Monday, 28 March 2011

12:23 Carry That Weight

We're back with the long one medley. Carry That Weight was recorded in one piece with Golden Slumbers. And very unusually it features all four Beatles on backing vocals. That's right, for once you can hear the dulcet tones of Mr Richard Starkey.

Are there any other bands that have four lead vocalist? And is Ringo the only lead vocalist that rarely contributes any BVs? I'd like to know!

The song's mixed bag. Some great melodies, a palpable sense of Apple™- induced pain in the lyrics, a great arrangement and a genuine musical link to another part of the Long One. But the lyrics! Oh Boy!

The structure is ABAC (Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Outro) with the B & C sections lifted directly from You Never Give Me Your Money. So I'll reserve a more detailed analysis of those sections for when I get to that song.

They call it dummy love

Mark Altrogge told me this is the track he would nominate for the Hall of Shame and I think he's right. Take a look

Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight, 
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight,
Carry that weight a long time

I never give you my pillow,
I only send you my invitations
And in the middle of the celebrations,
I break down

Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight, 
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight, 
Carry that weight a long time

I think the song suffers from dummy love. Dummy lyrics are place holders, meaningless vocal sounds and stream of consciousness words meant to hold the shape of the melody till the real lyrics arrive. But sometimes they never arrive. I think McCartney just slung any old soundalike words to match the general structure and feel of You Never Give Me Your Money. But the results are pretty poor and undermines the powerful vibe set up by the chorus.

Simple & Strong

The Chorus is pretty basic. It only has 2 chords (C and G7) and lasts for 4 bars the hook “carry that weight” is sung twice same words, chord and melody. How come it's so strong?

Well, unusually the hook lands in bars 2 and 3, rather than 2 and 4, 3 and 4 (or even 123&4!). The fact that it's over a G7 means it keeps you waiting for the resolution a long time (see what I did there!?) and it sits on the highest point in the melody (Ticket 27). Then add into the mix that the melody is more off beat than you think. You're gonna starts on the off beat, that weight ends off and long time is off beat too.The verse melody has a lot of off beat stuff too.

Speaking of the verse

It's built on the old jazz (and classical) progression (see Ticket 25) of going backwards through the circle of fifths.

A – D – G – C – F

In the song this translates as

Am  Dm  G7  C  Fmaj7  Bm7b5  E7  Am

You can hear this stock progression in Hello (Lionel Ritchie), I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor), Killing Me Softly (Roberta Flack) and Golden Slumbers.

So the chorus has two simple chords and the verse has a complex classical inspired string of chords but that's not the only point of contrast (Ticket 5). The chorus is sung in a manly unison, the verse in harmony, the verse is full of accents in rhythm section but the chorus powers ahead with straight eighths.

And your bonus ticket is...

Though we get the I and V chords (C and G) and nothing but, right from the get go, we have to wait till 0:36 (a third of the way through) for the IV chord which arrives with the guitar solo. Don't hit us over the head with the I, IV, V chords - that's Ticket 7.


  1. I had never noticed that a V7 reflects the struggle that's going on throughout the chorus. "Carrying weight" wouldn't really be something done with a blithe melody over a I chord strummed for four bars... makes total sense.

    *absorbs secondhand awesomeness from your Beatles quest

  2. I love the way they made something powerful out of such simple ingredients. Magic.