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Lecture 4

MUS321H1 Lecture 4: America and Hard Day's Night

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University of Toronto St. George
James Kippen

MUS321—Lecture 4 1964: America and Hard Day’s Night • 1963 produced great music o memorable tunes/danceable beats o fascinating vocal harmonies o varied song structures ▪ elements of repetition, surprise ▪ rarely did they settle on a standard kind of form ▪ sometimes they drop bridge and middle A altogether ▪ effected the way people experience the song o new instrumentation and arrangements: their music didn’t sound like anyone else’s o skilled musicianship o Infectiously enthusiastic performances o A rich blend of stylistic influences: rock and roll, doo-wop, Motown, show tunes, tunes, ballads etc. ▪ 50s and 60s influences o Their work was concise, effects were never overstated, variations appeared in repeated passages ▪ barely last 2 mins ▪ they often don’t just repeat, they make the arrangement differently even if they repeat the words o they were well edited by GM • Marketing o cohesive group of 4 leaderless individuals o strong personalities: John (aggressive, sharp intellect, caustic wit); Paul (charm, tact, boy-next-door); George (quiet, lop-sided smile); Ringo (funny name, comedian, lovable butt of other’s humour) • The Team o worked well together o shifting spotlight o ensemble work of high quality (Harrison, McCartney and Starr were virtuosi) • The Look o Critical comments concentrated on appearance o merchandising ▪ came easily ▪ Beatle wigs [long hair cut] • Conformity vs. rebellion o A mildly anti-establishment stance ▪ targeted class base humour o uncompromisingly working class and provincial o witty and cheeky • Example: November 4: Royal Command Variety o Performance o massive ingredient of success • Sex Symbols o cultivated female teenage following o Musical/textual formulas (“me-you”; “oooooh”; subtle suggestiveness etc.) ▪ direct approaching of the audience/ really about addressing the audience • Zeitgeist (spirit of the age) o the time was right o British teenagers had need fed a surgery diet of innocent love songs o harder edge and suggestiveness was new and exciting o baby boomer generation (post WW2) in need of an ethos and an identity different from the previous generation; waiting for a symbol of that difference = The Beatles • “Beatlemania” o Hysteria ▪ brought out hundreds of thousands of people on the street just to see them • “I want to hold your hand” o Recorded Oct 17, released Nov 29, 1963 o Fourth consecutive #1 o Biggest seller ever o more conventional than previous songs: verses + middle eight; no special effects o Analysis (Kozinn) o B-side: “The Boy” – contrast sumptuous vocal harmonies ▪ retro in feel, 1950s feel to this ▪ approach to throw out different kinds of music, styles ▪ A side was most people took notice of • differences between the verses and middle eight • the verses are sung without vocal harmony but towards the end, vocal harmony burst in • the “I want to hold your hand”, the harmonies open up and there’s a big leap • song is quite subversive, the music tells a different story • the awkward leap that leads into the refrain  sexual tension • America o Desperate to “make it” in USA ▪ home of their musical heroes ▪ biggest market ▪ symbol of opportunity and wealth o Strategy: to get #1 hit in USA then capitalize on it o But early UK hits got little play in USA—Capitol Records (EMI in USA) ▪ holding back and not very interested at the time • Epstein in USA o Epstein visit NY in Nov 1963 o Persuaded Capitol to reconsider o Negotiated with Ed Sullivan for top billing on 3 consecutive shows in Feb 1964 accepted reduced fee o December: Carroll James (disc-jockey in DC) generated enthusiasm ▪ people called him to play their songs again on the radio show o Swan and Vee Jay sued by Capitol • Beatles in Paris o Jan 1964 o Recording German versions of #1 hits o Highly productive: new material ▪ they used their time well in Paris and some resistance of singing in German, until Martin told them to ▪ Martin crucial ingredient in their marketing makeup o Played Olympia Theatre o Heard about US #1 ▪ heard this in Paris that they were #1 “I want to hold your hand” • First US Visit o Ed Sullivan Show, Sunday Feb 9 o 73 million TV viewers o Felicitation from Elvis Presley o Documentary: What’s happening! The Beatles in the USA (1990: the Beatles: The First US Visit) ▪ it shows the hysteria surrounding them • Effects of “Beatlemania” o Beatles at first enjoyed the attention o Went from being “a thrilling, laugh-filled adventure to a suffocating, sometimes dangerous exercise in banality, decadence, and potential creative atrophy” (Hertsgaard pg. 87) o Physically trapped by their frame o could not hear themselves ▪ so they watched each other for visual cues ▪ ensemble isn’t very good o played same live set of 10-12 pieces o ensemble playing deteriorates ▪ until summer 1966 from all these years of not hearing each other properly begins to fall apart ▪ compressing their repertoire Back to England o “Can’t buy me love” –blues-based rocker by McCartney (original was more bluesy- Motwony) o New opening: no drums in the intro o Outro: tom-toms only o Blues harmonies for verses (I-IV-V) o Harmonies change from blues for bridge, which also serves as chorus (III—IV—II7— V7)—modulation to relative minor o Bridge used as opening “look” (GM) C.f. “She loves you” o final product is not a product of one particular performance, but of different takes o the studio becomes more important • Battle for the A-Side o Fifth #1 o Element of competition? ▪ B-Side didn’t like the A-side getting all the attention o Who got the A-side? ▪ McCartney and B-side went to Lennon “Can’t do that” ▪ Lennon and McCartney would outdo each other so they ended up calling both sides A • “Yo
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