Wednesday, July 12, 2017

TRACK THREE: "If I Fell" VS. "You Won't See Me"

Burning Wood Tally:

"I Should Have Known Better"- 10
"Norwegian Wood"- 10

Facebook Tally:

"I Should Have Known Better"- 4
"Norwegian Wood"- 16

That says something, though I am not sure what.

Final Tally, unless there is some meddling with the election over the next few days:

"I Should Have Known Better"- 14
"Norwegian Wood"- 26


For a short period of time during the early 80's, "If I Fell" was my favorite Beatles song. My friend and band member Frank, and I would often sing this, with me taking Lennon's part and Frank taking Paul's part. What blew me away then, still blows me away now, that a 23 year old rock and roller could write something so intensely beautiful, and with his 21 year old partner, create such a complex harmony that pretty much exists for the entire 2:24 duration of the song. Ian MacDonald writes in the absolutely necessary, "Revolution In The Head":

"A Hard Day's Night, an LP written largely by Lennon, offers the richest harvest of implied harmonies of any single Beatles collection, while If I Fell is the most chord-intensive song The Beatles had so far recorded, its changes moving with nearly every note of the tune."

I recall reading an interview with Alice Cooper, where he discusses the music he loves, and he specifically refers to "You Won't See Me" as being "not of this Earth." I will agree. Another brilliant drum pattern from Mr. Starkey, and for me, one of the greatest Beatle hooks ever, Lennon's counter "No I wouldn't, NO I WOULDN'T" to Macca's "I wouldn't mind." Damn these Beatles!

Ian MacDonald feels differently about "You Won't See Me":

"You Won't See Me shared the weariness of Nowhere Man and needed something to lift it. Unfortunately, the group were too tired by late nights to come up with anything, and simply repeated Nowhere Man's irritating 'ooh-la-la' backing vocal formula. This would have mattered less if they hadn't decided to programme the two tracks next to each other: the most inept piece of sequencing on any Beatles LP."

Wow, easy there Mac! At least he does go on to mention Paul's "interesting" and "new liberated style" of bass playing.

I don't want to choose!!

But I will and I have to go with "If I Fell." The harmony is just too good.

1. A Hard Day's Night
2. Norwegian Wood

Previously, on Album Battle:




Anonymous said...

Not even close - If I Fell. Randy

Charlie Messing said...

I agree that "If I Fell" is more fully realized, and the harmonies better arranged, but I'm more fond of the much-underrated "You Won't See Me." I sing it, playing harmonies on the guitar so that the later verses are harmonized, instead of backed with "ooh la-la-la". Never on any "hits" albums or "classic cut" collections, it's still one of my favorites. I vote for "You Won't See Me".

Rodger Stroup said...

Anne Murray ruined "You Won't See Me" for me when she covered it. I'm getting over it, but "If I Fell" is still the better song.
I vote for "If I Fell."

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Tally me up in the If I Fell column. You Won't See Me is one of my absolute favorite deep cuts of the Beatles (Ha! imagine being in a band where You Won't See Me doesn't make your top tier of songs!!). But the harmonies contained in If I Fell are worthy of deep Talmudic-like study and appreciation.


Post Script: Fans of acoustic fingerstyle guitar and of the song You Won't See Me are encouraged to listen to Laurence Juber's guitar heroics here:

Tumblingdice70 said...

What other band has such consistent quality that they could ever be called lazy for a song as magnificent as "You Won't See Me?" However, my vote is for "If I Fell," those harmonies are transcendent.

Unknown said...

If I Fell. It's instantly memorable and inimitable.

Joe said...

If I Fell. joe

richeye said...

As posted on FB:

Funny that so many here are solidly behind If I Fell. Thus far, I have voted for the first two tracks on A Hard Day's Night, but today breaks the mold for me. For one thing, If I Fell has some of the most awkward lyrics of any Beatles song and some of their most saccharine sentiments. I mean, "I've found that love is more than just holding hands."???? Really? Ya think? Yes, it's a beautiful melody, but it is also among their most simplistic moon June spoon love songs.

Then, there is the bass line in You Won't See Me, which is flat out brilliant. The bridge absolutely energizes the song and drives it beyond anger into seething territory. Emotional power... that wins every time over puppy love.

My vote: You Won't See Me. C'mon... act your age!

Shriner said...

