Friday, 5 February 2010

1:7 A Taste Of Honey

First, a word of explanation. If this is a supposed to be a blog about the Beatles as songwriters, why am I including cover versions? Our first cover version is a good example of why. Though A Taste Of Honey is the worst cover on Please Please Me, oddly enough it’s very significant in the development of Beatles songwriting. This cover of a Lenny Welch disc, originally a film title song, is an embarrassingly earnest folk-dirge. But it has three things that the Beatles later ‘borrowed’ for their songs.

It’s the first ‘officially released’ Beatles song with a time signature change (from 3/4 to 4/4).

It ends on the F# major chord (the ‘picardy’ third) even though the song is in F# minor (Dorian mode actually). This switch from minor to major crops up again in several Lennon/McCartney songs including I’ll Be Back.

Lastly the verse’s opening chord sequence which is spelled (taking the dorian tonality into account)

iim(F#m), iimM7(F#mM7), iim7(F#m7), V(B).

is exactly the same chord sequence found in Harrison’s ‘Something’ in the section starting
“I don’t want to lose her now.”

The reason this is such a memorable hook is that the chords contain a descending chromatic line

F# (in the F#m)
F natural (in F#mM7)
E (in F#m7)
D# (in B major).

F# to F to E to D#. No wonder it sounds so sssshhhmoove…..

McCartney also used a similar chromatic motion in Michelle though the chord progression is slightly different.

Tickets To Write

T15 Use a time signature change between sections (e.g. verse in ¾, chorus in 4/4).

T16 In a minor key song try finishing on the major chord as a surprise ending.

T17 Spice up your chords by putting in a chromatic counter melody within them. You could even try nicking this exact chord sequence. George Harrison got away with it!


  1. I wish I had read this before, so interesting. The descending chromatic line features in the chorus to McCartney's song Junk from his first album as well - D7sus4 to Dm to A, which is held until the run of E, F#m7, E7/G#, A, E7/B and A/C#, then repeated except finishing on the A without going on to the E7/B and A/C#

  2. Junk is one of my favourite non Beatles Beatles songs.