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Only A Northern Song on Pepper?
28 September 2013
6.15am
sunshaderain7
Midwestern United States
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meanmistermustard said

I don't buy into the concept album, more that the track listing is perfect and to alter that, either by including/removing songs or fiddling with the running order, would completely change everything. It would be like adding Her Majesty back into the Abbey Road medley (or never taking it away) or even returning to the original running order of switching the two sides and ending with I Want You (She's So Heavy).

Maybe it's just my interpretation of it, but I always thought that the Sgt. Pepper concept was apparent. To me, it's like each song is some sort of wistful collection of each Beatle as they've grown older. As if they split up, lived new lives with eccentricities, and came back together for a little gig where they talked about their new hobbies. But then again, I never had Fixing A Hole as a drug-inspired song. I could go track-by-track on how I think each song fits into this concept, to elaborate more, but it's late here, and this isn't the topic to start that discussion.

"Sometimes they call me the proletariat, but I don't mind." -Stig O'Hara

30 September 2013
4.09pm
Bungalow Bob
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I like the rather loose Sgt Pepper's "theme" of the Beatles portraying lovable sad sacks in a hokey, ragtag band. This idea is best represented by the song "With A Little Help From My Friends." So, for "Only A Northern Song" to fit that concept, all that was necessary would have been a simple re-write of the bitter song's title: "With Absolutely No Help From My So-Called Friends." Hmm… maybe not. ;-) I think I'll just let it be.

30 September 2013
4.15pm
DrBeatle
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Bungalow Bob said
I like the rather loose Sgt Pepper's "theme" of the Beatles portraying lovable sad sacks in a hokey, ragtag band. This idea is best represented by the song "With A Little Help From My Friends." So, for "Only A Northern Song" to fit that concept, all that was necessary would have been a simple re-write of the bitter song's title: "With Absolutely No Help From My So-Called Friends." Hmm… maybe not. ;-) I think I'll just let it be.

The idea is *ONLY* represented by that song! Well, that and the title track.

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30 September 2013
4.58pm
Bungalow Bob
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DrBeatle said

Bungalow Bob said
I like the rather loose Sgt Pepper's "theme" of the Beatles portraying lovable sad sacks in a hokey, ragtag band. This idea is best represented by the song "With A Little Help From My Friends." So, for "Only A Northern Song" to fit that concept, all that was necessary would have been a simple re-write of the bitter song's title: "With Absolutely No Help From My So-Called Friends." Hmm… maybe not. ;-) I think I'll just let it be.

The idea is *ONLY* represented by that song! Well, that and the title track.

Yes, the idea is "ONLY" represented by the breathtaking opening title track, which seques beautifully into "With A Little Help From My Friends," a tune that states the theme explicitly. That powerful one-two punch, combined with the visual sensory overload of the cover art creates a gorgeous, lingering "feel" of the fantasy band, even if they never again overtly touch upon the conceit. The carnival atmosphere of "Mr Kite" serves the theme, as does the overly dramatic, somewhat hammy delivery of "She's Leaving Home." Now that I think about it, I read where the original running order for the album had "Mr Kite" directly following "With A Little Help From My Friends," so that really would have extended the theme. I just happen to like the idea of a small town, low budget "band" performing on a rickety stage, with each "modestly-talented" performer being give a chance to solo. (That's how I justify an "oddity" like "Within You Without You.") I even imagine that those band uniforms are a little threadbare and "moth-eaten." That's why I think McCartney's comically shabby trumpet playing in  "Only A Northern Song" actually adds to the charm, and merits at least a little consideration for the forlorn song's inclusion on the album. 

30 September 2013
5.35pm
DrBeatle
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Fair enough, but it's never seemed like a concept album to me and the band have adamantly stated that it isn't one, but to each their own. It's still a landmark, of course! :)

"I know you, you know me; one thing I can tell you is you got to be free!"

 

Please Visit My Website, The Rock and Roll Chemist

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30 September 2013
6.01pm
fabfouremily
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Nah, I don't consider it a concept album either. Just because the two tracks fit the same concept, plus one you could ''add'' yourself, doesn't mean the whole lp can be given that name imo. I think a CA should be made uo of songs that are all related somehow. If you enjoy it though, what does it matter what term(s) you use to describe it?

''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.''

