Sunday, December 17, 2017

Echo and the Bunnymen – "Read It in Books" (1980)


I've seen it in your eyes
And I've read it in books

I spent a lot of time reading when I was a kid.

One reason I read so much was that I had nothing else to do – especially in the summer.  My family couldn’t afford to go on vacations, and summer camps were unheard of in my hometown.

We had only two TV stations back then.  I enjoyed watching game shows in the morning, but not the soap operas that aired in the early afternoons.

So I read library books . . . lots of library books.

*     *     *     *     *

Our local library allowed you to check out only six books at a time.  When I was 12 or 13, I routinely checked out six books, read them in one day, and checked out six more the next day when I returned the first six.


I read a lot of nonfiction –especially history and biography.  I loved the We Were There series of books – We Were There with Lewis and Clark, We Were There with Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, We Were There at Pearl Harbor, and so on.   There were a total of 36 We Were There books published between 1955 and 1963, and I think I read most of them.

I also read everything I could find about baseball and car racing.  (I still remember the international auto racing colors – green for the UK, blue for France, red for Italy, and so on.)

But I read a lot of fiction as well.  The “Freddy the Pig” books by Walter Brooks were a particular favorite of mine – but you need to be an adult to truly appreciate their sophisticated humor.  


I was also a big fan of the “Danny Dunn” series, which depended heavily on science – Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine, Danny Dunn and the Weather Machine, Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint, and so on.

I didn’t read many of the classic works of children’s literature – for example, C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series, or Charlotte’s Web, or Roald Dahl’s books – because no one told me about them.  (I rectified this by reading a number of them to my kids before bedtime when they were young.)

*     *     *     *     *

When I got a little older, I graduated from the children’s library to the adult library.

I checked out a lot of books that were way above my level of comprehension.  Perhaps I believed that I would absorb their contents through osmosis.  Or maybe I was just trying to impress the librarians and my teachers.

The Joplin (MO) Public Library
For example, I remember taking home Gargantua and Pantagruel by the 16th-century French writer, François Rabelais – a satire full of extravagant wordplay and risqué humor that was way over my head.  (It may still be over my head.)

I also checked out Winston Churchill’s six-volume history of World War II, as well as his four-volume A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.  Churchill was one of my heroes, but I don’t know how far I got with either of those multivolume works – not very, I suspect.

*     *     *     *     *

You’d think that someone who reads as much as I do would buy a lot of books.  But I don’t.  

I can’t help but feel that it’s a waste of money to purchase a contemporary novel that I’ll read once and never read again.  Much better to pick it up at the library and read it for free. 

Yes, I’m cheap – but in a very peculiar way.  It’s not the amount of money involved in buying books, it’s the fact that the library is a no-cost and very convenient alternative.  (There are a couple of library branches closer to my house than the nearest bookstore, and I can go online to search for books and reserve them – in a few days, I get an e-mail informing me that my choices have been delivered to the branch of my choice, where I can pick them up at my convenience.)

*     *     *     *     *

There are exceptions to my rule of going to the library rather than buying books.  For example, there are certain reference books that I like to have at my fingertips – like the Total Baseball encyclopedia, and The Rolling Stone Album Guide.  

I also enjoy owning certain books that have a personal meaning for me, but I look at those volumes more as collectibles than reading material.

For example, I found a copy of the Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell at a local used bookstore many years ago.  The four volumes of that work came in a box, which was enclosed in plastic wrap.  I never even tore that plastic off, much less opened any of those volumes:


But Orwell has long been one of my favorite writers, and I’ve enjoyed having that big box full of Orwell on my bookshelf for all these years.

*     *     *     *     *

I wrote that last paragraph just a couple of days ago.  So you can imagine my surprise earlier today when I came across the following sentence in the “Acknowledgements” section of Thomas Ricks’s new dual biography of Orwell and Winston Churchill, which is titled Churchill & Orwell: The Fight for Freedom:

I want to thank [Washington bookstore owner] Andy Moursand for giving me, back in about 1982, the four-volume set of Orwell’s collected essays.


Orwell’s second wife, Sonia, was one of the co-editors of that collection.  Orwell married Sonia in October 1949, just three months before he died at the age of 46.  

