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Notes On "Good Morning, Good Morning"

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Previous page: Notes on "Lovely Rita" Next page: Notes on the "Reprise" and "A Day in the Life"

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 "Good Morning, Good Morning"

(Alan started this note with a second though on the ending of "Lovely Rita". I have moved this part to the end of Notes on "Lovely Rita".)

KEY A Major

METER 4/4 in intro, bridge and outro; anything but predictable in verse

FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse' -> Bridge ->
   Verse -> Verse' (guitar solo) -> Bridge -> Verse -> Outro (fadeout)

General Points of Interest

Style and Form

This is truly, truly, one of the great songs; with its uneven meter, blisters-on-fingers drumming, washed out horns and silver saxaphones, and rapid fire verbal slide-show imagery; inspired by no less than a mass media commercial effort on behalf of Kellogg's Corn Flakes; "the best to you each morning," indeed. (Doesn't *your* alarm radio ever trip off on a Blue Monday Morning in the middle of some piece of equally insipid and insidiously cheerly bit of nonsense?)

And yet, for all its (you say you want a) revolutionary gestures, you must acknowledge how, at the same time, well grounded it is on a classic-pop/rock formal design.

Melody and Harmony

Both tune and chord changes are frugally funded here, as is John's wont; I am tempted to assign this to an type of "impatience" on his part in wanting to get out a strongly felt message with such urgency that it overwhelms whatever counter balancing desire he might have to linger over the design of certain musical details.

The tune contains an uncanny number of phrases that span a fourth that is then subdivided into a third and a second, or vice versa. A unexhaustive list of examples (collect them all!):

  - Nothing to do  A-F#-B
  - To save his life  E-G-A-E
  - Call his wife in       G-A-F#-A
  - I've got nothing  D-C#-A-A
  - (nothing) to say  A-A-F#-B
  - Everybody knows  C#-C#-C#-A-D
  - Good morning  A-F#-E

The chord set is limited to I, IV, V, and flat VII. For a small set, it packs a surprisingly piquant punch in the cross-relation that recurs between V and flat VII, and you might say this is a favorite progression of John's; "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" of all things is an example of an earlier song written to the same harmonic spec.


The basic backing track with single-tracked lead vocal recently released on the 2nd Anthology underscores with textbook example- like clarity everything we've read over the years about how they would build up the several overdubbed layers of a complex track. As busy as the finished piece is, you can see how the backing vocals, brass instruments, and animal effects were each modularly applied to the basic outline.

This is John's most extreme attempt at craziness with meter since "She Said She Said." In spite of whatever superfical similarities exist betweeen them, however, these two songs bear as much contrast with each other in this regard as they do comparison. In "She Said She Said." the metrical hijinks are saved for the contrasting "off" sections, whereas here in "Good Morning, Good Morning", the pranks are featured prominently in the main verse section which gives them more airplay as well more share of your attention. You might also note that the metrical shifting of the earlier song is rather passively wobbly in effect, while our current example is more aggressively agitated.

BTW, did you ever notice how both these song *titles* share the unusual trait of repeating themselves?

Section-by-Section Walkthrough


The opening rooster call would seem arbitrary if not for the return of it with a whole menagerie in the song's coda. I wonder if the scratchy sound underlying the rooster is intended to be a "Honey Pie"-like conjuring of 78 rpm era surface noise, birds chirping, or perhaps both.

The intro is four measures in length. In spite of its four-square dimensions, the first and last measures place the intermediate chord change on a strongly syncopated offbeat. While it doesn't literally start off with an uneven meter, the opening surely hints at what is to come before much longer:

                         ----- 2X ------
  1   2 &  3  4   1   2  3   4    1  &  2    3  4
 |A     D |A D |A (E)  |
  I     IV        I      IV       I (V)

And that sung title phrase, coming after the call of the cock, sure seems relentless and cheerlessly unsympathetic.


