Monday, 11 April 2011

12:24 Golden Slumbers

Golden Slumbers was recorded as one piece with Carry That Weight. Unusually McCartney borrowed lyrics from someone else. Cradle Song is a poem by dramatist Thomas Dekker published in 1603.

Not that one. This one - 

He pretty much lifts the lyrics verbatim except for changing the word 'wantons' to 'darling'.

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise ;
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby,
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.
Care is heavy, therefore sleep you,
You are care, and care must keep you ;
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby,
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.

Nine And A Half Bars

The melody is a very McCartney disjunct effort – lots of leaping around in 4ths and 5ths rather than gradually climbing up and down the scale a note at a time. The overall melodic shape rises, falls, then makes a final upward leap of a sixth - E to C on the verses (Lulla - BY-EE) and G to E on the choruses (YOUR EYES and YOU RISE)

In the chorus the melody hangs on an E even when we move from a C major chord to an Fadd9 (Ticket 13). And he resolutely ignores the G# in the E chord and sings a G natural which is both bluesifying the melody (Ticket 22) and writing an in-key melody over an out of key harmony (Ticket 14)

Just like You Never Give Me Your Money and Carry That Weight it uses circle of fifths in this instance

Am Dm G C

The verse is 10 ½ bars and the chorus 9 ½. No matter how you carve up the phrases bar wise (and there are a few possibilities) they're odd. McCartney takes the edge off the odd musical activity by ending the verse and the chorus with the same musical and lyrical ideas (sleep pretty darling...) - let's call that Ticket 41.

Songwriting Gold

The strength of the song is down to the powerful mood conveyed by the music and lyrics right from the beginning.

A one bar intro (Ticket 2) with a very open high Am7 chord (ACG – no 5th) melody on a G “once there was a way...” and then the strong A bass note on the second bar. What's happening here?

Well, the lack of a clear bass note, a single fairly unstable chord, and an unfinished sentence all contributes to a sense of lostness. The music brilliantly reflects the lyrical mood. Consider that in the first 8 seconds we've only heard 3 notes. We're not even really sure which key we're in and whether the chord we're hearing is the root chord or something else. The music makes us feel a little lost even as he's singing “once there was a way to get back homeward, once there was a way to get back home.” The implication being, now there is no way to get back home.

Do You Have To Smile So Loudly?

Overall it's a great tune but the setting and performance is inappropriate. Potentially a classic song, it's rendered faintly ridiculous when it turns into a bombastic lullaby. Listen to the way McCartney growls his way through the chorus right after saying “I will sing a lullaby”.

RINGO "if you could sleep through it, it'd be a miracle"

Lyrically I think McCartney should have focused on the lostness and lost the lullaby. Dekker's lyrics sparked some great ideas, but the song would have been stronger if he'd have ditched what didn't suit the music.


  1. I want to like Golden Slumbers, but when starts cutting loose with his rock voice in the middle of the song, I suspect that the kiddies would get scared and stay awake all night.

  2. Not as kid unfriendly as this glorious track

  3. Here's how it was before the overproduction