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Paul's Americanisms
7 September 2013
3.17am
Ahhh Girl
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For those of you in Britain: does it tweak your nose, or the collective British nose, when Paul uses Americanism in his songs? I thought of a few examples. I'm sure there are many more. At least I think of these terms as more American that British. Feel free to tell me I have no idea what I'm talking about if I have missed the mark.

"Spirits of Ancient Egypt": pound of love instead of a kilogram; I can drive a Cadillac instead of a Bentley or an Aston Martin; You could sell an elevator to Geronimo instead of a lift. Is the story of Geronimo told in the U.K.? As an aside, I have been to Geronimo's grave several times. He is buried about 15 miles from my house (hummm…I used miles didn't I). Which leads to…

"Take It Away": with a hundred miles to go instead of kilometers; late in the bar instead of pub or tavern

"Ballroom Dancing": he mentions Davy Crockett. Is Davy Crockett well known among Brits?

The whole "Rocky Raccoon" song. I wonder if he was smeaking of gin when he tried to sing that song? Smeaking is a seriously good word. It should be used whenever possible.

…and to my fellow girls crushing on McCartney…what do you think of 2 of his wives being American instead of British?

7 September 2013
3.44am
LongHairedLady
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cbatcu said

…and to my fellow girls crushing on McCartney…what do you think of 2 of his wives being American instead of British?

Well Linda was a wonderful choice, and Nancy seems pretty cool.  Heather was awful…  hmmmm..  a-hard-days-night-paul-5


The whole "Rocky Raccoon" song. I wonder if he was smeaking of gin when he tried to sing that song? Smeaking is a seriously good word. It should be used whenever possible.

I could be wrong, but I always thought he said "sminking"…  not that either is a actual word…  either way, yes it should be used!  a-hard-days-night-john-1

"Please don't bring your banjo back, I know where it's been..  I wasn't hardly gone a day, when it became the scene..  Banjos!  Banjos!  All the time, I can't forget that tune..  and if I ever see another banjo, I'm going out and buy a big balloon!"

 

7 September 2013
5.04am
Ron Nasty
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cbatcu said
"Spirits of Ancient Egypt": pound of love instead of a kilogram

Paul was born at a time when we used Imperial measures. In fact, at the time of Spirits we hadn't that long gone metric. The British have always had an awkward relationship with the metric system though. I went to school in the '70s and early '80s, when both were being taught alongside each other. I don't really understand metric at all. I am 5 foot 8 inches, and weigh 9 stone 10 pounds. Have no idea what that is in metric!

cbatcu said
I can drive a Cadillac instead of a Bentley or an Aston Martin…

The Cadillac is the car of rock 'n' roll mythology…

cbatcu said
You could sell an elevator to Geronimo instead of a lift. Is the story of Geronimo told in the U.K.?

Cowboys and Indians? We love Cowboys and Indians. Probably less so in this tech age, but even when I was growing up the toy guns we played with were Colts and Six-Shooters. One of the places Buffalo Bill took his Wild West Show was Buckingham Palace to perform for Queen Victoria. We fell in love with the mythology of the Wild West early on.

cbatcu said
"Take It Away": with a hundred miles to go instead of kilometers; late in the bar instead of pub or tavern

See above comments about metric system. I still think in miles. A pub was, at the time Paul was writing about, somewhere for the working and lower-middle class, whilst the upper-middle and above would visits bars. Also, the setting for the song appears to be a venue. If it is somewhere to get a drink within a building that serves another purpose – theatre, concert hall, hotel – it is always a bar.

cbatcu said
"Ballroom Dancing": he mentions Davy Crockett. Is Davy Crockett well known among Brits?

"Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier…" We had the '50s TV series too. Adam Ant, somewhere between mine and Paul's age, had a No. 1 with Kings of the Wild Frontier. Obvious reference to the Davy Crockett theme tune when you think about it.

cbatcu said
The whole "Rocky Raccoon" song.

Well, that was just a pastiche of Dylan's John Wesley Harding album, which had just broken his period of silence. And it is "sminking" – he meant to sing "stinking". Great word though.

Hope this helps.

 

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7 September 2013
7.21am
Ahhh Girl
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7 September 2013
9.10am
Tea and Sympathy
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I imagine some of the word choices were for rhyming and other practical songwriting purposes.  A word like 'miles' is easier to work with than a mouthful like 'kilometers'.

Don't you know? It's gonna be alright. (Shoo-bee-doo-wop)
7 September 2013
4.16pm
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Ah-ha! I just had an epiphany. It is little old me who is getting all bent out of shape over hearing the Beatles and Paul singing American place names and references to American popular culture. I don't want a British band/singer to regurgitate American ideas to me. I already know my country's cultural past. I guess I'm wanting a British band/singer to tell me about British places and culture so I can delve more into the collective British historical consciousness (well of at least since the 1950's). But, as mja has pointed out, a sizeable slice of British pop culture since the 1950's is wrapped up in American pop culture. So, I'm just going to have to get over myself. I need an attitude adjustment!

