The lyrics here seem to follow the Hello, Goodbye style of taking stuff that sounds good and then saying whatever the inverse of it is. You know, for... uh... actually, I can't think of a reason why that gambit works so well. It stopped being clever a while ago. Hm. Most of the things he says are just weird and borderlining on creepy. "Short haired girl that sometimes wears it twice as long?" You know, we're referencing Hello, Goodbye a lot in this one, they're even in the same key. COINCIDENCE?! Yes, yes it is.

Also, reject =/= rhyme with perfect.

I heard a report (Read: It's written on Alan Pollack's website) that George sung this song into a tight corner to record the vocals, thus the mudiness of it. Great thinking, Harri. This is coincidentally the exact same time that The Beatles had run out of innovations. You already tortured our ears enough with that sitar, Mr. George. We don't need more bright ideas from YOU.

WHY GEORGE GOT AWAY WITH IT: Well... really not many people have heard this song, since it was tucked away on a B-side of a #1 hit. And nobody actually gives a crap about B-sides. And I'm sure if this were the A-side, it wouldn't have been a #1 hit in the first place, thank you very much. Blah.

- UZ

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Birthday

BIRTHDAY
PMCPP Analysis #7
KEY: A Major
RHYTHM USED: Chunk

What song did you think I was going to do, it's his BIRTHDAY. Seriously, folks. Get with it! Anyway, this is another study not featuring all that much piano, but Yoko is in it. And I don't like Yoko. So... automatic down points. It can only get worse! :D

THE PIANO: The Piano really doesn't appear until halfway through the song when it joins in with that guitars/bass combo on what I suppose you could call the instrumental solo. The part is 98% devoted to doing 3 note chunks, most of them on or near root position. There is no left hand part present.

The rhythm used for pretty much all the piano work is straight eigth notes, nothing really special to be seen, in a "start on the and of 1 and end on the and of 3" sort of way. I think I just set the world record for most uses of the word "and" in a sentence, cool. The piano here also appears to have gotten stuck through some sort of distortion or mechanical sound effects sort of thing. It's got a very echo-y yet sharp sound to it. Almost makes up for the fact that the part sucks totally, really. Shame, Paul. You almost had me there.

Right at the end of the song, Paul finally shows some attempt at merit with a little arpeggiation number of eigth notes. Because he would be unable to move that fast on eighth notes on the brisk 140 BPM that Birthday rides on, he decides instead to slow the tempo down about 40 or 60 or so. Cheap tactics, Paul. And he couldn't even finish it out with any variation, he just repeats the same 4 notes twice. And to add insult to injury, all those notes blend together until it's a big piano-y mess near the end.

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: This song is automatically lazy at it's core. It's one of the few Beatles songs written in 12-bar-blues format, which is the songwriting equivalent of writing a 3 page childrens book called "Cats on Wheels". Anyone can do it. For those of you unfamiliar with 12 bar blues, that means you utilize 3 different chords; I, IV and V, the ol' "these are the only chords that hippee guy with the guitar knows" chords. Every verse of the song is put into this form, with NO differences in chord structure otherwise. The only real addition to any of the verses is actually that piano we'd discussed earlier.

In between verses and bridge is an odd connector section that I feel needs discussing because Paul managed to make the whole damn 14 bars of it contain 1 chord total. That's not harmonic movement, it's a harmonic tarpit, with that V chord slowly being sucked into it.

The bridge is slightly odd, in that it contains a modulation to the key of Flat-III via a V-V-V-V chord (don't strain yourself) in the new key. This key, since Paul can't possibly stay in A for very long without burning his poor FCG-lovin' mind out, is the key of C. So he somehow managed to make a chord that has nothing to do with C lead into the key of C. Even when he hits that new key, he's STILL stuck on just I and V chords throughout the bridge. This is also where Yoko does background, so lets just move on before I vomit, K? :D

Speaking of Key Signatures, you'll notice this is in A. However, note that Paul really only writes in "bluesy" A, which is code for "making everything that is sharp natural instead." Tons of C-naturals are present in this tune, making things quite simplistic when you actually look at them. Cry for the lost C#'s, men, cry.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Uh... No clue. I suppose they could've used the "getting back to our roots" excuse, but they never did 12-bar-blues back then either... Hm.

