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What makes a great Beatles song
7 November 2011
3.21am
mr. Sun king coming together
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Is the music of the Beatles (stay focused) enhanced by billions knowing it? Yes. Is the fact that I used to hate The Long And Winding Road before I had an emotional epiphany mean that I'm dehumanising Paul? Hell no. I am saying, I don't like a song. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I can't see the beauty, so TO ME the beauty isn't there. Art is put out to be consumed. So to say that if I don't like something is disrespecting (or dehumanising) an artist is missing the forest for the trees. It says that there is beauty in everything, and I need to see what you see in a song. To which I say this; take out, Yank. Get out of here if all you want to do is sugar coat trolling. Do you understand that you are patronising, hypocritical, and arrogant? DO YOU? Because this forum, this thread, this site doesn't want, need or deserve this level of abuse to people who are loved, respected and cared for. This is family, and when you attack Paulsbass, you attack all of us. Even me. I have been at war with people here, mad as hell at them at times. But this is not going to be taken by us lieing down. When you attack us, you better expect us to rally. Because, believe me on this, we won't take a new person coming in here and insulting us well at all.

I tried to think of something powerful and moving… and failed.  "You were given a choice between war and dishonor - you chose dishonor, and you shall have war" - Winston Churchill
7 November 2011
3.43am
mithveaen
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Wow, I go to the movies and to a cafe and then I come back I look at this and I think to myself... I love this board!!

 

No, not you Anderson. But you all guys. Brilliant. I wish I were as articulate as you are. Kedame, here's a beautiful apple for you. You deserve it. And a John too.  apple01  a-hard-days-night-john-1

Here comes the sun….. Scoobie-doobie…… Something in the way she moves…..attracts me like a cauliflower… Bop. Bop, cat bop. Go, Johnny, Go. Beware of Darkness…  I believe in SH...
7 November 2011
3.46am
kedame
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Anderson said:

kedame said:

 we will never agree Anderson, because you seem to be of the belief that the only person in the Beatles with an adequate grasp of self expression is John Lennon.

But that's not what I said.  I'm not trying to rank Lennon above McCartney as an artist.  I'm saying that Lennon's artistic genius is in creating a tonal framework, while McCartney's artistic genius is as a bass player. 

However, it means nothing on a grander scale if it affects no one. If no one sees the words, appreciates them, they are just empty letters on a yellowing sheet of paper that mean nothing to anyone but their writer.To deny that seems silly to me.

I deny it.  Strongly.  A person's art is not "empty" until someone else comes along and reacts to it.  Emily Dickinson and her art is valuable with or without you or your opinions (or anyone else's).  You're still dehumanizing the artist by reducing their work to merely an instrument for the satisfaction of yourself and others.  Your conception of art and artists still fundamentally fails to respect them as individuals with intrinsic worth, instead making their worth dependent on the emotional reactions of yourself and others. 

Popularity of art might have some value, but it's not an artistic value.  A piece of art doesn't become any better as a work of art at the moment you have an emotional reaction to it.  Popularity is simply a different category of value.  We might call it the "political value" of the work. 

"Does this mean it was bad before she died? No. How could it? It's the same piece of art." Read this. I accept what you are saying. I accept the supposition that Emily Dickinson and her art are valuable without my knowing it. I think it becomes MORE valuable when there is someone (not necessarily me) to appreciate it for the beautiful work it is. As Sunking said, art is consumed. If it is released, it is consumed. A person's reaction to it does not, as you said, make it better, but it gives it some manner of value. I never said I think popularity is the sole criterion that makes a work of art good. I said the exact opposite, in fact. You, however, implied that you think the amount of self expression in a piece is what makes it great. You also supposed that only John Lennon compositions are first rate; therefore, I am forced to conclude that you think John Lennon's form of self expression is better than Paul's or George's. That's fine. I like Paul's self expression best. I connect with it better. But I won't deny that John and George's are compelling and also first rate. The whole point of this conversation was to get you to EXPLAIN why John Lennon compositions are the only ones that are first rate. I still haven't seen that, and I'm not likely to anytime soon. 

"You can manicure a cat but can you caticure a man?" John Lennon- Skywriting by Word of Mouth
7 November 2011
3.50am
mithveaen
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BTW I didn't mention that Monkey song, I think it was SunKing... a-hard-days-night-ringo-7

Here comes the sun….. Scoobie-doobie…… Something in the way she moves…..attracts me like a cauliflower… Bop. Bop, cat bop. Go, Johnny, Go. Beware of Darkness…  I believe in SH...
7 November 2011
3.53am
kedame
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mithveaen said:

Wow, I go to the movies and to a cafe and then I come back I look at this and I think to myself... I love this board!!

