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“Baby’s in Black”

Posted by purplemary54 on September 28, 2013

There’s something weird about this song, but I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on what it is.

Maybe it’s the way the guitar’s tuned, or the notes that open the song.  Maybe it’s the way the harmonies don’t fully harmonize, as if someone had a bit of a cold that day.  Maybe it’s the funny rhythm, or the way the lyrical tempo shifts from chorus to bridge.  It’s like this song was recorded by some kind of alternate universe Beatles with evil goatees or something.

Whatever it is, it works.  This is one of my all-time favorites by the Beatles; it’s probably in my personal top twenty.  I think I like it because it seems a little darker than a lot of their other early stuff.  Beatles for Sale came out at the end of 1964, and marked the beginning of the transition from Cute Pop Band to Serious Rock Musicians.  They’d already changed the face of the music industry and culture; now it was time to begin changing themselves.

I know a lot of people use 1965’s Rubber Soul as the traditional transitional album, but the changes really started occurring a year earlier. They felt trapped by their fame, and were beginning to chafe against Brian Epstein’s control.  All the original songs sounded weary, and a bit depressed.  Even the generally chipper “Eight Days a Week” reflected the chaos of their lives.  (Who thinks about having eight days in the week?  People who have enough stuff going on that they could use a couple of extra days just to get something done.)  The darkness of the originals was offset by the covers, although even these were a little on the overwhelmed side (“Everybody’s Trying to be my Baby”).  The walls were clearly beginning to close in around the lads.

This is the Beatles beginning a new stage of their musical evolution, which is another part of the reason I like it so much.  They were more than guys in matching suits playing innocent love songs for teenagers.  This is one of the moments when their talent began growing, and they began to break the mold they had created.

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