Friday, January 2, 2009

I'll Follow the Sun

Thanks to Dmitry Murashev's awesome Beatles history site, I know that, if this were 1965 rather than 2009, and I were a typical Beatles fan in Britain, I'd be wearing the heck out of my new copy of Beatles for Sale. Today in 1965, in fact, the Beatles' fourth record was at #1 in the UK Record Retailer chart for the third week in a row. So today I picked a track from that album, "I'll Follow the Sun." Of course, in the States, fans would have found this track on Beatles '65, since Beatles for Sale never existed as such in the U.S. back then. But that's another post.

Beatles for Sale gets a bit of a bad rap, perhaps unfairly. Any book about the Beatles will note that at this point, the band had been on the road at a breakneck touring pace for so long, and were just so exhausted, that the creative spark had suffered. That's why this album features some covers (unlike their previous album, A Hard Day's Night, which was all original material-- an amazing feat at the time). And it's why Paul dug deep into his reserves to pull out "I'll Follow the Sun," a song he'd written back in 1961. No one, including Paul, had thought the song was good enough to put onto any of their previous albums, but for this one, it would have to do.

And the song is good. The song is FINE. It seems to have even become a bit of a minor classic in the Beatles' canon, at least to some. Like many of the slighter songs by Paul ("I Will" and "Lovely Linda" come to mind), it just goes to show that even when he's not really trying, Paul can turn out a wonderful, memorable melody. His vocal performance here is as angelic as in "'Til There Was You" and his other signature ballads, which almost disguises the venom of the lyrics. It's a pretty nasty kiss-off song, in its way-- "Some day you'll know I was the one"-- something probably only a cocky 18-year-old could get away with writing. But Paul sings it totally straight, which makes the song into this sort of awesome musical joke. (Contrast this with the way John snarls through lyrics in his more aggressive songs, like "You Can't Do That.") Paul is still singing at you with those cute choirboy eyes, but he's also basically giving you the finger.

I picked this song today because it's  17 degrees today here in Boston. I didn't think too much about it, just figured that I, too, would love to follow the sun to some place like, I don't know, Aruba. Of course, it's not a very sunny song at all. But I do love it when Paul gets all nasty.

"I'll Follow the Sun," side A track 5 of Beatles for Sale, released December 4, 1964 in the U.K. In the U.S., side A track 5 of Beatles' '65, released December 15, 1964.

Buy the album here.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous

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