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Path: Queen Songs - Forum - Song Analysis: "Wordplays for the market"Bookmark and Share

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Sebastian: "Wordplays for the market"26 Feb 2004 20:27
I think this statement is not fair to be said about the Beatles, although it is fair to be said about Paul. In this thread I hope we can analyse how much did songwriters sell themselves, I'll start off with Beatles of course:

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PLEASE PLEASE ME:

Paul's song 'I Saw Her Standing There' is a potboiler. Certainly a very commercial track. 'Misery' on the other hand is very down-beat to be considered a song for the market (it was a minor hit for Kenny Lynch though). So I don't think John wrote it thinking on sales and chart positions.

The title track is John's and is again, in its first form, not commercial at all. George Martin and Paul were in charge of the catchy riff and the fast tempo, which made it their first hit. 'Love Me Do', which is Paul's (though the middle bit is more John's), is an attempt to do "white blues", so it can be considered a song for the market, or the audience. It's funny that John was the one who sang it, until Martin decided to put harmonica and then Paul had to sing.

'Secret' is definitely not for the market. It was just a song for George to sing, nothing more. And 'Secret' is John's so there you go. 'There's A Place'... I doubt it was a commercial kind of song when John penned it. 'From Me To You', the single, is a little bit more John's but I don't think they wrote it thinking of it as a single, they just wrote it and then found it'd be a good single. Very creative song to its era, and to that stage of John's and Paul's songwriting.

'Thank You Girl', which is more John's, was in fact written for the market, because they thought a song with that title would be very succesful. The experiment didn't work and from then on I find John writing commercial songs very rarely. 'She Loves You' was in my opinion an attempt to get out of the "I love you" crap of the era and write something in third person. It worked so well. The jazzy ending (Paul's idea, I guess) isn't very "market-like" either.

'I'll Get You' was ment to be the A-Side, but again when they tried to do something for the single it didn't work and the potential B-Side become a better option.

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WITH...:

I Won't Be Long is John's and was another failed attempt for a single. He'd realise soon that his strong side was in not-commercial but awesome pieces. I suspect 'All I've Got To Do' had the same goal. 'All My Loving' is for the market, I guess, and it's Paul's. 'Little Child' (co-written) is more for the sake of writing a song than for the sake of selling one.

Paul admitted he wrote 'Hold Me Tight' for selling it as single, but didn't work so it became a "filler". 'I Wanna Be Your Man', which is also Paul, is a very for-the-market track. No idea about John's 'Not A Second Time'

Now to the singles: 'Hold Your Hand', which is a little more Paul's, is a very commercial track, specially the lyrics. 'This Boy' (John) is more a learning-song (so they could work out three-part harmonies) more than a commercial single. It's like Slash and Axl on 'Coma'. They wanted a good song, not a famous song. 'I Call Your Name' was written by John in a very early age just for the sake of writing songs, learning to do it I mean. Not for the market, at all

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A HARD DAY'S NIGHT:

The title track was for the market, one of the few John's songs with that. He admitted he wrote it to "win" the A Side over Paul. 'I Should Have Known' doesn't sound commercial to me. It was famous but not written with that in mind. John wasn't so fond of it. 'If i Fell' was also John's, he wanted to learn to write ballads. It was a "scientific" project, not a market strategy. If Lennon wrote 'Happy Just To Dance With You' for obtaining a #1 hit then I'm ready to believe Ringo is better drummer than Matt Sorum

'And I Love Her' (verse by Paul, middle eight by John, as it often happened) is a very clever track in which I think an orchestra would work well. But the guys preferred a more simple arrangement. Later on with 'Yesterday' Paul would realise that it worked well and would use it a lot later. 'Can't Buy Me Love' is the first really clever song from Paul. The sing-along thing is more John's. John had a natural talent for that.

'Anytime at All' sounds like a filler to me. 'I'll Cry Instead', 'You Can't Do That' and 'When I Get Home' too. All of them are John's. Paul did have the audience and sales in mind when played the nostalgic "we're going to miss what we're living now" thematic in 'Things We Said Today'. That's the first example of "wordplays for the market" in my opinion. 'I'll Be Back', which is John's, is too downbeat for a commercial song imo.