 

mja6758 said

cbatcu said

I can drive a Cadillac instead of a Bentley or an Aston Martin…

The Cadillac is the car of rock 'n' roll mythology…

Yes, I have driven past the pink Cadillac in front of Graceland many times.

7 September 2013
4.17pm
fabfouremily
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As Mark/mja said upthread, we use miles and all that lot. I think in miles, I've always thought that as the ''British'' way, rather than using km. Are there Brits who use other measurements? I do know my weight and height in both imperial and metric measures, though. Dunno why.

Does it bother me that he uses Americanisms? No, not really. I've never thought about it before. I remember my dad once moaning that he was trying to sound American (I think this was before I was a Beatles fan), but I don't know if that was because he was trying to or because my dad is a miserable, cynical man who will critize anything or anyone if it makes him happy, particularly if they have been succesful in any way.

If I ever thought that he was trying to hide his accent, then that would bother me a bit, but more because I can't stand it when people try and turn themselves into something they're not than because he wanted to sound American.

''We're just knocked out. We heard about the sell out. You gotta get an album out, you owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.''

7 September 2013
4.35pm
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fabfouremily said
As Mark/mja said upthread, we use miles and all that lot. I think in miles, I've always thought that as the ''British'' way, rather than using km. Are there Brits who use other measurements? I do know my weight and height in both imperial and metric measures, though. Dunno why.

Does it bother me that he uses Americanisms? No, not really. I've never thought about it before. I remember my dad once moaning that he was trying to sound American (I think this was before I was a Beatles fan), but I don't know if that was because he was trying to or because my dad is a miserable, cynical man who will critize anything or anyone if it makes him happy, particularly if they have been succesful in any way.

If I ever thought that he was trying to hide his accent, then that would bother me a bit, but more because I can't stand it when people try and turn themselves into something they're not than because he wanted to sound American.

So do British road signs give distances in miles: for example "London 42 miles" or would it say "London 42 km"? My only experiences over there are Gatwick, Heathrow, train rides, and London itself. When we were in the Cotswolds, we did take a bus between Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Camden. I guess I wasn't paying attention to road signs much. Go figure. There was so much for me to take in. The scenery is so beautiful there. In London, besides all the wonderful buildings and things to behold, I was just trying to remember which direction to look when crossing the street.

My mom and I talked about how un-British the Beatles sound when they are singing (most of the time). When they talk, yes the accent comes through, but not when they are singing. Very strange. OK now Penny Lane is twirling around in my head. There is an American 60's group called The Association that mom and I think sound more British than some of the British Invasion bands.

Oh, yes, before I forget. I must thank you Brits for sharing the Beatles, THE GREAT ONES, with your American cousins.

Do you all call all of us "Yanks"? Even those of us from the American South?

 

7 September 2013
4.54pm
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cbatcu said
When they talk, yes the accent comes through, but not when they are singing. 

I don't think that was intentional. Generally speaking accents get lost in songs. Listen for example to Liam Gallagher talking and then singing. Massive difference.

Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble.
7 September 2013
4.59pm
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^ Oh, my. Sorry if came across as sounding like I think they did it intentionally. I wasn't thinking that at all.

7 September 2013
5.05pm
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cbatcu said
^ Oh, my. Sorry if came across as sounding like I think they did it intentionally. I wasn't thinking that at all.

You're forgiven a-hard-days-night-george-9

Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble.
7 September 2013
5.30pm
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I Me Mine said

cbatcu said
^ Oh, my. Sorry if came across as sounding like I think they did it intentionally. I wasn't thinking that at all.

You're forgiven a-hard-days-night-george-9

Bless you! I like playing in this sandbox with all of you. I don't want to get myself kicked out.

 

7 September 2013
5.59pm
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The UK is miles so its 34 miles to Glasgow, i've never seen a roadsign in kilometres in the UK and wouldn't have a clue how far it referred to. Pounds and ounces are also used and there was a huge fuss when the EU tried to stop greengrocers and butchers from using those and change to kilo's. Most simply ignored the warnings. Same with heights and weights, most folks still go by feet and inches.

Most of those are what we say over here or very well known so its strange to see them be called Americanisms.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
7 September 2013
6.08pm
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meanmistermustard said
The UK is miles so its 34 miles to Glasgow, i've never seen a roadsign in kilometres in the UK and wouldn't have a clue how far it referred to. Pounds and ounces are also used and there was a huge fuss when the EU tried to stop greengrocers and butchers from using those and change to kilo's. Most simply ignored the warnings. Same with heights and weights, most folks still go by feet and inches.

Most of those are what we say over here or very well known so its strange to see them be called Americanisms.

Good information flowing my way. Thanks. Didn't realize I was so clueless.

Speaking of Glasgow, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art is currently hosting an exhibit of paintings from Glasgow. Guess I'll have to pop up there and see it.

http://www.okcmoa.com/see/exhi…..w-museums/

meanmistermustard, I like vonbontee's question "2. Paul, could you maybe hurry up with reissues program already? There's this guy named meanmistermustard, see, and he's always…" over on the "Questions you'd ask Paul if you could interview him" thread.

