Friday, 7 February 2014


"I Don't Want To Spoil The Party" by The Beatles
While wasting time online a couple of days ago, I discovered that Roseanne Cash once covered this song, which, because it's a country song (just ask George's guitar), makes beautiful sense. I liked her version a lot ( (I hadn't stopped wasting time): nice vocals, great (better-than-the-Beatles) players -- nifty violin and a very witty steel guitar . . . at least I think that was a steel guitar. But I still had several other things to avoid, so you know the story -- I had to listen to the original. And then (because you know the rest of the story) I had to listen to it again . . . Okay, once more (had to) . . . Eventually, the lesser world outside my headphones pushed inside, so I eventually took them off, but here's what I remember:
Those voices, together. Those together voices. John sings lead in the verses, and, whether it was a stroke of some kind of silly genius or not, somehow it was decided that Paul would take over for the twice-sung chorus -- or bridge, or middle-eight, or whatever that mid-song melodic shift is called (I'm not a musician) -- with George crucially crooning under each of his pals. I also remember feeling inexcusably happy for about two-and-a-half minutes.
There are a million songs that mix melancholy with cheerful guitars and drums going at a lively tempo, but few do it like this. I think the operative adjective here is "plaintive." Those voices and those lyrics tell you that, despite the instrumental brio, you're listening to a sad song and to singers whose souls are being ripped to shreds. Tonight they've been made sad, but they still love the girl who's no longer around, and will be glad if they find her (they won't find her): two notes, three voices, four words ("I still love her"), regret and sadness and hope -- that's some nice basic arithmetic. (Makes you think of Bach.)
I also maintain that, even if you resist singing along beyond the second or third line of the first verse, it's utterly impossible not to join voices with those three naive boys as they tell us during the chorus that they still love the girl who's no longer around. You will surrender because you will want to hear yourself being plaintive and young, too.
If you won't sing, or hum, or dance along to whatever it is that you listen to, what's the point? The Beatles, in this song, tell you not to spoil the party because you have, after all, chosen to go. Listen to them.

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