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FOR SALE:

'No Reply' is more John telling a story than John looking for sales. 'I'm A Loser' is an attempt to expand his styles, not commercial at all. We can't blame him for writing catchy melodies anyway. 'Baby's In Black' is a similar case.

'I'll Follow The Sun'... there's nothing I can say about it right now. 'Eight Days A Week', which is more Paul, sounds like his response to 'A Hard Day's Night'. So it's commercial.

'Party' and 'What You're Doing', by John and Paul respectively, are more personal songs than commercial songs. 'I Feel Fine' I find it more personal too, and it's John's. 'She's A Woman' doesn't sound commercial at all. It's Paul's

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HELP:

The title track, written by John, is again a personal song, not a "market" task. 'Night Before' - filler. 'You've Got To Hide' is a personal fetish of John's. I don't think he cared too much about the sales of a song, he just wanted to do as good songs as he could, and if nobody understood them, it doesn't matter

'Another Girl' is typical Paul, typical song about flings and chicks. It does sound commercial to me. 'You're Gonna Lose That Girl' is part of John's genius. Typical ironic Lennon. The world misses him a lot.

'Ticket To Ride' is very creative for it's age. It's more a song John wrote and then found it would be a good single, than a song writen for the single. 'It's Only Love' is a throwaway from John, 'Tell Me What You See' is one from Paul.

'I've Just Seen A Face' is pretty cool, more written for the album than a single. 'Yesterday' was released on single almost under protest. How wrong can someone be? Similar case to 'Another One Bites The Dust'

'Yes It Is' is John's practice and self-training. 'I'm Down' is kind of Paul's tribute to Little Richard.

To be continued...
1.PD 27 Feb 2004 07:23
The "play to the market" quote is from the "From Me To You" article, and reportedly said by Macca himself.
www.icce.rug.nl

As for the first Beatles album: I think in those times they didn't dare to write any song that lyric-wise or melody-wise was not commercial. Everybody was playing to the (single) market, except maybe some jazz musicians).
The first Beatles song that I can't picture as a single is "Not A Second Time" (the song with that aeolian cadence :)
I think "Secret" IS a commercial song. "Should Have Known" detto.

"From me to you": I'm somewhat less impressed by it's cleverness (and catchyness). The outro is maybe the most creative feature of the song. The much-praised key change was something cliche-like by 1963, even the V-I progression with augmented chord transition is something done before (eg. Buddy Holly: Girl On My Mind).

> I Won't Be Long is John's and was another failed attempt for a single.
Commercially it may have failed, but it's still a good song with better longevity than the US No1 song "Winding Road". "Hold Me Tight" was another song with the potential to be a hit (with luck and proper promotion), but other song off that album seemed more promising.

> 'Yes It Is' is John's practice and self-training.
What do you exactly mean by that? Why was it more training-like than "Strawberry Fields" for instance?
2.Sebastian 27 Feb 2004 13:33
I'm ready to finish my Beatles list, but first I'm going to answer to your post:

> ...reportedly said by Macca himself.

Yeah, but Paul isn't the whole band. In my opinion he and John had very very very different ways, and, numerically, John wrote more (although not much more) than Paul. So we can't judge all Beatles because of just one member, even if he wrote a bigger number of over-played songs (according to a poll I made recently with the question "which are your 10 favourite Beatles songs", asked to a group of not Beatles fans. the only songs from John they mentioned sometimes were 'Come Together', 'Norwegian Wood' and 'A Hard Day's Night'. I think one person listed 'Revolution'. The rest all mentioned songs by Paul: Yellow Submarine, Eleanor Rigby, Yesterday, Michelle, Blackbird, And I Love Her, etc)

> As for the first Beatles album: I think in those times they didn't dare to write any song that lyric-wise or melody-wise was not commercial.

I think the opposite. While perhaps Paul was interested in the market, I do think John wrote personal songs most of time, from the very beginning. Some of them happened to be hits, but, as I said, we can't blame him for having a natural talent of catchy lyrics, melodies and riffs.