Orwell was so ill that he couldn’t get out of bed the day of his wedding.  He donned a mauve velvet smoking jacket over his pajamas and got married while sitting up in bed.

*     *     *     *     *

“Read It in Books” was written by Ian McCulloch and Julian Cope when they were members of the Crucial Three, a band that they formed on McCulloch’s 18th birthday and that broke up a few weeks later.

McCulloch later formed Echo and the Bunnymen, while Cope formed Teardrop Explodes.  Both of those bands recorded “Read It in Books.”  (The Teardrop Explodes version is titled simply “Books.”)


The Echo and the Bunnymen version was the B-side of their first single, “The Pictures on the Wall.”  Both songs were released on the group’s debut album, Crocodiles, in 1980.  I must have bought that album about the same time I bought that four-volume Orwell collection.

Here’s “Read It in Books”:



Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, December 15, 2017

Spencer Davis Group – "I'm a Man" (1967)


If I had my choice of matter
I would rather be with cats

Even though dogs are smarter?

Sorry, cat lovers – but it’s the truth.  

According to an article by Professor Suzana Herculano-Houzel of Vanderbilt University and several other scientists that recently appeared in Frontiers of Neuroanatomy, the average dog has 530 million cortical neurons in its brain, while the average cat has only 250 million.  (Humans have 16 billion.)

You can click here to read that article.

Professor Herculano-Houzel, who admits she is “100 per cent a dog person,” explained why the number of neurons is important:

[T]he absolute number of neurons an animal has, especially in the cerebral cortex, determines the richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience. . . . [D]ogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can. 

Professor Herculano-Houzel with her dog
A golden retriever’s brain has more neurons than the brain of a lion or brown bear.  And everyone knows goldens aren’t exactly the sharpest knife in the canine drawer.  (Imagine how many more neurons the brain of a member of a smart dog breed might have.)

By the way, the brain of a raccoon has as many cortical neurons as the brain of a dog but is the size of a cat’s brain.  (I don’t care how smart raccoons are, they’re still assh*les.)

*     *     *     *     *

Of course, Steve Winwood wasn’t singing about four-legged cats in the “I’m a Man” lyrics I quoted above.  I took those lines out of context.

Here’s the entire verse:

If I had my choice of matter
I would rather be with cats
All engrossed in mental chatter
Moving where our minds are at
And relating to each other
Just how strong our wills can be
I'm resisting all involvement
With each groovy chick we see

Winwood and his pals – or “cats” – are typical males: they’re more interested in engaging in some highly intellectual “mental chatter” than in wasting their time with groovy chicks.

“I’m a Man” is a stick of dynamite.  The megatalented Mr. Winwood was only 18 years old when the Spencer Davis Group recorded the song, which he and producer Jimmy Miller co-wrote.  


Miller produced dozens of great rock albums, including several by Traffic – the band Winwood founded after leaving the Spencer Davis Group – and possibly the four greatest Rolling Stones LPs.  Miller was also an accomplished drummer who was the cowbell player on “Honky Tonk Women.”

“I’m a Man” made it to #10 on the Billboard “Hot 100” in 1967 about the same time that Winwood left the band.

Two years later, Chicago Transit Authority – who became simply Chicago – covered the song on their first album.  Its 7-minute, 40-second version of the song is fabulous, but the shorter and less complicated original version of the song is the winner and still champion.

Here’s “I’m a Man” by the Spencer Davis Group:



Click below to buy the song from Amazon: 


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tom Cochrane – "Life Is a Highway" (1991)


Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long

In 1974, the Virginia Department of Transportation (“VDOT”) proposed to build an eight-lane highway (four lanes in each direction) from the Washington Beltway to Arlington, Virginia – the closest-in Virginia suburb of Washington – where the highway would split into two six-lane branches.  One of those branches would use an existing bridge over the Potomac River into D.C., while the other would cross into D.C. over the proposed Three Sisters Bridge.  

Thanks to the usual NIMBY  (“Not in my back yard”) opposition from local residents, the Three Sisters Bridge was never built and the eight-lane highway – which was designated as I-66 – became a four-lane highway (two lanes in each direction) that finally opened to traffic in 1982.

