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Old Mar 18, 2010, 09:05 AM   #1
filmsyncs
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Default Duality with Beatle Songs

One theme of artistic expression is to allow ambiguity in one's art. Deliberately constructing art to be open to multiple interpretations (and for those interpretations to be valid) is an approach that I appreciate. In my view, The Beatles were quite good at this and examples of that are in many of their albums.

Examples include "With A Little Help From My Friends." It can be viewed in a very 'straight' approach where it is a song about friends helping friends. Or it can be viewed as sarcastic as in friends letting one down. Obviously it can be viewed as not about friends as in the human form but rather little friends in the form of drugs making one "high."

Another song that I like is "Lovely Rita." One viewpoint is that she is a meter maid - a cute traffic cop that the composer pursues. Another viewpoint is that she is a prostitute or an escort - a woman that works at night with the meter referencing her as 'on the clock' - someone that gets paid for her time. Whether the composer has a date with her that is 'off the clock' is something else that is open to interpretation.

So, this thread is to discussing and sharing duality within The Beatles songs. What say you?
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Old Mar 18, 2010, 09:55 AM   #2
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Well, my favorite dualities in the Beatles catalog are the following two:

"Tell Me What You See" can be seen as a straight-ahead love song (and I'm sure was meant as that), but then when one really lives with the lyric, lines such as "If you put your trust in me, I'll make bright your day" have a truly mystical quality to them. It almost sounds like a love letter from God.

On the other hand, "In My Life" (again, doubtlessly intended as a love song) can be interpreted as a prayer in such lines as "But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares to you/ and these memories lose their meaning when I think of love as something new". That almost sounds like the sentiments of a religious conversion (I wonder if George ever commented on this lyric after his embracing of Krishna Conciousness--his perspective would be interesting).
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Old Mar 18, 2010, 05:37 PM   #4
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Oooh, great topic!

Well, two that spring to mind are ambiguous when it comes to sexual orientation. Obladi-Oblada - although Paul's slip was accidental, the fact that they left in the part about Desmond's "pretty face" makes the song interesting. Without that line, it's just a cute, happy, reggae-flavored tune. Also, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away that song is riddled with sexual ambiguity! Is it about Brian, as many have claimed? Is it about John's secret sexual desires? Is it about an affair? Very mysterious...

Then there's the duality of Revolution... although John was against violence, he brilliantly inserted a sense of ambivalence with his "out...in" line.

So many more... But I'm curious to read what others have to say.
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Old Mar 19, 2010, 01:12 AM   #5
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I'm always struck by John singing "You can talk to me" in Hey Bulldog in a voice that suggests you CAN'T talk to him.
And of course Strawberry Fields Forever is full of "I think, I know, I mean, " too.
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Old Mar 19, 2010, 01:45 PM   #6
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So many more... But I'm curious to read what others have to say.
Me too. Very interesting what other posters observe and consider.

Another song taking opposite positions is "Getting Better" with the counterlyrics "couldn't get much worse."
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Old Mar 19, 2010, 08:47 PM   #7
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I'm not sure this is the kind of thing you mean, but I really think "Oh! Darling" is about John.

And I'm fairly certain this isn't the kind of thing you mean, but there are also songs where the tone of the music is at odds with the tone of the lyrics ("Maxwell's Silver Hammer," for example).
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Old Mar 20, 2010, 02:30 PM   #8
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I'm not sure this is the kind of thing you mean, but I really think "Oh! Darling" is about John.
That's hot.

Actually, I have always thought that The Long and Winding Road was about John. And, I don't care what Paul says, I think Hey Jude is about himself. I always think of it as his first awakening about the inevitable breakup...
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Old Mar 20, 2010, 02:34 PM   #9
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That's hot.

Actually, I have always thought that The Long and Winding Road was about John. And, I don't care what Paul says, I think Hey Jude is about himself. I always think of it as his first awakening about the inevitable breakup...
Hmm, interesting thought. OK, I also think "Two of Us" is about John; agreed?
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Old Mar 20, 2010, 07:53 PM   #10
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Hmm, interesting thought. OK, I also think "Two of Us" is about John; agreed?
ive always felt the song was about the thrill of the trip rather than reaching the destination. expecting the worst but having everything turn out better than expected. "rain coats, in the sun". I always pictured in my head the song being about john and paul but I think its more about Paul and Linda.

or it could be about pygmys and doris getting her oats..
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Old Mar 21, 2010, 06:50 AM   #11
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"Day Tripper" on the surface, it's about a girl and a one-night stand. Not surprisingly, Paul once stated it was based on a prostitute. And the "tripper" part pretty much implys drugs.

