Saturday, January 24, 2009

Martha My Dear

Today's song choice is just a stupid reference to the fact that I'm spending the day on Martha's Vineyard for the annual Big Chili Contest. So, you know, I'm out of ideas when it comes to how to pick songs. Whatever. It's also the song that comes before "I'm So Tired" on the White Album, so, you know, it was RIGHT THERE when I was writing up yesterday's song.

Paul wrote "Martha My Dear" as a love song to, of course, his sheepdog. I like the Youtube video below, which is a slideshow of cute pictures of Paul and Martha hanging out.

She looks like she was a lovely dog, and I'm not even much of a dog person. It's no wonder Paul wrote such a lovely song for her.

I do think this is one of those charming Paul music-hall-ish songs that actually works-- it's not too over-to-top smarmy or giddy, and it's just silly enough. The orchestration is really effective-- and "orchestration" is exactly the right word, since it's basically strings and a horn section playing on this along with Paul on piano. His opening piano solo walks the fine line between a major and minor feel, which makes it sound a little melancholy. The entrance of the strings just intensifies that. An oompah-beat in the horns keeps us from getting TOO melancholy, but the song nevertheless maintains its thoughtful, muted feel-- this is a more serious love song than Paul sometimes writes. There aren't any guitars until the bridge, when they come in out of nowhere on a very simple two-note figure, jacking up the tension just a tad. But then when the horns take over at the bridge, some levity is injected. It's all really good stuff-- it makes for a song that's more interesting than it almost has a right to be.

As with many White Album tracks, Paul did this one entirely himself (presumably with George Martin)-- he's the only Beatle playing on it. That kind of thing saddens most fans, myself included, but let's give props to Paul for "Martha My Dear," which shows off how good an arranger he already was at this point.

"Martha My Dear," released in the U.K. side B track 1 of The Beatles, a.k.a. the White Album, November 22, 1968; in the U.S. side B track 1 of The Beatles, a.k.a. the White Album, November 25, 1968.

1 comment:

  1. The part of the song where Paul sings "... that you and me, were meant to be ..." is among the most influential Beatle moments in their career. I can't put my finger on it -- weekdays, I read these at work, unable to really watch or listen to the videos, so it's hard for me to write intelligently about what I'm thinking (as if you hadn't noticed) -- but something that really shaped a lot of music in the '70s happens right there. And a lot of that '70s music is bad. This song isn't, though.