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGUARLY SCHEDULED PMCPP.

- UZ

Huh.

So, today is apparently Paul McCartney's birthday. Who knew, eh?

To celebrate, I'm going to pump out a special PMCPP analysis that wasn't on the plan, either tonight or early tomorrow. Hell, the one I have in mind should be quite easy.

So stay tuned!

- UZ

Updates and Whatnot Part II

Another wednesday, and we're TWO weeks into this wonderful adventure, with more than 40 songs slated to analyze left. Man, I've got work to do.

* Anyway, not really much has changed blog-wise in the last week, minus me figuring out how the "Scheduled post" feature works. (I typed this, like... on Saturday and scheduled it for right now. Wooo)

* One fun thing I'm doing is putting together a PMCPP store on Cafepress. I'm working on getting the images for the shirts first.

COMING ATTRACTIONS:
This week I'm going to be gone/busy/trying to get out of Jury Duty for most of the week so you'll only be getting one analysis out of me this week, it should be out on Saturday or so.

* Old Brown Shoe, the first ever UMFOTOB analysis, where I make large fun of George in one of his most Paul-esque moments.

And remember, the only real advertising I have here is word of mouth, so tell any Beatles fans you may know to stop on by and check this shit out!

- UZ

Monday, June 16, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: I'm Looking Through You

I'M LOOKING THROUGH YOU
PMCPP Analysis #6
KEY: A-flat Major (Don't get excited.)
RHYTHM USED: N/A... Well, kind of chunk for 2 notes.

This is our first study not involving a Piano based song, but one full of plain old laziness in the songwriting, along with more of our favorite examples of Macca trying to fool us into thinking his songs are more complicated than they really are.

THE... uh... ORGAN: All right, so there's really not much of an organ part, but I had to replace the "PIANO" section with something, right? Another example, by the way, of Paul sticking keyboard instruments into songs where we really didn't need keyboard instruments. Hell, that 2 chord thing the organ does could've easily been done with a guitar or two. They knew what overdubbing was at this point, dammit!

And to add insult to injury, some stroke of genius gave Ringo the organ part. wat.

Hold on, if what I've heard is true and the organ is also playing that little riff with the guitar, that'd be one of the most complex pianorgansichord type of musical riffs we've heard out of Paul thus far. Hey, does Ringo being the one playing it make him a better keyboardist than Paul? Haha, this is getting better every second.

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: All right, we have to cover that key signature first before you get all giddy. Paul did not write this song in A-Flat Major. How did it wind up like that, then? Well, Macca wrote the song in G and used a capo to stick that guitar into Ab afterwards. The anthology version is in G, and I guess Macca thought it didn't sound just right... so capo time it was! So we're still in FCG territory, (He is just playing the same chords he would in G) he's just attempting to hide it at this point. This is the only Beatles song in A-Flat major, (except... Piggies?) it's just a key they never wrote in. And if any of them was going to start writing in exotic keys, I don't think Paul would be the number one suspect.

The percussion in this piece is obviously all done by Paul. Ringo would never have allowed himself to sit through a two and a half minute song with the entire drum part being snare hits on 2 and 4. (Not to mention he wouldn't have missed those 2 snare hits!) At the very least, he'd use cymbals. Drummers like cymbals. And I can't think of any other Beatles songs with drums where a tom or two don't come into play. 100% Maccafied rhythm section here, borderlining on almost incompetant. (And judging by his drumming in The Ballad of John and Yoko, it hardly got better throughout time.) Rounding it out is a tamborine ('cause there certainly weren't enough Beatles songs with tamborine in that era, eh?) and random hand smacks on knees and toe tapping and whatnot, all overdubbed into one big old percussive mess in the background.

