Muhannad Al Sinani
the Music of the beatles
The music career of the Beatles began when John Lennon met a talented 15-year-old Paul McCartney at a church service where Lennon’s band, the Quarrymen, was performing. Lennon was impressed by McCartney’s prowess in playing the guitar; and thus, he requested him to join the band. Later, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe were recruited. Allan Williams, a manager and owner of a local club “The Jacaranda,” organized residence for the group in Hamburg, where they staged a string of performances (Wright, 1996). The band established itself progressively and revolutionized not only the rock genre but also music entirely. The Beatles have a voluminous number of albums that contain infinite single thrillers. Their songs became so popular because of the richness of the stylistic techniques employed (Beatles, 1996). This essay provides a detailed analysis of three masterpieces from the Beatles. Specifically, an emphasis will be on the interaction between words and music as well as how different musical techniques help convey the message in the singles “Got to Get You into My Life”, “Girl”, and “Let it Be”.
“Got to Get You into My Life”
The single was released in 1966 and is contained in the Revolver album. It was composed by Paul McCartney moments after his introduction to abusing pot. The artist reveals in interviews that his composition has an extended meaning. Paul confesses that:
“…when I had first been introduced to pot.… So “Got to Get You into My Life” is really a song about that, it’s not to a person.”
From the onset, one may be duped to think of “Got to Get You into My Life” as a love song.
Paul personifies pot to express his intimacy for it. He presents Marijuana as an attractive female who offers him solace during his low moments. He further says that he does not know whether he would survive without it meaning that he does not think it is harmful for human consumption (Sanders & Deitch Projects, 2007).
I was alone, I took a ride … I didn’t know what I would find there … Another road where maybe I could see another kind of mind there.
Although Paul would have talked about the drug blatantly, he chose to disguise it as something that is widely acceptable in the society for two primary reasons. First, advocating for consumption of pot blatantly would lead to a negative perception of his song; and consequently, it would have experienced decreased reception and sales. Secondly, he would run short of descriptions to show his opinion and love for pot (Quantick, 2002).
The hit has a rather sharp tune characterized by numerous wide jumps over a broad range. Further, the tune of the bridge can be described as bluesy. The vocal line is somewhat fragmented though it elides effortlessly with the subsequent musical instrumental responses. The tune had a seductive effect such that it makes the entire song difficult to break. Once an individual begins humming the song, they are surprised to find that they have done it all. On the other hand, the harmony is highly flexible and changeable (Beatles, 2000). It varies across different verses; for instance, the harmony in the first half of the verse is moderately static, the second half exhibits a chromatic bass line, and at the bridge, we encounter plenty of time for the plain old one, four, and five.
“Let it Be”
“Let it Be” is a famous hit song from the final album by the Beatles. The classic was released in May 1970. It was almost a month after the group broke up. The song did well both in the U.S and U.K. The genesis of the idea behind the song is not clear, although it is heavily linked to making a biblical reference (Wonfor & Smeaton, 2003). At the time of its production, the group was entangled in a grave managerial crisis that threatened its collapse.
“Let it Be” has a great rhythm because of its rich use of sound pattern devices. The composer chose his words keenly in such a way that they reflect alliteration, internal and external rhyme, and assonance among other devices. Rhythm enhances the musicality of the single significantly. Consequently, the audience can easily memorize and remember the song.
Rhyme – Verse 1
When I find myself in times of trouble … Mother Mary comes to me …Speaking words of wisdom … Let it be … And in my hour of darkness … She is standing right in front of me … Speaking words of wisdom … Let it be
Internal rhyme is used in the words “she” and “me” while external rhyme manifests itself in the words “be” and “me.”
On the other hand, the lyrics are highly alliterative. Below is an example,
Mother Mary comes to me … Whisper words of wisdom
The Beatles also utilize assonance widely:
When I find myself in times of … There is still a light that shines on
The clever integration of diverse sound pattern techniques gives the song an exceptional rhythm making it an irresistible piece.
