John and Paul's use of the word "friend" in love songs -- odd? | Fab Forum

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John and Paul's use of the word "friend" in love songs -- odd?
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24 July 2013
12.15am
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Funny Paper
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That weird book online called "Truth Contest" which interprets the Beatles as some kind of mystical prophets of our time has some interesting stuff -- and some kooky stuff.

One interesting detail I never thought about before is that occasionally, John and/or Paul in song lyrics referred to the girl love object as a "friend".  This is a rather odd thing when you think about it -- what young guys now or in the 60s or any decade in between would refer to a girl romantically as "friend"?  Sure, the word "girlfriend" is used, but not "friend" by itself.

Thus, "Can't Buy Me Love" --

I'll buy you a diamond ring, my friend,

if it makes you feel all right...

Or: "I'll Get You" --

I've imagined I'm in love with you

many, many, many times before...

I think about you night and day

I need you, and it's true...

So, I'm telling you my friend,

I'll Get You in the end...

Or:  "We Can Work It Out" --

Try to see it my way...

run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone...

Life is very short, and there's no time

for fussing and fighting, my friend...

Etc.

The writer of that weird book extrapolates (and goes off the deep end -- but nevertheless, there are some interesting tidbits in his exegesis, just take it with a grain of salt):

 

There is a sign in their songs to let us know the songs are not just a love song for a girl. The sign is the word "friend" which is not a way that you would address a girl you are singing a love song to.

Examples: The song “I'll Follow the Sun”, "Though I may lose a friend, in the end you will know I was the one.” The song: “We Can Work It Out”, "Life is very short and there's no time for fussing and fighting my friend.” The song “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “I will buy you a diamond ring my friend, if it makes you feel alright.” The song: “I'll Get You”, "So I'm telling you my friend, I will get you in the end.” They will get us now.

61

In that last song, “I’ll Get You,” they say, “There is going to be a time, when I am going to change your mind.” They mean literally change your mind, from the mind of mankind, to the mind of a spiritual being. See the difference it makes?

They actually say change your mind and make you mine at the same time.

Words with two meanings: Girl, her, baby, honey, she, darling, etc. = receiver. The receiver is female, just as biologically females receive the seed of life from males. Whoever is listening to their music is the receiver, because you are receiving the music. The word; man, he, him, his, etc. = transmitter or sender. The collective unconscious via the Beatles are the transmitters; they are sending the music and message. Home = the Present, God, etc. End = beginning, etc.

This is why metaphorically God is a male. God gives us life; we receive it.

Faded flowers, wait in a jar, till the evening is complete... complete... complete... complete...
24 July 2013
12.04pm
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Zig
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My wife is my best friend - nothing odd there. 

Friend is a good rhyming word for end, again, send, etc... - nothing odd there.

Besides, in the examples you cited:

'Can't Buy Me Love' - the characters were not yet romantically involved. Hence the line "I'll give you all I got to give if you say you'll love me too."

'I'll Get You' - the characters were not yet romantically involved. Hence the lines "I've imagined I'm in love with you", "I'll get (instead of I've got) you in the end" and others. 

'We Can Work It Out' - A couple arguing - doesn't seem like a song dripping with sentiment that would feature words like honey, dear, sweetie or even stud muffin - unless of course they were used sarcastically.

This might be something cute to think about, but I wouldn't read too much into any of it.

To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.

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24 July 2013
2.35pm
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meanmistermustard
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Im with Zig and Ben Ramon, its a common usage and nearly everyone would considering their partner (husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend) to be their friend as well.

Outside Beatles

"If we can't be lovers we'll never be friends" The Lovers That Never Were - Macca

Outside Beatleword

"How can we be lovers if we cant be friends, how can we start over when the fighting never ends?" How Can We Be Lovers - Michael Bolton

There will be tons and tons and tons and tons of examples of this in music thru the decades - Queen You're My Best Friend is another.

 

 

 

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
24 July 2013
4.01pm
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Sky999
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meanmistermustard said
Im with Zig and Ben Ramon, its a common usage and nearly everyone would considering their partner (husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend) to be their friend as well.

Outside Beatles

"If we can't be lovers we'll never be friends" The Lovers That Never Were - Macca

Outside Beatleword

"How can we be lovers if we cant be friends, how can we start over when the fighting never ends?" How Can We Be Lovers - Michael Bolton

There will be tons and tons and tons and tons of examples of this in music thru the decades - Queen You're My Best Friend is another.

 

 

 

a-hard-days-night-ringo-8

24 July 2013
10.47pm
Ben Ramon
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24 July 2013
11.28pm
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25 July 2013
12.55am
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mja6758 said
Maybe a better example for Dylan's use of "friend" would have been All I Really Want to Do from 1964's Another Side of... album. Another Side has been cited as an album that had an effect on John's songwriting in particular, and at the end of every verse in All I Really Want to Do we get, "All I really want to do/Is, baby, be friends with you". That that was an album John was listening to a lot immediately before the shift in his songwriting on
Beatles For Sale, and the acknowledged influence Dylan had on that shift, it's fair to assume the way Dylan used "friend" in a song like that would have registered with John.

***************

Interesting.  However that "All I Really Want To Do" song doesn't really say or imply anywhere that the male protagonist is interested in romantic love.  He could just be wanting to be "just friends" with whatever woman he's singing about.

Also, I note that two of the songs were apparently written before that Dylan album -- Can't Buy Me Love recorded in Jan of 1964 and I'll Get You in the summer of 1963.

Off topic: I knew Dylan was category-busting and sophisticated for his time, but these lyrics to All I Really Want to Do are amazing for that time -- they must have blown John's mind when he first heard them.

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25 July 2013
1.52am
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Ron Nasty
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Funny Paper said
Interesting.  However that "All I Really Want To Do" song doesn't really say or imply anywhere that the male protagonist is interested in romantic love.  He could just be wanting to be "just friends" with whatever woman he's singing about.

Also, I note that two of the songs were apparently written before that Dylan album -- Can't Buy Me Love recorded in Jan of 1964 and I'll Get You in the summer of 1963.

I think that just depends on how you read it. All I Really Want to Do is often referred to as an "anti-love song". There is another way of viewing it however, placing it in context of the male-female dynamic of the time. "Bob", at the beginning of a relationship, is assuring the woman that he is not looking to get away with the abuses that were largely acceptable then, but that he wants to be her friend. In that way, that he reels off this whole list of things that men got away with in "romantic" relationships and says that he doesn't want to be those things to her, that he wants to be her friend, along with calling her "baby", does imply the early days of a romantic relationship.

And, as for Can't Buy Me Love and I'll Get You, I agree with Zig when he says that they are both about trying to get the girl, and when the girl is still a friend.

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty

7 August 2013
10.41pm
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PleasePleaseMe21
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Don't forget in "Another Girl" 'Through thick and thin she will always be my friend'

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