110: Take Me To The Bridge – Beatles Middle 8s Examined

June 26, 2017

Podcast, Podcasting

SATB 110
 

In another listener suggested topic, Richard and Robert examine this aspect of song craft and how it evolved in Beatles recordings over time. Songs include “All I’ve Got To Do,” “With A Little Help From My Friends,” and “I Me Mine.”

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    25 Responses to “110: Take Me To The Bridge – Beatles Middle 8s Examined”

    1. James Says:

      Words we weren’t expecting from Robert: “I love it, it’s so cute.”

      Reply

    2. Cajun Queen Says:

      Well I haven’t listened to this yet; but who agrees with me that ‘Wait’ is almost ruined by that dopey bridge: “I feel as though, you ought to know, that I’ve been good, as good as I can be; And if you do … etc”
      haha, I wonder if this gets mentioned in the episode. I’ll find out!

      Reply

      • MikeM Says:

        I DON’T agree with you. There’s nothing wrong with the bridge in “Wait.” If you think there is, you’re just looking for a reason to dislike the song. I’ve never understood why this song tends to get rated so low; I think it’s quintessential Beatles. And one of the especially cool things about the bridge in “Wait” is that it’s sung by Paul, thus effectively giving this number two lead singers, as John sings lead on the verses and the chorus, with Paul on the harmony.

        Reply

        • Cajun Queen Says:

          It’s a crappy bridge. That’s why it gets rated so low (I would guess.) But, you are allowed to like it; that’s fine; like whatever the heck you want. I agree with [Tony] re: Bobby Goldsboro; that comes pretty close to the vibe I get from it.

          Just so you don’t beat me up any further: Wait is probably my favourite track on the album, and that’s in *spite* of the bridge. And it doesn’t matter to me that it is Paul singing it; I don’t really care who it is, it’s subpar to my ears. If other people think it’s great, that’s totally fine by me.

          Reply

        • JR Says:

          GREAT bridge on “Wait”, agreed.

          Reply

      • Conrad Brunstrom Says:

        I’m a big fan of “Wait” – partly because its rhythmic uncertainty perfectly compliments the lyric. It’s a stop-start sort of a melody that accompanies a stop-start sentiment.

        https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/words-and-music-wait-by-the-beatles/

        Reply

        • Cajun Queen Says:

          [“Still don’t know what’s going on with the brooms and the big basket though.”]

          Wow, seen that pic before. Pretty ridiculous.

          Reply

          • Cajun Queen Says:

            >>Wow, seen that pic before. Pretty ridiculous

            Oops, left out the key word. 🙂

            Wow, NEVER seen that pic before.

            Reply

      • Tony aka Pismotality Says:

        Yes; as Macca sings it I’m assuming he wrote the bridge – unfair? It calls to mind Bobby Goldsboro’s saccharine Honey (“I miss you, and I’m bein’ good …”)

        Reply

    3. Paul T Says:

      Loved the show – my fave of this year. All I’ve Got To Do sent a shiver throughout my body – superb performance. If You’ve Got Trouble is the worst pile of garbage ever created by any human being who ever lived. A more futile attempt at making a recording than Twist & Shout take 2.

      Reply

    4. WingsFan2012 Says:

      Great show guys. Another thought on the whole “later years” blatant animosity by George toward Paul….George craved John’s approval and help but it was Paul who took George’s songs to another level including the timeless “Something”…….

      Reply

    5. Marshall Says:

      The Beatles’ middle eights is the portal into what made them great. It’s the magic lift to so many of their songs. Often it’s their bridges that adds an open-ended air of mystery.

      I think their bridges started to really shine around 1965 rather than ’68.

      Reply

    6. Matt Demakos Says:

      Good show. But I thought it should have been explained first that for the most part the Beatles wrote in two different forms: AABA and Verse-Chorus. In the AABA songs, which can be extended to AABABA, the B part is the Bridge. In Verse-Chorus songs, the Beatles didn’t usually have a bridge section. Today, most pop songs are Verse-Chorus-bridge. You can buy a whole album where every song is Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus-Chorus.

      Anyway, it was mentioned several times that a song didn’t have a bridge, as if it were an option. But those songs were mostly Verse-Chorus, weren’t they?

      I guess some AABA songs don’t have bridges and are really AAA. “In My Life” is one, isn’t it. The instrumental break supplies the missing B section.

