Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tell Me Why

Last night was one of my favorite kind of weeknights. The weather was all rainy and icky and pissy-mood-inducing, and then the supermarket was out of serrano peppers, so me and Mr. Megan threw out our dinner plans (which involved making a spicy Thai stir fry that we decided to save for tonight) and went across the street to the Belgian beer bar. After a good several beers, we came home and ate a box of Thin Mints recently purchased from a few obliging Girl Scouts and watched A Hard Day's Night, in a boozy enough way that we sang and laughed along practically the whole time. You know you married the right person when they crack up as much as you do to lines like "if they get you on the floor, watch out for your brisket."

Hence, "Tell Me Why" is stuck in my head. Some might say that this is the weakest song from the A Hard Day's Night soundtrack, which, okay, might be true-- considering it's competing with the likes of the title song, "Can't Buy Me Love," "If I Fell," and so forth. But even given its esteemed company on the soundtrack album, "Tell Me Why" is a good time.

In the film, this is the song that kicks off the concert on the TV special, and is greeted with great enthusiasm by the crowd of screeching girls. And why not? "Tell Me Why" swings and rollicks and provides a good deal of fun in an unserious way, marked by a nice thick vocal part on the chorus (with heaps of John falsetto, which, oh how I love!) and some pleasantly swishy drumming courtesy of Ringo. Best part: the last verse, when the melody changes (it's nice to switch it up a bit) and acquires a new tension. Paul adds his falsetto as well and it just gets all crazy on "anything I can do-oo-oo." Beatles + falsetto = awesome. Harmonically, it's pretty much straight doo-wop goodness, which there's nothing at all wrong with. And as for the lyrics? There are those who have played the Lennon psychoanalyst (as we've all been tempted to) and read in some betrayal or sexism or something here. I think Paul at some point recently singled this one out, actually, as a song that might mean more than it appears to mean. And, I mean, maybe. My own opinion, for what it's worth, is that the words are slight filler for a slight song. "Cry" and "lie" rhyme with "why," and they make for good teeny-bopper dramatics, so in they went. You know? Or, I dunno, maybe I'm just not in the mood today to get too caught up in the meanings of things. There are just other songs that we can have much more fun psychoanalyzing, in my opinion. To "Tell Me Why," let's just slack off a bit and dance. Is that so wrong?

"Tell Me Why," released in the U.K. side A track 6 of A Hard Day's Night, July 10, 1964; in the U.S. side B track 1 of Capitol's fake album Something New, July 20, 1964.


  1. Thank GOD I don't live across the street from a Belgian beer bar.

  2. We're trying to go less frequently in the name of saving up for Beatles products. But it remains a dangerous temptation.

  3. Megan, I can't find how to email you. Please send me an email if you're interested in a link swap. The email address is at the top of my menu at Like you, I don't want to publish my email, so I have it scrambled so bots can't read it but humans just click the link. OK? (I have a PR5 and also own walrusgumboot). ~ Dave

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  5. It's bad enough Trader Joe's has Chimay now.