Things We Said Today - Lennon/McCartney

Reviewed by Ian MacDonald, in Revolution in the Head:

Written by McCartney on holiday in the Bahamas with Jane Asher in May 1964, THINGS WE SAID TODAY is uncharacteristic in its ominous mood and the obsessive horizontal pull to the tonic in its melody. (Lennon, whose style it resembles more than McCartney's, particularly liked this song.) The sombre lyric - provoked by the frustrating interruptions of a relationship between two career people - matches the lowering gloom of the music.[l] Similar to that of Harrison's DON'T BOTHER ME, this stormy atmosphere is made more compelling by the relentless agitation of Lennon's whipcrack guitar against Starr's crisp snare. To this driving performance - the first complete take, preceded by a single false start - was added a second McCartney vocal (part unison, part harmony), plus tambourine and piano on the middle eight.[2]

Its mixture of ease and effectiveness ensured that the song became part of the group's act during 1964. With its modal A minor verse firming on an obstinate tonic to A major for the tough, bluesy middle section, THINGS WE SAID TODAY established a model of strident dramatic contrasts which The Beatles would exploit on their next LP in tracks like BABY'S IN BLACK, EVERY LITTLE THING, I DON'T WANT TO SPOIL THE PARTY, and NO REPLY. The idea of a melody in offbeats was similarly developed by Harrison in IF I NEEDED SOMEONE on Rubber Soul.

[1] It is reinforced by a chilly shift to B flat and back to A minor at the end of the verse/chorus ('not a lot to say') and likewise at the end of the middle eight - a flat II, or Neapolitan sixth, derived trom a Lennon-like chromatic descent (cf. the middle seven of YOU'RE GOING TO LOSE THAT GIRL).
[2] According to Mark Lewisohn (Sessions, p.44), the piano was omitted from the final mix but left traces on the other tracks through leakage during recording. It's hard to see how this can have happened, since the piano and the main backing track were recorded in different takes.

Gepost op: 22 dec 2007