Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'll Cry Instead

You know what? I've got a crazy busy week, and it's only just dawning on me. Tomorrow night (tomorrow night!!!) I'm seeing Paul live at Fenway, which is going to take all night and sap all the strength from me. Then on Thursday I have a one-day business trip to Maryland-- I'm basically making a presentation and then heading back to Boston-- and that night when I'm back I will listen to Paul AGAIN, from one of the patio bars directly across the street from Fenway Park, where I think we'll be able to hear pretty decently. (Boston kids! Join me!) And then Friday morning I leave for several days in San Francisco and Seattle for more work stuff, including a big trade show. Dear Lord. Kids, forgive me if the blog appears a bit erratic over the next week, because it will be-- it will be.

Clearly, my impulse in the face of all the business is to get all country-fried, because after yesterday's Carl Perkins moment, I'm still craving some laid-back country goodness. Cue "I'll Cry Instead."

This little video collage, which precedes the opening of A Hard Day's Night in just about every release of the film you see these days, was put together by producer Walter Shenson some time in the '80s when the film was briefly rereleased, and there it remains. The reason, I think, was that "I'll Cry Instead" was meant to appear in the film during the "breakout" scene, in which the Beatles run maniacally around a field acting adorable. Director Richard Lester decided, probably wisely, that the downer lyrics and relaxed feel of "I'll Cry Instead" weren't nearly as suited for that scene as the upbeat "Can't Buy Me Love," so that's the song that ended up going into the scene. And that's why "Can't Buy Me Love" appears twice in the film, in case you were wondering. (I think "I'll Cry Instead" would have been okay for the police chase scene instead, but, whatever.) Maybe Shenson and Lester were feeling all guilty about making the cut and thus came up with this half-assed solution, I don't know, but now the song is sort of "in" A Hard Day's Night on a technicality.

On A Hard Day's Night the album, though, the song is where it technically should be, which is on the B side with the other non-movie tracks. And I think that's okay. I like "I'll Cry Instead" just fine, you know, but each of the actual film tracks is probably superior to it in some way. (You could argue against "Tell Me Why" most convincingly, but that's one of those tracks I love more than I'm supposed to.) But considering that the film songs in A Hard Day's Night represent, to me, perhaps THE strongest A-side of an album the Beatles ever did and is, for my money, also their greatest film soundtrack generally, that's not surprising. And "I'll Cry Instead" is very lovable in its own way, even if it's a bit slight.

John learned this self-deprecating country thing from the likes of Carl Perkins, but in this one he brings that mixture of misogyny and self-loathing that's so uniquely Lennon, albeit more subtly than he does in songs that would follow. John himself identified the slightly later Beatles for Sale and Help! periods as about the time he started to write songs that were, in fact, cries for help, but I tend to hear "I'll Cry Instead" as an early indicator of that trend-- John's vow to take revenge on the women of the world is so petulant, and somehow so not as funny as perhaps it should be, that I just hear something else going one besides the standard-issue teenybopper lyrics. But the rest of the band is playing it with all the rollicking country goodness you'd want from this kind of song. Though George is playing lead guitar as usual, John's acoustic dominates the texture and keeps it nice and light, and he might, according to some sources, be playing tambourine. (Or else it's Ringo. Either way, it's some solid tambourine.) But Paul gets in the best bit with the descending bass action at the end of the last verses. That's rad, right? An early example of Paul's bass suddenly taking over your attention in a Beatles song in a big way. Just killer.

Anyway, sorry so brief, but I DO have a busy few days-- hope, at any rate, you're enjoying our little stay in the world of Beatley country songs.

"I'll Cry Instead," released in the U.K. side B track 2 of A Hard Day's Night, July 10, 1964; in the U.S. side A track 1 of Something New, July 20, 1964.


  1. No, you did this justice.

    I'm a fan. But I need to hit you up, when you have time, on your stance that this album is the best of all Beatle A-sides. I might well be a little behind the curve on this album, but it's interesting that you put this ahead of Sgt. Pepper and, even, Rubber Soul. Although I concede that this is a supersolid track listing.

  2. I only had this revelation this morning, before coffee, so I might want to refine my position. I'm putting AHDN ahead of Rubber Soul mostly because of "Michelle," which I know is unpopular to dislike but I do, and "The Word" and even "Think for Yourself," which is cool but a tad thin. Sgt. Pepper, I might need to think over, this is true. Also, Revolver.

    But goddamn, AHDN is virtually flawless. Arguments about "Tell Me Why" and even "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You" notwithstanding, it is freaking solid-- and also, I should note, perfectly paced.

    You know, this is why I can never commit to actually ranking anything.

  3. No argument on Tell Me Why here.

    I actually thought I was going to refute you more strongly, but that is a damn strong side A. I just don't go crazy for I Should Have Known Better, which I imagine you're a big fan of.

    I probably enjoy side A of With the Beatles more, to tell you the truth.

    Everybody's gonna dance to(morrow) night ...