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Only A Northern Song
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12 January 2015
12.21am
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ewe2
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Rishikesh
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I like this song, but I'm not a George-hater and actually get the humour of it. One of my many gripes with Ian Macdonald's Revolution In The Head is his dismissal of it as "self-indulgent dirge", "slapdash rerun", and a "dismal reject". When I first heard it I was almost shocked at how cheeky it is, and okay you do have to be in the mood for those trumpet runs :D

Points in favour:

* Great rhythm section. Ringo and Paul can't be accused of not helping out on it.
* Lots of "random" on it. No wonder Macdonald hated it.
* The semitonal tension in the chord sequence, actually a callback to I Want To Tell You rather than If I Needed Someone .
* Great outro.

I'm like Necko only I'm a bassist ukulele guitar synthesizer kazoo penguin and also everyone. Or is everyone me? Now I'm a confused bassist ukulele guitar synthesizer kazoo penguin everyone who is definitely not @Joe.  This has been true for 2016 & 2017 Sig-Badge.png but I may have to get more specific in the future.

19 July 2015
12.33am
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Matt Busby
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I had never really figured out the appeal or meaning of Only A Northern Song . I knew it was the name of the publishing company, and figured out that it was somehow referencing the fact that Liverpool is in northern England. Anyway I was listening to it on headphones today and realized just how damn trippy the arrangement/effects are. Then I read the write-up in the Songs section and understand it so much better. I searched the song in this forum and found words like "chaos" and "random" used to describe the effects. The song is a sterling example of some of the things that made the Beatles great.

George wrote the song as a satirical comment on the fact that his songs to-date had been published by the company, which George had no ownership in and was formed primarily to publish the L-M songbook - but the arrangement doesn't seem to me to have been done with that in mind. This is one of the things that makes great music and wordplay in general imo, the ability to send multiple, sometimes conflicting, messages in one creation. Another example (not coincidentally, George's biting sarcasm again) is the song "This Song" which comments sarcastically on the My Sweet Lord copyright infringement lawsuit using simple, happy-go-lucky arrangement and lyrics.

The rhythm section was mixed on top of itself to create a "phasing effect" - I'm not clear on exactly how that was done, but it was innovative and definitely gives the song a strange and unique feel. The odd chords (Bmin, G# and F# in a key of E song) and some weird intervals in the "tinkerbell percussion instrument" (glockenspiel and chimes) parts are contrapuntal and dissonant (methods the Beatles - including much expertise from George Martin - often used with great effect. It can be found all over MMT and in some other notable vocal harmonies, as discussed in some detail in this topic and an earlier one that is pointed to in the first post there. I wouldn't call the effects "random", but "chaos" seems appropriate at some level - however I think they probably all make sense if you're on the right drugs ;).

George creates an amazing staccato effect with his guitar (I'm pretty sure it's his guitar - around 0:28-0:35 and other places on the stereo mix from the PC deluxe version of Revolver ) which becomes the theme of the trippy background sounds. Interestingly, the drums don't play a part in that theme - they have essentially just a basic timekeeping role in the song. It's really neat how they created that special effect using staccato notes from some very diverse instruments not usually associated with staccato - guitar, keys, glockenspiel, trumpet, and probably others.

Anyway I now wish I had given the song a higher rating in the poll!

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ewe2

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I feel good in a special way, I'm in love and it's a sunny day

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19 July 2015
9.16pm
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ewe2
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Rishikesh
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The outro features tape loops and other deliberately chaotic elements, and I'm suddenly struck at the connection between Martin's earlier comedy work and this song. It's a link in the chain towards You Know My Name (Look Up The Number).

Matt Busby said
George wrote the song as a satirical comment on the fact that his songs to-date had been published by the company, which George had no ownership in and was formed primarily to publish the L-M songbook - but the arrangement doesn't seem to me to have been done with that in mind. This is one of the things that makes great music and wordplay in general imo, the ability to send multiple, sometimes conflicting, messages in one creation. Another example (not coincidentally, George's biting sarcasm again) is the song "This Song" which comments sarcastically on the My Sweet Lord copyright infringement lawsuit using simple, happy-go-lucky arrangement and lyrics.

Bang on here, it's something I really love to hear in music. There are people who still think Every Breath You Take is a love song. 😀

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Shamrock Womlbs

I'm like Necko only I'm a bassist ukulele guitar synthesizer kazoo penguin and also everyone. Or is everyone me? Now I'm a confused bassist ukulele guitar synthesizer kazoo penguin everyone who is definitely not @Joe.  This has been true for 2016 & 2017 Sig-Badge.png but I may have to get more specific in the future.

20 July 2015
11.11am
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Zig
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I've loved this song since I was a small child, long before I "got" the humor. The Anthology version, to me, is even funnier because of George's voice inflections and some subtle differences in the lyrics.

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Matt Busby

To the fountain of perpetual mirth, let it roll for all its worth. And all the children boogie.

15 August 2015
1.04pm
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IMDeWalrus
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This is a really neat, underrated Beatles song -- but I'm glad it ended up on YELLOW SUBMARINE, where it really fit the vibe of the whole movie, and not on Sgt Pepper , as originally intended.  This is a great song to listen to in headphones, where you can hear all of the effects and noises in the track, especially in the bridge and the outtro. 

But my favourite aspect of the song is Ringo's shuffling drum pattern.  That's what always catches my ear.

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Matt Busby

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