Rush hour traffic on I-66
From the very beginning, I-66 was a parking lot during rush hour.  Two lanes was obviously inadequate to handle the volume of traffic that the road attracted, but proposals to widen the highway met with vehement opposition from local residents.  In an effort to limit congestion, highway officials imposed draconian restrictions on drivers wishing to use I-66, allowing only Dulles Airport traffic and HOV-2 cars (those carrying two or more people) to use the highway during four-hour-long morning and evening rush-hour windows.

Some drivers resorted to putting mannequins in the passenger seat to make it appear that they were carpoolers:


Those who did get caught using I-66 without one or more passengers had to pay $125 for the first offense, $250 for the second, and so on.  But some estimated that as many as half the people using I-66 during rush hours were rolling the dice and driving solo.

*     *     *     *     *

Earlier this month, VDOT introduced tolls on I-66.  The stretch of I-66 where tolls are charged is only ten miles long, but it runs through densely-populated suburban neighborhoods directly into downtown Washington, DC.  

To use I-66 during rush hours, any solo driver must set up an “E-ZPass” account and put a transponder on his car’s windshield, which triggers charges to his account every time he uses the highway.


A number of toll roads around the U.S. charge higher prices during peak usage hours.  For example, the lightly-trafficked Intercounty Connector toll road in the Maryland county where I live charges 22 cents a mile during rush hour, 17 cents a mile the rest of the day, and 7 cents a mile during the wee hours.

Virginia wanted to keep traffic on I-66 moving at 45 mph (or faster).  So they made the tolls variable.  When traffic volume is high, the price charged goes up, which discourages drivers from driving on I-66.  Pretty soon, the traffic volume lessens, speeds increase, and the tolls go down.  

*     *     *     *     *

VDOT officials projected that tolls would peak at $7 during the morning rush-hour period, and at $9 in the afternoon.  That’s not exactly cheap for a ten-mile drive, but you can always take the Metro if you don’t want to pay.

The first day the I-66 tolls were applied, the cost to use the highway at 5:36 am was $4.50.

But exactly three hours later, the toll hit – I kid you not – $34.50!

That’s right . . . $34.50 for a ten-mile drive!


VDOT officials were sanguine about the high tolls.  As far as they were concerned, the adjustable tolls did their job – which was to keep traffic moving.  The average speed during the morning rush hour was 57 mph – much better than the 37 mph average speed on I-66 during morning rush hours a year ago.

Of course, the difference between driving ten miles at 57 mph and ten miles at 37 mph is less than six minutes.  (Is it worth $34.50 to you to save six minutes on your morning commute?)  

The next day, the peak toll was $40!

But the day after that, tolls peaked at just $23.50.  Such a deal!

*     *     *     *     *

Not surprisingly, Virginia drivers screamed bloody murder about the unexpectedly high tolls, pointing out that only the wealthy or those with generous expense accounts would be able to afford to use I-66 during peak hours.  

Suddenly, their elected representatives woke up and decried the price gouging.  Several state reps have called on VDOT to get rid of the tolls altogether and go back to the old HOV-2 system.

I doubt that will happen.  Once a government agency sinks its teeth into a new source of revenue, it rarely lets go.

*     *     *     *     *

Canadian country-western singer Tom Cochrane wrote and recorded “Life Is a Highway” in 1991.  It was a #1 hit in Canada and a top ten hit in the United States.

The song was inspired by a trip Cochrane took to East Africa to raise money for famine relief.  One of the countries he visited was Mozambique, which explains why that country is mentioned in the song.  

In 2006, Rascal Flats recorded a cover of the song that was included on the soundtrack for the wildly successful animated movie, Cars.  

Here’s Tom Cochrane’s original recording of “Life Is a Highway”:



Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hombres – "Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)" (1967)


Nobody knows what it's all about
It's too much, man
Let it all hang out

Truer words were never spoken . . . or sung.
  
*     *     *     *     *

“Let it all hang out” is good advice for any situation.

Until now, the official motto of 2 or 3 lines has been MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.  But as of today, LET IT ALL HANG OUT is also the official motto of 2 or 3 lines.

You don’t have a problem with gnomikogamy, do you?  (“Gnomikogamy: the practice or custom of having more than one motto at the same time.”)

*     *     *     *     *

Speaking of having more than one of something at the same time, do you have a problem with polygamy?  