30 September 2013
6.30pm
Bungalow Bob
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I read a quote by John Lennon sometime, somewhere that went like this: "Pepper was a concept album only because we said it was a concept album." I think he was good-naturedly ranting to Jan Wenner in his Rolling Stone interview, about the fact that the rather loose "concept" went out the window after the first two songs. But I would like to think that when the band got together for an initial pre-album meeting, the idea of the ragtag "Lonely Hearts Club Band" was enthusiastically kicked around, at least for awhile. Paul would have been the most enthusiastic, as it was his original idea. John probably felt his competitive juices flowing, at least at that first meeting, which led him to create the carnival-esque "Mr. Kite." George, determined as ever to fit in, felt that "Only A Northern Song" would be a worthy "conceptual" effort. Ringo, of course, looked up from his game of solitaire, and said "Whatever…"

So John said that Sgt Pepper was a concept album because they said it was. That's good enough for me. I like the concept, and I like the songs, and in my mind I make 'em fit the concept. (Although, it takes a lot to shoehorn "Within You Without You" into that theme. More than a shoehorn, it takes a rubber mallet.) ;-)

There probably isn't a rubber mallet big enough for "Only A Northern Song."

30 September 2013
6.36pm
meanmistermustard
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There was a concept idea in the beginning and they did a few tracks with that in mind before giving up and recording normally. Cant remember who said it, it may have been Paul.

"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)
30 September 2013
7.04pm
DrBeatle
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Bungalow Bob said
I read a quote by John Lennon sometime, somewhere that went like this: "Pepper was a concept album only because we said it was a concept album." I think he was good-naturedly ranting to Jan Wenner in his Rolling Stone interview, about the fact that the rather loose "concept" went out the window after the first two songs. But I would like to think that when the band got together for an initial pre-album meeting, the idea of the ragtag "Lonely Hearts Club Band" was enthusiastically kicked around, at least for awhile. Paul would have been the most enthusiastic, as it was his original idea. John probably felt his competitive juices flowing, at least at that first meeting, which led him to create the carnival-esque "Mr. Kite." George, determined as ever to fit in, felt that "Only A Northern Song" would be a worthy "conceptual" effort. Ringo, of course, looked up from his game of solitaire, and said "Whatever…"

So John said that Sgt Pepper was a concept album because they said it was. That's good enough for me. I like the concept, and I like the songs, and in my mind I make 'em fit the concept. (Although, it takes a lot to shoehorn "Within You Without You" into that theme. More than a shoehorn, it takes a rubber mallet.) ;-)

There probably isn't a rubber mallet big enough for "Only A Northern Song."

John also later said that Pepper was *not* a concept album and "just a collection of [unrelated] songs." We all know how much and how often he contradicted himself :lol:

 

"I know you, you know me; one thing I can tell you is you got to be free!"

 

Please Visit My Website, The Rock and Roll Chemist

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18 October 2013
10.09pm
WhereArtEsteban
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"OANS" imo. could have worked on Pepper provided it had been finished on time (I think Mja6758 pointed that out) and provided that John and Paul not disliked it at the time. 

Though I think "When I'm 64" and "It's All Too Much" should have been b-sided maybe for "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" separately. Though Paul/John clearly weren't having any "b-side" nonsense at this time. "When I'm 64" stands out to me as being sorta out of place on that album. It still works somehow, a treat for the Cavern fans I guess. But I think the overdubs on "OANS" suit the album pretty well actually and George could use another on there, though "WYWY" is masterful and a focal point of the record for me!

As for the topic of the "concept" behind Pepper I'm a believer that it's somewhat more musically conceptual rather than lyrically, the songs do feel/sound like they belong together (in my opinion exception being "64"). So that along with because they said so, I would say yes its a concept album. But do the songs have anything to do with one another topically? Not really, no.

I do not think that "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane" (or even "OANS"-it just would've been nice) would have made Sgt. Pepper "better" though. 

a-hard-days-night-john-5

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19 October 2013
12.23am
vonbontee
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If you imagine "Sgt. Pepper's band" as the band that's actually playing all the actual songs on the actual album (with a little intermission for George to do his thing; and maybe a little outside help from an offstage orchestra) then the concept becomes obvious and undeniable. There doesn't have to be any kind of thematic storyline. Nobody claims it as a rock opera!

I just want to play. I’d like to think I could work opposite Sinatra, B.B. King, the Beatles, or a polka band... - Jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk, 1967
23 October 2013
6.55am
Duke_of_Kirkcaldy
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
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WhereArtEsteban said
"OANS" imo. could have worked on Pepper provided it had been finished on time (I think Mja6758 pointed that out) and provided that John and Paul not disliked it at the time.