> I think "Secret" IS a commercial song. "Should Have Known" detto.

'Do You Want To Know A Secret' is catchy, but I don't think they wanted it as a potential single. Or else John or Paul would have sung it. 'I Should Have Known Better' is a very catchy and awesome song, but I don't think John wrote it thinking of the market. It's like 'Killer Queen'. It was just a song, but after it was recorded they found it'd be a good single.

> Commercially it may have failed, but it's still a good song with better longevity than the US No1 song "Winding Road".

I do like 'It Won't Be Long' more, but they're both equally famous in South America. I think it depends on the country and the "circle". Coincidentially, I've noticed teenagers are more fond of IWBL, while people over 30 tend to love Winding Road and put it in their top 5 a lot. I think It Won't Be Long is a very important song, historically.

> "Hold Me Tight" was another song with the potential to be a hit

I think Paul wrote all (or most) of his songs thinking of them as a #1 single, and then chose the most commercial. John just wrote songs and then chose the most catchy. It's a different way of thinking.

> What do you exactly mean by that?

What I mean is that, imo, John wrote a lot of songs just to expand his versatility as a composer. In a similar way Freddie was always writing different songs, from waltz to opera to middle-east to dixiland etc, John wasn't just a blues rock n' roller. He wanted to cover every style possible, and the only way he could be a ballad expert for example, was writing a lot of ballads. In the same way Freddie wrote 'My Fairy King' then 'March' then 'Bo Rhap', I suppose it can be progressed that way.

Paul had a remarkable talent to cover styles too, he did it for other reasons though (which for the effect is the same). He didn't want to be "old fashioned" or "yesterday's news", so he covered whatever was going on in the time. The Who wrote heavy songs so Paul wrote 'Helter Skelter' to outdo them. Paul (Simon) wrote 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' to Paul (McCartney) wrote 'Let It Be'. In the time of the long band names (like Fred And His Incredible Shrinking Grateful Airplanes) Paul came up with the idea of a Dr. Hook's Medicine Show and Traveling Circus kind of thing, which turned into Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I feel 'Back In the USSR' is not a tribute to the Beach Boys, it's a challenge.

> Why was it more training-like than "Strawberry Fields" for instance?

Strawberry was a limits-breaker more in the production than in the actual writing I think.

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RUBBER SOUL:

The only song I believe was written deliberately for the market was 'You Won't See Me' (Paul's). Also the verses of 'We Can Work It Out', which are also Paul's. The rest is either self-training, or pot-inspired, or throwaways (though I love all the album).

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REVOLVER:

Paul had the idea of putting strings in 'Eleanor Rigby'. How much was it inspired by Yesterday's success is impossible to know. Songs that I think were written for the market are all by Paul again: Got To Get You Into My Life, Good Day Sunshine, Yellow Submarine and for minor extent Here There And Everywhere.

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SGT PEPPER'S:

I think all of Paul songs except Fixing a Hole were for the market. More exactly, to cover every possible angle of the market and "win" there.

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MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR:

Again Paul's songs are very much for the audience. As well as the single, Lady Madonna. 'Hello Goodbye' is completely conceived for the market.

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WHITE:

John was just weird. Geniouses are mad bad and dangerous to know anyway. Paul's limit-breaker is Martha My Dear. Wonderful track (specially because for a very long time I was in love with a girl named Martha, and curiously I recently wrote a song for her, somehow similar to MMD).

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YELLOW:

'All Together Now' is another good example of "wordplays for the market"

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LET IT BE:

Title track was inspired because the crown of the perfect ballad at the time was for Paul Simon's BOTW (released in 1969), so Macca had to outdo it. I personally prefer 'Bridge', it's just awesome.

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ABBEY ROAD:

'Come Together' was initially written for a campaign but it resulted better in a proper song. George wrote part of the lyrics, he participated much more than Paul in this one. I don't find Paul's songs are particularly written for the market, although they're pretty wonderful. I love 'Maxwell'.
3.PD 27 Feb 2004 19:26
> So we can't judge all Beatles because of just one member.
Yes, but Paul definitely had a proper insight about the way they both wrote songs
especially in the beginning when the partnership between Len and Mac was tighter.

