Avante Garde Paul
16 Aug 2006 02:53:12 -0700
Paul and his supporters talk a lot about how it was he who helped with
the orchestral buildup for A Day in the Life, the tape loops for
Tomorrow Never Knows, the mellotron intro to Strawberry Fields, etc.
Paul and his fans like to use these as examples of Paul being
responsible for a lot of the visionary experimentation that John's
works get credit for. I am not disputing this - clearly these are all
Excellent post Derek. I think the bottom line is soon after John died,
Paul was made to feel defensive either by the press, statements by
Beatles associates or former associates or his own ego. As a result,
Paul has been on an unfortunately 20+ year campaign to make sure the
world knows "I did it! I did it! It was me, not John. Remember me,
Paul the genius!"
It gets tiresome after a while . . . and sometimes I find Paul's
behavior downright distasteful since John (and George) are no longer
While derek needs no encouragement (and given you two are twins in your
posting approach I suppose it's not surprising) I do thank you for taking
the extra few seconds to snip all the excess verbage. It is much nicer, and
fantastic achievements and Paul was an immensely valuable asset to the
Now here's my question:
Why is it that these wonderful and groundbreaking experimental touches
never made their way into Paul's own songs? If he was such an avante
garde leader, why put all these parts onto Lennon's songs?
Eleanor Rigby and Penny Lane among others are not avant-garde? I beg to
My answer would be that obviously John's songs were more suited to this
sort of thing than his own more mainstream material. Or maybe it was
that John's oddball personality and songwriting inspired Paul to come
up with these parts. In fact, maybe John's material demanded this type
of addition, and Paul merely was filling the void.
John needed help from others to come up with the kind of sounds that
would fit his songs, but I also think that he was clearly the
inspiration and catalyst that necessitated them. Or so it would appear
Actually, I think Penny Lane has aged better than Strawberry Fields,
which was groundbreaking, but definitely locked into a very specific
point in time.
I agree. SFF is brilliant but that is the dated one, Penny Lane is a bright
pop song that still resonates quite nicely.
johnny b. love...
They're both dated and they're both great.
Penny Lane sounds like it is from the 1940s or earlier in a way and
Strawberry Fields like the 60s which has become a kind of classic sound
in its own right.
Perhaps the best 45 pop song ever.
anyway, given the lack of similar material in Paul's own songs.
To answer your specific question, John was the one who would come up
with an idea such as "I want to sound like the Dali Lama on top of a
hill." He may not have had great technical knowledge on how to get
that sound, but he knew what he wanted.
Second, I have read a number of example in various Beatle books which
suggest that Paul genuinely admired John's occasional "craziness" and
sense of humor. However, according to these books, Paul did not want
to get such a reputation for himself. So, when John would "pull a
stunt" or do something a little "outrageous" Paul would be behind him
giving encouragement, but making sure he did not get the blame.
I'd say Paul did more of this kind of sonic experimentation on some of
his post-Beatles work. I don't have time to really think of a lot of
examples now, but "Glasses," "Loup (First Indian on the Moon)," "Uncle
Albert/Admiral Halsey," "Morse Moose and the Grey Goose," and one of my
favorite moments, the total non-sequitor double-fake ending of the
great McManus-cowritten-song "You Want Her Too," come to my mind.
"Helter Skelter" has its fair share of weirdness come to think of it!
(Replying to myself but that's okay I guess.) Also Paul's tune
"Magical Mystery Tour" spins off into a
strange/surreal/experimental-sounding direction for an ending, just as
interesting and unusual as the fades of "Walrus" and SFF, or TNK. I
think although most of Paul's songs from this era were more
conventionally song-like, on ones like this where it "fit" with the
tone and mood of the piece, he wasn't hesitant to go outside.