Sunday, March 6, 2011

Deconstructing the Beatles: Part III, The Raw Nerve Songs

My teenage years were a time when I felt an almost constant need for emotional catharsis. I could never have gotten away with all the screaming and trashing rooms in the house that could have provided that catharsis, so how great was it that rock and roll music provided that outlet for me? Let me tell you, great with a capital G.

Although not what they're best known for, I almost always immediately loved every Beatles song that pulled no punches, was emotionally raw and cut me to the quick. These weren't pretty songs; they weren't meant to be. (Not a fan of Helter Skelter no matter how hard I tried, though.)  In these songs they could wring torment out with their voices - so extreme and intense that it was almost painful to listen to. But not too painful - they truly did help sooth the savage beast that raged within me.

And not all of them were about agony. No one familiar with McCartney's cover of Long Tall Sally or Lennon's of Twist and Shout could doubt the purity of their screaming pedigree, the sheer rock energy of it. Playing hundreds of shows at the Cavern Club in Liverpool over several years before they broke through, putting crowds into total frenzy, this was their stock in trade.

When it finally paid off, we got a glimpse of it right away ... who doesn't remember what it felt like to bear witness to Paul's screaming break in I Saw Her Standing There? It never, ever gets old.

Estivator's Picks for Best Raw Nerve Songs 

I Want You (She's So Heavy)
I'm A Loser
I'm So Tired
Oh! Darling
Sexy Sadie


Wade said...

Fun idea to categorize the 'tles. I usually think of the songs in terms of pre- or post-Rubber Soul, and then in terms of George v. John/Paul, and then probably the simple songs and the baroque songs (most of the latter are Paul's, though "Strawberry Fields" would be in that one.) Then the dumbass Indian and "experimental" songs that showed up one-apiece on most albums (the "Revolution 9"'s and "Within You Without You" stuff.)

wendy said...

Yeah me too, Wade. Then I realized those breakdowns weren't going to help me understand what I was specifically responding to in the canon and what was leaving me cold. It's been an interesting exploration so far.