Monday, August 26, 2019

The worst Beatles lyrics of all time

Even the best band of all time wasn't perfect. Here are some of their weaker lyrical compositions.

#5: Here, There, and Everywhere
It's a near-perfect melody by Paul. But the lyrics are a mess. Where to begin? How about:

To lead a better life, I need my love to be here.

It's like Paul wrote it when he was high, and thought, "This is so profound, man," but afterwards he never bothered to read it again.

Here, making each day of the year
Changing my life with the wave of her hand
Nobody can deny that there's something there.

For starters, "there" doesn't rhyme with "year." And it's not like either line was so good that you had to force a rhyme to fit it. What does "making each day of the year" even mean? 

In verse 2, "someone is speaking, but she doesn't know he's there." How does he know this? And why is he introducing another character for no apparent reason?

Eek, now the chorus:

I want her everywhere and if she's beside me
I know I need never care
But to love her is to need her everywhere

I have no idea what that pile of vomit means.

Knowing that love is to share
Each one believing that love never dies
Watching her eyes and hoping I'm always there.

I get that he can't say "both of us believing" because the meter doesn't fit. But "each one believing" changes the POV from first-person to third. He could've said "Both of us knowing," for example.

The shame is that the melody is so good, and it deserves better lyrics. It's like every Elton John song ever. Moving on.

#4: Glass Onion
This is a self-referential song from the White Album whose meaningless lyrics, per John, are simply intended to confuse fans who seemed to find hidden meaning in everything.

Standing on the cast iron shore, yeah
Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet, yeah
Looking through a glass onion

It's not horrible. It's just...hey, everybody phones it in now and then.

#3: Run For Your Life
It's not that the lyrics are poorly written--they're just frighteningly violent. They begin like this:

Well, I'd rather see you dead little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head little girl
Or you won't know where I am

And the rest of the song continues on that theme. Lest you think it's just a figure of speech, John assures us:

Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I've said
Baby, I'm determined
And I'd rather see you dead

John later said it was his least favorite Beatles song and the one he most regretted writing. But, alas, he did, and so it must go on the list.

#2: I Want You (She's So Heavy)
This is essentially an instrumental with some random verbal crap tossed in...

I want you
I want you so bad
I want you
I want you so bad, it's driving me mad
It's driving me mad
I want you
I want you so bad
I want you
I want you so bad, it's driving me mad
It's driving me...

Enough said.

Drum roll, please.

#1: Why Don't We Do It in the Road?
Just two lines of lyrics, both of them stupid:

Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
No one will be watching us
Why don't we do it in the road?

Paul was inspired by seeing two monkeys doing it in the road in India, and apparently decided to spend eight seconds writing a song about it. This was the unfortunate result.

Honorable Mention:

Love Me Do: Not much to it, but even at only a few lines it's more than three times the length of Why Don't We Do It in the Road and I Want You.

Your Mother Should Know: A bouncy tune by Paul with lyrics that make no sense. Why should your mother know about a song that was a hit before she was even born, regardless of how old she is?

Okay, that's it. Let's go listen to some Beatles music and be happy.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The best Beatles lyrics of all time

This post is only about lyrics! Here's my best shot, with my justifications:

#5: Maxwell's Silver Hammer
This is a bouncy little tune about a hammer-wielding murderer. Paul wrote it, and the other Beatles were unanimous in their dislike of it. (Lennon referred to it as "more of Paul's granny music.") Melody aside, the lyrics feature sophisticated, multi-syllabic rhymes and perfect meter:

Joan was quizzical, studied pataphysical science in the home
Late nights all alone with a test tube, oh, oh, oh, oh
Maxwell Edison, majoring in medicine, calls her on the phone
Can I take you out to the picture show, Joa, oa, oa, oan.

It's clever, it's unique, and plllttt to John.

#4: When I'm Sixty-Four
Another McCartney composition, written when he was sixteen. It features some of the best lyrics ever penned by a sixteen-year-old, such as:

I can be handy mending a fuse
when your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride

Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
when I'm sixty-four?

#3: Across the Universe
This one is John's. He claimed it was among the best, most poetic lyrics he'd ever written. He was correct.

Words are flowing out like endless rain inside a paper cup
They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me

#2: Penny Lane
Primarily written by Paul, with lyrical contributions from John, this song wonderfully evokes a time and place--namely, a neighborhood in south Liverpool they frequently visited in their youth. 

In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he's had the pleasure to know
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say hello

It's gentle, poetic nostalgia beneath the blue suburban skies.

#1: Eleanor Rigby

Written primarily by Paul, with input from the other three, this song broke with convention by being a pop song about loneliness. The lyrics are eloquent and haunting:

Eleanor Rigby
Picks up the rice in the church where the wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window
Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

Honorable Mention:
A Day in the Life - An interesting collection of vignettes from newspaper stories, with lines like "A crowd of people turned away. But I just had to look, having read the book."

Back in the USSR - A parody of Chuck Berry's Back in the USA and the Beach Boys' California Girls, it's clever and fun. And the Ukraine girls really knock me out.

Let it Be - Admittedly, part of my love for the lyrics is the way they blend with the melody that accompanies them. In any event, there's something spiritual about a song that begins, "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me."

She's Leaving Home - I love the imagery and characters of this song, and it might've made the top five were it not for the unfortunate last line, "Fun is the one thing that money can't buy." Really? Must have been in a rush to finish an otherwise great set of lyrics.

So...that's my best shot at a tough topic. What did I miss?

My next post will be the worst Beatles lyrics of all time!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Mrs. Maisel exhibit

Here are some pics from our visit to the "Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" exhibit at the Paley Center.

The exhibit featured costumes, props, and re-created sets from the show, which is set in NYC in 1959-61. 

Our 1959 television debut...

A quick trip to Paris, complete with cigarette...

Jo gets a quick 'do in the Catskills...

"B. Altman's, how may I direct your call?"

On the way home, a block from our apartment, we were discussing Tony Shalhoub, the actor who plays Abe Weissman on the series. We both looked up, and coming toward us down the sidewalk was...Tony Shalhoub. He said hi. We said hi. Then Jo squeezed my hand, and I thought, "I love New York City."

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Odds and ends

One of my favorite places in the world is Brownstone Discovery Park, a Connecticut waterpark created from an old rock quarry. It's so cool because there are no fiberglass slides, no fake palm trees, and no steel drum music from speakers hidden in fake rocks.

There are cliffs you zipline off, cliffs you jump off, and cliffs you swing from via Tarzan rope.

I went with Ethan and his girlfriend Ruby. My three thoughts for the day:

1. I love swinging from a rope, letting go at the top of the arc, and falling into the water like I am a graceful heron.

2. I will miss Ethan when he goes to college.

3. At some point I will be too old to grip the Tarzan swing, and I will confidently leap from the cliff, only to immediately plummet into the water 20 feet below, like the people who are old or overweight. When will that time come? I don't know. Will anyone warn me in advance? Will I listen?