"Hello Goodbye"--Like pillow fighting that segues into an overly conscious snogging session. Hey, just because Macca's contradiction anthems aren't swimming in post-apocalyptic detritus doesn't mean they suck.
I challenge you to a duality. Ying and yang, ping and peng, stereo and lab. Ol' Boy coulda driven this conceit into the ground (black/white, day/night), and that he didn't can be looked upon as an act of humanitarian mercy. Myself, I have always regarded this song as a chicken salad sandwich. A fine lunch in a pinch, but if I can get a burger next time, I will.
"Strawberry Fields Forever"--The mad alchemist's potion. It's not too bad.
You know what's good? Banana pie. Also good, is peach pie. What if you put them both together to make one heavy metal mega-mecha pie?! That's a good time, kids. "Strawberry Fields Forever" is an equally tantalizing hodgepodge.
There were three distinct versions of the song recorded, the last two of which comprise the song heard here. On the first, John's vocals were recorded at a faster-than-normal speed, then played back at the standard speed, giving them the wobbly woobly effect of an approaching mirage. The second version, at Lennon's behest, featured cellos, zither and trumpets for that dreamier feel. He then asked George Martin and Geoff Emerick to work their studio magic and combine both sections to make a cohesive song. Armed with editing scissors, a pair of tape machines, and a vari-speed control, they spliced two distinct recordings (different tempos, different keys) into one masterpiece. The transition can be heard at one minute into the song, although given the limited technology available, it could have sounded far sloppier.
Cellos improve most songs. They're what I listen for and to most on this song.
The percussion ain't half bad, neither. Ringo's dismissers would do well to listen up. Look, I'm the second or third to stand up and mock Starkey's turns at the mic, but when he did what he was supposed to do, he did it with versatility and intelligence. Much like every other part of the song, there are moments when Ringo's playing comes perilously close to pretentious bluster. But the sense of restraint is always there. Well played. Literally.
Unlike Harrison, John is self-aware enough to blunt the edges of his spaciest sentiments. He's constantly second-guessing in this song, doubling back and it's "nothing to get hung about."
"Penny Lane"--Proof that no two kaleidoscopes present the same fractured design. Bright, perky, nonsensical ("blue skies" are "pouring rain," apparently) but not dumb. Smutty to boot (what with "finger pies" and a fast machine who keeps his "fire engine clean"), but oh God, that melody is as clean as a Brian Wilson piss-test ain't. This song not only features a piccolo trumpet, it features a piccolo trumpet solo.
"Baby You're a Rich Man"--Like "A Day in the Life," combines one-half Lennon (verse) with one-half McCartney (chorus) to create a pleasantly disjointed vibe. Wonderful intro. "How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?" is one of those killer lines that was destined to be overrated solely due to the face that it appeals to every denominator in existence.
The clavoline is the real star here. I will never type that sentence again. It's fantastic, though, it sounds like it was put in there just to jolt every turned-on person listening to it (approximately 99.4% of the audience).
It's not like I breathe jasmine or cry a unicorns tears, but I'm also not puerile enough to care what may or may not have been said by John Lennon near the end of this song.
"All You Need is Love"--Written hastily and recorded live for a television audience of millions because the Beatles just could not keep this secret to themselves anymore. "We need more love in the world," Paul said. "Love is allowing somebody to be themselves," Lennon remarked. Good golly Granddad, hide the scotch, 'cause some bullshit is about to wreck the door down.
That introduction...oh no. Not at all. They all deserved to be flayed and made to bob for razor blades in a vat of sour milk for that. "Looove looove love." Then again. Stop that. It's all so treacly I almost vomit from rolling my eyes so hard.
Oh but it's a baroque pop masterpiece! Screw that.
"Nothing you can do that can't be done."
Try sitting on the floor indian-style and willing yourself through the power of your mind to suddenly propel upward into the air. You cannot do this.
"Nothing you can sing that can't be sung."
More people in the world have no singing talent than do have singing talent. Less people need to try and sing. Maybe just hum.
"Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game."
What game? Monopoly? Connect Four? Scrabble? Did you know that "Za" as slang for "pizza" is now accepted in Scrabble games? Oh wait. I think he means the game of life, the one where you don't land on squares and boom you have a kid.
No it is not. And that is a naive and disturbing outlook on life.
Now, I can hear the dissent. "Obviously the Beatles know it's not so cut-and-dried, but what they are trying to say in this song is so true and real and worth saying." Conscious simplification is still simplification! You need love. You need money. You need anger. You need hate. You need food. You need water. You need passion. You need respite. None of these things are all you need. It's amazing to me they did this song. Even with the pot haze and acid trails that followed them around non-stop during this time period, it's stunning to me that they sunk this low. What a shame to end a quality record so wretchedly.
Oh well. They could only go up. Right?
*Animals frontman Eric Burdon claimed to be the real life "Eggman," citing a sordid little story he shared with John Lennon about a Jamaican girlfriend who once cracked an egg on his stomach and then proceeded to suck his well-yolked dick. I...don't have any friends quite like that.