Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Here, There, and Everywhere

All right, everyone, we're going to slow it down, lower these lights and put the whole room into soft focus here, so find a partner you can spin around and make goo-goo eyes to as we play "Here, There, and Everywhere." For those of you sitting this one out, here are some cute photos of Paul and Jane Asher, whom Paul wrote this one for.

Now, look, I'm as cynical and bitchy as anyone, or at least I like to think so, but "Here, There, and Everywhere" is still capable of reducing me to a sighing quivering mass of girlish jelly. There, I said it. I admit it, okay? Lay off. Thing is, I developed my love for the Beatles at the same time as I was going through puberty, and Paul singing like this can do something to a girl. Of a certain age. Is all.

And here's something else: while it's very easy to make fun of Paul for writing soppy ballads all over the place, there is such a thing as a good soppy ballad. I mean, you're not going to see me getting all weepy listening to "My Love"-- I will mock "My Love" (and much of Red Rose Speedway) with the best of them, because I think it's dreck. (Sorry, Paul.) And you might already have picked up on my at-best-mixed feelings on "The Long and Winding Road." So I'm not entirely a pushover, okay? In fact, a soppy ballad as excellent as "Here, There, and Everywhere" is a hard thing to write, and even when written it's a thing of great delicacy, too frequently wrecked by circumstances beyond its control. (Witness, for instance, Celine Dion's beyond-heinous cover of this song. Actually, don't witness it. It will save you the agony of being driven to claw your own ears off your head.)

I just find everything about "Here, There, and Everywhere" pretty darned perfect. The production is so minimal-- especially considering it falls in between "Love You To" and "Yellow Submarine" on Revolver-- and yet this thing was fussed over for three days in the studio to achieve just the right minimalist sound. If I remember correctly, what gave them particular trouble was the three-part backup singing. But listen to how it came out-- those chords are so smooth and liquid that they sound more instrumental than vocal. And with so little going on in the instrumentation, the backup singing on those gently rising chords becomes really key to the texture. Elsewhere, George is hitting his guitar on the backbeats like it's some kind of sweetly chirping percussion instrument, while Ringo and Paul are both whispering their drum and bass parts. (John isn't playing, only singing.)

And so our ears turn to Paul on the lead, singing some of the highest notes I've ever heard him hit in his career (I can't remember if his vocal is studio-enhanced-- I think if nothing else it might be enhanced for maximum dreaminess). His voice, double-tracked through most of this, seems to drift like a cloud's reflection on a still pond, just so sweet and smooth. The melody is fantastic. The melody is gorgeous, one of his best ever. It's so gorgeous, and the lyrics are written to link together so well, that the neat harmonic tricks-- like the sort of jazzy chords in the verse and the cool deceptive cadences that lead into the repeats of the bridge-- seem completely inevitable, just small perfect flashes of color, perhaps like small sunlit ripples on that pond, if I may torture this metaphor a little further. In fact, in the end it sounds less like a slow dance song and more like a perfect sunny day date-in-the-park kind of sun.

Although the Beatles are frequently myopic about their own work, I think it's fair to note that John said, at some point at the height of his bad relationship with Paul in the '70s, that "Here, There, and Everywhere" was the best song on Revolver. And Paul himself has said as recently as this decade that "Here, There, and Everywhere" is his favorite song that he's ever written. It might be one of mine too; it's just crafted so perfectly, and remains so moving, even after a zillion listens when I was a small teenybopper wishing that Paul and I were closer to the same age. At about that time, had I been watching MTV like a normal kid instead of listening to Beatles records constantly, I might have caught Paul's 1991 Unplugged performance.

I like that one, too, actually. Note that he's still able to hit those super high notes. (He's even showing off on the high notes with that extra riffing, oh that Paul.) And note, too, the accordion standing in for the backup vocals-- which seems appropriate, since it can kind of work that same smoothness.

Paul played "Here, There, and Everywhere" on his 2002 tour as well, though I can't recall whether or not he sang in the original key, because I was too busy turning into a big puddle of goo dribbling down the stadium seat. Man. He has still got it.

"Here, There, and Everywhere," released in the U.K. side A track 5 of Revolver, August 5, 1966; in the U.S. side A track 4 of Capitol's craptacular Revolver, August 8, 1966.


  1. I haven't had much to say the last few days, because the songs haven't spoken to me, but I wanted to tell you how exciting this project is. There's anticipation every day until you post, wondering if you're going to cover one of the 50 or 100 songs that still get me excited. Even if it's been three days since you wrote about one of my favorites, I'm not only going to enjoy what you wrote about the other songs, but the anticipation will build. So props to you for writing the posts (and, I guess, the Beatles for writing and recording the songs).

  2. Thanks, Troy! Very kind. I am having a lot of fun doing this, I have to admit. Color me sad, though, that there are only about 50 to 100 Beatles songs you still get excited about. But that's just the super-fan in me talking. Really, though, thanks for reading! And glad you're having as much fun as I am.