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.

NOTE:

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