Other than that organ, the instrumentation is all guitar here. Why? Because it's in A-Flat, and I'd like to see him trying to play anything in A-flat without capo-esque help. Chords follow a simple I-IV-V pattern with some ii chords to round out the cliche Major package. There's not even a V-V or flat-VII, the old Beatles standard chords, to be found in this one. The excitement is just too much to take, ain't it?

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Well, that whole A-Flat thing probably threw everyone off the trail for a while in the case of lazy songwriting. Even if people had noticed, it was stuck way in the back of Rubber Soul anyway, where people start to not care as much about the quality. Had this been the FIRST song on RS, we might've heard some complaining.

- UZ

Saturday, June 14, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Fixing a Hole

FIXING A HOLE
PMCPP Analysis #5
KEY: F Major (With occasional chromatic stints)
RHYTHM USED: Chunk

Probably the biggest example of laziness hidden in the back of a song this side of Hello Goodbye, Fixing a Hole is a fine choice to round out our first 5 studies. Actually, this song is one of the best examples of what this blog is about period, now that I think about it!

THE PI... ER, HARPSICHORD: Yes, this is probably the first song in the history of anything to contain a rhythm harpsichord part. (Thanks for the term, Mr. Pollack.) Ugh. Paul, there's a reason people hadn't done it yet, and it's not that nobody considered it. Still, it sort of almost-kinda-ifyatrynottothinkaboutittoohard sounds in place here and could pass for a decent example of The Beatles making innovations and whatnot. The main problem is that it just. won't. stop.

The first instrument in the song is that harpsichord, banging away on a I-+V-i-IV progression, which just happens to be played in a manner that you won't find pretty much anywhere else in the song: with variety in the chords. Almost every chord he plays throughout the entire song on those chunked 3-4 note chords is near identical in hand position. To an untrained ear listening through the song, you might not even think the chord changes at all! I actually had to point out to someone that there was actually harpsichord through the song, they'd gotten so used to that one chord banging away.

In some of the songs I list here I normally don't give credit to the left hand parts during chunking, because normally there isn't anything of real note to add. On most of those instances, though, there is at least SOMETHING in the piano bassline that is at the same speed or even slightly faster and more daring (Like in Good Day Sunshine) to compliment the treble. Not so in the case of this clunker. The bass clef part is all 1 note half notes, normally on the roots. Sounds like a Stu Sutcliffe bass part, frankly. (Non Beatles fans just stick another bad bassist's name in there if you don't get the joke.)

No real melodic material other than the chunks are to be found in the Harpsi part, not even of the "running scales in seconds" variety. Man, when I called it a rhythm part, I wasn't kidding. To add insult to final injury, the part for harpsichord is going the whole song, no breaks. Straight quarters through the verses, bridge, solo, outro, EVERYTHING. To quote I am the Walrus; "I'm crying."

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: F Major here, ladies and gentlemen, finally getting back to our favorite keys after those 2 studies of D and A majors. And despite how many different inflections and differences Paul sticks onto the chords, it doesn't change the fact that this entire song is in I-IV-V and V-V chords, a grand total of 4. The largest devation from this formula is to stick a minor i chord in instead of the major variety from time to time.

He must've been proud of his discovery of that f minor chord, since a good 1/3 of all the song is spent on it between IV and V chords, barely even keeping this in the realm of F Major at all. Never do the I and i chords appear next to each other, however. Guess it would've made the gambit too obvious. And revealing his tricks of obvious progressions and whatnot are not what Macca was all about. How the hell else do you think he got away with all that crap for an entire 7 year recording career?

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Come on man, do I really need to answer this? It was on Sgt. Peppers! You could've thrown anything on that album and it'd have won us over. Hell, "When I'm 64" and "Within You Without You" managed to get on there. Other than that stupid Harpsichord part and the obviousness of what's going on in the chords, etc. it's really not a horrid song. Nice vocal touches, a decent bass line, could've been worse, you know?

- UZ

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Any new readers, mayhaps?

I've begun advertising this blog on various places (read: facebook) to try and attract the people who might actually be interested in this.

You know, like Beatles fans.

