Saturday, February 28, 2009

Please Please Me

Please Please Me, Track 7, 1963

Ah yes, the title track. The Beatles’ second single, and first Number One Hit. Well, that’s debatable, with different UK Charts listing the song as peaking at either #1, or #2 (to “How Do You Do It?,” a song offered to the Beatles by EMI that they declined). For this reason, “Please Please Me” did not appear on the “1” compilation album released in 2000. (link)

I Love:
  • The back-and-forth on the "c'mons" contrasting John's strung out vocals with the polished backing harmonies
  • I know the bass line is nothing special, but I think it really holds the song together, and gives it tension.
  • Also, I haven't mentioned nearly enough how much I love John's harmonica playing.
  • And the little guitar riffs preceding the aforementioned "c'mons."
  • Okay, basically all the instruments. Even the drums, right before the bridge. Excellent.
This is the last track on side one of the vinyl, and is of course, strategically placed to make the listener go through the entire record before reaching it, since, as the hit single, it was the most recognizable song. George Martin and the Beatles were both very meticulous about the track order on their records, even before the "concept album" and connected tracks of the later years.

There was some controversy over Please Please Me, with critics claiming it was about oral sex. Now that I’ve said that, I’m sure you’re incapable of thinking it’s about anything else. Paul McCartney denied it, but, well, the title is “Please Please Me.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ask Me Why

Please Please Me, Track 6, 1963

Released as the B-side for the title track, "Ask Me Why" was John’s attempt to emulate Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. (In a side note, I really, really thought that Smokey was dead, and was quite startled to see him at the Grammys). They performed the song live frequently, and the single featuring it was released in America TODAY! That is, February 25, 1963, so 46 years ago today. Doesn’t seem so long ago, does it? (link)

I love:
  • The “woo woo woo”s, “aye aye aye"s and all the vocal duplications in general, even in the lyrics “Never never never be blue”
  • John’s voice is beginning to crack, and in this case, it really adds to the heartfelt emotion of the song.
  • The guitar bum bum bum leading up to Miz-Er-Ree!
  • Also, the reference to “Misery,” the second song on the album.

On first glance, “Ask Me Why” seems so earnest, but the reference to “misery” is so well framed, with the guitar build up/intro (I always want to do a little cha-cha-cha there), the song becomes tongue-in-cheek instantly, and the excessive woo-woo-woos can be really appreciated for their silliness. The lyrics to this song don’t really make that much sense to me, anyways. The lady in question tells him things he wants to know? Is she a librarian or a teacher or something? He’s crying tears of joy because of this? Also, no one loves him!