Friday, July 16, 2010

PMCPP PRESENTS: The Night Before

PMCPP Analysis #23
KEY: D Major

Fun story, Paul doesn't even play the Piano on this one, John handled the electric keyboard on this song. Paul still wrote it though and the part has his boring little fingerprints all over it so that's plenty enough for me to include it in our analysis group!

THE PIANO: The part for piano here sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is while listening to the recording, sounding more like a rhythm guitar part than a keyboard part. I've heard the part described as "rollicking", which sounds like one of those words I always make up here. I prefer to call the part "easy as sin" personally.

First of all, remember that there is no bass in this part at all. Everything is in the treble, which I assume is how Paul came up with the concept of the "rollicking" part so easily, he didn't have to play his usual 4-on-the-floor style or a ba-dum style either when he didn't have a bass note going at any point to fuck his rhythm up. This is of course assuming that he actually has rhythm and wasn't just coming up with the keyboard pattern by randomly hitting the keyboard like Micheal J. Fox. (Too soon?)

There's no real exciting leaps in the part, I think the only part where there is actually any difficult jump in the part is in the second measure as it goes from D to F and John takes the part down a 5th to an A instead of up a 3rd to an F. Of course after that he very slowly moves it back up to the D instead of making any big leaps by keeping the A7 chord in the 1st inversion so the C# is in the 'bass' instead of the A and doing the exact same thing with the G chord and a B in the bass. How much you wanna bet that Paul came up with that idea?

In total the part is mostly 3 fingered chords, a 4th note is added occasionally when another note is called for, like the Gm6 chord or that A7 chord. However, some chords like the D7 at the end just do the old Paul gambit of dropping a note and keeping it at 3 notes played. Also in true Paul style, there's so few chords that actually need more than 3 notes in them that it hardly matters.

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: The key is a bluesy version of D Major, another example of Paul using any excuse he can to stick a C chord into every song he writes. Every third or fourth chord seems to be a C, the bluesy bVII in this case. He also sticks an F chord for no reason whatsoever into the intro, it doesn't appear anywhere else in the song... until the third to LAST measure in the song. Two appearances by a chord that has nothing to do with the key at the very start and end of the song, what the hell Paul?

The chord structure is your cliche I-something-IV-V, with the something in this case being that C chord instead of a usual vi. That is broken by a small part where Paul decides to stick the vi chord of Bb in along with the vi of D (2 sharps = 2 flats in Pauls mind?) twice and then go right back to the I-bVII-IV-V. The bridge goes from one cliche to another as it goes with a I-IV-vi-VofV-V gambit. There is a minor v chord there at the start as well, which fortunately makes it have a tinge of interest while fitting right into Paul's "remove sharps at all cost" method of songwriting.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: The song was sandwiched between Help! and You've Got To Hide Your Love Away on the Help album, so people could easily skip it to get to some GOOD songs!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


PMCPP Analysis #22
KEY: C Major (Or fake C# Major)

It's Ringo's birthday! Yay! And what better way to celebrate than with an analysis of the only song Ringo ever actually wrote on his own for the Beatles? (Sorry Octopus' Garden, we all know about your dirty collaboration with George.) Anyway, this song is about as good as you'd expect Mr. Ringo "Can't play the Guitar in a key other than E or A or Piano in anything other than C" Starr to create.

THE PIANO: Upon first listen this song sounded like it was just an ostinato of two notes, E and D. Seriously, with all the layering going on with other instruments it almost sounds like it's just playing an eighth note rest followed by E-D-E over and over. I was surprised then when I listened closer and realized that there were not only chords going on, but a bass line containing more than one note as well! The bass is jumping around the root and fifth of every chord, but at least it's something. Suddenly this song goes from "how the hell did he write this and think it was good enough to record" tier to "sounds like something Paul would have written" tier. Except that bassline might be a bit too complicated for Pauly-O. Heh.

After the little E-D-E ostinato whenever the song is on the I chord, it gets real boring real fast. Over the F chord it just becomes the same bassline with F-C rather than C-G bouncing around. The treble bores itself up as well, turning into just straight quarter notes after an eighth rest. In Ringo's defense, at least the eighth rest for the treble makes it a somewhat interesting chunking pattern being followed. Not nearly interesting enough to make me think DEAR GOD I MUST LEARN THIS KICK ASS PIANO PART but still better than just Paul's oft-used "four on the floor" style.

By the way, it does the exact same thing over the G chord, if you hadn't guessed. And if you hadn't guessed, it probably means you've never read this blog before. Seriously, it's always that damn way. There are no other tweaks to be found all song long, it's basically the same 3 measures repeated depending on the chord they're representing. Fortunately we have the utter horrific chaos provided by the fiddle to lighten the mood - or drive you insane - but more on that later.

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: Well, it's in the key of C, which should surprise almost nobody. After all, when he wrote a song based around the guitar with Octopus' Garden, it was in the guitar-friendly key of E, so expecting his more Piano based song to be in C is akin to expecting the sun to rise in the morning or expecting Justin Beiber fans to show complete outrage on twitter every time #RIPJustinBeiber starts trending. Which is to say, you should reeeeally expect it. As a fun bonus for seemingly no reason whatsoever, the mono version of the song is mixed in... C# Major instead. It's so blatantly obvious that it was recorded in C and mixed up though, it's really not funny. Ringo sounds like he's on helium for Christ's sake.

The chord selection by Ringo is about as varied as the selection of songs on most of Paul's new albums. (Ballad, ballad, power ballad, ballad, acoustic ballad, ballad in a minor key...) Nothing but I, IV and V to be seen all song.

The instrument selection is strange as well. The drums are in a basic rock beat style, except for a floor tom that seemed to be recorded later hitting random 16th notes randomly throughout the song. There's a fiddle player, but the only instructions that said fiddle player received seem to be "take this Speed, then play whatever you want". There is no rhyme or reason to the fiddle's playing, and goes sporadically in every direction you can think of. The anti-piano part, if you will.

HOW RINGO GOT AWAY WITH IT: You honestly think anybody expected the next I Am The Walrus out of the guy?

Happy birthday, Ringo!


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