If so, do you have a problem with all forms of polygamy?  Or do you just have a problem with polygyny?

We commonly use polygamy to describe marriage between one male and two or more females.  Technically, that is polygyny, which is only one variety of polygamy.

*     *     *     *     *

In contemporary society, polygyny is associated with the Muslim religion.

Polygyny
Polygyny is sanctioned by the Quran, and is legal in most Muslim-majority countries as long as the male has the means to support all his wives.  (In some Muslim countries, the male must get the permission of his existing wife or wives before marrying another one.)

India prohibited polygyny by Hindus (but not Muslims) in 1955.  Prior to that, lower-caste Hindus were allowed to have a second wife, but only if the first wife was unable to bear a son.  Hindus from the higher castes who wished to practice polygyny could do so relatively freely.

Many Old Testament figures had more than one wife, and polygyny continues to be practiced by at least some Jews.  But Israel has outlawed polygyny, and polygyny is almost unheard of among mainstream Jews.    

Mormons practiced polygyny for much of the 19th century, but the LDS Church president issued a manifesto prohibiting the practice in 1890.    

*     *     *     *     *

Polyandry – which is marriage between one female and two or more males – is a form of polygamy that’s much rarer than polygyny.

The most common form of polyandry is fraternal polyandry, where two or more brothers marry the same wife.  Fraternal polyandry was most common in Tibet and other Himalayan societies, where arable land was scarce.  

Polyandry
When all the brothers in a family marry the same woman, the family’s land remains intact – it passes as one parcel to the male offspring of that marriage (who also presumably marry the same woman).  If each brother married a different woman and had children, the family’s land would be divided into smaller and smaller parcels.

Having multiple males marry the same woman also limits population growth.  (If seven brothers marry seven different women instead of sharing the same wife, there will likely be a lot more children produced.)

In much of Europe, the problem of keeping the family estate intact was handled not through polyandry, but through primogeniture – the eldest brother inherited the entire estate, while the younger brothers joined the army (and got killed in battle) or became priests or monks (who weren’t allowed to marry).

*     *     *     *     *

By the way, “gnomikogamy” is a word that I personally invented – a “stunt word,” if you will.  But it’s based on real Greek roots, and is less ridiculous than neologisms like “consecotaleophobia” (which is the fear of chopsticks) or “gynotikolobomassophilia” (which is the love of biting a female’s earlobes).

*     *     *     *     *

“Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)” was released by the Hombres, a one-hit-wonder group from Memphis, in 1967.  


The song’s spoken introduction – “A preachment, dear friends, you are about to receive on John Barleycorn, nicotine and the temptations of Eve” – was borrowed from a 1947 novelty recording titled “Cigareets, Whuskey and Wild, Wild Women” by Red Ingle and His Natural Seven.

B. B. Cunningham, Jr., who was the lead singer of the Hombres, ended up working as a security guard in Memphis.  He was shot and killed while on the job in 2012.  

His brother, Bill Cunningham, was the bass player for the Box Tops, but left the group in 1969 to get a degree in music.  He eventually played bass violin in a number of classical orchestras, and also was a busy session musician.

Here’s “Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)”:



Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, December 8, 2017

Cream – "Badge" (1969)


Then I told you about our kid
Now he’s married to Mabel

I’ve read that “our kid” is Cockney slang for “little brother.”  That makes the “Badge” lyrics quoted above slightly less puzzling.

*     *     *     *     *

The story goes that each of the members of Cream were supposed to write a song for the group’s aptly-named final studio album, Goodbye, but that Eric Clapton wasn’t able to come up with anything.  So he sat down with his friend, George Harrison, and wrote “Badge.”  


This was in 1968, years before Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd, divorced him and moved in with Clapton – but perhaps not long before Clapton first got the hots for Boyd.  

The story also goes that Harrison had written “bridge” next to the lyrics for the song’s bridge, which Clapton misread as “badge” – hence the song’s title.  

While Harrison and Clapton were laughing about the “bridge”/“badge” misunderstanding, Ringo Starr walked in three sheets to the wind and suggested the line about the swans that live in the park.