 

No, not you Anderson. But you all guys. Brilliant. I wish I were as articulate as you are. Kedame, here's a beautiful apple for you. You deserve it. And a John too.  apple01  a-hard-days-night-john-1

I accept your apple and John (as long as I can give him back if he starts talking about planting acorns for peace. I'll keep him till then.), and I appreciate you and your wonderful spirit, Mith. You are always awesome and diplomatic. I shall grant you His High Holiness Sir Paul McCartney...as long as you promise to return him unharmed.a-hard-days-night-paul-7

"You can manicure a cat but can you caticure a man?" John Lennon- Skywriting by Word of Mouth
7 November 2011
3.57am
mithveaen
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Awww a Paul for myself? Wow.. thank you Kedame. I promise he'll be back unharmed.

 

Just don't tell George a-hard-days-night-paul-11a-hard-days-night-george-5

Here comes the sun….. Scoobie-doobie…… Something in the way she moves…..attracts me like a cauliflower… Bop. Bop, cat bop. Go, Johnny, Go. Beware of Darkness…  I believe in SH...
7 November 2011
5.59am
Anderson
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kedame said:

I think it becomes MORE valuable when there is someone (not necessarily me) to appreciate it for the beautiful work it is. As Sunking said, art is consumed. If it is released, it is consumed. A person's reaction to it does not, as you said, make it better, but it gives it some manner of value.

This is progress.  Obviously, when a person experiences or reacts to a Beatles song, no new notes are added, no new chords appear in the music, and so forth.  Its artistic value is not altered by its popularity.  I think we now agree on this.  Does its popularity give it "some manner of value"?  Sure, but nothing that matters in any artistic sense.  It might make it more valuable as a commodity (like Pepsi has greater value the more people want to drink it), but this has nothing to do with its value as a work of art

I really would love to continue this conversation and perhaps finally get to the point where we could discuss why John is a better songwriter than Paul or George, but the hostility is getting rather thick and uncivil.  When people start calling me "evil," that's a good cue to exit. 

In parting, though, I would point out that I never said that "John Lennon's form of self expression is better than Paul's".  I said that John is a better songwriter, but this isn't the same thing.  I simply think that Paul's particular genius in self-expression comes through in his bass lines.  All in all, I would actually agree with you that Paul's form of self-expression is better than John's; i.e. that Paul's bass lines are better art than John's song writing. 

Thanks for the conversation; if I helped to clarify a few points of aesthetics for you, then it was time well spent. 

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.
7 November 2011
6.04am
kedame
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I said nothing different than I've been saying all along. Lord, help me with the willfully ignorant. Glad this is over.

"You can manicure a cat but can you caticure a man?" John Lennon- Skywriting by Word of Mouth
7 November 2011
6.23am
Anderson
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kedame said:

I said nothing different than I've been saying all along.

That's disingenuous, I'm afraid.  Earlier in the thread you were saying things like:

Say what you want about "substance" being more important than popularity, but popularity is important. It means people from all walks of life feel connected to that song. Isn't that what makes good music?

But we've now established that, in fact, "what makes good music" has nothing to do with popularity or the reactions of others.  That might make for a good commodity, but not for good art.  More examples of your confusions:

I think a person's response to a piece of art matters. If no one hears it, it is of no consequence. . .it accomplishes nothing if no one knows it is there.

You said the power to evoke emotion doesn't mean it is good art…I thought that is exactly what art was meant to do.

 

 

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.
7 November 2011
6.24am
kedame
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Oh, fuck off.

"You can manicure a cat but can you caticure a man?" John Lennon- Skywriting by Word of Mouth
7 November 2011
6.35am
Vale
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This is not going to be so inspirational like all the marvelous things you all just said. But I'll just say that whatever people think, I will have MY opinion. If that's your opinion anderson then, ok think what you want, but I'm kind of sorry you think of it that way. Everyone has an important place. Just Lennon, wouldn't be the beatles, just paul and lennon? no. Just paul, lennon and george? no. John, Paul, George and Ringo ARE The Beatles. Just saying. "Nothing's gonna change my world" a-hard-days-night-george-5

This is la la la la love! – George Harrisonheart Please! Tell me what you think! and I hope you won't  laugh haha. http://soulandeyes.tumblr.com/ "Que en el planeta tanto ande mal; Que el hombre agreda al hombre, que el hombre agreda al animal, al vegetal."
7 November 2011
3.09pm
minime
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Am I too late? I'm just curious to know as to why a great, marvellous, fantastic Beatles song needs Paul's creative bass lines or John's "vampy mood"? I don't think Anderson has yet to clarified that. If they thinks artistic value should not be based on popular value, they should tells(a-hard-days-night-ringo-13 really, I feel stupid using plural but I refuse to use he or she. gender shouldn't matter in this) what does grant its value. Clearly it cannot be bass or vampish mood alone, or Beethoven, Mozart or Sibelius (heart) have never made anything worth mentioning. But the thing is, there is no universal "frame" to a great piece of music. Music is a social experience just as much it is individual. Both aspects should be appreciated.

