Monday, July 31, 2017

TRACK TEN: "Things We Said Today" VS. "I'm Looking Through You"

"I'll Cry Instead"-10
"Girl"- 30

How this for a lineup? Paul McCartney on vocals, guitars and bass, John Lennon on guitars and harmony vocal, Ringo Starr on drums and Vox organ? That's who you get on "I'm Looking Through You." George must have been practicing the sitar in another room.

I've always LOVED the harmonies on "you don't look different, but you have changed." I also love Paul belting from the gut on "you're not the same" and "and you're nowhere!" "I'm Looking Through You" is a great track.

But there is a lot to love in "Things We Said Today." Lennon's crunchy acoustic accents. Ringo's solid smacking on the kit. And I am a sucker for the minor verse and major middle, which explodes with energy, much like the bridge in "No Reply." ("Harlem Nocturne" is another effective example of that minor/major thing.) Even Lennon loved this track. I'm casting my vote for "Things We Said Today."

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
7. Can't Buy Me Love
8. Anytime At All
9. Girl

Previously on Album Battle:











buzzbabyjesus said...

"Things We Said Today".

This was a close one.

Ever since hearing it on a bootleg in the '80's, I've preferred this version of "I'm Looking Through You". I might have voted for this one.'m_looking_through_you.mp3

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Things We Said Today is one of my very favorite Beatles' songs. The song has such as nice flow to it and I,too, love the minor/parallel major shift from verse to chorus. Sonically, you know something has changed in addition to just hitting the chorus.

Pretty WC Handy's blues classic song, St. Louis Blues, employs the same technique.


Anonymous said...

Totally a tie. Both are wonderful tracks. Classic Beatles.

Captain Al

Rodger Stroup said...

"Things We Said Today" is another favorite. It gets my vote here, even though "I'm Looking Through You" is a great tune also. "Things We Said Today" from the Hollywood Bowl LP is cool. Something about the echo and the uptick in the screaming when the bridge comes around that adds to the energy this song puts out.

A guy called Tak said...

This is a tough one...I love 'I'm Looking Through You', Every time I hear this song, I want to sing-along. 'Things We Said Today' - this is one of the hidden gem. I never get tired of hearing it. You know there are many songs I like but I do skip sometime but not 'Things We Said Today'. That's how much I love this song.
'Things We Said Today' gets my vote.

Shriner said...

"I'm Looking Through You" is one of my favorite Beatles songs of all time. It's one of the first I wanted to learn on guitar and it's one of my (many) warm-up songs when I pull out the ole' acoustic.

So you can guess what I'm voting for.

TWST is a great song. But nowhere near as great as ILTY.

rick said...

"Someday when we're dreaming/Deep in love, not a lot to say" I'm not sure why, but I've always loved these lines; maybe it just conjured up for me an image, at a time when I'd never yet been in love, of a day when I'd be deep in love with someone and we'd be looking back on when we first met. Those words felt wonderful, and still do. Plus, I love how the bridge flows right into the next verse: "And though we may be blind/Love is here to stay/And that's enough/To make you mine, girl..."
Things We Said Today

Sal Nunziato said...

"Plus, I love how the bridge flows right into the next verse: "And though we may be blind/Love is here to stay/And that's enough/To make you mine, girl..."

That's a great detail, Rick. I love debating "songs" vs. "records." There is a difference. ILTY is a great record, for sure. I think "Things" is the better song. BUT...that detail you pointed out...does that fall into "making the record" or "writing the song?"

I love The Beatles.

Anonymous said...

"I'm Looking Through You"
Humming through "Things We Said Today" I'll grant that Things has some good changes.

You don't sound different, I've learned the game
I'm looking through you, you're not the same

That's the game changer for me - the harmonies on that refrain are killer.
That's where you find me singing along with John,Paul & George.


Troy said...

Probably the toughest one yet in this competition (IMO). Both are terrific songs. But Things We Said Today gets the nod here, for all the reasons listed above. Great explanation from Rick about what I love about it.

Unknown said...

This was the closest one yet, but for me, it's "Things We Said Today" by a nose.

mauijim said...

TWST by a hair nose. Best Paul song ever?

Alan said...

Hi Sal. I've loved this whole side-by-side comparison all along. I haven't weighed in much (not sure why, I'm opinion about everything...), but here I go. I agree this is the closest one so far. I'm Looking Through You has always been one of my favorite Beatles songs, and of course, the anger and resentment of lost love resonates too well. So that's my vote, although I feel like a Bernie supporter on a losing team.

Shriner said...

Feels like I'm going to be on the losing end of this one. And I'll die just a little bit inside because of it...

I think this bridge:

Why, tell me why did you not treat me right
Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight

Is better than this one (which always seemed awkward to me...)

Me, I'm just the lucky kind
Love to hear you say that love is luck
And, though we may be blind
Love is here to stay
And that's enough

Days of the Broken Arrows said...

"Things We Said Today" needed to come to an immediate, abrupt end after the last line of the bridge:

"And, though we may be blind
Love is here to stay


Truth in advertising, right? If the song continues on, it's deceptive. And that's morally wrong!! And unclean!!

I were the producer, I'd have taken a scissors and snipped the tape right there and put it on the album that way -- a la the ending of "I Want You."

Jeff in Denton TX said...