Harrison and Clapton (1969)
(By the way, Pattie Boyd said the reason she left Harrison was the fact that he had a number of affairs while they were married – including one with Ringo Starr’s wife, Maureen.  I’m not sure if that was before or after Boyd had an affair with Faces guitarist Ronnie Wood, who later replaced Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones.)

*     *     *     *     *

The last 2 or 3 lines discussed the Civil War-era High Bridge near Farmville, Virginia, which has been converted from a railroad bridge to one suitable for use by hikers and bikers.

It also discussed a different kind of bridge – the musical bridge, which is a section of a song that is usually inserted between the verses of a song, and which contrasts musically with those verses.  The particular musical bridge that was the subject of that discussion was the bridge (or “middle eight”) of “Ticket to Ride” by the Beatles.

Cream
The bridge in “Badge” – which begins at 1:07 of the song – is the most interesting feature of that song.  It really steals the show from the verses.  (“Badge” doesn’t have choruses.  Its extremely simple structure can be notated as AABA, where “A” is a verse and “B” is the bridge.)

Like all great bridge, the bridge in “Badge” contrasts with the verses, but complements them.  It’s not one of those bridges that sounds like it should have been the foundation of a whole different song – not a complementary section of the song it is part of.

*     *     *     *     *

Shortly before “Badge” was recorded, Eric Clapton joined the Beatles at Abbey Road Studios to play the lead guitar part on Harrison’s song, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

George Harrison returned the favor and played rhythm guitar when Cream recorded “Badge.” 

For legal reasons, neither Clapton’s nor Harrison’s name could appear on those records.  (The rhythm guitar part on “Badge” was credited to “L’Angelo Misterioso” – or “Mysterious Angel.”)

George and Ringo at Abbey Road Studios
Some people think Harrison played the lead guitar part that accompanies the bridge in “Badge.”  The guitar arpeggios that introduce the bridge do sound very Abbey Road-ish, but most sources say that Clapton – not Harrison – is the one playing there.

*     *     *     *     *

“Badge” is a very economical song.  It clocks in at less than three minutes long.  

The song featured in the previous 2 or 3 lines, “Ticket to Ride,” is about 30 seconds longer . . . although that song has less there there. 

The Beatles stretched “Ticket to Ride” by repeating everything – both verses are repeated, and the bridge is repeated as well.  (If you eliminated all the repeated lines from “Ticket to Ride”  it would be about half as long as “Badge.”)

*     *     *     *     *

Cream was a fabulous band.  Like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream had only three members – such groups were known as “power trios” back in the day – but all three were extremely talented.  It’s amazing that such near-perfect music could be produced by only three musicians.

While Eric Clapton is the household name among Cream’s members, it’s possible that he wasn’t as good a guitarist as Jack Bruce was a bassist or Ginger Baker was a drummer.  (I think Baker and Keith Moon are the best drummers of their era.  The two sounded nothing alike, but they were both brilliantly original.)

Here’s “Badge”:



Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Beatles – "Ticket to Ride" (1965)


I don't know why she's ridin' so high
She ought to think twice

On March 25, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordered an attack on Fort Stedman, a modest Union Army fortification located just east of Petersburg, Virginia. 

Union General Ulysses S. Grant had spent the previous ten months patiently maneuvering against Lee’s much smaller army, which was stretched very thin along a 40-mile-long front. 

The attack on Fort Stedman
Lee’s desperate attack failed to break Grant’s stranglehold on his army, and Grant’s counterattacks over the next few days forced the Confederate commander to abandon his defense of both Petersburg (a vital supply base and railroad depot) and nearby Richmond (the Confederate capital) and retreat to the west on April 2.

For the next week, Lee’s forces retreated along the route of the Southside Railroad, which connected Petersburg to Lynchburg, Virginia, which was about 130 miles to the west.  

*     *     *     *     *

The most notable feature of the Southside Railroad was the High Bridge, which was completed in 1852:

The original High Bridge under construction
The High Bridge, which carried the railroad across the Appomattox River valley, was almost half a mile long and had a maximum height of 160 feet above the ground.

The engineer who designed it later said that “there have been higher bridges not so long, and longer bridges not so high, but taking the length and height together, this is, perhaps, the largest bridge in the world.”

The bridge’s 20 piers contained almost four million bricks, and supported not only the railroad bridge but also an adjacent wagon bridge.

