Monday, August 7, 2017

THE FINALE: "I'll Be Back" VS. "If I Needed Someone"

"You Can't Do That"- 29
"Wait"- 9

Here we are at the end of the contest. I realize how flawed all of this has been. Would "Wait" have made the final cut if put up against "What Goes On?" How would "And I Love Her" do against "In My Life?" Still, I maintain, we've come to believe from years of basic "say so," that certain classic records are better than others, and I think it's great fun taking those classic records and picking them apart.

It looks as if "A Hard Day's Night" will have more songs chosen than "Rubber Soul." Does that make it a better record? I like it better, but the debate will continue over what "Rubber Soul" represented versus what "A Hard Day's Night" represented. I like getting right down to the songs and what they have to offer.

I hope you all had some fun.

That said...

We still have one more round...and one extra song.

The next battle is between "I'll Be Back" and "If I Needed Someone," leaving the last song on "Rubber Soul" uncontested. I certainly did not plan this, but I think "Run For Your Life" is the worst song on "Rubber Soul" and one of my least favorite Beatles tunes. If it was up to me, I'd forget it altogether. So, let's do this.

After casting your vote for either "I'll Be Back" or "If I Needed Someone," give a yay or nay for whether "Run For Your Life" should be tacked on to the final tracklist.

As for "I'll Be Back," it's a true gem in the Lennon/McCartney songbook, though it is all Lennon. A personal fave of Lennon's, to boot. With no real chorus, the song, even at 2:23, feels epic. As Ian MacDonald wrote, "Fading away in tonal ambiguity at the end of A Hard Day's Night, it was a surprisingly downbeat farewell and a token of coming maturity." And that trick of going from the major chord to the minor chord is genius.

"If I Needed Someone" might be George Harrison's best tune thus far, even if it was snatched from The Byrds.  But as good as it is, it does not hold a candle, at least to my ears, to "I'll Be Back."

And a big NO, to "Run For Your Life."

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
10. Things We Said Today
11. In My Life
12. You Can't Do That

Previously on Album Battle:














Brett Alan said...

It's close, but I'll take "If I Needed Someone". Love that jangly power-pop stuff.

No to "Run For Your Life"--how about instead going with "Matchbox", which was Ringo's only vocal during the AHDN sessions, but left off the album and placed on the Long Tall Sally EP (and on Something New in the States)?

Anonymous said...

Big yes for "Run for Your Life"! Here is Lennon letting his happy face slip and showing his true self peeking through. A great rocker despite the ugly stalker implications.

And to end this fun exercise in rock & roll nerdness, I vote a total tie between our last two contestants. Great classic rock & roll tracks.

Thanks Sal, this has been fun exploring our love for these two great Beatles albums.

Captain Al

Troy said...

I'll go with "If I Needed Someone". Gotta show a little love for George, and there are no GH songs on AHDN. I also like it just a bit better.

No to "Run For Your Life". Just no.

Shriner said...

"I'll Be Back" is literally a *top 5* Beatles Track for me. The best song -- bar none -- on A Hard Day's Night. And one of the best album closers of all time.

IINS is undoubtably a great song, but "I'll Be Back" -- with it's *two breaks* -- is transcendent. It's remarkable in it's simplicity and the use of major to minor chords is sublime.

I will probably be on the losing end of this one and feel even sadder than when I'm Looking Through You lost.

And yes for RFYL.

Noam Sane said...

I'll Be Back. Perfect pop song.

I started listening to Rubber Soul as a 7-year-old and never thought twice about "Run for Your Life." It was just part of the album. I guess you could call it a murder ballad (sped up?) It has a great lead vocal (don't we all sing along with "That's the end-uh, little girl"?) and nice harmonies on the chorus, and plenty of guitar-borne energy, but yeah, ultimately it's kind of stupid. I'd pass.

Thanks Sal!

mauijim said...

Did not know John was so proud of it. Thanks for the info Sal. I'll choose it too. Political correctness 2017 says no for RFYL though it is damn catchy. Guess it was in the early 70s as I was turning into a man that the lyrics hit me as incorrect. About the same time I realized solo Paul had nothing to say though I was crazy for his first two solo lps. That's what Wild Life will do to you.

Sal Nunziato said...

"Wild Life" is a gem!!

buzzbabyjesus said...

Back in the day one of my most played Beatle records was "Yesterday And Today". "If I Needed Someone" was a favorite.

But my vote is for "I'll Be Back".

"A Hard Days Night" represents the peak of that era, and "Revolver" the apex of the next. That's why I'm not surprised AHDN wins this contest. "Rubber Soul" is transitional.

"Run For Your Life" has always sounded creepy to me. There are a few of these Lennon tunes that make him sound like the wife beater type. Thumbs down.

Bill said...

If I Needed Someone--one of my top 5 Beatles tracks, and as you note, George's best to date.

Days of the Broken Arrows said...

"I'll Be Back." The bridge alone is one of the best things Lennon ever wrote: "IIIIIIII thought that you would realize..." The rest of the songs is pretty great as well.