Both terrific songs, but "Things We Said Today" is a top ten Beatles' track for me, so it gets my vote.

Charlie Messing said...

Just what Jeff said - both terrific, but for me it's Things We Said Today". It "blew my mind," as we used to say!

Brett Alan said...

"Things We Said Today" is marvelous. Glad Paul did it live in 89-90, although I think it hasn't been done since then. I always remember that Beatlefan called it "an outstanding and unexpected choice". Nothing wrong with the other option, but "Today" gets my vote.

Alexi said...

Things We Said Today - a classic, a real forward step in Paul's songwriting, with a beautiful low harmony from John. One of the best.

Anonymous said...

I'm Looking Through You gets my vote. Love the guitar part; love the harmonies; love the lyrics.


Apetalk1971 said...

Impossible. A tie. Is that an option?

rick said...

I've been trying very hard all day to come up with another song where a sentence begins in the bridge and ends in the next verse by fast humming through every song ever written (see Robert Klein, 'Every Record Ever Recorded', but so far to no avail. Sal, you know a hell of a lot more music than I do; can you think of others? I'm sure (not sure) they're out there; we may just have to stumble upon them. If there are, I don't think there are many; which would make the songwriting in Things We Said Today even more incredible...

Michael Giltz said...

Before I listened to them, I thought, wow, this is going to be a hard call but I love the deathless melody of Things We Said Today and that'll win.

So naturally, I'm voting for "I'm Looking Through You."

All hail the tambourine!

Poor Jane Asher! Paul's girlfriend for some five years, she inspired the marvelous "Things We Said Today," in which our hero wants to imagine a happy future on which they'll back fondly on this happy day but the somber music sure makes clear he's having trouble thinking it'll come to pass. And indeed, just two albums later on "I'm Looking Through You" he's snarling "Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight."

I just love the melody of "Things We Said Today," Paul's plaintive vocals, the marvelous ambiguity of the lyrics (especially contrasted with the music) and the wonderful way that brilliant guitar strum is punctuated with the tambourine exclamation point! Duh-duh-duh-dum...SNAP!

But "I'm Looking Through You" crushes it for me. Both are great songs and great records of course -- that's a given with most Beatles tracks -- and they are exhibits #75 and #87 in the Songs That Would Have Been The Glorious High Point Of Most Other Bands' Careers But Are Just Two More Gems In the Beatles Crown Hall of Fame. I would certainly agree that "Things" is a likelier song for other bands to cover and "Looking" the superior record, as in this particular recording. But actually I keep wanting to hear other bands cover the latter (like Steve Earle) -- thanks to that nasty Hammond Organ it sounds like a lost Nugget or a gem from the Stax vault.

And "I'm Looking Through You" is chock full of fascinating sonic detail -- but not in the baroque sense one associates with the Beatles and which other bands ape when going for this sound. You don't even notice this shit 99%b of the time when you're singing along to either classic album. Which is why this showdown is so great -- anyone just voting from memory is missing half the fun here. Sitting down and just listening to two tracks back to back really lets you hear them afresh.

I love the way the song starts with that jaunty acoustic guitar -- it sounds so happy and fun. Start smiling, gang! (Then the acidic lyrics begin.)

And what is the crazy percussive sound on "I'm Looking Through You?" Spoons? Wooden blocks? Ringo has a funky little undercurrent going for a while (until thrashing away brilliantly on the tambourine or hitting those notes on the organ). And THEN he pops up in the middle with some other crazy little random vamp on that same percussive instrument. It's so random and different and...perfect.

On the bridge, George (or paul's?( succinct little guitar fill echoes the curling menace in "right" from "Why tell me why did you not treat me ri-ghhhht?" and pops in and out throughout the bridge, just a few casual country-ish notes adding just the right detail. On "You were above me, but not today" it sounds like someone just sort of drops or unintentionally thrums the tambourine in an offhand way. Of course nothing happens casually (except for happy accidents) but it either was chosen or used to add to the "live" vibe of this soulful number.

Paul's vocals just kill it, too. All these little details remain right in line with the song. They're not distracting or fussy or gilding the lily. You don't even notice them but they're the reason these songs can be played over and over and over again without ever getting bored. Your ears are kept off balance, always engaged and surprised, and you don't even really know it.

"I'm Looking Through You"

Dave said...

This pains me more than any other vote so far, but have to go with TWST. "I'm Lookin' Through You" is one of the highlights of Rubber Soul.

Dave F.

FurryBootsCityBoy said...

"I'm Looking Through You" - ever since I first heard it way back then, it's always given me a joyous lift. And you're right about Paul's belting out "you're not the same" and "and you're nowhere!" which go to show that, at heart, he was ALWAYS a rocker...

Joe said...

I'm Looking Through You for the same reason as stated by FunnyBootsCityBoy. joe

cmealha said...

"I'm Looking Through You" is a bit fluffier than "Things We Said Today" but I enjoy it so much more.

John B. said...

Forced to choose between two essential Beatles songs??

I'll die instead.

David said...

"I'm looking Through You" is my choice. Thanks!

dogbreath said...

May I please be an awkward old curmudgeon and give half a point to each? Both tunes are very fab & have special memories for me which makes it even harder to choose just one!

Shriner said...

I smell a comeback!