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!