Friday, July 21, 2017

TRACK SEVEN: "Can't Buy Me Love" VS. "Michelle"

"Tell Me Why"- 24
"The Word"-15

We will close out both the week and Side One with today's match-up, and I'd be very surprised if this wasn't a landslide. Here's what I think:

I was a kid, at a single digit age, when The Beatles changed my life. And no two songs represented exactly what I didn't want to hear from The Fab Four at that age.

The Beatles were all about three part harmony and "Can't Buy Me Love" doesn't have any. It's a straight screamer from Paul. I wasn't quite savvy enough to appreciate feel and attack. "Michelle," on the other hand, was slow and had lyrics in French, and weird chords, and to these immature ears, it made me run for the tonearm.

I never liked these two tracks.

That said, I picked up a Beatles bootleg in the early 80's, with alternate takes. It was the first time I heard so much of what ended up on the Anthology series. "Can't Buy Me Love" HAD harmonies and a call and answer verse. Paul would sing "I may not have a lot to give, but what I've got I'll give to you" and the boys would shout back, "Oooohh, give to yoooou." This became one of my favorite outtakes and then, I found a new appreciation for the song. As for "Michelle," it, like so much of Macca's work, right up through his last studio LP "New" is taken for granted and severely underappreciated. What I didn't hear at 7 years old I hear now. I mean, he was 23 when he wrote this baby.  I do love "Michelle." But, I think I'd rather hear "Can't Buy Me Love," so it gets my vote.

1. A Hard Day's Night
2. Norwegian Wood
3. If I Fell
4. Nowhere Man
5. And I Love Her
6. Tell Me Why

Previously on Album Battle:








A guy called Tak said...

'Michelle' is a perfect song to end side A. Just listen to the coda, then you'll understand.
'Michelle' gets my vote. Not because that's the name of my ex-girlfriend...

buzzbabyjesus said...

"Can't Buy Me Love".

If I never hear "Michelle" again, I'll be fine.

Brett Alan said...

"Can't Buy Me Love" stands up to the overexposure better.

Shriner said...

CBML -- this one was harder because there is so little similarity between the two (apart from being Paul songs.)

I agree with the comment that it stands up to overexposure better.

dogbreath said...

"Can't Buy Me Love". As you say, it's a great little shouter & screamer, not at all genteel like a lot of contemporary music was & it gave me a kick in the pants back then when I wanted to be a rebel & a rocker (I still do). It still kicks arse (or ass as you Americans might say) & gets my vote. Cheers!

Noam Sane said...

I missed the last one, so I'd just like to add that I've always considered "The Word" to be one of Ringo's finest efforts.

Can't Buy Me Love, easy one for me, harmonies or no.

I dated a girl named Michelle once. When she was young, when that song would come on the radio, her dad would tell her he'd written it for her. She believed it for many of her young years. It's kind of funny and sweet, but also a dick move. And man, that's a beautiful guitar solo.

Joe said...

Can't Buy Me Love but not sure why...joe

Charlie Messing said...

Me into Can't Buy Me Love, and I'd love to hear that bootleg take! Michelle...well, I never had a French girlfriend, and don't know what that line is, and "eh"

Charlie Messing said...

Oh yeah - and I was glad someone else noticed you cannot buy Love.

Unknown said...

This choice is the most difficult because they're so different. In truth, one isn't "better" than the other. Can't Buy Me Love swings from the first second, but Michelle seduces in seconds too. I'll have to go with Michelle because I was learning to play guitar at the time, and Michelle has some cool sounding complicated chords that I struggled to learn. It opened up the idea of expanding my musical vocabulary for me.

Days of the Broken Arrows said...


But if they'd released some variation on that early take of "Can't Buy Me Love," I'd have picked that.

"Can't Buy Me Love" was the first Beatles single that was sung by just one member of the group and I think it suffers because of that. What made the early singles so exciting were the harmonies and even massed vocal effect when all of them sang together without harmonies ("Yeah yeah yeah"). That's missing here and as good as song as "Can't Buy Me Love" is, it needed something extra in the vocal arrangement.

Finally, the lyric of "Can't Buy Me Love" contains the first inkling of phoniness on a Beatles record. By the time he was singing "I may not have a lot to give" he had a lot of money. Did he think we didn't notice?

Michael Giltz said...

This is agonizing -- as close to a tie as I've had doing this. They're both so very different and very good. I give the edge to "Can't Buy Me Love" because -- harmonies or no harmonies -- it's a terrific single, plus the jazzy cover by John Pizarelli makes me like it even more. As a kid, I was a tad bored by "Michelle" but I appreciate it very much now.

Argh, "Can't Buy Me Love."

Rodger Stroup said...

I thought this would be easier, but after listening to both songs this week, my vote goes to "Michelle," by a nose.

Anonymous said...

"Can't Buy Me Love". Once again when in doubt pick the rocker!

Captain Al

Jeff in Denton TX said...

I'm going with "Can't Buy Me Love" because I simply like it more. "Michelle" is fine, just not quite as fun.

David said...

yes in deed, "Cant Buy Me Love"!!!

Robin said...

Can't Buy Me Love, it makes me want to get up and dance and sing. I do love Michelle, and it has grown on me, I love it as part of the album especially. In particular McCartney singing "I love you, I love you, I love you" is perfection and actually not easy for a singer other than Sinatra to pull off. (Think about it).But CBML is just plain exhilarating and gets my vote.

Dave said...

I've gone back and forth with "Michelle" over the decades. I got sick of it when it was covered by guest stars and hosts on every variety show on TV. But CBML has never been one of my favorite singles from this period. "Michelle" by a shoulder.

Dave F

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

One of the harder comparisons....but sign me up for Michelle (jeez, that's kinda sounds like I'm in a bordello or something...)


buzzbabyjesus said...

When I was ten I thought "Michelle" was hopelessly bubble gum, but admit I was impressed by the french. Just another reason to think they were genius.

Anonymous said...


Paul at an early age, especially, wrote some terrific songs about women/love/infatuation, etc. But I have to go with "Can't Buy Me Love" because sometimes you really just want to hear the early Beatles, loud guitars, and just drive.

Michael D.

Alexi said...

Very tough one- both classics which much to love. Can't Buy Me Love, barely.