(These preferences probably reflect badly on me, seeing as how "She Said She Said" is so acid-rock-ish, and how "Everybody's Got Something to Hide," my other silly favorite, is probably about heroin. But I'm not, myself, a drug addict, even a little bit. Clearly, I just like John best when he's using. Oh well.)
If the Beatles had never done a single song other than "She Said She Said," I think I'd still be a Beatles fan, is what I'm saying.
And that's why it's so sad, so totally tragic, that Paul doesn't play on "She Said She Said." You want your favorite Beatles song to be a nice group effort, or at least I do, because I do so idealize this band (see the entire rest of this blog except for when I'm bitching about "The Fool on the Hill") and all of its accompanying mythology. But, yeah, Paul didn't play, and what's weird is that no one seems to remember why not. Paul himself has remembered that he probably was just bickering with the others and left, but hasn't provided any other details. This is completely possible, because "She Said She Said" was completed in just one day, and was in fact the last song recorded for Revolver. Doesn't sound at all like a rush job, though, does it? It's perfect.
The song is one of the more groundbreaking songs on Revolver, both because of the metrical structure-- one of John's most celebrated multi-metered moments, I think-- and because of the way the thing's played. (Though, interestingly, it's rock-and-roll conventional in its way too-- there are barely more than three chords in this.) And the playing is what first sucks you in. That guitar line that opens the song has a beautiful dirtiness that beckons you and sneers at you at the same time. It hooks you right off the bat, so that through the length of the song, as the guitar echoes and elaborates upon John's vocal melody lines, it makes you want to scream it's so good. Rock on, George. And you know why else George rocks here? Because he's covering the bass in Paul's absence. And he more than acquits himself on this bass part, too (though if you're a huge Paul-on-bass fan, as I am, you tend to wonder what a McCartney bassline would have done to this-- how the song could be cooler than it already is is beyond me, but who knows?). Note, too, that Ringo betrays his god-like status here. As usual with Ringo, I'm not at all sure what he's actually doing. But whatever he's doing, he's doing it very loudly and very elaborately, and always, it appears, with the aim of surprising us. There's nothing at all predictable about this drum part, and even listening to it now, I'm noticing new things to love about it. Ringo? BRA-FREAKING-VO. (And, kids? The drums sound kickass in the new mono CDs. Just sayin'.) The drums are crucial to adding interest to this very thick, heavy guitar texture-- it would sound a tad bit dopey or something without all the percussion. All the more so considering they've arranged this around a fairly prominent drone on the home pitch, which hovers in the background for much of the verses.
The mildly soporific and always heavy texture makes the metrical shift at the bridge seem almost, but not quite, actually clunky. What they're doing here, starting from "She said, you don't understand what I said, I said no no no you're wrong," is shifting from a fairly even 4/4 time to a very syncopated 3/4 time for the "when I was a boy" section. (For the hell of it, I just checked that fastidious musicologist Alan W. Pollack, whom you can find on the links list, on this, and he calls it a mixture of 3/4 and 6/4 time-- which also works and is probably more elegant when you get right down to it. Heck, he's the one who's actually a musicologist, after all, though my way still makes the math turn out correctly.) And there are several ways in which this time shift is awesome. Like I said, it's that drag to it that you can almost hear that makes it cool-- there's an art to making metrical shifts kind of seamless and beautiful, but this one seems to be intentionally roughed up. Love. My favorite part is that the descending guitar part that immediately follows "when I was a boy" sounds, in this new meter, suddenly slightly awkward. And this might just be me, but when I hear it I always get this picture of John as a boy in his bedroom or something, awkwardly practicing that same line. It's like, John's not just remembering his childhood, he's giving us a real musical quotation of being a kid. Does that even make sense? I hope so, because I adore it. I have no idea if it was intentional, but it just so deepens this moment for me.
"She Said She Said" was written about a conversation John had with Peter Fonda while they were both out of their gourds on acid, at a house in southern California that Brian Epstein had rented for the band for a brief vacation. Peter Fonda kept saying this line "I know what it's like to be dead," and John kept completely freaking out about it. He turned it into a "she" just to make it less weird, I think, but the conversation and freaked-out feeling is captured so perfectly here. The song is just so lugubrious and so catchy at the same time, it stands as some kind of work of minor genius.
Have I slobbered all over "She Said She Said" enough for you? Perhaps you're surprised. But there are those who appreciate it as much as I do. In fact, one of my favorite Beatles critics, Tim Riley (see also the blogroll to your right) is right there with me-- I was in high school when I read his book, and reading his praises of "She Said She Said" made me feel a little less crazy (so many people would ask what my favorites Beatles song was, and then not even know what song I was talking about when I mentioned "She Said She Said" that I was beginning to suspect my own taste).
Yow! "She Said She Said," ladies and gentlemen. I'm having one more listen and then, probably, a cold shower.
"She Said She Said," released in the U.K. side A track 7 of Revolver, August 5, 1966; in the U.S. side A track 6 of the crappy Capitol Revolver, August 8, 1966.