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Notes on "I'll Follow The Sun"

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Previous page: Notes On The Cover Songs Appearing On The Beatles For Sale Next page: Notes on "Eight Days A Week"

This article is from Alan W. Pollack's groundbreaking series "Notes on the Beatles". Links in the orginal article is written in this colour: index to the series, while links I have added appears as standard links. Go here for more information on my site about the song

Notes on "I'll Follow The Sun"

KEY C Major

METER 4/4

FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Verse (half guitar solo) -> Bridge -> Verse (w/complete ending)

General Points of Interest

Style and Form

Form-wise, this is one of the more straightforward ones we've seen in a while: a familiar two-bridge model where two verses, one of which is a (partial) instrumental solo, separate the bridges.

The folksy first impression created by the primarily acoustic arrangement and performance style is belied by chord progressions and a tune that are distinctly non-folk-like.

Ever since we crossed the approximate frontier of the Hard Day's Night album, I've been pointing out repeated examples of the Beatles' tendency toward blending elements of the Blues style into a pop-rock context. Along with some of the other songs on the 'Beatles For Sale' Album, this particular one is a fine example of the Boys playing the same trick, but with folk elements instead of the Blues.

Melody and Harmony

A relatively small number of chords is used throughout. Although the song is ultimately seen to reside entirely and firmly within its home key of C Major, the manner in which the chords progress during the verse does challenge your clear perception of the home key. There's even (IMHO) some slight harmonic awkwardness to the verse as though Paul were self-consciously striving for something new.

Chromatic line cliches that are concealed within an inner voice of the texture play a role here reminiscent of what we've seen in both the earlier "Hold Me Tight" and the later "You Won't See Me." The more obvious example here is found in John's decending vocal counterpoint during the bridge. This is nicely balanced out by a longer upward run in the verse, but the latter is quite a bit better concealed to the extent that it is merely implied by the schematic voice leading of the underlying harmony rather than being explicitly called out.

The verse melody is a standout, not only because it contains an unusual series of upward leaps of a fourth, but also for the extremely large pitch range traversed by its expressive arch shape.

Arrangement

The instrumental backing is most characterized by the finger-picking acoustic guitar part, in spite of the presence of electric instruments on the bass and lead guitar parts. Note the unusual lack of any percussion part. Where was Ringo, off practicing timpani for the other cuts ?

Although it is Paul undeniably in the vocal spotlight, John plays an uncannily subtle supporting vocal role; he's actually in there singing along almost the whole way, though you hardly even notice it! For example, John doubles Paul in unsion for the first half of the verse only to drop out leaving Paul exposed solo in the second half. The bridge features similar byplay between the two of them.

Section-by-Section Walkthrough

Intro

The intro is a mere two measures long and serves to establish the home key as well as the background guitar figuration:

 |C G |F C |
  I V  IV I

As the song unfolds, this intro turns out to be nothing more than an anticipation of the ending of the verse section, and indeed, the same couple of measures provide the defacto "outro" at the end.

Verse

The verse is eight measures long. Though it metrically scans into two phrases of four measures each, it melodically consists of one long phrase:

inner
line:    D   E-flat   E-natural  F#
chords: |G  |Fb7  |C  |D  |
C:  V   IV   I   V-of-V


  G
 |C e |D G |C G |F C |
  I iii  V-of-V V  I V  IV I


Harmonically, this section begins away from the home key (on V) but converges eventually toward one though not before throwing us a few curve balls -- i.e. the "gratuitous" dominant 7th on F (after all, it doesn't resolve to B-flat), the deferred resolution of the first V-of-V, and the appearance of iii in the so-called 6/4 inversion with B in the bassline.

I believe that in the context of this strange progression, the embedded line cliche plays a significant role in holding the whole thing together by providing a clear (albeit concealed) thread of continuity. The speeding up of the harmonic rhythm in the second half of he section also helps.

A slight modification is made to the two verses which precede the bridge sections: the C chord is sustained through measure 7 and is converted into a dominant 7th (V-of-IV) during measure 8.

Bridge

The bridge is also eight measures long though its two four-measure phrases are nicely parallel in structure:

  A-natural  A-flat   G
 |d  |f  |C  |C7  |
  ii   iv   I   V-of-IV



 |d  |f  |C  |d  |
  ii   iv   C   ii

As with the verse, this section also starts out away from the home key, eventually converges toward it, only to close right back on the ii chord, as is required to properly motivate the verse which follows with its own opening on V.

The downward line cliche provides us with one of the first minor iv chords we've seen in a while; and in a "Paul song", no less!

Some Final Thoughts

An astonishingly almost-but-not-quite version of this song has been preserved for us on a mysterious rehearsal tape attributed to the Quarrymen of spring, 1960.

The form presented there is essentially the same as the official version, but the music varies quite a bit at the detailed level. For example, the key there is G, while our album version is in C, and the bridge sections there each conclude with a brief guitar lick that is totally absent in our version.

The most intruiging thing about the older version is how un-snugly the melody sits atop the chords. In re-working it for the official version, Paul must have been conscious of this problem to the extent that he changed so much of the harmonic content for it. The thing is, as we've noted, that even the official version of the song retains a certain "charming awkwardness" about it the only makes me wonder all the more: was the song somehow jinxed in a way that prevented Paul from fixing it up completely, or is at least *some* of this so-called awkwardness part of the intended effect here, perhaps ?

Regards,
Alan (awp@bitstream.com *OR* uunet!huxley!awp)

---
"He can't walk out on us."          062992#60
---
       

Copyright (c) 1992 by Alan W. Pollack

All Rights Reserved

This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed and otherwise propagated at will, provided that this notice remains intact and in place.

These articles were originally posted in the News Group rec.music.beatles. The content from this newsgroup is archived at http://www.recmusicbeatles.com/, and Alan W. Pollacks "Notes On" series can be found at http://www.recmusicbeatles.com/public/files/awp/awp.html

. I used to link to the versions published in Soundscapes before I decided to include them on my own site.

If you want to learn more about the musical side of song writing, chord progressions, harmony and theory through The Beatles songs (and/or The Beatles in particular), I recommend the following book:

Artist: Dominic Pedler

Arranged by The Beatles


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The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles


Book of the Month 2003-10
The Songwriting Secrets Of The Beatles is an essential addition to Beatles literature - a new and perceptive analysis of both the music and the lyrics.

More than thirty years after The Beatles split up, the music of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison lives on. What exactly were the magical ingredients of those legendary songs? why are they still so influential for today's bands? This groundbreaking book sets out to exlore The Beatles' songwriting techniques in a clear and readable style. It is aimed not only at musicians but anyone who has ever enjoyed the work of one of the most productive and successful songwriting partnerships of the 20th century. Author Dominic Pedler explains the chord sequences, melodies and harmonies that made up The Beatles' self penned songs and how they uncannily complemented the lyrical themes. He also assesses the contributions that rhythm, form and arrangement made to the Beatles unique sound. Throughout the book the printed music of the Beatles' songs appears alongside the text, illustrating the authors explanations. The Songwriting Secrets of The Beatles is an essential addition to Beatles literature - a new and perceptive analysis of the music itself itself as performed by what Paul McCartney still calls 'a really good, tight little band'.

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