Dedicated to those songs that I can’t stop playing, humming, or thinking about; the 4+ minutes you fall head-over-heels in love with. Past instances have included New Order’s “Age of Consent,” Radiohead’s “Optimistic,” and Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglova’s cover of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.”
‘Oh, great,’ you’re thinking if you’re like me. ‘Another tribute to The Beatles. Just what this planet needs.’
‘And wonderful,’ you sarcastically continue. ‘It’s a non-single from one of the cool albums, so he’s proving how cool he is, even though he’s still writing about the most written-about band of the last two centuries. Bravo, free thinker.’
I know. I have problems. Let me lay it all out for a second:
I do not hate the Beatles at all. I only mildly pretend I do in my weaker moments to present an air of worldliness and musical study that would otherwise not be present. I used to be way into them in high school, which was perfect for high school. But as I aged and explored outside of that seven year period from 1964-1970, I developed a weird resentment toward the band not just for being so good, but for being so unquestionably good. This week’s song is from Revolver, which holds the title of “Best Beatles Album Ever” in current circles, probably because A) it somehow has the fewest number of over-played singles and B) we went through 20 years of Sgt. Pepper and 20 years of Abbey Road, so this is just Revolver‘s turn. The forgiveness of a world of fans toward the band’s faults boggles my mind. It makes me kind of sad to think that for some music lovers, their best days are 40 years in the past, and they know it. Or won’t change it. I always think of the line from Field of Dreams as Ray, while discussing his 60s experiences, mentions how he even tried to enjoy sitar music. That’s what Beatles fans remind me of; people still trying (or maybe pretending) to enjoy sitar music. Experimentation is fantastic, but it doesn’t consume your day’s listening experience. Great songs, however, do, and that brings us to “She Said She Said.”
My wife had recently gone to a Mother’s Day brunch, and they had a singer performing a bunch of songs. “Some Beatles songs were in there,” she relayed. “Of course,” I sneered, then added with a completionists fever, “Which songs?” Through an arduous memory-regaining process, I finally learned the names of the songs, one of which was “Here, There And Everywhere”. A request was put forth to hear the song again, and I allowed it with only the tiniest bit of hesitation. It’s as though I could see this article coming toward me like a freight train. Somehow I knew I would end up writing about the Greatest Band Ever and, consequently, throwing my column onto the growing pile of praise articles (for a good example of this, check out the comments at the bottom of the attached YouTube video. 108 as of May 17 on this song alone*). I hadn’t heard Revolver in a long while, and knew there was a song shortly after “Everywhere” that I remembered loving. After skipping a few tunes, I landed back in “She Said” land, and that’s where I’ve stayed, renting a place next to a long line of disciples.
But now I’m stuck. What am I possibly going to write about this song that hasn’t been written, sang, dreamt or painted by 600 other people already? Here’s the “review” from All Music.
“One of the key tracks on Revolver, ‘She Said, She Said’ is John Lennon’s major contribution to the album (apart from the magnificent closer, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’). It’s a vital, scathing track, reputedly inspired from a conversation Lennon had with Peter Fonda. With it’s clearly Acid-inspired lyric, Lennon sneers ‘She said she said/I know what it’s like to be dead’ with a contempt that is rare within his work with The Beatles. Harrison’s guitar is similarly jarring and brittle. The song is quite different to anything The Beatles recorded previously, yet there’s no denying its brilliance, and enormous importance in the development in Lennon’s song writing.”
I appreciate the effort, but what makes this review different from any other lock-step Beatle praise outside of the trivia? Brittle guitar, Lennon’s acid tongue, important to his song writing… heard it. At this point in modern history, I defy anyone to string two Beatles songs together that aren’t important to the band’s growth as song writers. When your greatness is omnipresent, then importance becomes part of your every move. There cannot be critical discussion about an unquestionably great anything because it introduces criticism, and criticsm introduces the potential for negative notes. And when you’re writing something for the acolytes, you don’t tell them that their idol has faults.
Sometimes you love something so much you will take any path just to discuss it. As a fan digs deeper and deeper into his lovely world of nostalgia, he searches for any angle that could possibly get him closer to the actual intangible art itself. Sometimes this works, and sometimes you just end up with yes men re-writing another “It’s Great,” and sometimes — as it appears would be the case with this week’s column — you get a mostly negative person who attacks a beloved entity from another side.
This presents a disservice to the song itself, which — as I’ve proven again and again with this column — is mostly just great because it sounds like Greatness. I posses no poetry to describe how bad-ass the drum fills are, or how that breaking down on the chorus feels emphasized like an apostrophe in a dictionary (“And she’s M’aking me F’eel like I’-'ve never been B’orn”). Or how this group of four human beings are responsible for some of the most perfect sounding noises we as a race have ever created or manufactured. I want to get closer and closer, but I’ll never reach it.
*As another point on fanaticism and the internet, I also wanted to point out how there is one video for a 45-second demo for “Help!” that has 80,000 views and 133 text comments. And not just short “This is great” either.