"Norweigan Wood" is supposedly based on a lesbian, as well.
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Old Mar 21, 2010, 07:48 AM   #12
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Hmm, interesting thought. OK, I also think "Two of Us" is about John; agreed?
I can certainly picture it being about John and Paul in their hitchhiking days. Btw, my fellow American Beatlemaniacs... I just learned what "lifting latches" means... did everyone know this already and I'm just late to the party?

Anyway, I think The Long and Winding Road was made into a love song but that Paul is actually talking about the difficulty of being John's friend and musical partner and about the alienation he must have felt when John chose Yoko over The Beatles. Paul had "seen that road before" when John went through his "troughs" (as John called them)...
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Old Mar 21, 2010, 11:28 AM   #13
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"Day Tripper" on the surface, it's about a girl and a one-night stand. Not surprisingly, Paul once stated it was based on a prostitute. And the "tripper" part pretty much implys drugs.

"Norweigan Wood" is supposedly based on a lesbian, as well.
No, Paul didn't state it was about a prostitute, he was replying to a journalist who asked if it was true. It was 'a joke'. Same for 'Norwegian Wood'. at the same press conference, John claimed 'Eleanor Rigby' was about 'two queers'. It isn't. They're 'jokes'.
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Old Mar 21, 2010, 11:36 AM   #14
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*facepalm* Wow, I feel kinda stupid...

That's the problem. That humor went completely over my head. My bad. xD
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 02:14 AM   #15
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I feel kinda stupid...
That's the problem. That humor went completely over my head. My bad.
Don't worry, a lot of people don't get the Liverpool humour at first cos it can be so deadpan! There are a lot of 'quotes' that are taken as 'definitive' but are actually jokes (or 'jokes' if they're not very funny, just a quip!) The worst offender is John's "Ringo's not even the best drummer in the Beatles" which was an off the cuff gag when he was asked if Ringo was the best drummer in the world. It was and is a joke, but some people don't get it! Oh well!
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 11:35 AM   #16
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yeah i know they always sounded like they had the philosophers stone in their pocket. and there was so many voices in each song, it tends to be a very confusing thing for me. i think that Yellow Submarine says it best, you can't go wrongheaded with that song.

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Old Mar 24, 2010, 05:11 AM   #17
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Hmm, interesting thought. OK, I also think "Two of Us" is about John; agreed?
Definitely. I have always made that association, and I can't seem to wrap my head around the idea that it's really about Paul and Linda. That song always reminds me of the partnership, friendship between John and Paul, regardless of the strain they were going through at that time.
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 08:15 PM   #18
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I think in interviews, Paul has been quoted as saying "Two of Us" is about him and Linda.. but I agree with what you folks have been saying here... the lines "You and I have memories, longer than the road that stretches out ahead" don't really make any sense with regards to Linda, whom Paul had only known a couple of years at that point.. but they make perfect sense if they're about his relationship with John.... it's like a couple of chums remembering all their hilarious escapades of youth...
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Old Mar 31, 2010, 01:03 PM   #19
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George's "Here Comes The Sun" definitely works on different levels.

On the surface, it's just a celebration of the return of summer sunshine after "a long, cold, lonely winter."

But "Here comes the sun" is also a metaphor for finding God and enlightenment while George's ongoing quest towards spiritual awakening and rebirth is echoed in "I feel that ice is slowly melting."

A beautiful song on every level.
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Old Mar 31, 2010, 04:48 PM   #20
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On the surface "Hello Goodbye" is just a simple song about opposites, but when looking at the lyrics one can tell that the song is a break-up song.

It starts off simply: YES/NO, and slowly escalates to GO GO GO. Then there is begging of forgiveness from the second party (I can stay till it's time to go).

When I figured this out, it blew my mind, because I never look for any deeper meanings in stories/songs/movies/etc.
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