"If I Fell" -- covered it in a band and we loved it. This gets my vote.

This one is closer, though, as YWSM is a pretty awesome song as well. said...

If I Fell, no question.


Troy said...

While I appreciate the harmonies in If I Fell, I give the vote to You Won't See Me. Just a brilliant song. Hard to believe anyone would call that lazy.

Jeff in Denton TX said...

Both albums have many ringers on them. "If I Fell" is a ringer; "You Won't See Me" is close, but not quite on that level IMO (still great, though). So, "If I Fell" wins this round for me.

buzzbabyjesus said...

"If I Fell".

Dave said...

"You Won't See Me" by a nose.

Dave F

Bill said...

You Won't See Me, but very close

Michael Giltz said...

I've listened to both tracks back to back about six times now. I think it's practically a tie.

Lyrically, I think "If I Fell" is hands down the winner. What a batshit crazy idea for a "love" song -- hey will you go out with me so I can make my last girlfriend really sad but you have to promise not to dump me because my last girlfriend dumped me and I really couldn't deal with that again and man, is she gonna be pissed when she sees us together.... [Note: if someone asking you out won't stop talking about their ex, you probably should say no.]

Of course, this anti-love song is presented with gorgeous harmonizing and a classic, wedding song sort of beat, which adds to the irony in a wonderful way. It's also completely earnest which makes the emotions even richer.

"You Won't See Me" on the other hand is much simpler lyrically. Why the heck won't you see me? It's complicated by the amusing moment when McCartney admits he really wouldn't mind so much if he knew what he was missing -- in other words, if you had put out, I might not be so obsessed with you and demanding to see you again. Another undercutting of the love song though the mind boggles at what person would NOT put out for Paul McCartney circa 1965 even if he WEREN'T a Beatle. I mean, really, what are you saving it for?

But musically there is so much more going on. The drumming to my ignorant ears on "If I Fell" is relatively rudimentary while on "You Won't See Me" it's off the charts awesome. Everything about the latter song is miles ahead sonically. Again, it's simple versus complex but it's hard not to get caught up in so much brilliance via George Martin and the production and arrangement and so on. What the heck is the blast of noise that starts it off? Like so much of their music, the more you listen the more you realize how odd and weird and wonderful these seemingly straightforward pop songs really are.

I kind of want to vote for "You Won't See Me" because I'm rooting for "Rubber Soul" and intellectually I feel there's so much going on that's interesting. But I'm a words guy first and "If I Fell" is such a sucker punch a la "Every Breath You Take," a remarkably unromantic love song though people don't seem to notice thanks to the heart-stopping singing and killer melody.

"If I Fell" by a nose.

Michael Giltz said...

Oh and I for one enjoy the call back to "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" with the lyric stating "I've found that love is more than just holding hands."

A guy called Tak said...

This is the toughest one...
But I guess I have to choose - "You Won't See Me" because this song is more "The Beatles" than "If I Fell" is more "Everly Brothers".

Anonymous said...

I know this is going to sound like a total cop out but this round is a total tie. Both really fine tracks that I totally love & respect.

Captain Al

Days of the Broken Arrows said...

Impossible choice. Both songs are great. They're also two of my most listened to Beatles songs ever.

These are two songs I've never gotten tired of after all these years. "If I Fell" has sublime harmonies and one of Lennon's most fascinating lyrics (interesting because it's so neurotically weird, yet it's sung straight). The cool thing about the harmony line is that it's almost like two separate songs when you sing them individually.

"You Won't See Me" has an intricate arrangement with Paul's piano and bass bouncing off one another. The lyric might not be brilliant, but the vocal and melody get it across with such conviction that it become great. And as other have noted, Ringo's drumming is fab. The syncopated high-hat part, by the way, is overdubbed -- something that became evident when listening with headphone to the remix CD that came out in the '80s.

My vote goes to both.

David said...

all though the voting is completed... i want to say, both songs are incredible, but I am leaning towards "You Won't See Me." thanks!

Chris Collins said...

"If I Fell". This one by a hair

Alexi said...

Late on the uptake here, but If I Fell remains to me one of the most beautiful songs, anywhere. YWSM is another great Beatles song. If I Fell also profits because it brings out the best in both John and Paul- their amazing harmony singing- whereas YWSM sounds more like a very interesting,and innovative Paul song.