So hello and welcome to any new readers I may have picked up (and in most cases I'm sure, quickly lost) due to my minimal advertising efforts.

That bit in parenthesis was a joke. Don't leave, I love you all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Updates and whatnot.

Whew, already a week into this blog. I'll be doing weekly updates and whatnot (see, this is where the title comes from, smartass) every wednesday to give you info on the blog itself and what's been added/taken away.

A few new things have been added to the blog itself recently, so here's a rundown.

* There's a "first time here?" sort of post near the top of the blog with a link to our "Welcome" post.

* I added one Google Adsense thing to the top of the page, just in case anyone feels like clicking on random ads in blogs. It's not intrusive at all though, (like some ads are, making sure you SEE THOSE ADS) I made sure it's not in the way of anything. Another blog I saw yesterday was seriously like 80% Adsense, and then 2 posts about golf hats. It was almost painful to look at. My little ad up there looks rather homely, I think. Yep.

* Little bloglist of some good pages is on the side now. It includes some nice Beatles referance pages and my own "write non-relevant shit nobody wants to read about my life" blog, Catchy Titles, (For any of you stalkers out there) thus the "shameless plug" bit. Also included are 2 blogs I enjoy frequenting, Bannable Offenses (the tale of GM_Dave) and the NYC Donut report. Nice.

ANALYSIS COMING UP THIS WEEK:
I'm only going to be doing 2 this week, but they're good ones, so bear with me here.

* Fixing a Hole, the only song ever with a *shudder* rhythm harpsichord part.
* I'm Looking Through You, the first non-piano but all-lazy song PMCPP will cover.

You can expect them to be released on the 14th and 16th respectively. (This originally said "15th and 16th" but my lack of stuff to do this weekend allowed me to crank it out early)

Enjoy, and keep reading. (Seriously, all 3 of you who read this blog, keep reading.)

- UZ

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Good Day Sunshine

GOOD DAY SUNSHINE
PMCPP Analysis #4
KEY: B Major?! Oh, wait. A Major. Ho Hum.
RHYTHM USED: Chunking with a small bit of actual melody

Whoo, 4th analysis already? We're ripping along here! This song is one of the first songs we'll cover that contain material that isn't 100% horrible, but still lingers on crap. Remember, looks (er, sounds) can be deciving in some cases, and this song isn't nearly as hard to do as it sounds.

THE PIANO: This song contains 2 seperate piano parts overdubbed. Now, it's not really that complicated of a piece, so I can't see why Paul would even need to attempt 2 piano parts (Since one of them is basically just banging on an open octave in Bass Clef the whole damn song) but we all know Paul. Silly man, thinking we wouldn't notice your lazy overdubs.

As I had mentioned before, Paul actually sticks some semblance of melody into this one, but as we know him for, all of it is running down whatever chord scale he happens to be on in seconds. For one small point he does actually change it up, but it's still a scale and it's still seconds, just the same 3 note riff repeated a few times with only the marginal leap of a 3rd between them. Don't even have to move your fingers for that. Hell, I could play that riff if I wanted, in my sleep. A dead dolphin caught in a fishing net could play that riff.

Man, I've wanted to use that dead dolphin line for so long. Uh, anyway.

Even after the notes are dismissed, the rhythm of the entire piece is mainly devoted to 4-on-the-floor style chunking on every quarter note. The most complex said rhythm gets is when for three measures he switches to swung style eighth notes during that aforementioned 3 note riff. Throw in a small number of triplets and voila, we have enough distractions to keep our ears off the total lack of fun rhythm. Even in the attempt at funky time changing I'll mention soon, the piano is STILL smashing those quarter notes down. It's enough to make a grown man cry. (Not me, of course, some other poor dude who reads this.)

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: Here's an example of Paul trying to make us think he's doing something he's not. At first listen, the song sounds like a textbook example of being in B Major, with all it's 5 sharped goodness. But no, says Alan Pollack, it's actually in A Major. WE'VE BEEN HAD! V-V chords sounding like I chords aside, let's discuss how Paul even manages to make A Major (3 sharps, still far away from his happy zone) sound bad. Every chord is major in this piece, giving it such a happy sound it borders on painful to listen to. We have B, F#, A, and E chords for a grand total of... 4. Jesus, even RINGO was able to fit 4 chords into Octopus' Garden. Show a little variety, will ya Macca?

