Friday, 12 March 2010

From Me To You Too - Best Beatles Reference Sites

I thought I would wrap up the first chapter of my studies with a few recommendations. I'm still learning how to eat this particular elephant (playing and deconstructing 211 songs) and am planning to tweak the shape of this blog to make it more effective (for me) and useful (for you).

One of the things that's pressing me to rethink is the vast amount of great stuff in blog land already. Here are quotes on From Me To You from three sites that are so great I'd be insane to try to copy them or better them.

Alan Pollack was the daddy of Beatles analysis

This second augmented chord, spelled from bottom up, A-flat / C / E, could move in one of two directions. Either the A-flat can resolve downward, making for a move to C-Major, or else, the A-flat can behave as though it were a G#, resolving upward, making for a move to a-minor.
What we get is quite enigmatically ingenious: the very next chord following the augmented one turns out, indeed, to be C-Major, the I chord of our home key, yet the music immediately proceeds with one final statement of the hook phrase before terminating abruptly on the a-minor chord. The musical logic of bringing down the curtain on the hook phrase is so subtly persuasive, that you barely note the ironic fact that the song has ended off-center from the home key; actually on the chord of the home key's relative minor.

Next up has all the background detail you could ever want (though disappointingly only goes up to 1965 - with Beatles VI).

With "Please Please Me" enjoying an impressive ride up the charts, pressure was on from George Martin and Brian Epstein for them to write a follow-up hit, since none of their earlier material appeared suitable. Therefore, on the bus ride from York (where they played on February 27) to Shrewsury (where they were appearing on February 28) they took the time to put ideas together for their next single.

While on the bus, they happened to be reading the February 22 issue of the weekly pop newspaper New Musical Express. The "letters" column in the paper was called "From You To Us," which featured a fan letter talking about how Cliff Richard was currently outshining Elvis Presley in the charts. Lennon stated in May of 1963 that Paul and he started to "talk about one of the letters in the column," which led to them putting ideas together for a song inspired from the title of the newspaper column.

Finally A Year In The Life also has lots of good background and videos, but the posts are in a random order and the best way to find a song is by year.

Paul has cited this one as an early favorite because of its interesting harmonic structure, which he's called a turning point in their songwriting. And it is interesting, because it actually goes into a different key for the bridge-- which, though it would be more common in Lennon-McCartney songs later, was still pretty far out this early on. The modulation from C major into F major happens so seamlessly you almost don't notice it-- in fact, it's a modulation on a common chord, handled exactly like a zillion classical composers before them would have also handled it, which is why it feels so pleasant and neat, even if it is a little unusual in a pop song. Of course, since they play the bridge twice, they're doing this modulation thing back and forth pretty frequently in a song that's barely two minutes, so I'd go so far as to call it kind of daring. But it works, doesn't it? I'm also a huge fan of the chord they end the song on-- I love the unfinished sound of it. It's just cool as hell.

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