The primary verse is a traditional four phrases long, but each phrase is of an anti-traditionally different length; your own parsing of the bar lines may differ from mine, but I do think the number of beats per phrase will come out the same, 10/12/9/14:


         1   2 &   3     1   2   3   4   1    2     3
 |A     E        |G              |-    A    (E)   |
  I     V         flat-VII             I    (V)

         1   2 &   3     1   2   3   4   5    1   2   &   3   &   4   &  |
                                              dum dum-  d'dum-dum dum-dum
 |A     E        |G                   |A
         I     V         flat-VII             I

  1   2   3   4   5    1   2    3    4
 |D                   |E                 |
         IV                   V

  1   2 &   3     1   2   3     1   2     3   4     1   2   3   4        dum dum'd dum dum'd dum
 |A     E        |G            |A         D        |E             |
         I     V         flat-VII      I         IV        V

This would, indeed, be much more easily documented on music paper, though if necessary, you can apply directly to me for a scanning of the words across this metrical analysis; maybe. I mean, for crying out loud, "Have you no natural resources of yer own?" :-)

At the very end, like a chronic headache, the title phrase reprises.


What I label as "verse'" opens exactly like the primary verse, but it's second phrase cuts way to the end of what is the fourth phrase of the primary verse (with its tell-tale title phrase chord progression), nicely setting up a direct segue into the bridge:

         1   2 &   3     1   2   3   4   1    2     3
 |A     E        |G              |-    A    (E)   |
  I     V         flat-VII             I    (V)

         1   2 &   3     1   2   3   4   5    1     2     3     4
                                              dum   dum-d dum   dum'd
 |A     E        |G                   |A           D        |
         I     V         flat-VII             I           IV


The bridge momentarily regularizes both the meter and the chord progression (a bit of respite is needed by this point, no?); it is only in the rhetorically motivated section length of five measures that "irregularity" persists [I-IV]:

 |A D |A D |A D |A D |A    |
         I      IV       I      IV       I      IV       I      IV       I

This here is a right ironically optimistic little Rock March, rather in the same spirit of "Fixing A Hole's" own break section; the ironic difference between the two being one of sincerity versus mordant irony.

The middle section of the song is nicely put together from a guitar solo (for the repeat of Verse'), followed by a repeat of the bridge in which the lead guitar continues to make his conversational point long after the return of the vocalists would have seem to cut him off.


The outro grows directly out of a seemingly endless repeat of the title phrase into the fadeout. There is a point, after about the sixth repeat of this phrase, where the musical backing can still be heard though the animal sound effects are dominant. The last few second of the track present the last animals "a capella."

The common wisdom says that the animal sounds are placed in increasing order of size-of-beast. I'm not so sure about that; besides, for my money, the image suggested by this collage is an Orwellian allegory of "people running round;" or, if you wish, I can quote the earlier, "running everywhere at such a speed."

Some Final Thoughts

In muckle-mouthed enthusiasm, I offer the following laundry list of free associations, several of which, in all humility, are worth a good term paper if not a modest Master's thesis :-)

The song promotes a wonderfully agonizing blend of feelings that are incongrously both cheerful and sinister. I'm reminded of the old MAD magazine parody of a once popular Kool-Aid ad (way before Jim Jones' Jonestown Guyana stand of '78), in which the mindlessly smiley face painted by a childs finger on the frosty body of the pitcher is replaced by a poisonous-warning skull and cross bones.

This is "Nowhere Man" without the preachies; an equally worthy successor to "And Your Bird Can Sing" and warm up for "A Day In The Life." A landmark desision in the art of offering commentary without making direct comment.

The Maureen Cleavian irony that in a life whose ups and downs are as unpredictable as the measure lengths of this song's verse, one can still feel boredom and jadedness as a predominating emotion.

No matter how "satisfied" you are with your life, oh my brothers, -- and take your pick: say you've done it professionally, avocationally, spiritually, intellectually, epicurially, or even sexually (!! :-)) -- is there anyone among you who can listen to this song without an uneasy prick of the conscience; and an against-one's-will peer over the side into that deep, deep, existential abyss?

The hidden, and ultimately encouraging, comforting truth -- that in a world where I'm told that Dilbert's upward bending necktie symbolizes his inability to exert a personal influence his work environment, no less his Life, that if you *really* want to make it happen, according to John, then "it's up to you." That simple, really.


Alan (

"Nothing has changed."          052696#116

Copyright (c) 1996 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 The content from this newsgroup is archived at, and Alan W. Pollacks "Notes On" series can be found at

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

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Artist: Dominic Pedler

Arranged by The Beatles

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