8 November 2011
5.36am
GniknuS
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I think it's unfortunate that Anderson hasn't been able to address kedame's recurring question. I have defended the guy because I think he made some valid points, but it is a bit confusing as to why he won't answer the question. You cannot force kedame to see your point of view, she will see things differently and without coming forward with your own point, it comes off as condescension or perhaps just plain ignorance that maybe you have come up with a few clever terms but nothing to back those claims up. What's that saying, "where's the beef?" So prove me wrong, I'm actually quite interested to hear what you have to say.

But I'll make my point as a fellow musician that music is equally about the emotion brought to it both from the artists perspective and from the listeners. To prove my point, here's a nice quote from His Other Holiness, John Lennon. 

It was great, 'cause I wrote it in the morning on the piano, like I said many times, and I went to the office and I sang it. I thought, 'Hell, let's do it,' and we booked the studio. And Phil came in, he said, 'How do you want it?' I said, 'You know, 1950 but now.' And he said 'Right,' and boom, I did it in just about three goes. He played it back, and there it was. I said, 'A bit more bass,' that’s all. And off we went. See, Phil doesn't fuss about with fuckin' stereo or all the bullshit. Just 'Did it sound alright? Let’s have it.' It doesn't matter whether something's prominent or not prominent. If it sounds good to you as a layman or as a human, take it. Don't bother whether this is like that or the quality of this. That suits me fine.

This quote is from the aptly titled song Instant Karma which I think could sum up John's entire musical career. That song is so memorable because of the emotion that John brought to it, you can hear it on the record and this emotion is passed on to the listener in their own unique way. It's not the peak of John's career, certainly, but it's another remarkable track in a career full of emotional highs and lows. John was someone who put all of his emotion into his work and it comes clear on his greatest songs and his worst ones as well.

So I completely disagree that lyrics don't matter because of how half-heartedly an artist can approach a track if he doesn't care about the lyrics. The emotion of a song doesn't come through, and the rest of the band suffers because the energy is not there. A band can have a musical peak, but if the lyrics are crap, which Hey Bulldog's are, then a critical element is lost.

Which would bring me to the song I consider the best OVERALL effort, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. Starting from the brilliant chord sequence, the song is in 3 different keys, the verses are in A, the bridge is in Bflat I believe, and the chorus is in G. Paul's opening paints a mysterious picture, and we are soon taken away to a foreign land that probably looks a bit different to everyone, but perhaps bears certain similarities. This is supported by John's distant voice and mystical lyrics, Paul's playful "frolicking" bass line and George's supporting riff during the bridge. Ringo then takes us back to reality for the most basic rock and roll chord progression in the most basic rock and roll time in the chorus. Paul's range in the chorus is truly remarkable. The Beatles took themselves to a completely unique place musically, I haven't heard a song that is in any way like that one, and we the listeners are left with endless interpretations.

This is not my favorite song, nor do I consider it one particular member's peak, not John as a songwriter or singer, nor Paul's, George's or Ringo's as musicians, but as a whole group effort we are left with one of the most memorable songs ever written. The song only got better with each individual's contribution, so it's more of a perfect storm of elements rather than a few set elements that are spectacular.

So I was wondering if we could take this thread in a different direction because I want to know what everyone else thinks makes a "great" Beatles song and to really describe their experience as a listener. It doesn't matter how much musical knowledge you have, we all love these songs, so rather than listening and arguing with one guy who claims to know so much more than the rest of us, it could be fun to objectively look at a song as a whole with each different element adding to its overall greatness. It was fun to think about Lucy and describe what I admire about it, and it would be fun to read others descriptions including, hopefully, Anderson's because no one perspective is right. After all this time, are we really closer to figuring out the answer to what makes music so unique? What the hell is it in Neil Young's voice and guitar that makes Old Man such a freaking awesome experience to listen to? Is it how perfect it is? That's laughable…paul-mccartney

So what is it?