I also love how he makes the unorthodox chord minor key/major key/chord scheme work. When the major chord hits at the end of each verse, it's like a ray of sunshine hits. Love tried this at the end of "The Red Telephone," but Lennon did it first and better.

Michael Giltz said...

This is a really close call for me. "I'll Be Back" would crush "Run For Your Life." (But then, I believe "Revolver" would crush A Hard Days Night and Rubber Soul and Help and Sgt Pepper but that's not the game we're playing.)

Head to head between "I'll Be Back" and "If I Needed Someone" is difficult. The harmonies on "I'll Be Back" are gorgeous and it's such a great album closer as it fades away on a note of uncertainty.

But "If I needed Someone" is an amazing jangly Byrds-ian beauty as well and George's true coming of age. In an emotional tie, I'll give it to George for showing he could match the other lads as a songwriter.

And if we're creating a combined album of the winners, then RFYL should definitely be kept off.

richeye said...

For me, this is a very tough one. I love "If I Needed Someone" and particularly McCartney's static bass line. That the song was considered a throwaway by the band makes a difference to me. The Hollies, who released it first, did a very literal translation and missed all nuance, apart from vocal harmony - which, of course, was their forté. Their version helped make the Beatles version even better for me, given that it opened up all sorts of possibilities by comparison. The song came to life.

All that -and my love for the big jangle - notwithstanding, I'll Be Back is a stunning bit of sonic determination. A relatively quiet declaration that disappointment aside, I'm not quitting. It's kinda like John's version of Hank Williams' "You're Gonna Change or I'm Gonna Leave" except the singer ain't goin' nowhere! The chord changes and melodic choices are superb from start to finish... and that bridge!

I'll Be Back gets the nod from me... by the slimmest of margins.

As for Run For Your Life - I like the song. I've always been a sucker for stolen lyrics, done well. "They seek him here. They seek him there,' lifted directly from The Scarlet Pimpernel is a good example. Similarly, Lennon's theft of Arthur Gunter's, "Baby Let's Play House" is all right in my book. Yes to this one.

Sal Nunziato said...

The issue I have with Run For Your Life is not the lyrics, and maybe it should be. It just seems tossed off. Noam mentioned above, how we all sing "that's the end-uh, little girl." That may be true. I know I do it. But I also spent a day singing, "Buy Mennen" after that Seinfeld episode. That "end-AH" makes me cringe. Is there another Beatles tune where they sing the exact first verse again later on? That annoys me too, like all involved gave up. So much of it gets under my skin.

Carry on.

Dave said...

Agree that IINS was George's best song to date, but "I'll Be Back" might be my favorite Beatles song, so it's no contest for me.

And I'd vote for inclusion of "Run For Your Life." I'm not surprised it's not a favorite of yours, Sal, but you are one of the few people I've ever met who has strong negative feelings about it.

Dave F

Jeff in Denton TX said...

I recently read an article in which the writer ranked all of the Beatles' songs and rated "I'll Be Back" in the bottom ten. The rest of his list was nearly as bad and clueless.

To my ears, IBB is of a pair (musically, if not lyrically) with "Things We Said Today," my other favorite track on AHDN. As much as I love "If I Needed Someone," "I'll Be Back" wins this round. "Run for Your Life" would lose to either song in a head-to-head.

Thanks, Sal. This was fun. It also demonstrates the consistent excellence that runs throughout the Beatles' work.

Sal Nunziato said...

Dave F,
And still, I prefer Run For Your Life over so much else. The Beatles weakest moments are still quality music. But Dave, I am curious. Why are you not surprised that I wouldn't like that song?

Charlie Messing said...

I'll Be Back - one of my top ten Beatles tunes for sure, loved it the first time I heard it too. I play it too. The bridge is great: "I........thought that you would realize..." but you're right - no chorus. Minor to major works like magic, so do the harmonies. If I Needed Someone is great, but not That great. Run for your life is silly. I think the American version of Rubber Soul was the one that seduced us - certainly not the UK one compared to the UK Hard Day's Night. I'll Be Back was on Beatles VI or Something New, eh? What a song! This has been great, Sal.

rick said...

If I Needed Someone. Love the harmony on 'carve your number on my wall...'
And a big thumbs down to Run for Your Life. Exceeded in creepiness only by Maxwell's Silver Hammer, that jolly tune about killing people by hitting them over the head with a hammer.

David said...

I say yes to Run For Your Life.
I also dig If I Needed Someone
My votes! thanks!!

A guy called Tak said...

I'm sorry George, I have to pick "I'll Be Back" for my choice. It's one of my 10 favorite Fab4 songs.
I even like covers by The Buckinghams and Shawn Colvin.
As for "Run For Your Life", yes I can skip it...sorry John.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm in the minority, but I prefer If I Needed Someone. And Run For Your Life, catchy though it may be, is just impossible to defend in 2017 -- or 1987, for that matter.


dogbreath said...

Not in the AHDN film but always thought "I'll Be Back" was a cool song, with a positive & affirmative message and a pretty good tune to boot. As for "Run For Your Life" - definitely should be included: a choice early peek into Lennon's darker, bleaker side, a memorable chorus and that end'a! Cheers!