Beatles comment #4 (of 30, and continued from #3)

Ah, my choice for choosing only ONE Beatles track to introduce to someone who never heard them. I had to consider that the very earliest records defined the live-performing group in a great way, especially in a “raw 4-piece rock and roll combo” kind of way. But, it misleads the one who is my target in that it shows none of the maturing artists that emerged in their work a few years later. If I go with a fantastic record, such as “Something” or “Penny Lane”, it brings in elements of studio layering (which is great, but, not entirely representative of the actual “band”). It brings in additional musicians, such as a London Symphony player, or, brings in too strong a presence of engineers/producers. All of that is fair to include in a Beatle representation, as those things/persons WERE relevant to the Beatle story. However, Lennon was barely involved in “Something”, and Paul comes across as a particularly strong individual on “Penny Lane”. My personal tendency in this impossible task is to shoot for a pronounced involvement of the four band members. And, my feelings are that the maturing, creatively stretching period of the “lads” needs to be wrapped up in this one-off introduction of who the Beatles were. I cannot help but to feel the insanely powder keg moment of the Beatle-mania time period should be taken into account. So, a merger between the early euphoric rock band success and an “experimental” unfolding of some cleverness in a studio atmosphere seems to be my angle. It starts with feedback guitar. Lennon’s Gibson J-160E, with a pick-up installed (an acoustic guitar with electronics, hence the “E”) feeds back when in a certain position. That makes for a groundbreaking intro on a pop record. Already the top pop band in history at the time, the unique element of that intro shows a breaking down of barriers. The four-piece line-up of The Beatles is really what you hear when all are playing on this track. Furthermore, each one seems to be in his stereotypical roll often thought of in Beatle-lore. Harrison’s electric guitar mimics Lennon’s on the riff, though more precisely played. His solo is slightly edgy, a little more bluesy than many of his prime influences (Perkins, Moore). In fact, it smacks more of Beck, Jones, Richards, Clapton in this instance of the “quiet one”. This song showcases the perfect example of the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team at its zenith. Ringo’s drums are a great sampling of his grooving and solidness behind the kit. A rock drummer he was, yet his playing here has a touch of jazz in it. The hard bashing drumming of “Twist and Shout” or “LongTall Sally” is tamed into more of an artiste touch on this one. Yes, the boys were making records, not just rehashing live rock performances. To listen to them in the context of their “creations” in the studio, albeit doing it with no outside help, is the key to my choice here. The three voices of John, Paul, and George are married on this song much of the time. John is on lead, but with lots of help from his friends. Yes, it is a sunshine-y sentiment in the lyrics, even. Yes, it is The Beatles. It is…………… know…………….it is “ I Feel Fine”!

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