Saturday, January 17, 2009

What You're Doing


what you're doing


feeling blue and lonely

Paul seems a little irritated with us in "What You're Doing," doesn't he? He kind of yells those stand-alone words at the beginning of the verses like he's jabbing his finger in our chests. John and George join him on those words as if to say "Yeah! Jerk!" It makes us want to squeak out, "Um, sorry! I'm just a fan!" But, see, this is Paul, so it's not for real: on the words "why should it BE so much to ask of you" it totally sounds like he's flirting with us again. We can breathe easy until the next verse.

Ringo famously didn't get a true drum solo until the B side of Abbey Road, but he gets to show off nicely here with an introductory lick that grabs our attention. And George has come up with a snide little guitar riff to underlie the song's plea. But the best bit if at the end when the drums are in the spotlight again, and then Paul's bass just sort of hums into that one note before going into a small, random solo all its own for the fadeout. Nice attention to detail, that.

What you're doing if you're listening to "What You're Doing" is most likely listening to the Beatles for Sale album (or perhaps just listening to the non-video above).  I always feel like I have to defend Beatles for Sale. It's not their strongest effort, but I say it's underrated. It sounds gestational to me: the album that needed to be made before they could make Help! and all the genius moments there, which in turn needed to be made before they could reach the true levels of genius in Rubber Soul. So anyone who's rough on Beatles for Sale, man, you gotta, like, RELAX and let them GROW. And if you're a U.S. fan looking at your copy of Beatles VI and are all like, "what?" at this whole conversation, then let's just say you got screwed.

Since Paul has such a fondness for the ukelele, I thought I'd also post this treat from YouTube. Enjoy.

"What You're Doing," released in the U.K. side B track 6 of Beatles for Sale, December 4, 1964; in the U.S. side B track 1 of Beatles VI, June 14, 1965.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous

1 comment:

  1. Since you're big on music theory, someday you gotta tell me what he's doing (get it?) in the bridge that works so effectively, so I can steal it when I start writing songs again. Because I love it.