Saturday, May 16, 2009

12-Bar Original

They can't all be "Hey Jude," kids.

You know what? It's okay. Everyone has off days, even the Beatles. I'm having one today too, as a matter of fact, so I'm keeping this brief and then going back to sulking and napping. "12-Bar Original" was recorded during the Rubber Soul sessions, and it's a little unclear why. Most likely they laid it down in case they couldn't meet their 14-song threshold for the album-- as was becoming more and more common at this point, the stress of their lifestyles was inhibiting their songwriting, which is why Rubber Soul also contains really old songs they dug up like "What Goes On." They probably figured, hell, let's knock off some blues jamming and then we'll have an instrumental we can throw on the album if we need to. And off they went. But leaving this track off the album turned out to be a pretty good call.

I mean, there's nothing particularly wrong this "12-Bar Original," but there's nothing particularly great about it either. Maybe the Beatles just weren't the kind of band that did the improvisation thing very well-- or even the blues thing very well. (They could be bluesy, of course, but that's not really the same thing.) Or maybe they just weren't feeling it that day, which I kind of suspect is more the case. Because it just sounds like the guitarists' hearts aren't really into it, right? Paul's bass seems pretty decent, but maybe my ear is making that up because I can totally see Paul being like, "come on, lads!" while everyone else rolled their eyes.

Anyway, "12-Bar Original" had never been released officially (unofficially, of course, there were heaps of bootlegs) until Anthology 2, which stuck on an edit of the original track-- the complete track is almost seven minutes long, and it feels like it. If you're curious, here's the track in its entirety.

Again, nothing wrong with it, makes good background music, maybe, or something, but not my favorite Beatles track by a longshot. I'm taking a nap and going off to think about what better song to listen to tomorrow.

"12-Bar Original," released in the U.K. disc 1 track 16 of Anthology 2, March 18, 1996; in the U.S. March 19, 1996.


  1. Yeah, I assumed they were just recording everything at this point; it never occurred to me they were considering releasing this.

  2. Love the blog Megan. But I must confess that everytime I think of Paul, I roll my eyes. Always have. Yeah he can play the bass. His wanting a 12 bar thing is Paul -- basic, unimaginative and without too much of an edge.

  3. Well, I don't know if this was exactly his idea or not... In many ways he was just more of a workman, whereas John was more likely to sulk if he didn't feel like playing that day. And today's song is classic 12-bar, but it's George's. So, just saying.

    You gotta give Paul a chance! His career is wildly uneven, of course, and if I'm forced to pick I'm more of a Johnist myself, but Paul also rules. Have you heard the latest album, the Fireman one? It's pretty groovy for a guy who's 66.

  4. Oooh! Someone who likes Paul less than I do! Now I get to defend Paul? Far out.

    I can empathize with thinking Paul a little square, and Lord knows his misses really miss, but I think that's in unfair comparison with John, who might have been 'cool' but also was a bit of a, how do you say, 'dick.' Also, John had lots of great ideas, but, as the band progressed, less interest in seeing them through. Megan already defended Paul on that score.

    I also gotta defend Paul on the 'unimaginative and without edge' thing. It would be annoying if I listed all the songs that I think prove that charge wrong, but I would at least start with You Never Give Me Your Money, Paperback Writer, Getting Better, Helter Skelter, and his break in A Day in the Life. And I'm obviously just thinking of the imagination/edge charge; a list of his great songs would be much longer.

    Lastly, nearly every time Paul picked up the bass, he was imaginative. He was a huge innovator in both playing the instrument and songwriting. Couple that with his incredibly versatile voice, and he can do a lot more than just play the bass.

  5. Love *both* Paul and John for their own reasons, but boy this recording is a SNOOZER and a half! Yikes, don't know why they bothered to turn on the reel-to-reel. Tom R.