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Suicide
19 October 2017
4.28pm
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Martha
Candlestick Park
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@Pineapple Records I listened to the version on McCartney. You’re right, it’s actually not that much of an arpeggio, one at the beginning, one in the middle and  one at the end.

That’s really funny whenever I listen to this song I perceive it as being full of these arpeggios but now that I listened to it and paid attention to how long the arpeggios last, I found out that it’s only 33 seconds out of 168, so only about 20% of the song. These chords really stood out to me though, so much apparently, that I completely overestimated their duration. Really weird, I’m sorry about the inaccuracy.paul-mccartney-facepalm_gif

The following people thank Martha for this post:

Beatlebug, Pineapple Records

Not once does the diversity seem forced -- the genius of the record is how the vaudevillian "When I'm 64" seems like a logical extension of "Within You Without You" and how it provides a gateway to the chiming guitars of "Lovely Rita. - Stephen T. Erlewine on Sgt Pepper's

24 May 2023
11.29pm
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pepperland
vanished in the haze (England)
Hollywood Bowl
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OK, big analysis of this song coming up because I’ve got a bunch of essays to write and don’t want to.

So supposedly Paul wrote this song around 1956, consisting of a single verse and chorus.

Lewisohn says it was probably an instrumental which is very possible (tho didn’t they sing parts of it on the Get Back sessions?) so I’d like to discuss the musicality of it, because on first listen it sounds very impressive for a 14/15 year old to write.

In fact, as Paul has said on the whole it’s a very simple song to play on piano, other than one particular chord.

It goes from C (the most fundamental chord on the piano) to a Dm then to Em, which is super simple to do on the piano. It’s all white notes. I think he discussed in that Disney+ show how you can play anything just using the white notes. And that’s what he did here, he plays a C shape, moves it up by one to make Dm then moves up one again for the Em. If you went up one more you’d get to an F chords, then G, then Am. Pretty simple stuff, and all diatonic (meaning it stays in the key of C major). Try it yourself on a keyboard or a piano app on your phone or something.

As he says, you can (and many people do) create a song easily using just those chords with no fancy black notes.

The one exception is interesting. When he goes “when she tries to run aWAY” that chord on Way is very much not diatonic. It’s an Eb minor chord (you can make it more exciting by making it a Ebm7 chord if you’re more advanced). Then back to Dm to G and then C.

I always wondered if he was playing around on the piano and his dad showed him that Em-Eb-Dm is much more interesting or if he picked it up himself. Dm-G-C is also a very common chord progression in jazz music (usually with added extra notes or variations but don’t want to get too complicated here.)

I remember reading somewhere that his dad wouldn’t help him much with learning piano so the idea that he picked that jazzy chord change up himself is super impressive for a 14 year old.

It’s also possible he didn’t add in that part till later when he could play piano better, it may have just been C-Dm-Em-Dm-G originally. Who can say? Also if you add the seventh (the note two notes below the bottom note) to all the chords other than C it sounds incredibly jazzy.

The next part where he says “she limps along etc.” has the same sequence but starting on the Em and holding the notes for a few beats longer. That Ebm being held for a whole bar makes me feel like it was written there from the start.

Finally, the chorus. C-Em-F, Em-Ebm-Dm-G-C.

Even if this is gobbledygook to you, it shows an interesting pattern of rising chords that then fall again, with an ending of that jazzy Dm-G-C ending again.

The fact that he probably just worked this out from hearing his dad play shows a real talent for music even from 14. Who can say if he originally added the 7s to the chords but I wouldn’t think it impossible that he did. It sounds a hell of a lot better with the 7s in. (Basically adding a 4th note to chords that are usually made up of three notes).

And as for the lyrics:

”if when she tries to run away and he calls her back she comes / if there’s a next time he’s ok cos she’s under both his thumbs / she limps along to his side / singing a song of ruin I / bet he says nothing doin’ / ahh / I call it suicide.”