My points about single-songwriting rephrased: the songs they wrote in the beginning
were all radio-friendly.

> I do like 'It Won't Be Long' more, but they're both equally famous in South
America.
I can't judge their fame here. They are both extremly rarely played songs. IWBL was
playing regularly by a major station during a the "1" "campaign" over here.

> I think It Won't Be Long is a very important song, historically.
why? I mean IMO it's not in the top 40 most important Beatles song.

> I think Paul wrote all (or most) of his songs thinking of
> them as a #1 single
All or most? Maybe in the beginning. I context of the entire Beatles period I would
say: many of his songs.

> John wrote a lot of songs just to expand his versatility as a composer
there is a competition-theory: eg. John wrote "Girl" to equal Paul's "Michelle".

> Strawberry was a limits-breaker more in the production than in the
> actual writing I think.
I share your opinion. Even though it was a clever song in terms of harmony, and an unique single in terms of lyrics. Production had of course key importance here.

"Rubber Soul":
> either self-training, or pot-inspired, or throwaways
I love some of those "trowaways" and self-training songs too :)

> How much was it inspired by Yesterday's success is impossible to know
probably very much, even though in the beginning it was not probably penned with pseudo classical arrangement in mind.

SGT PEPPER'S:
>I think all of Paul songs except Fixing a Hole were for the market
but definitely not for the single market. his album was not an album of hit singles. Beatles and the Abbey Road crew was effectively riding and also massively contributing the trends of the contemporary music scene.


>Paul's limit-breaker is Martha My Dear.
After "64" it did not break much limit IMO. Piano-wise it surely pushed further Paul's own limits. Lovely track, and L.Juber did a stunning fingerstyle guitar version of it.
4.Sebastian 27 Feb 2004 23:29
> Yes, but Paul definitely had a proper insight about the way they both wrote songs especially in the beginning when the partnership between Len and Mac was tighter.

I disagree. Paul sometimes goes way too far in his comments.

> why? I mean IMO it's not in the top 40 most important Beatles song.

I think it's an important step in the evolution of their early work, specially John's, can't describe why though. It's one of those important not-singles, like Coming Soon or Dust N' Bones

> there is a competition-theory: eg. John wrote "Girl" to equal Paul's "Michelle".

It's possible although the fact 'Girl' was recorded eight days later doesn't neccesarily mean it was written after it.

> probably very much, even though in the beginning it was not probably penned with pseudo classical arrangement in mind.

Perhaps it was. Paul liked Vivaldi back then.
5.Alejandro 28 Feb 2004 00:41
I don't think you can judge Beatles if Paul thinks only in the market, You can see it in " back in the US" and he goes to every event to sing the same songs . He doesn't want to be forgotten so he writes stupid nonesense song like "Freedom" or "Here Today" only to sell a song.

The beatles were a band but paul attitude makes me sick, he thinks he understands the USA after the attack to the towers and he thinks he understand Iraq after that country were destroyed and he thinks he is more important than the queen. He makes all of that only to be remembered in the Beatles he made songs for the market he made strategies for the market, he was the one who made 20 sec songs or other songs like "I will" only to publish more and more songs and make more and more money.
6.PD 28 Feb 2004 08:01
Paul's songwriting approach was quite ordinary: to pen songs that people like. He surely has a marketing strategy, he probably wants to be remembered as much as and respected as classical composers. His musician-ego has been fueled with huge amount of feedbacks of all sorts and "weight". Paul was by far the most active of the surviving Beatles at keeping the Beatles-fever alive.
Freddie Mercury too wanted to be famous and rich. Roger was said taking much care of chart-success. Both Brian and Roger still take care of the legacy of Queen, even though they are much criticized for the way they do it. Much more heavily than Paul. The "1" was never criticized for being too heavily promoted (20 million bugs), or the recent campaign of the 40 year anniversary of the US-campaign was not criticized being overfocusing an event that is one of the few things about the Beatles that I truly dislike.

> he was the one who made 20 sec songs
How many 20 sec songs did Macca write? What about Mercury's short songs.