The point of view used by a composer reveals whether the song is narrating personal experiences of the singer or is a general comment about a social, political, or economic aspect. Thus, the choice of personal pronouns is imperative. At other times, musicians do not want to limit their pieces by voice; they leave it moderately open so that the audience can interpret it their own way. In “Let it Be,” the voice could either be that of Paul or any other Christian. Just before the song, Paul’s mother who shares a similar name with the mother of the biblical Christ had experienced a dream of her mother comforting him (MacDonald, 1994). From the way he uses words, Paul does not wish to be specific but wants to give the listeners the freedom to fix an appropriate context to the composition.
Lastly, the meaning of the lexica used should be consistent with the central theme in a literary work. For instance, “Let it Be” expresses hope and optimism during hard times. Paul’s diction resonates excellently with his thematic concern. The song includes phrases like:
There is still a chance … There will be an answer … A light that shines on me.
Light has a positive connotation and is, more often than not, associated with hope and optimism. Again, the words also set the tone of the singer. In “Let it Be”, the tone and theme of the composition are consistent. The repetition of the phrase “Let it Be” underscores the main idea of the composer (Let It Be, 2009).
The pre-psychedelic phase revolutionized the Beatles’ compositions in numerous ways. Lennon, in particular, focused more on his choice of words as he felt pressed by the need to communicate an important message to his listeners. In his song “Girl”, Lennon speaks of a troubled yet optimistic girl. He tends to sympathize with her although he strongly feels that the girl is living in a world of illusion. He chooses his words carefully so that they set the tone and the mood of the poem in an explicit manner. Consequently, he is able to express his opinion on religion without sounding overly critical.
Lennon is a religious critic for he feels that it gives false hope or rather an imprecise definition of the journey to success. He alludes to the Bible by referring to Jesus Christ’s life. In his opinion, he thinks that most Christians tend to parallel their lives with that of Christ; and therefore, they believe that sufferings in life are a sign of better days ahead (McKeown et al., 2001). He carefully places his central message in the last verse in such a way that the listeners are left to ponder over it.
Was she told when she was young that pain … Would lead to pleasure? … Did she understand it when they said … That a man must break his back to earn his … Day of leisure, … Will she still believe it when he’s dead?
The words in the first verse are impeccable. The writer expresses a tone of uncertainty, yet he is compelling enough. The initial line of the verse is presented in the form of a question. Lennon expresses doubt wondering if anybody will get his message. He is aware that his listeners may not receive the theme kindly, especially if they are staunch believers in religion. Therefore, he does not state openly his opposition to religion but begins by preparing his audience psychologically. The first line depicts that Lennon has something for the listeners, but he is not sure whether they will accept it.
Is there anybody going to listen to my story … All about the girl who came to stay? … She’s the kind of girl you want so much it makes you sorry … Still, you do not regret a single day
Again, the use of words can determine the mood of a song. As so, Lennon wishes to be subtle; and therefore, he models his message to resemble a love song. It is somewhat symbolic to avoid a direct attack. Artists have a crafty way of expressing sensitive information. They want to communicate without hurting their fans (Creasy, 2010). Thus, they disguise their message in a palatable form, and the Beatles have mastered the art perfectly. They can talk about anything without it explicitly. The “Girl” and “Got to Get You Into My Life” are an embodiment of the same.
Music communicates through words. Thus, the success of a composition depends largely on the choice of words. Again, there are numerous musical and stylistic devices that interact with the words to add meaning to the song. The Beatles were a legendary group that revolutionized pop music in the 1960s. Most importantly, the group’s ingenuity helped the members penetrate the US markets where Britain’s pop was unpopular (Cole, 2003). Although the band was composed of different members, Paul McCartney and John Lennon dominated in composing tracks. The two songwriters had distinct ideologies; and hence, the message of their compositions was equally different. However, when it came to the use of words, both stars demonstrate unrivaled prowess. The tracks “Got to Get You into My Life,” “Girl.” and “Let it Be” prove that words and their interaction with other musical techniques are imperative in attaching meaning and relevance to a song.
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