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I Should Have Known Better
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15 January 2018
4.55pm
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Billy Rhythm
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'Do You Want To Know A Secret?' was a Lennon/McCartney tune...  apologies for not being specific...  🙂

16 January 2018
12.18pm
Heath
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John wrote:

And when I tell you that I love you, you're gonna say you love me too

And when I ask you to be mine, you're gonna say you love me too

meanmistermustard said
The duplicate line was noted in Steve Turner's 'A Hard Day's Write' when he wrote that the line suggested that while the girl loved John she was not willing to commit solely to him, there is a cleverly hidden disappointment in the lyrics.   

Heath said

John could have made the lines rhyme: And when I ask you to be mine, you're gonna say that you'll be true, for example.  Took 10 seconds.

 

annyskod said
 

As you also said, I think it's kind of 'laziness'. Many times John referred to his songs as "fillers", songs they wrote with no particular meaning just to finish the album.   

You got it.  

(Note: While I think the lyrics are filler, I think the song itself is anything but.)

 

meanmistermustard said

It depends on what John was looking to say in the song, it's perfectly possible he wasn't looking for the simple rhyme, as most others would. If you take in to account the underlying disappointment in the girl's second reply, the title also takes the song in a different direction. 

It's been written on here with other songs that such a line is lazy and needs changed, yet, if you do, a whole separate level of meaning is gone. 'I Should Have Known Better' can look like a straight love song, start searching tho and not everything is as rosy as it may be; that's not laziness, it's the skill of a songwriter.  

 

So, is the author, Steve Turner, right?  Did John duplicate the line intentionally?  When the girl says "I love you, too" the second time, did John intend a different meaning than the first?  I think a fair test for any claim of an intentional double meaning can be had as follows:

 

(1) Is the double meaning self-evident? if so, we can reasonably assume it was done intentionally.  Let's look at some contemporaneous examples from John.  "Please Please Me."  The double meaning is apparent on its face.  We can stop here.  "It Won't Be Long, till I belong to you."  Same thing.  The current example has "I love you, too" meaning both "I love you, too" and "but I'm not willing to commit solely to you."  As the double meaning is not apparent on its face, let's look for another basis on which to substantiate the claim that it was written intentionally.

 

(2) If (1) is not met, was it ever confirmed by John or Paul?  Going back to "Please Please Me," a quick search brought up a story from John about the pleases (and even a "pleas").  I also found Paul discussing their shared affinity for double meanings as exemplified in "It Won't Be Long."  But as far as I can tell, they never so much as mentioned the claim from "I Should Have Known Better."  This indicates that there never was a double meaning to discuss in the first place.  It also raises a question: If the double meaning was intentional, and it took the author to bring it to the public's attention, decades after the fact, what does that say about the skillfulness of the songwriter? 

 

     So if the double meaning isn't self-evident and the Beatles stayed silent on the subject, is there a reason which can affirmatively explain why there is no double meaning at all?

 

(3) If (1) and (2) are not met, can the claim be explained away?  I come back to the word "lazy."  I'll give a clearer example of John's laziness from the same period to lend more weight to my saying he was being lazy with the duplicate line.  On the same album, his song "When I Get Home" contains the line "I'm gonna love her till the cows come home."  This is a cliche.  It indicates lazy songwriting.  He should have changed it but chose not to.  He was being lazy here just as I believe he was being lazy (or indifferent, the result is the same) in not rhyming the duplicate line.

 

     In sum, I think John wrote a set of filler lyrics with which Steve Turner can be credited with creative interpretation.  I am all for searching for levels of meaning.  The Beatles encouraged finding personal meaning in their songs.  But when money is made by peddling ideas like this one, saying John intended it, that's when I want to say enough already.

16 January 2018
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The Beatles staying silent doesn't automatically mean that was never said was not intended, it may simply mean they were never asked. Not every line in every Beatles song was discussed/questioned.

