Friday, 20 January 2012

11:10 For You Blue

It's great to analyse classic songs and find out what makes them tick. But it's also good to analyse songs you hate and find out what makes them so disagreeable so you can avoid similar mistakes at all cost. At least that's what I keep telling myself. Let's not beat around the bush here – this is an awful song.

The chord progression is a stock 12 bar blues - nothing of interest there. The lyrics are totally banal – in effect “I love you because you're lovely”. Deep man. The rhyme scheme was obviously slaved over for minutes -

I love you/it's true/I do
I love you/I feel blue/girl for you

But the melody is where George really brings the pain. We have an ugly combination of jumps from chord tone to chord tone followed by a chromatic descent 8 - 7 – b7 (sweet and love-ly and more than ev - er) that ensures the 7th in the melody clashes with the b7 in the chord and makes the whole thing sound like a twee 1920's ballad. It's almost George emulating Paul's 'grannie music'.

Sometimes a bad song is saved by a stellar performance. Not here. Harrison's acoustic guitar is good and Ringo's fine, but the engineer who allowed Paul to mute the piano strings with paper (or whatever it was) should have just slammed the lid down on his fingers instead. It sounds for all the world like a Ukelele that's been rescued from a woodchipper. And John's lap steel guitar is the worst playing on a Beatles track since John's bass playing George Harrison picked up a violin.

From a compositional point of view this song has no redeeming features that I can see.

The only lesson I take away is

“Don't be afraid to try something different”

closely followed by

“and don't be afraid to throw a lot of that 'different' in the bin”.



  1. >>>"And John's lap steel guitar is the worst playing on a Beatles track since John's bass playing George Harrison picked up a violin."

    I don't know. There's so much else going on on "All You Need is Love" that it's easy to bury George's violin playing in the mix. John's bass playing, however, nearly ruins "The Long and Winding Road." It's excruciating. And I can't for the life of me understand why. George was not a violinist, so no one would expect him to sound like Itzhak Perlman. But the four strings on a bass guitar are tuned to the same notes as the lowest four strings on a guitar. John was a guitarist, so it seems all he would have to do is know the chords for "Long and Winding Road" and he'd be able to at least just play root notes. Yet he botches it to an amazing level.

    Got to agree with you on "For You Blue" though. One of George's low points, although not as hideous as "Blue Jay Way."

  2. Well you're right Rich 'violin buried in the mix' is nowhere as bad as John's lap steel or bass playing but I just meant like for like.

    I think John played so badly because
    A) he was bored
    B) he hated the song
    C) was just rehearsing

    so you could argue that John's real crime was putting out a crappy rehearsal version without Paul's approval...

  3. I don't know how much you two really know about The Beatles, but I'm guessing it's not a lot.
    If you knew anything, you would know that the album Let it Be is not up to Beatles standards because it was produced during a time of great tension between the band members and staff, so much so that George Martin was not even technically working from them.
    So the recordings were sent over to Phil Spector (famous for his "wall of sound" technique) and he absolutely butchered it. The true beauty of a Beatles song comes from the space between the notes--the sound that is left purposefully unfilled, which allows for a renewing moment in the song. Phil Spector totally disregarded that beauty, and so the Let it Be album that we all know and tolerate sounds so...wrong. The vocals are hidden behind less important elements, the guitars are competing with shitty overdubs even the arrangements Spector wrote for the orchestras are schmaltzy ("The Long and Winding Road"= Bambi's mother has just died...again and again and again.)
    The point is, The Beatles had no real control over the outcome of the album. When it was presented to them, they were all pretty much fed up with being and the band and so they approved it.
    All except Paul.
    Who, many years later in 2003 decided to go back into the studio and sift through the tapes from those recording sessions (which included some live tape of the rooftop concert) and spliced it in with new and old elements to create Let it Be...Naked. A version of Let it Be which Paul has been on record as saying it was the way Let it Be was originally intended.
    And what were the original intentions for Let it Be?
    The album started as a project called "Get Back," in which The Beatles were going to write songs in the style of their old days. It was meant to be very bluesy and rootsy, and it was actually supposed to be in the style of a live concert. This is the reason for strange tuning of the guitars, and the unconventional use of the instruments.
    However, all this intention was lost with Phil Spector and his absolute train wreck of a concept, and so that is what is causing your bitter words about a song that is actually sweet and beautiful.

    If you haven't already listened to Let it Be...Naked, I encourage you to so with an open mind and ear (also, huge speakers help) and truly listen for the subtle yet vital differences that make this album the true genius that it is.

  4. Hi Emmy as a first time commenter on BSA I'm going to treat your rude comment with more respect than it deserves.

    I'm not sure who the two people you are addressing here. It's just me. If you want to know more read this (the part about commenting is especially relevant.

    I don't consider myself to 'know a lot about the Beatles' - but I did know everything that you mentioned in your comment.

    I have heard Let It Be Naked. In fact I did a whole series of posts, which you could have found if you'd bothered to look.

    I am aware of the problems surrounding the recording of Let It Be which I went into in the post that is right there on the lefthand side bar -

    and also here

    I should also point out this post is about the song 'For You Blue'. Your comment makes no mention of that and so is completely off topic.

    I would love to hear your opinions and you are welcome to disagree with mine. Just don't be rude with it. And especially on your first comment.