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Headscratchers / The Beatles

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See also: Headscratchers.John Lennon.

  • Why do The Beatles spend a good 4 minutes at the end of "Hey Jude" singing "Nah, nah-nah, na-na-na-nah, na-na-na-nah, heyyy Juuuuuuuude" over and over? (And over and over and over and over...)
    • Reportedly it wasn't supposed to last that long, but they just kind of got into a thing and kept going.
    • Also, they wanted to steal the "longest charting single" status from Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park."
    • It's not literally about Julian; it's inspired by a song that Paul improvised for Julian, trying to cheer him up about his parents' divorce. Later it was reworked into a love song addressed to a generic male listener (hence the change of the addressee from "Jules" to "Jude"), but which is also a sort of auto-address. At least in anecdote, when Paul unveiled it John thought it was about him, about his new love for Yoko, and Paul replied, "No, it's about me."
  • Why does it say, on at least two different pages of this wiki, that "Please Please Me is about oral sex"? According to one poster on the InkTank forums, this decidedly non-canonical idea comes from one music critic who's notoriously filthy-minded (not just for this idea alone, either), hence is not the best of sources.
    • Namely Robert Christgau of the Village Voice. If there was some evidence that "please" had some special connotation related to oral sex — the song, at least, seems to be soliciting some kind of reciprocal sexual favour — that might be convincing, but nothing seems to present itself.
    • Well, it's hard to deny that they intended sexual overtones to be read into the song—at the very least as double entendre—but nothing as specific as oral sex. Remember: the thing about Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory is that it makes people feel smart about themselves, and since most people are dumb and perhaps recognize it on some level, that's a common need.
      • This is one of those cases where a little Lit-crit experience helps. The song isn't explicitly about oral sex (i.e. it makes no mention of genitalia, penises, mouths, cunnilingus etc.) but you could interpret it as being about oral sex, as long as you acknowledge that it could also be interpreted as being about the need for more reciprocity in a relationship. But the oral sex interpretation is certainly spicier. (After all, what exactly can he mean by "please please me [...] like I please you"?)
      • Sure, one could do so, but literary criticism still leaves space to say "I think this interpretation is made on too little evidence and thus is unconvincing." It's not hard to see this as being a song about sex (sufficiently spicy, no?), but insisting that it is specifically about oral sex without evidence of specifically coded vocabulary that points in that direction is just a weak interpretation.
  • The entire point of Michelle is that the singer has "fallen in love" with a French girl, and can't tell her because he doesn't speak much French. If you can't carry on a conversation with the object of your affections, it's probably not real love.
    • According to That Other Wiki the song is meant to be a parody of the French style of music. It's not serious.
    • And if it was serious, it could get handwaved as Love at First Sight or something similar.
    • One of the beautiful things about Paul's songwriting is that lyrics were often an afterthought. (John usually did just the opposite, explaining his sometimes musically underwhelming songs with deep, emotional lyrics vs. Paul's beautifully melodic Silly Love Songs.) This was just the case with "Michelle": it started out as an instrumental done In the Style of Chet Atkins and the Love at First Sight lyrics came later. So the lyrics aren't really even that relevant; they just served to turn a wordless Chet Atkins parody into a lovely imitation of the French ballad. It is a pop song after all.
    • That is sort of the joke of the song. It's just not a particularly laugh-out-loud joke, and the production doesn't suggest a comedy number.
  • The song Day Tripper. Okay, so she's a day tripper, right? That means she goes somewhere for the day and then comes back... so what on earth is she doing with a ONE WAY TICKET?
    • A "day tripper", in slang, is a person who uses hallucinogens constantly, so that it is more or less an all-day-every-day thing.
      • it's also someone who uses drugs occasionally but isn't a real hippie, just a poser.
      • "Sunday driver" is a colloquial term for sluggish drivers, implying that they treat all of their drives like leisurely weekend sightseeing excursions.
      • "She only played one-night stands"—that's clear enough. Listen to Mae West's cover, if you still don't get it.
      • What about the "easy Way Out" part?
      • Not mention "She's a big teaser," which stands in for "prick teaser."
  • To just do a quick breakdown of some of the lyrics of "Got toGet You Into my Life" : "I was alone/I took a ride/I didn't know what I would find there" ~ The singer first experiments with drugs. "Another road where maybe I could see another kind of mind there" ~ It's common after drug experiences to feel like you're no longer the same person you were before taking drugs. "Then I suddenly see you/did I tell you I need you/Every single day of my life?" ~ The singer does drugs, enjoys the high, develops a craving for it. And so on.
    • It could just as easily be about going to new places and meeting someone unexpectedly, then typical silly love at first sight. There's no overt drug references.
    • This is what has been called double-coding; it is open to multiple readings and serves different audiences in different ways. Plenty of drug-influenced Beatles songs play this way: "Lucy in the Sky" perhaps most obviously (initials aside, it was conceived as an articulation of psychedelic mind expansion), "Yellow Submarine," etc. Even the phrase "turn me on" turns up in several Beatles songs like "A Day in the Life" and "She's a Woman" — to the uninitiated it would seem pretty benign, but to those hip to it, it was a winking reference to drug lingo.
    • Lucy in the sky with diamonds wasn't made on drugs.
    • Maybe not literally on drugs (or at least not on acid — pot is another matter!), but it slots into the paradigm of psychedelic rock. Or put differently, even if Lennon was entirely being honest about the initials not being inspired by LSD (not sure why he'd lie about that as late as 1980), it is certainly reflective of saturation in the psychedelic milieu.
    • Plus, it was the 1960s — people were a lot less open about drugs than they are now, so the only way you could write a song about drugs and still get it recorded and played on the radio was to be subtle about it. Just because the references are veiled doesn't mean they're not there.
  • The last few lines of "Sun King" are just Italian/Portuguese/Spanish-sounding gibberish, but the Sun King himself was French; why not French-sounding gibberish?
    • The mumbled gibberish at the end of You Know My Name (Look Up the Number) is described as "imitation French" in the Compleat Beatles.
    • Also, because it's just a pop song, not an actual history lesson on the French monarchy. Presumably Lennon simply thought that the "gibberish" made for a cooler aural effect and served his purposes better than actual French would.
  • Which came first, "A Day in the Life" or "Hush" (the Billy Joe Royal song with the more famous Deep Purple cover)? The "aah" section in the middle of "A Day in the Life" is identical in melody, though not in tempo, to the "da-da-da" riff from the Deep Purple version of "Hush".