I'll give him one thing, the major VI chord (F#) and the V-V (B) aren't normal chord choices in the home key of A, but at this point, John had already used pretty much every awesome progression he could find using chords like that, so this almost seems forced by Paul to catch up. At least John knew what MINOR chords were. Jeez.

I know what you're thinking, readers. "What about that piano solo?" Well, notice that he does a pivot switch into his beloved D Major leading up to that, giving him 1 whole less sharp to have to work with. In fact, incredibly close analysis of the solo only has him playing 5 sharp notes in the whole damn thing. Hell, I'd not be surprised if he just made George Martin do the solo for him so it'd sound good. Paulie certainly didn't try the ones in In My Life or Rocky Raccoon, both somewhat difficult. Makes the mind wonder...

You may also mention the wrenching meter change that Paul pulls in the refrain of the song to me. Well, you've been fooled again. This is nothing more than some odd syncopation on a regular old 4/4 bar that you've heard over and over again. And as I stated before, even among that odd syncing, that piano gives it all away with it's 4/4 unchanging smacking on that chord. BOOM, and suddenly this piece in B Major with time changes abound becomes a much less exciting piece in A Major all in 4/4. How exciting.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Well, technecally it might not be all that awesome, but it still sounded good even with the minimal effort. Besides, the entire song is made awesome when Ringo does that "She fuckin' does" whisper in the final verse. Oh that Ringo, he's such a card. Even after that, this was still one of the earlier PPS, so chunking hadn't yet been overburned into our poor minds. Having to listen to them all in 2008, now that's an excuse for pain.

- UZ

Sunday, June 8, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Golden Slumbers

GOLDEN SLUMBERS
PMCPP Analysis #3
KEY: A minor/C Major (?)
RHYTHM USED: Ba-Dum

All right, here's our first out and out Ba-dum styled song, proving that even late in his career, Macca was still churning out those same 2 songs with nobody noticing. This particular one is rather short (guess he was running out of ways to fool us by this point) but still manages to fit plenty of cliche into that 1:32. Oddly enough this is his second crappy piano song in Abbey Road (You'd think he'd have learned by now!) and not his last. We've got a loooong way to go. Ugh.

THE PIANO: As is the norm for PPS, it opens with a few bars of the material that will be played for pretty much the rest of the song. Most of the piano is played in a fashion where he's only moving up seconds, in the few spots when he does move and doesn't just vamp on the singular chords. He spends almost half the song vamping on the same A minor chord, in fact. Such skill, such finesse. Even when the chords do change he's not working to hard, using only 3 of the notes from 4 note chords almost every time. Couldn't be bothered to wear out that ring finger, eh Paulie?

Not many moving notes, if any, are present in the entire song, leaving all of the material as simple Ba-dumming. (Ba-dumming, of course, being a word.) If there was a way to stick this much Ba-dumming into a full length song, I'd like to see it. I guess Paul loved those short length songs, eh?

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: I should really add the acronym of DAE to the whole FCG concept, those being the relative minors of FCG. For those non-musicians among you, that basically means you're playing the same keys in a different order. This one is in that laziest key of C major, but starting on an A. See, now you're thinking with porta... er, key signatures! Alan Pollack states in his Golden Slumbers analysis that he believes it to be in a sort of C major/A minor hybrid, which to me signifies that he couldn't make up his damn mind on which style of laziness to go with. I personally believe the entire song could easily be said to be in A minor. But I'm not the theorist here, am I? (Alan would then put a :-) here.)

As I mentioned above, the chord choices really all hover harmonically near that minor i (vi?)chord, almost ad nausium. He does, in the 3rd phrase of the verse, throw in several chords in a row around, but none of them really go anywhere, in an odd I-Vofvi-vi-ii progression. That Vofvi chord basically just amounts to a Major III chord, by the way. Actually quite a cliche chord, for the exotic name. He doesn't even voice it correctly, with a very strange sounding F# in it.