Why is Turner being criticised for suggesting a meaning, you're suggesting there is not, and are you suggesting such suggestions helped sell his book? You'd need to read it to find it as I highly doubt it was used to promote/sell it.

.

"I told you everything I could about me, Told you everything I could" ('Before Believing' - Emmylou Harris) 

"Don't make your love suffer insecurities; Trade the baggage of 'self' to set another one free" ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)

16 January 2018
2.55pm
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Von Bontee
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Heath said
John wrote:

And when I tell you that I love you, you're gonna say you love me too

And when I ask you to be mine, you're gonna say you love me too

Heath said
John could have made the lines rhyme: And when I ask you to be mine, you're gonna say that you'll be true, for example.  Took 10 seconds.

But "...be true" is a worse lyric and always a bad rhyme. (and much more of a cliche than "til the cows come home") I don't think it's an improvement on simply recycling the same line. And all the more so if John was indeed clever enough to consider the alternate meanings of "love me TOO" ("I love you in return" vs. "I love you, but not exclusively"), which is a possibility I never considered until it was raises here.

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Beatlebug

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

16 January 2018
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Beatlebug
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I never even thought about it until I saw this discussion, but I very much like that idea. It's quite possible to say to someone, 'I love you too,' especially in response to their telling you that they love you, without meaning 'I love you like guitars' (or whatever a-hard-days-night-george-10). Especially if you're saying that in response to someone asking you to be theirs, in which case it really sounds like a purposeful gentle let-down.

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16 January 2018
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meanmistermustard said
The duplicate line was noted in Steve Turner's 'A Hard Day's Write' when he wrote that the line suggested that while the girl loved John she was not willing to commit solely to him, there is a cleverly hidden disappointment in the lyrics.   

Well, clever or insecure.

I think the girl will say, "John, I was constrained by the logic of your lyrical structure."

Or he could have written a cheesy alternative

"And when I tell you that I love you, oh, you're gonna say you love me too....

And when I ask you to be mine, ha ha hine..... you're gonna say that's oh so fine...."

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16 January 2018
8.36pm
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On another note, is it safe to say that I Should Have Known Better wins the award for having the word "I" held the longest (4 beats, at the beginning) of any other song in recorded history?

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17 January 2018
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Necko
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Pineapple Records said
On another note, is it safe to say that I Should Have Known Better wins the award for having the word "I" held the longest (4 beats, at the beginning) of any other song in recorded history?  

I dunno. Wicked Game by Chris Isaak probably comes close, if it doesn't exceed it.

I'm Necko.  I'm like Ringo except I wear necklaces.

I'm also ewe2 on weekends.

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17 January 2018
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Necko
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It definitely is longer in terms of chronological time, and I'm pretty sure that it exceeds in terms of number of beats. 

I'm Necko.  I'm like Ringo except I wear necklaces.

I'm also ewe2 on weekends.

Most likely to post things that make you go hmm... 2015, 2016, 2017. 

17 January 2018
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TheWalrusWasBrian
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Silly Girl said
I never even thought about it until I saw this discussion, but I very much like that idea. It's quite possible to say to someone, 'I love you too,' especially in response to their telling you that they love you, without meaning 'I love you like guitars' (or whatever a-hard-days-night-george-10). Especially if you're saying that in response to someone asking you to be theirs, in which case it really sounds like a purposeful gentle let-down.  

From now on "I love you like guitars" is how I express affection. 

I never thought of it like that, either, very interesting. It does make sense now that I think about it. Well, I'm off to go listen to the song and figure out what's going on here.

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Beatlebug

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17 January 2018
10.32am
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Beatlebug
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@TheWalrusWasBrian said

From now on "I love you like guitars" is how I express affection. 
 

Of course! john-lennon-salute_gif

Though I can't take credit for that one. I borrowed it from our own John, who wrote that in a letter to Cynthia.

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17 January 2018
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Coming in close is I Will Always Love You. 

"The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handles!"

-Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

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"We could ride and surf together while our love would grow"

-Brian Wilson, Surfer Girl

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