Saturday, 5 November 2011

Paul McCartney - McCartney (1970) Part Nine

Album 1 - Paul McCartney - McCartney (1970)
UK Amazon -
US Amazon -

1. The Lovely Linda
2. That Would Be Something
3. Valentine Day
4. Every Night
5. Hot As Sun / Glasses
6. Junk
7. Man We Was Lonely
8. Oo You
9. Momma Miss America
10. Teddy Boy
11. Singalong Junk
12. Maybe I'm Amazed
13. Kreen-Akrore

Now we come to a song which, in my opinion, should have been Paul McCartney's debut single.  Instead he waited for over a year to release Another Day as his opening solo release (don't get me wrong, not that Another Day wasn't worthy of being a single release).  In some ways it was a bad decision to stay with the old Beatles regime of not releasing album tracks, which is the main reason for not issuing this as a single I suppose.  Actually if the people at Apple were bothered at the time then they may have suggested it, but they weren't really thinking straight at this time obviously.

It took until the Wings live album for the song to be released as a single, albeit a live version of the song to promote Wings Over America.

Cover versions of the song have been recorded, with the ones that mainly come to mind being the rocking version by The Faces, and the soulful Carleen Anderson version that includes the musical backing of Paul Weller, Mick Talbot, and Steve White (The Style Council basically).

Written around the time of The Beatles recording Abbey Road, it is a love song to Linda, who at that time had only recently become his wife, so it has him talking about the new situation of being married, and his difficulty at comprehending it.  He is amazed at the emotions, the close friendship, and how she was helping him through the Beatles' troubles.

I think that he must have purposely kept this away from the others and was stockpiling songs for himself.  Lennon, Harrison, and Starr would surely have picked this in preference to Maxwell's Silver Hammer!  I know, that song gets a lot of stick, what can I say but that it's true that Maybe I'm Amazed is a far superior song.  I would argue that this song is better than virtually anything of McCartney's on Abbey Road and would definitely have been a Beatles' number one single.

Intro -      A     |D/F#  Dm/F|Em7   A||

The intro is basically a section at the end of the chorus, apart from the A that starts it replacing a G chord.  It is actually the perfect opening sequence, because it prepares the singer for what is coming.  I'll go into this sequence in more detail later.  Musically it is brought in by a solitary piano, with all of the instrumentation recorded in studio no. 2 at Abbey Road studios.

Verse -    Bb    |F/A    |C     |G/C    |Bb    |F/A    |C     |NC
               Bb    |F/A    |C     |G/C    |Bb    |F/A    |Ab   |Eb/G   |C

So immediately upon starting the verse he has gone up a semitone from A to Bb.  It's difficult in some ways to think how much of a surprise this would be for a first time listener, mainly because I have heard this song so many times (and the key change thing is done to death nowadays).  Back then though it wasn't a trick that was used so frequently as it seems to be now.

From that he is ascending in fifths again with the Bb, F, C, and G.  As mentioned previously, this is where the fifth note of each chord becomes the dominant of the following chord.  Although for the last line going from the F/A to Ab isn't the same.  The Ab to Eb is, but then you have a C chord leading to the chorus.  The verse I think is very much in the key of C major with some notes outside of the key - no change there then.

Chorus -   D    |A/D    |Am/D   |Am/D  D/F#|G     |G     |D     |D7(#9)
                D    |A/D    |Am/D   |Am/D  D/F#|G     |G     |D/F#  Dm/F|Em7   A|A    ||

The chorus comes in exactly a tone above the last chord of the verse, where he then uses another trick utilised by The Beatles main writers.  He goes from the main root chord of this section (D) to it's fifth chord (A), and then the minor fifth chord (Am), all that time using another Beatles trick of holding down the D bass note underneath until the D chord itself shows up again, but with an F# bass underneath it, and then the G chord ascending to it's fifth chord  of D (as I said, the root of the key of this section of the song), which leads to D7 (#9).  Then he repeats the pattern except that from the G it is in the key of G for that last little bit with G leading to it's fifth chord of D, then the minor fifth trick again (Dm), and then Em7 followed by A (major second chord rather than the natural minor for this key), to lead to the verse based solo.

After this there is a repeat of the chorus section, then the second verse has the same music as the first verse, then an instrumental chorus, followed by a second solo over verse music, and finally an instrumental chorus section followed by faded out verse music.

So, there we have it then.  In a nutshell that is the basis for a classic McCartney song, albeit one that doesn't feature a middle eight.  It's deceptive in that way, because the guitar solo's make up for that in a way.  Looking at it though, a middle eight may actually have hindered in this case by making the song over long.  It could also have broken the song up nicely with reference to live performance.  What I mean by that is because whenever it is performed live by McCartney, it does tend to go on for longer which would be helped by a middle eight, but that's probably just being picky.  It is also supposition, because it doesn't feature one.  If it did though, he could have placed it between the first chorus and the second verse rather than the first solo, but therein lies another fact.

The song only actually features two verses, but those verses say so much.  Essentially he is just saying what needs to be said and nothing more.  He is actually showing restraint, rather than going off into la la land with a flowery narrative and such.  This is in direct contrast to a song such as Hey Jude which, although a classic, does feature a hell of a lot of lyrics.  This latter point actually is shown by an audible spoken comment on that song's recording by Lennon where he uses the F word (audible on Hey Jude, not this song.  I'm sorry, I was just going off into Beatles trivia territory there).

The next title on the set is Kreen Akrore, so we'll discuss that in the next post.  It is the last song on McCartney's first album after The Beatles.

Links -
1. My version of Maybe I'm Amazed
2. Paul performing the song live in December 2010 - I like the audible giggling :-)
3. A great live performance by Wings
4. Cover version by The Faces
5. Cover version by Carleen Anderson
6. Cover version by Dave Grohl
7. Paul McCartney Chord songbook at Amazon UK