      Some songs are debatable if they are AABA or Verse-Chorus. Take “I Just Saw A Face.” Because the title is in the verse section and that first lyric is repeated at the end, it does sound as if it is a AABA song. But the Bridge got away from McCartney and sounds a bit too much like a chorus. He even repeats this part at the end, instead of ending with that repeated A section lyric, which is more usual. So the song ends up being Verse-Chorus. He could have called it “Falling.”

      And Robert, I thought cheated by picking a rejected Beatles song as having the worst bridge. (Was it “If you have Troubles”?) Plus, he cheated again by picking a verse-chorus song as having the best bridge: “I Me Mine.” It’s a chorus! I would love to hear Robert argue that it is a bridge. It has a repeated phrase like a chorus. It begins with a chord that is the key of the song (Am). It’s up high. It’s in harmony. It’s louder.

      Also, you opened the show with a song that you said had three different bridges, “I’ll Be Back.” I don’t see it that way. It is a standard AABA song with a two part A section. They did this often, splitting each of those three A sections into two distinct parts. Sometimes the second section is a mini-chorus, sometimes just a change, but it isn’t a bridge. When Lennon holds the word “I,” the song changes to a new chord pattern and it is the Bridge, for me. The other two sections you called bridges share a melody and, though a change from the first part of the A section, they are really just a second part of it.

      Is this just an opinion and is there really two different ways to look at it? I’d say no in this case. When you analyze all their songs as far as form goes, I think it most probable that they thought they only had a two part A section going on here and, for me, as a listener, that is how I hear it.

      Maybe you could do a show about song structures. I don’t think they were totally innovative on these grounds though. They go off the basic structure for several songs, but many song writers do this.

      Anyway, this is my favorite Beatles podcast by far. I have said it before, I usually am a bit disappointed when I first read what the topic is going to be. But then I listen and I’m totally absorbed. Mel Evens? Who wants a show about him? Great show though.

      Matt

      Reply

      • Aaron Krerowicz Says:

        ‘I’ll Be Back’ uses three iterations of two different bridges – the first and third are the same (at least musically – not lyrically). The only other Beatles song to use multiple DIFFERENT bridges is ‘Martha My Dear’.

        I don’t hear the section in question in ‘I Me Mine’ as a chorus, though it’s certainly a defensible interpretation. There are many sections that split the differences between classifications. And they were exceptionally innovative songwriters. ‘Eleanor Rigby’ has always been one of my favorites because the song structure helps tell the story. Here’s my Beatles Minute on Rigby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqtGGPGgeqk

        This is exactly the kind of stuff I discuss in exhaustive detail is my book, “BEATLESTUDY, volume 1: Structural Analysis of Beatles Music”.

        Robert: I would love to do a show, as Matt has suggested, about structure in Beatles songs to promote the book.

        I must disagree about Matt’s comments about the Mal Evans podcast, however, which I found absolutely fascinating and enlightening – probably my favorite SATB because I learned so much about a character that is not well-known!

        Reply

        • Matt Demakos Says:

          Thanks, Aaron, for the reply.

          I mapped out the structure of the songs in Excel for the first two albums and some singles. I found some interesting things. Yes, one could label the sections differently and see them differently. Some like to see these two-part A sections as a hybrid form between AABA and Verse-Chorus. For me, in talking about form, it is that second part of the A section that is the most interesting to discuss. It can come off as sounding like a short pre-chorus followed by a short chorus. This happens in Please Please Me. You can say the same for “I Saw Her Standing There.”

          But it doesn’t always come off that way. In “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” the second part of the A section is a simple repeat but with a change at the end.

          Why you hear the second part of the A section as a bridge in “I’ll Be Back” is probably because it shifts to the relative minor, a cliché of bridges. You hear that shift and you think bridge. In truth, though, if you map out the song with other songs, you will see that it maps out parallel with others, and you wouldn’t call the others a bridge.

          But this doesn’t mean you are wrong; Lennon could be doing it quite on purpose, mixing the two for a hoot. As I said, this sort of happens in “Falling,” that is, “I’ve Just Seen a Face.”

          Another song goes to the relative minor in the second part of the A section: “There’s A Place” But I agree that it doesn’t sound as bridgy as “I’ll Be Back.”

