Wednesday, 15 December 2010

12:12 Mean Mr Mustard

Another song fragment by John Lennon. Another minature portrait of an oddball person. You could be tempted to tar this song with the same brush as Polythene Pam. But this is actually a clever little piece.

Three over four

The first part of the melody is a three over four hemiola (Ticket 29).


The musical backing is clearly in 4/4. But listen to the first part of the melody. It seems to be in 3/4.

Mean Mr Mustard
1        2    3
Sleeps in the park
1         2         3
Shaves in the dark
1          2         3
Tryin' to save paper
1             2      3

Led Zeppelin used this idea in a lot of their riff based songs, like Black Dog, Over The Hills & Far Away, Kashmir

This idea is carried over to the chorus where "mean old" and "ma-an" have the same three over four idea but this time running at twice the speed of the verse.

All this time bending shenanigans comes out in the open on the second chorus where they change from 4/4 to a 6/8 time signature. (Ticket 15)

Fine mustard

The other interesting thing is how similar the "sleeps in a hole in the road" tune is to the guitar riff in I Feel Fine. Have a listen for yourself and see what you think. If I ever get a chance I might do a podcast or video or something...

Lyrically it's a bit sloppy. Where does he sleep? A park? or a hole in the road? I think we should be told!

I love your jacket - what's it made of?

By the way, I love Complete Scores but those Japanese transcribers have some hilarious trainwrecks with the lyrics. "Saving up to buy soup clothes"? Really? Maybe soup clothes are big in japan...

Once again, like so many of the long one songs, it just about stands up in it's own right, but could use another verse (and a bit of a lyrical tidy up)

That's all for now. 40 songs down - only 171 more to go! Merrry Christmas, Happy New Year, thanks for reading so far - look out for the Sun King - arriving in Jan!


  1. Soup clothes?! haha.

    Matt, I love this format of analyzing Beatles songs and then linking them up to your "Tickets to Write" page.

    I am having something of an artistic identity crisis. Want to resume accountability? I may be changing focus, but I still need to focus.

  2. Sure thing - I've been having computer/illness/weather/work issues of my own which have meant I've not been writing much recently - I'll email you...