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Old Apr 01, 2003, 01:02 PM   #1
journal
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Default Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

Your Mother Should Know- Ultimate War Song
by Tandra Lowens

With the Iraqi war in full swing, I think it’s time to revisit one of McCartney’s greatest anti-war songs and also one of the most under-appreciated and misunderstood in the whole Beatles legacy. Some say "Yesterday" is his greatest song, or "Hey Jude," but future critics and historians will surely rate the great "Your Mother Should Know" above both of these when it is finally given its due as one of the great songs, if not the greatest, of the period.

I want to expedite this with a thorough analysis of the song’s lyrics. The song begins with "Let’s get up and dance to a song that was a hit before your mother was born." McCartney begins his greatest masterpiece with great subtle lyrical power. "Let’s get up" is implying we are sitting down, we are in a passive position, he demands we "get up," that we take a side, that we don’t sit idly by doing nothing. He continues with the lyrics "with a hit" that shows his prowess as a lyricist. What does this "hit" really mean? When we think of "hit," the first thing that comes to mind is "I’m hit," as in a war casualty. This is the first real implication that this is no dancehall song, it’s much deeper, it’s actually about the war. Lennon is always direct with his songs, in some respects taking the easy path. Here, Paul declares he is not going to do that, he is going to create a more enduring work of art. Now, we’ve established that "hit" is in reference to war, so let’s continue and see what war he is talking about. Paul clues us in this with the lyrics "hit before your mother was born." And "though she was born a long time ago." This is the middle sixties,so Paul is talking to his generation (Actually, all generations will appreciate it) So by saying a "long time ago," Paul is implying a war before the 1900. Does Paul clue us in on this? Yes, masterfully. If you listen to the music style, it is almost in a French style- there is the answer. Of course, Paul is talking about the Franco-Prussian war of the 1870’s. He deliberately chooses these two countries to single out- the Germans and the French. Here, Paul is warning of the rise of the European Union and the terrible conflict that may one day ensue. This simply has no precedent in all of rock music.

But that’s not all. The chorus is a deliberate reworking of the great Santanya with the his advice of "Those that forget history are destined to repeat it." In other words, YOUR MOTHER SHOULD KNOW. To emphasize it, Paul inserts the brilliant emphasis on "Know, know" that follows the lines. People have called Lennon the great wordsmith, but here Paul clearly outshines him and puts him on notice. The layers on this song are of a craftsman with no parallel.

The second verse is the one of complete commitment. "Lift up your hearts and sing me a song" Paul sings. At first glance, this seems obvious, but at second look, it reveals it’s real power. "Lift up your hearts." What does that mean? People can’t actually lift up their hearts, so there has to be another meaning here. The revelation comes with the word "heart." It can’t mean a real heart, so what else could he be saying? Only one thing, he is referring to the famous "purple heart" received in battle. Now, there is no going back and Paul fully commits himself to the war imagery that is the center of the song and that he developed in the first lyric. He is absolute about it, again alluding to "lift" as he did with "get up." Paul is saying "take action." It is a devastating portrait of a war-torn society on the brink of the upcoming horrors of Viet Nam. With more lyrical depth than "Imagine," and a stronger melody than "Give Peace A chance," it is Paul who manages to create the all-time classic song of war which will endure.

Not fully appreciated, there is no doubt that "Your Mother Should Know" will in the future be revealed as not only the Beatles best song, but perhaps the best song of the last 100 years.
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Old Apr 01, 2003, 02:07 PM   #2
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

[img]graemlins/laugh2.gif[/img] [img]graemlins/laugh2.gif[/img]

Hey, I think I finally understand what the "da da da da da da da da da" lyric means - he's mimicking the sound of machine gun fire! Now that's deep. [img]graemlins/wink1.gif[/img]
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Old Apr 01, 2003, 03:30 PM   #3
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

And the white tuxedos the Beatles wear in the movie must symbolize doctors' lab coats, alluding to the healing power of music.
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Old Apr 01, 2003, 09:01 PM   #4
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

Quote:
more lyrical depth than Imagine
<font size="2" face="Tahoma, Arial, sans-serif">Riiiiiiiiiight.......... [img]graemlins/wink3.gif[/img]

And the women in poofy dresses symbolise...uh...erm...women in poofy dresses?

Heh, thanks for the laugh journal! I love these articles that dig SO deep into songs...they amuse me to no end.

[size="1"][ Apr 01, 2003, 10:03 PM: Message Edited By: MissusLennon ][/size]
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Old Apr 02, 2003, 04:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

April Fool, right? [img]graemlins/images/icons/rolleyes.gif[/img]
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Old Apr 02, 2003, 08:50 AM   #6
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

Quote:
Originally Posted By EasternBird:
[img]graemlins/laugh2.gif[/img] [img]graemlins/laugh2.gif[/img]

Hey, I think I finally understand what the "da da da da da da da da da" lyric means - he's mimicking the sound of machine gun fire! Now that's deep. [img]graemlins/wink1.gif[/img]
<font size="2" face="Tahoma, Arial, sans-serif">this is definitely FUNNY... [img]graemlins/laugh5.gif[/img]
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Old Apr 06, 2003, 05:40 AM   #7
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

Now that was funny!
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Old Apr 13, 2003, 07:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

What no PID clues ?! [img]graemlins/dunce1.gif[/img]

But seriously i like the analysis. And there are perhaps many other "layers" to this song, at least on the purely lyrical level.
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Old Apr 14, 2003, 09:26 AM   #9
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

FINALLY someone wrote a deserving essay on the first song that demonstrated that Paul McCartney cannot write good lyrics about half the time.

i truly feel this song is underestimated for a different reason--it's the first sign of how bad of a song a great musician can write. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
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Old Apr 16, 2003, 08:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

Somebody has waaaay too much time on his or her hands, haha. That was pretty hilarious! Thanks for posting. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] I do like the song though. I didn't really like it at first, but it's grown on me.
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Old Apr 16, 2003, 08:44 PM   #11
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

That was amusing- where did you find that? Shows how easy it must've been to create many of the "PID" clues out of thin air... er lyrics.

In Paul's defense though, it is much easier to spot lacking lyrics than it is to spot a poor melody- especially in rock'n'roll. Good lyricist or not obviousely Paul is a genious composer- but maybe he shoulda got John's assistance on that one.. [img]graemlins/crosseyed2.gif[/img]
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Old Apr 17, 2003, 09:26 AM   #12
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

There's more to this than meets the eye.
[img]graemlins/thinker.gif[/img]

With regard to the "PID" myth, Paul is the only Beatle sporting a black carnation during this song in Magical Mystery Tour as we well know.
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Old Apr 19, 2003, 08:26 AM   #13
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

Yeah.... Okay. I'll...um, keep this in mind....
But really, are you serious? Cause those "clues" are kind of stupid, don't you think? hahahaha! dadadadadada!
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Old Apr 29, 2003, 12:13 AM   #14
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Default Re: Your Mother Should Know- Great Anti-War Song

People can listen to anything and get whatever they want from it.
My brother once told me that the line from Hey Jude "Remember to let her under your skin" was about heroin.
I am not sure if he still believes that but I didn't.
That belongs with the Freedom Fries.
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