I think he was just messing around and hitting random notes until he found something interesting sounding people could talk about later. As if he had any idea what he was doing.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Well, the short length of the song means it's really over quite quickly, so you miss most of the monotony. (I myself had to put it on loop on my iPod as I was listening to it during this writing, it was so short.) Besides that, it was almost the end of the Abbey Road medley, so the epicness of the situation blinds you from the song's boring qualities.

Even after that, I'll be the first to admit that it's not even close to his worst song, with an interesting bassline and vocal to mask that piano. Still, by this point in time, you'd think he'd have run out of ideas for those rhythms.

- UZ

Friday, June 6, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Maxwell's Silver Hammer

MAXWELL'S SILVER HAMMER
PMCPP Analysis #2
Key: D Major
Rhythm used: Chunk

Today's study is on a textbook example of the chunk rhythm. Our next study will be an example of the Ba-dum rhythm, just so you can have a fair idea of how both of them work. This will also provide some insight into one of the few keys he goes into when he's not FCGing.

THE PIANO: Old school chunking here. This is one of his more in-depth chunking songs, though, as during verses he occasionally throws in a couple of single notes, though it's nothing special or memorable as it's mostly (read: all) just running down the scale in seconds. In the interum between verse extension and chorus, he even throws in a so-cliche-it's-not-even-funny little "Da dum dum dum" sort of piano riff. As if this song couldn't get more cliche. Ugh.

That part I labeled "extension" provides even more laziness into the already lazy song by allowing him to only have to play 2 chords (not over and over, total. 2 chords) in a 4 measure period, which just happen to be similar to chords he'd already played! Paul's laziness at it's best, I tell ya.

LAZINESS IN WRITING: This song may not be in FCG, but it's in D, which is only a bit better. Looking through the Paul McCartney body of work, it's one of the few keys he ever ventures off into. Guess he must've taken a piano lesson in D one time or something and just kept reusing it to attempt and prove he could actually do stuff.

This song shines in the "stupid lyrics and idea" department, so much so that even the other Beatles had to stop him from making this a single. Of course, since the song involves Paul and a piano, it'd have sold millions. Seriously, it's about a dude who goes around and beats up people with his hammer. No real reason why he does it is given, I guess the guy is just insane. Shouldn't we find psychiatric help for people who write songs about guys killing their girlfriends with hammers?

The bassline and such really isn't too special either, just being seemingly random notes from whatever chord is going in quarter notes with rests in between. Really, I can't find anything in this song that doesn't scream "Written while drunk at 4 AM on a Sunday." Even Ringo didn't sound particularly inspired on this track.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: I'm not quite sure why people didn't rip him apart for this one, since I have yet to find a redeeming quality to it. I guess by this point people were just so happy that the Beatles were still recording that they would've accepted an album of 12 versions of "Dig It" for some new Beatles. Most of Abbey Road was better than that, thank god. Maybe the awesomeness of the other songs just masked this one from people's minds.

- UZ

Thursday, June 5, 2008

PMCPP PRESENTS: Hello, Goodbye

HELLO GOODBYE
PMCPP Analysis #1
KEY: C Major
RHYTHM USED: A bunch of Chunk with some Ba-Dum during chorus'.

We'll start off our studies with a song that isn't outright a Piano song. You'll notice in quite a few of our PPS examples, the Piano isn't the number one instrument, but still thrown in because at one point in the Beatles career, he just couldn't resist throwing a piano into EVERY SONG HE WROTE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD RAAAGE.

THE PIANO: *cough* Er, anyway. This song actually hides that blasted piano way in the back, so it's almost difficult to hear on the sterio version since the Violas and guitar and whatever else Paul threw in there to distract us are getting in the way. Still, it's there, behind the "Hello, hello!" of the chorus, ba-duming away over and over. He barely even changes notes during the course of the chorus as well.