> or other songs like "I will" only to publish more and
> more songs and make more and more money
I don't think he wrote "I Will" in order to get more and more money. I
think Paul has always been more interested in the fame and respect than in the
money.


A nice picture:
membres.lycos.fr
7.Sebastian 28 Feb 2004 13:39
> Paul was by far the most active of the surviving Beatles at keeping the Beatles-fever alive.

That was for the sake of not being forgotten. In his first tours he didn't want to play Beatles songs, perhaps he thought he could have succesful tracks like 'Woman' or 'My Sweet Lord' but he realised that he owes 99% of his fame to the Beatles and his songs with them.

> Freddie Mercury too wanted to be famous and rich.

I think many people make music with that idea in the first place. But there are two ways to do it: you expose your idea, work on your thing, present it to the audience. You have the risk that it can be a flop (like Queen II or Kiss debut album). The other way to do it is go behind the sun that shines more than the rest (like David Bowie does). I think the latter is a very mediocre way, but it's hard to draw deep conclusions about who was doing it. Take GnR for example: Izzy wrote 'Patience' around 1985 and he decided that they should record an acoustic version of it. It didn't match the Apetite album so they saved it for Use Your Illusion. When they recorded Lies they decided to put it there instead of waiting two more years. They liked the idea and recorded more acoustic songs in that EP. So they released it in 1989, precisely the year in which the acoustic guitar had its big come back to the rock music (remember Tesla's Love Song or Kiss's Forever?). Many people had judged Izzy to "follow the sun", but as we can see it was just a coincidence. Shall we consider Nuno wrote Hole Hearted and More Than Words one year later because it was cool to have acoustic tracks? Or did he write them just because he wanted to? It's so hard to tell.

> Roger was said taking much care of chart-success.

I understand he must have felt left out in the early days because there wasn't one single single by him. That's perhaps one of the main reasons why he wanted to change radically his way of writing.

> Both Brian and Roger still take care of the legacy of Queen, even though they are much criticized for the way they do it. Much more heavily than Paul.

Paul doesn't say he's "The Beatles". Jimmy and Robert don't call themselves "Led Zeppelin". Yeah, if Roger and Brian present themselves as "May/Taylor" very few people would recognise them. Well, bad luck. But it's totally un-ethic and immoral to take the name of the band.

> How many 20 sec songs did Macca write? What about Mercury's short songs.

I think that my brother ment that Paul didn't have a quality control, as many other songwriters (e.g. Duff McKagan, Freddie, etc). He recorded everything he wrote, even if it was a 20 sec song, just to fill the album faster. If he had unfinished tracks (e.g. 'The End') he put them on a medley and that was it.

I disagree with him there. I find those unfinished songs by Paul are fantastic and I love playing 'Her Majesty'. By other side, John also had some throwaways (e.g. 'Dig A Pony') that I find amazing, and he isn't criticised for that.

> I don't think he wrote "I Will" in order to get more and more money.

While I love 'I Will', the song, I hate the original recording and arrangement. What I hate a lot about Paul is the disrespect he has for his fans. He's just so famous that he can fart in the middle of a concert and everyone would make a standing ovation. That amount of fame should provoke a bigger sense of responsibility. But no, he just sings unbelievably out of pitch, starts songs on acoustic and then stops and starts again, does horrible "tributes" in ukelele, makes several mistakes in the piano... stuff for what any other artist should be hummiliated and "booed".

But of course he's not the only one, the way Brian sang 'No One But You' at Amsterdam two years ago was such a disaster, but people accept it because he and Roger are "Queen". That's so unfair.
8.Alejandro 28 Feb 2004 15:49

It's different short than under-worked songs that way the album was published faster , If you see Freddie's short songs is different.

About "I will" It's the same, He could make a better song ( with the same minutes and chords ) but he didn't he only recorded the guitar and his voice and record the next song
9.Sebastian 28 Feb 2004 15:56
As far as I remember I will has bongoes and bass too
10.Bohardy 29 Feb 2004 13:01
The bass part in I Will is hummed by Paul, rather than played on a bass.
11.Sebastian 29 Feb 2004 14:33
You're right
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