Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Every Little Thing

You know what's been missing from just about every Beatles song we've covered so far? Some freaking timpani.

THANK you, Ringo! I was just thinking that we could use some timpani up in here, and I knew "Every Little Thing" could provide. In what is perhaps a fun bit of trivia, this is (I think) the only time the Beatles brought in an orchestral instrument that then got played by an actual member of the band, and not a hired musician. So, rock on Ringo! And that's not even the only unusual thing about today's song, you know: that's John playing lead guitar, which he did only occasionally, as well as acoustic guitar, and it would appear George actually does nothing here. (A little sad, yes.) Also odd is that this is a song that Paul wrote but John sings lead on, which definitely almost never happened by late 1964 when they were recording this. I've never read reasons for either of these phenomena, so if you know why, by all means speak up. Though I will say that John sounds great on guitar AND vocals. Maybe he just really liked the song and elbowed his way in.

And don't YOU like this song too? "Every Little Thing" is an odd one, a bit of a hidden gem, or perhaps your favorite song that you forget about all the time. Whenever I put on Beatles for Sale and "Every Little Thing" sneaks into the lineup, it's just so darned good, but I don't know if I keep it really front of mind, if you know what I'm saying. It's that guitar in the intro that really grabs me, though. It sounds like sunshine, that sweet chime of some kind of folk-rocky 12-string. Gorgeous. But it's only a tease, since we then go straight into a less intense acoustic guitar texture. And it keeps teasing us in the chorus, when it's used only as an accent. (It does get a totally sweet solo, it must be said-- I massively love this solo.) Anyway, the unobtrusive acoustic guitar through much of the song gives space for you to hear the way they're pumping up the bass. The bass line itself is quite simple, though the downward stepwise motion into the chorus is cool. But it stands out quite a lot, thanks to the fact that George Martin is doubling bass notes on piano, and of course later Ringo is boosting the bass feel of the whole track with those awesome timpani notes. "Every Little Thing" nicely matches those high chimey notes of the electric guitar with some heavy bass and a big airy space in the middle, for something that just sounds pleasantly different and sort of subtly innovative. Does that make sense?

Paul wrote this in his bedroom (which at the time was in Jane Asher's London home) some time after all the madness surrounding the A Hard Day's Night premiere, I believe. He was consciously trying to write the next single, he has said, and thought that "Every Little Thing" might have potential. I don't know, maybe he was right, though the oddness of the slightly disjunct melody and the funky mixing of the bass-- both of which are very cool for their oddness, it should be said, but odd nonetheless-- make me think this isn't as commercial as Paul thought it could be. (Once John wrote "I Feel Fine," "Every Little Thing" came out of contention for the single.) But still, this song rocks more than I think some people give it credit for. If you haven't checked out "Every Little Thing" in a while, or ever, today is your lucky day. You're welcome.

"Every Little Thing," released in the U.K. side B track 4 of Beatles for Sale, December 4, 1964; in the U.S. side B track 5 of Beatles VI, June 14, 1965.

1 comment:

  1. You should go here ...


    ... and download this. They did some interesting things in mixing it for stereo. This song and Baby's in Black (which seems to have a second set of Paul and John vocals in the chorus, which you'd never know in mono) seem to stand out. And if that doesn't get people excited for Sept. 9, well, then I don't even want to know them.