          Many have commented on the difference between Please Please Me and With The Beatles. But it seems no one mentioned but me, in some old podcast, that Please Please Me does not have any Verse-Chorus songs on it. They only started Verse-Chorus songs on their next album. And I argue, that they are a bit clumsy in a way, structurally. You can find oddities in them that they didn’t do later and that an established writer would not do. But they work, of course, and such naiveté is sometimes a blessing.

          I can talk about this forever. Sorry.

          Matt

          Reply

          • Aaron Krerowicz Says:

            Indeed, I could talk song structure and harmony for hours! It took me 5 years to write those BEATLESTUDY books and it’s still very fresh in my head 🙂

            I’ve never liked the term “verse-chorus” form because it depends on whether or not you interpret it as having a chorus! I prefer the term “compound simple”, and that’s what I use in BEATLESTUDY. For example, in ‘Fool on the Hill’, is the section with the title lyrics a chorus or a refrain? It’s equally justifiable to interpret it both ways, but if you call it a refrain, then it CAN’T be a verse-chorus form because there’s no chorus! But regardless of nomenclature, it’s still a “compound simple” structure, in which a single structural module (either verse+refrain or verse+chorus) is repeated.

            I certainly hear the shift to the relative minor in the bridges of ‘I’ll Be Back’ (that’s what I document in BEATLESTUDY volume 2: Harmonic Analysis of Beatles Music), and certainly the different harmonies reinforce the different structural sections. But there are also significant changes in harmonic rhythm (1 chord every 2 measures instead of 1 chord every measure) and melody. They are clearly designed to contrast the verses and parse out verse iterations, so their structural function is very clearly that of bridges. What makes them so fascinating is that there are multiple DIFFERENT bridges. And the ordering as such makes for the only true rondo in the band’s catalog: a palindromic ABACABA.

            Reply

            • Matt Demakos Says:

              But the term “compound simple” doesn’t say enough. If a song is a verse-chorus song and is not ambiguous, then why not be clear and designate it such? If a song is an AABA and is undoubtedly so, call it AABA. They are broad terms anyway. An AABA can have 8 or so bars for the A sections. Or it can have two-halves. Or it can have an extra BA thrown in on the end.

              You can clarify them with some other added term.

              I think you are pushing things a bit when you call “I’ll Be Back” a round.

              Just using letters for different sections, the song goes:

              AABAABCA

              That’s if you see each A section as 6 bars. I see the first 6 bars (AA) as really just one section (A). But admit it sounds as if it could be AA. But it is oddly only six bars and comes too quickly, so my brain says no, it’s just a split single section. Lennon wrote in 6s a lot.

              If you see those 12 bars as one section, as I do, then the song maps out to:

              ABABCA (with the last A cut in half–(6 bars, not 12).

              But it you further see it my way, that each AB is really just a double A section, which they have done many times, then each AB section becomes a simple A and the C section moves to the B. We get:

              AABA

              It’s impossible to cram it into an ABACABA round.

              I completely understand that some songs are hybrids or ambiguous. I was the first to mention that in this discussion with “I’ve Just Seen A Face.”

              And I completely see that this song does some funny tricks which makes it appear as if it opens with a quick AAB, when (for me) it is really a simple A. In fact, I admit, when I first wrote my post I didn’t see that those first 12 bars were a two-part thing. But Lennon does use 6-bar halves in many songs to complete just one A section, no?

              If we were to argue what Lennon thought he was doing, and not what we think when we hear it, I would argue that he would see it my way. Bold, huh? The reason is because all the concepts that trick the ear into hearing it differently, are used in other songs where your ear does not interpret it differently.

              He is known for using 6 bar sections.
              He is known for writing two-bar A sections. (or contrasting half)

              I think some writers, not you, do sometimes over analyze and use funny terms for very simple things. They seem to want to push the Beatles’ songwriting into some higher orbit by doing so. Calling “I’ll Be Back” a round is one of those things. It is not a strict round. One could call it an irregular round and I believe they do exist in the classical world. But really? Do we need to do that here? No. I doubt Lennon saw it that way.

              I will end the conversation here and reply to you personally hereafter.

              Matt

      • Cajun Queen Says:

        >>Evans? Who wants a show about him?

        I did. And Aaron below as well.