I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine
8 November 2011
6.55am
kedame
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All good points GniknuS. I like your points about Lucy because, while it is definitely not my favorite song, it is uniquely Beatles. It takes you to a cool place and lets you linger there for awhile. I think I'll pick three songs that I think are "first rate" Beatles songs and explain them, keeping in mind the talents each band member brings to the songs, for the most part.

1. A Day In The Life: I know it's a typical piece to choose, but I think it showcases John's lyrical ability and his ability to set an overall mood in a song. It showcases Paul's bass playing because it adds what I feel are tasteful bass lines that are understated but kickass at the same time, and it showcases Ringo's ability at performing one-of-a-kind drum fills. Like Paul's bass lines, they are understated and help set the overall dreamy mood of the song. It also shows the unique partnership between John and Paul in that Paul's little verse that doesn't seem that impressive at first breaks up the dreariness (not a BAD dreariness) of John's verses. Also, Paul's idea about the swelling orchestral NOISE is brilliant. It really holds the listener in thrall. I remember when I saw a Beatles laser show at my school, the ending swell combined with the lasers made for a fantastically psychedelic experience, which is what Sgt. Pepper's is all about. It was actually a little frightening (No George for this one...sorry).

2. Helter Skelter: It's a damn good rock song. Period. The lyrics are memorable...certainly not profound, but definitely compelling. Paul's vocals on this song are nothing short of amazing to me. For the longest time, when I was in my John Is Everything phase, I thought he sang the vocals. I was utterly surprised when I found out Paul was the writer and singer on this one (this was when I first became a Beatles fan). Those screaming vocals are practically orgasmic. The rawness of his guitar playing is excellent, too. John's wild, slightly distorted bass add to the craziness of the song, as does Ringo's drumming. I don't know any of the technical reasons why they add craziness, but they seem to when I listen to it. The overall jitteriness (yes, I just made that up) of this song is infectious. It makes you close your eyes and lose yourself. I can see why George went all crazy during the recording of this song, running around with a burning ashtray. It's just that kind of song, and it illustrates really well the Beatles rock sensibilities.

3. Here Comes The Sun: One of my favorite George songs...Once again, I think the overall mood of this song is what makes it so great. George's lyrics are poetic...happy and sad at the same time. He sings them beautifully, with Paul adding some heavenly harmonies, something he does very well but rarely gets to showcase anymore as a solo performer. The song has the right amount of tenderness and nostalgia to make it emotionally effecting, at least for me. Once again, not many technical terms, but these are just my thoughts. Also, the melody is nice. It's sweet. There is something about George's intro on the acoustic that is mesmerizing. It is instantly recognizable and makes one sit up and listen.

I picked three songs, one from each songwriter, because I think they each bring unique moods and styles into their compositions that epitomize the overall Beatles legacy. They are great because they are not just derivative songs that say the same thing as every other song in their catalog. To me, there are really no two Beatles songs that sound the same, which is what happens to some bands, as someone else mentioned in another thread about Mumford and Suns (I don't know if all their songs sound the same because I only know Little Lion Man, and I like it a lot. It's nice and mellow.).

If I were to choose more songs that I feel are first rate Beatles songs, I would pick the following (amongst MANY more): I Want To Hold Your Hand (poppy, but it put them on the map in the US...pretty important, I think), Hey Jude, Let it Be, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields Forever, Something, I'm Only Sleeping, Norwegian Wood, Yesterday, She's Leaving Home, Sgt. Pepper's, And I Love Her (George's guitar solo is just beautiful here, as is Paul's voice), This Boy (that raw, emotional John vocal style), If I Fell, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Baby You're a Rich Man (this song is fucking brilliant), Happiness Is A Warm Gun (perhaps my favorite song...on some days...maybe...if I can forget that Yoko is mother superior, and she is jumping John's gun.), I've Just Seen a Face (so jaunty), Don't Let Me Down, Long, Long, Long, Rocky Raccoon (I don't care if it's silly...it shows Paul's playful, storytelling spirit, which I think is one of his main contributions to the Beatles and the music world in general. And that honky tonk piano solo by GM is excellent.), Come Together, I Am The Walrus, and The Fool On The Hill.

There are more. How could there be...I know? How could there be so many first rate songs? And why did I choose them? I don't know. Because I wanted to. I don't really have a set criteria, other than the fact that these are the songs that made me fall in love with the Beatles (for the most part. I'm not really in love with Something, but I recognize its importance in George's and the Beatles's catalog). Pretty poor criteria, I know. But I can't just separate my emotions from my critical viewpoint, and I don't know enough technical terms or enough about other musical styles to critique them properly. I still think emotions matter in art. I'm sorry, but I just do.