During the rest of the song, it's just straight up 3-4 note chunking on eighth notes, nothing really special. He DOES try and trick you into thinking he did something cool around 2:00 in by using the same chunks as before... but up an octave. Weeee.

LAZINESS IN WRITING: The piano isn't even the worst part about this, as this song is a textbook example of some of Pauls laziest songwriting. Besides the borderline stupid lyrics, (I'm saying goodbye because everything I say you repeat in the inverse, asshole!) the hook of the song is a C major scale ascending. You read that correctly. The hook, which is supposed to be what draws you into the song... is a stupid C major scale. Not even a rhythmic scale like in the old classic "Joy to the World" either. Straight eighth notes. Up a scale. Not any scale, but the first scale one learns in 1st grade piano class. The mind shudders to think what was going through Paul's mind at the moment.

"Hmm, you know what trick I haven't pulled on the fans yet? Throwing in something a 3 year old could play!"

It's as if the song was written by a man who had just learned how to play in the key of C and was a bit too excited about the prospect, coming up with an entire 3 and a half minutes of the same 4 notes repeated over and over. This song is the first example you'll find of a FCG song, as well. He loved those white keys, all right, even straying into the realm of 2 sharps/flats wasn't often found in his forte.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: The only saving grace for the song being fully stupid was the fact that the melody and basslines weren't quite as much childsplay. But even with the jumpy melody and the thumping bassline, it's a surprise this song managed to fool enough people into buying it to make it a number 1 hit anywhere. I'm gonna go with Lennon on this one, I am the Walrus should've been the single here.

That's our first Analysis, everyone. Thanks, and stick around, there's plenty more to be PMCPP'd.

-UZ

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Welcome! Please read this first.

Good day, and welcome to my blog, called "Paul McCartney is a lazy bastard who can't play the piano." That all didn't fit in the title bar, so I'll just call it PMCPP for short. This opening post will give you an idea of exactly what this whole blog is about, and some of the terms I'll be often using in the course of these times. Enjoy!

Paul McCartney was the main piano player for the Beatles from their beginnings in 1963 until 1971 when they OFFICIALLY broke up. (Semantics are a bitch.) This would be all well and good if he had actually learned to play the piano before doing so. Our premise at PMCPP is to prove that he only really wrote 2 songs for the piano and reused them OVER and OVER again throughout his Beatles career, with nobody taking notice. I'll be presenting evidence in Music Theory and in just plain common sense on pretty much every piano song he wrote, and perhaps even some of the non-piano songs he wrote, all to prove my point. My, that was a long sentence.

Following is a glossery of terms that may come up during our studies.

The Rhythms: Reference to the both of the following two piano rhythms that comprised pretty much every Paul Piano Song.
PPS: Paul Piano Song. Just an abbreviation indicating all/almost all of Pauls Piano based songs at the same time.
Ba-Dum: The first of The Rhythms. Played via smashing 2-4 keys with your right hand on an onbeat, and then 1 on the offbeat with your left hand. A good example of this one is Golden Slumbers.
Chunk: The second of The Rhythms. Played by smashing 2-5 keys at the same time repeatedly. A good example of this one is Maxwell's Silver Hammer.
FCG (on occasion DAE): The 3 main keys that Paul liked to use, rarely straying from his beloved white notes. FCG just indicates all 3 keys are in mention.
Alan W. Pollack: The excellent theorist that wrote theory analysis for every single Beatles song. I may cite examples from him at times.
PMCPP: (Paul McCartney Can't Play Piano) The main series covered in this blog, analysis of songs of bad quality written by Paul McCartney involving piano, etc. Pronounced PIM-CUP.
UMFOTOB: (UZ Makes Fun Of The Other Beatles) A secondary series covered in this blog, where songs from the other Beatles are analyzed in critical fashion similar to PMCPP analysis. Pronounced UM-FOO-TUB.

Thank you and enjoy!

(And yes, this blog is a touch satirical and focuses on way too many semantics. I love the Beatles and Paul.)

NOTE:

This series and blog is totally tongue in cheek. I really do love Paul McCartney.