How Beatles sheet music and Album Lyrics Changed Forever
People tend to think of genius as something that springs eternal from better minds than theirs. It’s kind of hard to imagine anything other than brilliance being translated from the Beatle’s minds down to paper. After all, as the best selling band of all time, they hold untouchable legend status in the musical community. But would Beatles sheet music and albums still be flying off the shelves if they had sung, say:
1) “Attracts me like a cauliflower/pomegranate” (Something/Harrison)
Imagine that one for a moment. George Harrison’s ‘Something’ is one of the most beautiful and moving songs ever written. The inspiration for the song is somewhat contentious, with Pattie Boyd (Harrison’s wife), George himself, and the Liverpool Vegetable Farmer’s Association all making compelling, yet conflicting claims. Harrison’s love affair with broccoli’s somehow less appealing cousin isn’t well documented (Paul was the outspoken vegetarian), but the evidence is out there. All in all, I’m glad he went with “attracts me like no other lover”, but just the same, don’t forget to tell your significant other when you go home that there isn’t a single cauliflower you find more attractive than her.
2) “Scrambled eggs/Oh, my baby how I love your legs” (Yesterday/McCartney)
The Beatles piano, guitar, bass, and everything else imaginable player also happened to write some of the best lyrics of all time. That doesn’t mean he got everything right the first time around. As a matter of fact, this one took quite some time as the story goes. After composing the melody in his sleep, McCartney spent the better part of a year perfecting the lyrics. Or changing them at least. Personally, I’d like to meet this Scrambled eggs and find out what all the fuss over her legs is about.
3) “[censored for your protection]” (Sexy Sadie/Lennon)
A lot can be said about ‘Sexy Sadie’. In case you weren’t aware, the original title was ‘Maharishi’ and it contained some none too friendly words from Lennon to the Maharishi Yogi. The story goes that the spiritual guide, once revered by the Beatles, made some inappropriate advances toward one of the female members of their party. Lennon, universally known for his reverence toward women , was furious. The phrases that became “Sexy Sadie, what have you done/you made a fool of everyone…” were originally more suited for an HBO series than a 1960s LP. You’ll just have to look them up yourselves, because I’d like to keep my job.
4) “The movement you need is on your shoulders” (Hey Jude/McCartney)
If you happen to be alive and living on planet earth, you may recognize that line as the actual lyric that appears in the song. What you may not realize is that it was never intended to be a part of the song. Originally intended to be a placeholder until McCartney could think up the real line, he decided to just run with it in the end. It’s abundantly clear though, that the Beatles weren’t doing a lot of communicating at that point. If they had, you’d think at least one of them would have said ‘oy, Macca, what the bloody ‘ell does that mean?’ That being said, Paul McCartney’s throwaway lyrics are still better than most musician’s ‘A’ game.