Friday, 22 April 2011

12:27 Six Things I Like About You...

... (Never Give Me Your Money)

Circle of fifths

The chords in the opening section go backwards through this stock pattern (Ticket 43)

Am Dm G C F (ending with an E7 to Am)

A lot of the classy elegance and timeless feel of the song is down to this.

Suspensions in the melody

Classy chords are no good if you just plop any old melody on the top. McCartney's melody starts on an E over an Am chord but on the key word money he continues to sing one more E over the Dm before resolving to D. This 'suspension' (a sus 2 to be precise) is another very classical trick, that of moving the voices at staggered intervals. In this case the chord moves one note before the melody.

If you have a very step wise melody where the melody changes when the chords do try this idea out by delaying the melody's movement by one note (or anticipating it by one). This can give a melody a real sense of drama and tension, as it does here (see Ticket 13).

On the next change (funny papers) the melody leaps to another suspension, an F over a C chord (a suspended fourth) then drops, to an E, then C, then G. More tension and resolution.

Recycled melody

I said last time there was a solid link between the A and B sections. The A melody descends , remaining mainly on E (you never give me your) then D (you only give me your) then C (and in the middle of in-). The B section melody has a similar (though quicker) descending pattern using pairs of notes. E & C (out of college), D & B (money spent), C & A (see no future), Bb & G (pay no rent), A & F (all the money), G & E (gone, nowhere). You could look at this as recycling one section of music to create another (Ticket 9), but my gut feeling is this was probably a happy accident.

Staying off the one

There's another link between the two section. Each line in the A section starts on the 'and' after 'one'- (rest) you never give me... In the B section each stanza does the same (rest) out of college. (Ticket 39).

Unified lyrics

This one is a real surprise. How many times have the Beatles held a random collection of lyrical nonsense together with a fantastic melody? But here the lyrics are covering some of the music's ragged edges. The money theme from A continues into B (money spent, pay no rent, all the money's gone) and even into the later sections we still get a sense of being on a journey hinted at in the B & C sections. Not to mention all lyrical parallels in the opening verses (Ticket 24).

The magic chord

The Bb chord (bVII) which you hear for the first time in section C really does give an unexpected, uplifting feeling at point in the lyrics where McCartney sings Oh that magic feeling. Words and lyrics perfectly together.

Thanks to those of you (Marv, Geordie, Matt) who weighed in with words of love for this song. The track as it stands would never make a best of Beatles compilation, but I sense that in happier times the opening section (with maybe a bridge by Lennon) could have blossomed into a song right up there with Hey Jude, Penny Lane and Yesterday. We'll never know.


  1. You Never Give Me Your Monkey

  2. You only give me your monkey papers

  3. From now on, I am going to call money "Monkey Papers."

    This is going to improve my life tenfold. Thank you, Matt. Thank you.

    I can't wait to get an accountant. I am going to act confused and vehemently insist that he call dollars "Monkey Papers" also.

  4. Thanks a lot, guys. Now I'm going to think of "monkey papers" every time I see some cash.

    Thanks, Matt, for this blog. I'm finding it fascinating to see how these songs were constructed and how they work. Well done!