 

7 September 2013
6.33pm
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cbatcu said

meanmistermustard said
The UK is miles so its 34 miles to Glasgow, i've never seen a roadsign in kilometres in the UK and wouldn't have a clue how far it referred to. Pounds and ounces are also used and there was a huge fuss when the EU tried to stop greengrocers and butchers from using those and change to kilo's. Most simply ignored the warnings. Same with heights and weights, most folks still go by feet and inches.

Most of those are what we say over here or very well known so its strange to see them be called Americanisms.

Good information flowing my way. Thanks. Didn't realize I was so clueless.

Speaking of Glasgow, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art is currently hosting an exhibit of paintings from Glasgow. Guess I'll have to pop up there and see it.

http://www.okcmoa.com/see/exhi…..w-museums/

meanmistermustard, I like vonbontee's question "2. Paul, could you maybe hurry up with reissues program already? There's this guy named meanmistermustard, see, and he's always…" over on the "Questions you'd ask Paul if you could interview him" thread.

I wouldn't ask Paul that, it would be a very blunt statement that would tell him to get the finger out and hurry up before we are all dead as seriously how flipping long can it take it to put a collection together! I would then be escorted out by a large burly minder.a-hard-days-night-paul-5

And yes come to Glasgow. A fantastic place that needs to be seen. Far better than our Capital City.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
7 September 2013
6.38pm
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meanmistermustard said

cbatcu said

meanmistermustard, I like vonbontee's question "2. Paul, could you maybe hurry up with reissues program already? There's this guy named meanmistermustard, see, and he's always…" over on the "Questions you'd ask Paul if you could interview him" thread.

I wouldn't ask Paul that, it would be a very blunt statement that would tell him to get the finger out and hurry up before we are all dead as seriously how flipping long can it take it to put a collection together! I would then be escorted out by a large burly minder.a-hard-days-night-paul-5

Go get 'em, tiger. We'll all watch and cheer you on from a safe distance.

 

7 September 2013
7.00pm
Funny Paper
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I Me Mine said

cbatcu said
When they talk, yes the accent comes through, but not when they are singing. 

I don't think that was intentional. Generally speaking accents get lost in songs. Listen for example to Liam Gallagher talking and then singing. Massive difference.

When Al Stewart sings, he still sounds Englishy to me (though to my ears he doesn't sound like the caricature of Scottish per se) -- he certainly doesn't sound American.  Also, Donovan in "First There is a Mountain" and other songs.  However, it seems to be that most pop/rock singers who hail from any part of the UK and Ireland sound purely American -- Van Morrison, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones; the list goes on and on.

There are certain Beatles songs where the English comes out -- "This Bird Has Flown", "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite", "A Day In The Life"; etc.

And don't forget the richly upper-crust accent Paul uses in parts of "Uncle Albert"!

Faded flowers, wait in a jar, till the evening is complete... complete... complete... complete...
7 September 2013
7.53pm
Ron Nasty
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cbatcu said
So do British road signs give distances in miles: for example "London 42 miles" or would it say "London 42 km"?

I have seen signs that give both. A sign that said "London 42 miles" would not also say "42 km" though, as it would be "67.5 km"! a-hard-days-night-george-10

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7 September 2013
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Funny Paper said
There are certain Beatles songs where the English comes out -- "This Bird Has Flown", "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite", "A Day In The Life"; etc.

And don't forget the richly upper-crust accent Paul uses in parts of "Uncle Albert"!

Now that I think about it, I guess this is why I love "English Tea" and "Penny Lane" so much (edit: yes "A Day In The Life" also like you mentioned). Some other Britishnesses that comes to mind:

Isle of Wight ; barrow in the marketplace (makes me think of market day in Moreton-in-Marsh) ; Mr. Wilson & Mr. Heath ; National Trust ; a man named Lear & Daily Mail ; a pint a day ; playing conkers

Wonder why they used raincoats instead of macs in "Two of Us"? And there's a raincoat in "Another Day".

I do have to admit I like "Mrs. Vanderbilt". Actually, that is the song that got me so hooked back in May at the concert.

mja6758 said

And it is "sminking" – he meant to sing "stinking". Great word though.

Hope this helps

I have a lot more listening and sorting out to do with some of these words. For example, in "That Was Me", I was hearing beaches but he is singing picture. Yikes! In "The Pound is Sinking", the way he says/sings the word appalling, it sounds like a-paul-ing.

 

7 September 2013
8.10pm
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mja6758 said

cbatcu said
So do British road signs give distances in miles: for example "London 42 miles" or would it say "London 42 km"?

I have seen signs that give both. A sign that said "London 42 miles" would not also say "42 km" though, as it would be "67.5 km"! a-hard-days-night-george-10

Yeah, I'm just too lazy to do math very often. That's interesting that some signs have both.

Speaking of "yeah", I read somewhere that someone didn't want the Beatles to use "yeah" in "She Loves You" because it sounded too Americanized. If I am going to hang with you people, I am going to have to be better at remembering where I read or hear these things. I need to take my game up a notch. I'm not in the minor leagues anymore. You all are professionals!

 

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