Friday, January 30, 2009

Can't Buy Me Love

You know what song has been in my head since I woke up this morning? Do you know what song has been making me MURDEROUS?? Fucking "Bluebird," that Wings dreck from Band on the Run, Jesus, like the most unspeakably inane stupid song Paul ever wrote, that piece of crap that stands out like a disgusting zit on what's otherwise a pretty good album, "Bluebird," and I'm not linking to anything here because no one should ever listen to this song, ever. Oh dear God, how that song sticks in one's head until one wants to remove it via hammer.

(See, I already feel bad writing that, and in all the years he's been recording it's inevitable there'd be a few clunkers, and that is FINE, but Paul is so GOOD when he's good that I think I just get so DISAPPOINTED when he's less-good. It's like I'm his mom. I'm sure he'd totally freaking love that.)

Anyway, today my task is to find a song that's awesome, but also SO catchy it'll clear out the crud, and also a song written by Paul so I can love him again, and, hey, I just realized that I haven't listened to anything from A Hard Day's Night yet, which is weird since it's one of my favorites. The obvious selection is "Can't Buy Me Love."

OK, THAT is an awesome song. Paul wrote "Can't Buy Me Love" while they were staying in Paris playing shows there, and then recorded it soon after, also in Paris, in the same session where they recorded the German-language versions of "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." So this would have been written pretty quickly, like so many Beatles masterpieces.

It's one of my favorites of Paul's melodies, for its aggressive, spat-out delivery and its addictive hook, and the way it's sort of bluesy and sort of Beatley all at once. (Formally, it IS a 12-bar blues, which they didn't write so often.) I love the way the guitars shuffle cheerily along, and Ringo keeps it simple-- then there's that really inspired solo from George-- I gotta call that solo one of my favorites, too, certainly of the early period stuff. But other than the solo, the instruments sort of keep out of the way of Paul's vocal, which is smart, because it's excellent, the way he sort of sneers at you on the lower notes of the verses and then whoops so ecstatically. It's a rare track that has no vocal harmonies on it, and I think that's a good move-- the Beatles were very good at knowing when enough was enough, and Paul's vocal does a lot here. (A very good version on Anthology I does have some harmonizing and arguably an even BETTER vocal from Paul.)

This song is so good they actually put it in A Hard Day's Night (the film) twice, but the above video is the first and superior sequence. In fact, it's probably the best one in the whole film-- the moment when the band finally breaks free of all the forces that are trapping them throughout the film. I can't decide if the song better informs the scene or the scene better informs the song, but I do know that I can't think of this song without thinking of this scene, and I can't think about either without getting a big smile. Yay!

"Can't Buy Me Love," released in the U.K. as a single w/"You Can't Do That," March 20, 1964; in the U.S. as a single w/"You Can't Do That," March 16, 1964.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous

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