Granted, I still wonder how many of George's contributions actually made it onto Help!, Rubber Soul and Revolver out of John and Paul genuinely approving of them as opposed to the fact that the two of them simply didn't have any other songs in the can at the time for the group to record (in which they finally did for Sgt. Pepper, thanks to Paul's prolific burst of energy… despite not many of them being among his best efforts).  ahdn_paul_01

Though I think "When I'm 64" and "It's All Too Much" should have been b-sided maybe for "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" separately. Though Paul/John clearly weren't having any "b-side" nonsense at this time. "When I'm 64" stands out to me as being sorta out of place on that album. It still works somehow, a treat for the Cavern fans I guess. But I think the overdubs on "OANS" suit the album pretty well actually and George could use another on there, though "WYWY" is masterful and a focal point of the record for me!

As for the topic of the "concept" behind Pepper I'm a believer that it's somewhat more musically conceptual rather than lyrically, the songs do feel/sound like they belong together (in my opinion exception being "64"). So that along with because they said so, I would say yes its a concept album. But do the songs have anything to do with one another topically? Not really, no.

Huh?  I'd say "When I'm Sixty-Four" easily fits into the so-called 'concept' you guys have developed in your own minds of the album more than any other song.  After all, it's a Music Hall throwback just like "With a Little Help from My Friends."

I do not think that "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane" (or even "OANS"-it just would've been nice) would have made Sgt. Pepper "better" though.a-hard-days-night-john-5

You really think those 2 songs aren't fundamentally better songs than most of the songs Paul ultimately contributed to the album???  I don't know about you, but I've always thought, the better the songs included, the better the end product.  a-hard-days-night-paul-3

23 October 2013
4.31pm
Linde
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Just because a song has the same genre as a song that already is on the album, doesn't mean the other song goes well with the others.

I do think When I'm 64 fits on it though.

27 October 2013
9.34pm
WhereArtEsteban
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Duke_of_Kirkaldy said

You really think those 2 songs aren't fundamentally better songs than most of the songs Paul ultimately contributed to the album???  I don't know about you, but I've always thought, the better the songs included, the better the end product.  a-hard-days-night-paul-3

Its mostly because at the end of the day I fear change. And the idea of taking things off of Pepper in the first place I don't like even if it's those songs. I personally couldn't live without the story of Brian Wilson hearing "Strawberry Fields Forever" and pulling over in his car and having some sort of intense moment and thinking "they've beat me!" (or so I read) And that just might not have happened if those tracks had been on the album. 

My only real reason for saying that "When I'm 64"  didn't "fit" is probably just because I feel its a bit "light" in comparison to the rest and if it had been used elsewhere it might have made more sense, stuck out more later on. Even though you could say the album needed the super-whimisical; I'd buy that argument. 

"P. P. P. P. S- L. P. Winner."

14 June 2014
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Duke_of_Kirkcaldy
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Honestly, I feel if they'd known that taking singles directly off an album would become standard practice by the mid-'70s, this might've been a non-issue and SFF and PL would indeed have still ended up on the finished album.  Hindsight is always 20/20, I suppose.

14 June 2014
6.20pm
Von Bontee
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It did become largely standard practice in the 70s in the USA, but in the UK bands continued the "singles separate" practice up well into the '80s (and beyond, for all I know.)

I remember seeing "Back to the Egg" in record stores in '79 (the year I seriously began hanging out in record stores for hours staring at inventory) and being surprised that it didn't have "Goodnight Tonight" (or "Daytime Nighttime Suffering") included, despite being a hit just months earlier. An album's first single was usually released a few weeks in advance of the album back then.

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
15 June 2014
2.41am
Bongo
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Only A Northern Song should have been on a Yellow Sub EP,  like Magical Myst Tour was.

It shouldn't even have been a Beatles LP, since SIDE 2 was all George Martin music.  george-martin

**But his music was in the Film, so obviously you can't change history……

Yellow Submarine EP apple01

SIDE 1                                      SIDE 2

1)  Yellow Submarine                1) Hey Bulldog

2) Only A Northern Song           2) It's All Too Much

3) All Together Now                  3) All You Need Is Love

BEATLES Music gives me Eargasms!
15 June 2014
2.49am
meanmistermustard
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I'd switch AYNIS for Across The Universe. Despite it not being in the film it was in the can as well as being originally slated to appear on an EP with all the other tracks you listed bar Yellow Submarine.

"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)
15 June 2014
2.59am
Bongo
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I agree, that would have been a great idea.

FIXED

Yellow Sub EP apple02

SIDE 1                               SIDE 2

1) Yellow Submarine            1) Hey Bulldog
2) Only A Northern Song      2) It's All Too Much
3) All Together Now             3) Across The Universe

BEATLES Music gives me Eargasms!
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