"You can manicure a cat but can you caticure a man?" John Lennon- Skywriting by Word of Mouth
8 November 2011
3.18pm
meanmistermustard
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Im not great at being able to say why i love certain beatles songs and what it is that makes it a great song but one that comes to mind immediately is Here, There and Everywhere.

Pauls lyrics are spot on, i dont see how anyone could change any of the words and make it 1% better, and everytime i hear it i can feel the emotion in Pauls voice (listen to the outake on the Real Love single to see how much Paul improved his vocal on this - even tho that was more a guide). Ringo's drumming is so understanded but there are moments, be it a cymbal or whatever, that really add to the song (Ringo was great at creating a way of drumming that was understated but inventive and perfect for the song (Something being another example and of course A Day In The Life).). However what lifts the song to another level entirely is the backing harmonies by George and John, those 'oooooh's (that writes crapply). Everytime i hear that song thru headphones i get lost in there and by the time i get out the song is ending. The same for While My Guitar Gently Weeps when Paul sings with George.heart

And thats the other thing about a great song, be it beatles or whoever, the song length. Here, There and Everywhere, for me, is just the ideal length as youre not at the point of boredom yet not going 'is that it?'. There arent many beatles songs that outstay their welcome but one is Its All Too Much.  A good song, i love the way there is so much happening all over the place right in your face (rare in a beatles song) and the intro is one of the beatles best, but it keeps going and going and going and freaking going and going until by the end you just want it to shut up.  And its never a good sign when you have to brace yourself to hear it. If shorter, say 4 minutes, it would have been a wonderful song, one of Georges best, at 6 mins 30 seconds or whatever it is, its not.

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
8 November 2011
4.31pm
Von Bontee
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See, now, I love the full EIGHT minute version myself, just because it's so chaotic! And the chaos makes sense, it really is "too much", same way all the strangeness in "Strawberry Fields Forever" reinforces the idea that "nothing is real". Also, the full "It's All Too Much" is a real anomaly in their catalogue: one of the few examples of their following an extended song to it's real-time completion, without having a pre-ordained, composed conclusion; and without relying on a fadeout. "Helter Skelter" is pretty much the only thing comparable; and yet that's an incomplete performance as well, since we don't get to hear what happened during that fade-out-and-back-in.

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
8 November 2011
4.37pm
minime
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Hmm, I get your point, although I agree with mustard that it's All too much is a bit too much. However, I like how in "I want you(she's so heavy), it just keeps going and going in the end, to show just how "heavy" she is.

8 November 2011
7.57pm
meanmistermustard
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Going completely off topic, one song i could happily erase entirely from the beatles catalogue is Hold Me Tight. Banal lyrics, John and George seem to be elsewhere, nign-on bored, probably knowing it was a piece of crap, and Paul tries way to hard to make it something it never was going to be. It reminds of That Means A Lot as that was attempted twice and went nowhere, but that was thankfully ditched.

 

Getting back on topic.

The sheer energy of Please Please Me and I Saw Her Standing There propel them into great songs. The band are giving everything they possibly could to the songs. The harmonies and backing vocals, Ringo's drumming with the guitar work of the 3 make it all so intense throughout both songs and in Please Please Me the way the middle eight bit builds to the final 'why do you make me blue' – flipping heck.  Its no wonder that when the young females heard the songs for the first time back in the 60's they couldnt contain themselves. Im not convinced that there was anything around at the time that was anything like that. Possibly the very early Elvis (ie All Shook Up, Hound Dog) but by 1963 all there was was Cliff really (ive heard arguments for songs like Move It but there is really no comparison). Music was generally safe and nice, songs designed not to upset granny. Then you get Beatles songs like these way out of left field.

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
8 November 2011
8.12pm
The Walrus
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paulsbass said:

We're all entitled to our opinions (I also wouldn't name Obladi-Oblada as my favourite Beatles song, but how can you ignore the fact that literally billions of people know this song and still call it "bad"?? ),

Massive overexaggeration. The White Album has sold about 10 million copies in the United States (certified 19x Platinium, double album). The best number I can find for "global" sales are 6.5m by the end of 1970. Thriller has sold 110m copies worldwide (30m in the US), let's say that the US generally accounts for 1 in 4 album sales and you've got 40m Ob-la-di Ob-la-das running around. Each copy would need to be heard by 25 people to reach the 1 billion mark, which is ridiculous.

And I neeeeeeeeed her all the time
8 November 2011
8.20pm
meanmistermustard
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They could have heard it on the radio, in shopping malls (that includes shops), at sports events, on tv, at parties, with their mates, on car journeys.

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
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