I can imagine that he did write these at the time, the theme seems pretty obscure for a 14 year old to be singing about but the Sinatra sound is obvious to me. I can’t think of any songs of the time period that the lyrics remind me of, but the melody is very Sinatra, I’m even getting a strong hint of the end 30 seconds of Cry by Johnnie Ray (big hit in 1951) in the melody and harmony for “bet he says nothing doin’. But that might be a stretch. I don’t think I know enough 50s early pop to say but the vocal going up at the end is very similar, along with the chords. Same key too.

Anyway I’m sure a lot of you don’t care much about composition and chords and all that, but being a budding songwriter myself I like to analyse these things and hopefully some of you find it interesting too.

The following people thank pepperland for this post:

sigh butterfly, sir walter raleigh, Rube

Times I find it hard to say / With useless words getting in my waySuprised about this one.Sad about this one

25 May 2023
2.10am
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pepperland
vanished in the haze (England)
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Also something to note:

This is the first song of many where they did that descending minor chord trick.

The most obvious ones are Do You Want To Know A Secret during the doo dah doo bit:

G#m-Gm-F#m

and in Till There Was You “I never saw them at all -> Am-G#m-Gm

This one’s got the “bet he says nothing doin’ ahhh -> Em-Ebm-Dm -> I call it suicide.

This chromatic descending (single note at a time) is probably what they’d call a passing chord as the middle chord isn’t strictly necessary. 
Funnily too, it must be a standard jazz thing because in all three of those instances it goes from that last chord to the fifth chord in the key and then to the root. (The Dm-G-C thing I said earlier but in different keys). A lot of music chord structures are all about going through chords in a cycle to end up on the root (the main chord in the key).

I.e F#m – B7 – E “Do You Want To Know A Secret ” (the song is in E)

Gm- C7 – F “Till There Was You ” (the song is in F)

Dm – G – C “I call it suicide (the song is in C)

and they all do this chord movement while ending on the actual name of the song too which I never noticed. Kinda funny.

I hope this makes some sense. Maybe I’ll write more about this in other song threads, don’t know if people are interested are not, but I might do it anyway.

thank ye,

pepperland

The following people thank pepperland for this post:

Sea Belt, sigh butterfly, Richard, Rube

Times I find it hard to say / With useless words getting in my waySuprised about this one.Sad about this one

25 May 2023
9.58pm
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sigh butterfly
Sea of Green (near the Golden Gate)
Rishikesh
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Thanks @pepperland, I dig reading this kind on analysis. Btw… did you create your own smiley?

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pepperland

You and I have memories
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead

27 May 2023
2.51am
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pepperland
vanished in the haze (England)
Hollywood Bowl
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Thank you kindly @sigh butterfly, yes I did invent that smiley but I got my lawyers involved to take it off the site so no one else could use it.

In all seriousness where did that smiley go?? I guess a-hard-days-night-ringo-15 does a better job of pointing so Joe got rid of it. John kinda looks he’s a motorised head attached to wheels.

Bring disembodied John head back!

Anyway to stay on topic, it’s a nice song. I was going through several of the very early songs written by Paul and you can make them all sound jazzy on a piano. I think there’s an early ‘70s recording where he even plays I Lost My Little Girl all jazzy-like on the piano. Talented man – I wish more people had heard of this McCartney fella, he should have been a big star you know.

Also, correction: Lewisohn did not say this was an instrumental originally, I was getting mixed up with When I’m 64

The following people thank pepperland for this post:

sigh butterfly, Rube

Times I find it hard to say / With useless words getting in my waySuprised about this one.Sad about this one

27 May 2023
3.59pm
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sigh butterfly
Sea of Green (near the Golden Gate)
Rishikesh
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tumblr_mptuieGY9O1rgvip4o1_500.gifImage Enlarger

Happy Weekend Peppy! I have quite a few versions of that song stashed away. Let me see if I have an instrumental kickin’ around.

The following people thank sigh butterfly for this post:

pepperland, Rube

You and I have memories
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead

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