Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Beatles - Hello Goodbye

(Capitol, 1967)

QUIT PHONING IT IN, PAUL! I have a longstanding rep to uphold as America’s top McCartney bootlicker, but dude’s making it hard when he tosses off shit like “Hello Goodbye,” and in so doing proves every hack naysayer right about his money-grabbing vapidity. Argh! It’s certainly not a terrible song; there’s some rather nice drumming (note the pattern thus far: Ringo’s always good), slide guitar, and backing vox, and it’s obviously CATCHY...the problem here is largely the lyrics: it’s just the most braindead of oompah-oompahs, with the sickly-sweetest Paul-vocal in the canon. Gross treacle. But a funny video! The Beatles’ knowledge of their own fast-blooming legacy by this point made for some of the earliest hyper-self-aware rock, but other than the undeniable trace of faux-innocence here, as underscored in the vid’s gentle poke at Beatlemania-style naïvete, self-referentialism wasn’t to fully manifest itself for another album or so (“Glass Onion,” “Get Back”). Still, do not doubt that the foundation has been laid…

Lennon saves the operation with “I am the Walrus,” a wonderfully overstuffed piece of psychedelic nonsense that is only topped – barely – by “Strawberry Fields Forever” when it comes to delivering pure, Beatlish lysergic delight. “Walrus,” to its credit, has a much harder edge; John spits the lyrics out, very sensitive to timing the relevant consonants to the drumbeat, and gives his voice a raspy quality that would normally be better suited to a straight-up rock performance. This is a true kitchen-sink production with the endless samples and musical asides, and it’s a shame that Lennon would never again be so ambitious from an arrangement standpoint. Lotsa great music soon to come from Paul and John, but little of it would be as freewheeling, forward-thinking, and weird as what they were attempting in ’66 and ’67. TRUTH.


Donald Brown said...

Enough with the McM bashing! This is one of the songs on which PM's insouciant sunniness carries the day. It's such a damned happy song, and, unlike "Penny Lane" doesn't have many overtones. Or rather undertones. I personally like the "background" voice that in contrapuntion to "I say stay, you say go" manages to fit in: "I can stay till it's time to go" both hitting "go" at exactly the same moment. Always a delight.

And what about all those who saw this as a nod to the "manic depression" of LSD: "hello goodbye" "yes no" in the same breath... o-or, those who saw how it was a comment on those collaborating Beatles: sunny "yes" Paul and dour "no" John. Which we saw with "Penny/Strawberry" and now this disc.

And that coda is simply fun, like the coda for "Lovely Rita." Look, you'll just have to face it, Sir P was never better than during these years, so your downplaying these tunes in favor of later Paulie just isn't going to work!

by the way, my word verification word this time is: ulgarusz. goo goo ga joob.

the hit dog said...

one of my favorites even if it is just a silly ol' "you say tomato, I say toma-toe" riff-off. even the Target ad hasn't ruined this one fer me. yet.