The first Beatles song deemed fit for public consumption shines, like much of the debut album, because of the playing more than the writing. One of McCartney’s earliest efforts (written when he was 16) the fact that it manages to be such a good song is intriguing because of how much is missing.
There are only 19 words in the whole song!
The melody almost completely avoids the 3rd, major or minor, giving it a stark sound, odd and original, almost autistic.
The verse melody has an AAABC structure and the bridge ABAB.
Every line in the song has a 3 beat pause after it
“Love, Love me do (234), You know I’ll love you (234)” etc
“Someone to love (234), Somebody New (234)” etc
The verse has only 2 chords - I (G) and IV (C) and the bridge 3 - I (G) IV (C) V (D).
The arrangement is pathologically simple, 1 verse (played 4 times) and 1 bridge (played twice).
Something so primitive should be as compelling to listen to as a caveman banging two rocks together. And yet somehow it works, and people are still buying it (and blogging about it) 47 years later!
Why? I haven’t a clue!
Sure it’s carried along by great performances - nice country style vocal harmonies, bluesy chromatic harmonica and solid drumming from session man Andy White* but this track is far more than the sum of it’s parts. That it’s not a great song is entirely understandable. That it’s a good song is utter bewildering, but there it is.
Can YOU figure it out?
*The original single version (featuring Ringo on drums) is available on Past Masters
IMHO: The reason this song works:ReplyDelete
HUGE Beat!Blues harmonica intro new and fresh for the time in British popular music.
Lack of lyric on 2. 3 4 only enhances Ringos beat, and Paul's simple bass line on 1 and 3 enhances beat again (less is more), especially the Grand Canyon sized pause after Ringo's snare hit between "please!" and "love me do"
Paul and John's Everly Brothers harmonies are perfect and underline the word "please"; and were sure to grab the attention of any 14 year old girl circa 1964.
BIG SHIFT between PLEASE and Love me do provides two emotional hooks to teenaged girls: (harmonized please) provides emotional high point: unadulterated passion (followed by sotto voiced "love me do") provides unexpected intimacy, like Paul is whispering in her ear. A great song. Never understood why George Martin couldn't see it.
I think you make some good points. I think from GMs perspective the song, though good, is incredibly primitive sounding - compared to other pop music, the Stones or even The Beatles themselves. It was a bold choice as a first single and not that representative of their sound even at that early stage.Delete
Andy Whites drumming....not Ringos
well it depends what version you're listening to!Delete