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Saturday, September 16, 2006

It Don't Come Easy

Commenter Mark Daniels saw my Ringo single yesterday, and had this to offer:
It's probably not an opinion that would pass muster with the rock intelligentsia, but I've always felt that 'It Don't Come Easy' was one of the greatest rock songs of all time. It's great!
Well, I don't know what the rock intelligentsia think...

Strike that -- I know exactly what they think, and I don't give a tinker's fart. I say "It Don't Come Easy" is one of the greatest pieces of pop ever. Listen to it:



The Beatles killed Rock music, really. They made artifacts- studio confections that existed in a realm outside live music. They had the knack for the little ditty writ large, and indulged it. They could get away with it, but it led to all sorts of trouble for those less talented. E.L.O. anyone?

But let's not worry about that. If you're going to assemble pop confections, who are you going to do it with?

Well, how about the fellows from Badfinger, and Beatles cronies like Klaus Voorman and Steve Stills, and Eric Clapton? Have George Martin ride herd over that, and see what you get. And when George Martin's not around, have the other George -- Harrison-- arranging the whole thing.

"We were always rather beastly to George," George Martin famously said of George Harrison. George's compositions were relegated to the end of the queue, afterthoughts really, and his guitar playing was a bit too lugubrious for the records, and George Martin would guide his charge through his solos more often than not. Paul McCartney played guitar in the original iteration of the band, and I'm sure George always had that feeling that he was looking over his shoulder a bit. It surely rankled, but George soldiered on.

Like the football player that isn't a star until he coaches, George really didn't shine until he was directing things. And he certainly had been paying attention to what George Martin was doing. He could do it too, when he got the chance.

The Beatles were kaput. We weren't tired of them, but they were tired of themselves. And George decided to give his friend Ringo a leg up, since they were all out on their own now. And George Harrison most assuredly wrote It Don't Come Easy, or the largest possible portion of it, if you disbelieve the record label and believe your eyes and your ears. Ringo sits in during the concert for Bangladesh, George out front with the Badfinger boys, and Ringo forgets about half the words when they play it together. He keeps on smiling through the whole thing, and invests it with that original and unmistakeable packing crate beat he invented for himself in the seedy clubs in Liverpool.

If you have any doubt who wrote the thing, listen to George and the fellows play it before Ringo shows up for the studio session:



All that was missing Ringo's sunny disposition, his infectious beat, and his likeable, plodding voice. You could hear him toss his head on a record, somehow.

George arranged some horns, really well, played that magnificent shimmering intro and outro, picking his way over the three chords like a mountain climber reaching the arete to gaze down into Shangri-la, and got his friend to play that guitar solo I bet -- Eric Clapton. It sounds like him, and he was there.

We were poor when I was a young teen, but not so's you'd notice. My weary mother would take us to the pizza joint, hard by the dissipated college kid's dorms, and we'd eat cheap pie and drink cokes and she'd give us quarters for the big Seeburg jukebox. George's warm pizzicato chords, then Ringo's voice would come out of that box like a benediction, and you'd let the whole thing wash over you like the warm, sweet wave it was.

9 comments:

Editor Theorist said...

It's hard to exaggerate the way in which the English were bound-up with the Beatles and their doings through the sixties. The Beatles, on TV and record, are some of my earliest memories - I was young enough to believe they were singing to me, specifically, with 'I wanna hold your hand'.

Then later everyone would comment on each change of direction, each new single. And the disasterous adventures of Lennon and Yoko.

***

Anyway - off topic - I was delighted to see your remarking on Althouse about the Clinton posing female blogger: the original posting, and the mass of comments, were laugh-out-loud funny.

I do feel slightly sorry for the girl, but not as sorry as for the Star Wars Kid on the viral video - since she knew she was having a publicity shot. Another similar photo on one of the links also shows that she was holding her chest-out stance for a while - it wasn't simply an unfortunate 1/250th of a second.

In its light way, the interchange seemed to encapsulate quite a few themes of our times.

And people _still_ deny significant biological differences in male-female psychology...

Ruth Anne Adams said...

That first video reminded me of Luke Skywalker on the Hoth planet.

It also mentioned "Thomas the Tank Engine" twice, which is good in our house.

SippicanCottage said...

Hi editor- My older brother used to sit in our living room, relentlessly picking up and dropping the needle on the records and parsing out the notes on Beatles and Stones records, then painstakingly learning them on the guitar.

I always associate the Beatles with the most pleasant things.

I bumped into Ringo on the sidewalk outside a nightclub in Cambridge, Mass twenty years ago. I'm not generally much interested in what passes for notoriety, but it was like seeing a ghost, not a celebrity. There was an unreality to the whole Beatle affair. Ringo above all remained a very pleasant person in his public persona. A yob from Liverpool that made it.

I'm avoiding that other thing you mentioned like the plague. I'm still able to be shocked at what people are willing to say to one another on the internet. I love defending Ann Althouse, but her tough mindedness compels her to leave comments people make about her in her comment strings that I don't feel comfortable having my name archived with, despite being obviously in opposition to them. If they were made in my actual presence, someone would be picking up their teeth with a broken arm.

Ruth Anne- Thomas is a big fave here with the wee bairn, but he has no idea Ringo is involved. He's never seen it on the tube, he just has the train and some books.

And yet he watches Beatles videos by the hour and laughs when Ringo tosses his head. He tries to play the drum set in the basement even though his feet are three years from touching the floor.

Who doesn't like Ringo?

Ron said...

As a wee lad meself in the sixties, The Beatles were'nt just a band -- there were The Sun; warming, omnipresent, delightful. What a time to learn them!

lohwoman said...

"I'm still able to be shocked at what people are willing to say to one another on the internet."

Vicious anonymous letters for the whole world to read posted on some thought-provoking blogger's site. Juvenile vulgarities scratched on the stalls of a dumpy restroom (which even though dumpy affords a stranger some relief at the station owner's expense). As a reader, my favorite feature of Blogger Comments is that the commenter's name is displayed first, followed by the comemnt. As my little boy once said when asked why he put on his socks before he got under the covers at night. "It saves time in the morning."

SippicanCottage said...

I like Ron's take on the Beatles. They were very pleasant soundtrack for the early part of my life.

lohwoman- I used to negotiate trashhauling contracts in major cities on the East Coast, for example. Believe you me, I know all the words. In several languages, actually. But I'm like you, I've got no use for it in this medium. It's just a waste of all our time. And like most bathroom walls, or Fark, there's no humor in it, so it's a complete waste.

Thanks for reading and commenting everybody.

Bill Wilson said...

Clapton was not involved at all. All other information on this says it was george doing all the guitar pieces. That much is known.

SippicanCottage said...

Eric Clapton was in the studio when they recorded the first version of the song, I believe. No idea what they used from that, if anything, when they redid it in its final version.

The guitar solo sounds like him.

Anonymous said...

anyone got the solo tab for it dont come easy....blatnan