        Reply

    7. Matt Demakos Says:

      Good show. But I thought it should have been explained first that for the most part the Beatles wrote in two different forms: AABA and Verse-Chorus. In the AABA songs, which can be extended to AABABA, the B part is the Bridge. In Verse-Chorus songs, the Beatles didn’t usually have a bridge section. Today, most pop songs are Verse-Chorus-bridge. You can buy a whole album where every song is Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus-Chorus.

      Anyway, it was mentioned several times that a song didn’t have a bridge, as if it were an option. But those songs were mostly Verse-Chorus, weren’t they?

      I guess some AABA songs don’t have bridges and are really AAA. “In My Life” is one, isn’t it. The instrumental break supplies the missing B section.

      Some songs are debatable if they are AABA or Verse-Chorus. Take “I Just Saw A Face.” Because the title is in the verse section and that first lyric is repeated at the end, it does sound as if it is a AABA song. But the Bridge got away from McCartney and sounds a bit too much like a chorus. He even repeats this part at the end, instead of ending with that repeated A section lyric, which is more usual. So the song ends up being Verse-Chorus. He could have called it “Falling.”

      And Robert, I thought cheated by picking a rejected Beatles song as having the worst bridge. (Was it “If you have Troubles”?) Plus, he cheated again by picking a verse-chorus song as having the best bridge: “I Me Mine.” It’s a chorus! I would love to hear Robert argue that it is a bridge. It has a repeated phrase like a chorus. It begins with a chord that is the key of the song (Am). It’s up high. It’s in harmony. It’s louder.

      Also, you opened the show with a song that you said had three different bridges, “I’ll Be Back.” I don’t see it that way. It is a standard AABA song with a two part A section. They did this often, splitting each of those three A sections into two distinct parts. Sometimes the second section is a mini-chorus, sometimes just a change, but it isn’t a bridge. When Lennon holds the word “I,” the song changes to a new chord pattern and it is the Bridge, for me. The other two sections you called bridges share a melody and, though a change from the first part of the A section, they are really just a second part of it.

      Is this just an opinion and is there really two different ways to look at it? I’d say no in this case. When you analyze all their songs as far as form goes, I think it most probable that they thought they only had a two part A section going on here and, for me, as a listener, that is how I hear it.

      Maybe you could do a show about song structures. I don’t think they were totally innovative on these grounds though. They go off the basic structure for several songs, but many song writers do this.

      Anyway, this is my favorite Beatles podcast by far.

      Matt

      Reply

    8. Paul McNulty Says:

      You mention I’m Looking Through You…that’s an interesting one. I think that is a very rare (unique?) case where the fabs finished up putting out the wrong version. I get the feeling that because the original take didn’t have a bridge their compulsion for songcraft kicked in and they felt they had to write one – which isn’t very good. I believe the solution was staring them in the face all the time – i.e. it was a better song without a bridge. The slightly outré – and wonderful – performance worked just fine.

      Reply

    9. Marlon Says:

      Thank you for recognizing the great bridge on “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party”. I love the harmony from John and Paul. I also think the bridge on “No Reply” is terrific with the vocals and hand claps. Great show!

      Reply

    10. Tony D Says:

      I don’t understand what you guys have against The “Free as a bird” lyrics by Paul. The way I hear it the song is about the freedom that John felt the Beatles lost as they got older and grew apart. I love Paul’s lyrics. Why is it bad that they ryhyme??

      Reply

      • Robert Says:

        You won’t get a show where Richard& Robert won’t mock Paul in some part. In a way that is the show’s strength, as the giggling etc adds to the fun of the show, however, it would be nice to see if they could do a show where the guys don’t say anything derogatory about Paul!! That would be a bridge too far. I like how they reappraised Run Devil Run on a recent show though. There are some real beauties on that album.

        Reply

    11. David M Says:

      Just got around to this one, very enjoyable show. As usual, a few things I disagree with, I would put John’s vocal for This Boy in his top 5 ever, and a few other baffling opinions like gicing I Me Mine much of any attention at all. However, I would say a big weakness of George’s writing was his generally average “middle 8s”, so he did need a bit of help.

      Have always loved All I’ve Got to Do, another sensational vocal from John and the transitions into various sections are completely joyful. Up there with the best things they ever recorded.

      Reply

    12. Louis Says:

      This show is amazing. It proves the BEATLES weren’t a Pop Rock Vocal Group . I say musical geniuses. Once in a lifetime.

      Reply

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