*     *     *     *     *

On April 6, 1865, as Lee’s Confederate forces retreated to the west, a Union raiding party tried to destroy the bridge to slow the southerners down.  The attempt was a spectacular failure – the entire 800-man Union force was either killed or captured, and the Confederates were able to cross the Appomattox using the bridge.


The next day, the Confederate rear guard tried to burn the bridge to slow down the Union pursuit.  The railroad bridge was made unusable, but the wagon bridge was not seriously damaged.  Grant’s forces were able to remain on the heels of the retreating Confederates, and Lee was forced to surrender only two days later after reaching Appomattox Court House, about 25 miles west of the High Bridge.

*     *     *     *     *

A few years ago, some 31 miles of the Southside Railroad’s right of way was converted to a rail trail by the Virginia state government.  I rode most of the trail on a recent two-day trip to Farmville, which sits at the midpoint of the trail.  

You can click here to read about my ride on the western half of the High Bridge trail and my post-ride visits to Third Street Brewing and the Fishin’ Pig restaurant.

The next day, I returned to Farmville and rode east, crossing over the High Bridge about half an hour into my trip.

Here's a 90-second video of bikers on the High Bridge.  PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO!



I continued to Moran, which is seven miles southeast of the bridge before turning around and heading back west to Farmville.

On my return trip, I stopped to inspect the High Bridge more closely. 

There’s a path that takes you from the rail trail down to the river, which enables you to get a good look at the bridge from below:


Here’s a photo of the bridge I took after walking several hundred yards up the riverbank:


The burned bridge was rebuilt shortly after the Civil War under the supervision of William “Billy” Mahone, a civil engineer who had been a major general in Robert E. Lee’s army.  (Mahone had been with Lee when his foundering army retreated across the High Bridge just before surrendering at Appomattox.)

Here’s a photo of the bridge being rebuilt:


I am not a fan of heights, but crossing the bridge didn’t bother me too much even though the bridge is fairly narrow.  (There’s room for two bike riders to pass safely, but there’s not a lot of room to spare.)

The river itself is not very wide, but has cut a fairly deep valley, which is what necessitated the half-mile-long bridge.

*     *     *     *     *

The weather was beautiful the day I rode the eastern half of the High Bridge rail trail – sixty degrees, little or no wind, and a cloudless blue sky – but I didn’t see a single other biker on the outbound portion of my ride.  (Yes, it was a weekday, but I’m still surprised there was so little traffic on the trail.)


At the end of my ride, I returned to the Third Street brewery to have a pint of their “High Bridge Helles” lager.  While enjoying my beer, I wowed the other patrons with a detailed account of my bicycle exploits.  (They were hanging on my every word!)

After that, I couldn’t resist returning to the Fishin’ Pig for another heapin’ helpin’ of fried catfish (cooked in “Shorty’s Famous Seafood & Chicken Breading”), cole slaw, and redskin potato salad – plus a glass of Parkway Brewing’s delicious”Reformator” doppelbock:


Not only was the catfish delicious, it was cheap – fried catfish dinners are half price every Thursday evening at the Fishin’ Pig.  (I must have done a major good deed in a previous life.)

Then it was time to hit the road for the three-hour drive back to my home.

*     *     *     *     *

Most pop and rock songs have verses and a chorus.  Each verse usually has different lyrics, while the choruses usually have the same lyrics. 

Many songs also have a bridge, which is a section somewhere in the middle of the song that contrasts with the verses musically.

One common song structure is ABABCAB, where “A” stands for a verse, “B” for the chorus, and “C” for the bridge.

The Beatles wrote and recorded several songs that could have been ABABCAB songs, but that they turned into ABABCABCAB songs.

The verses and choruses of some Beatles songs were so short that following the ABABCAB structure would left them with a too-short song.  


One example of an ABABCAB song that the Beatles stretched by repeating the bridge and the final verse/chorus is today’s featured song, “Ticket to Ride,” which begins with this verse:

I think I'm gonna be sad
I think it's today, yeah
The girl that's driving me mad
Is going away

Next comes the chorus, which couldn’t be simpler:

She's got a ticket to ride
She's got a ticket to ride
She's got a ticket to ride
But she don't care

Next is the second verse:

She said that living with me
Is bringing her down, yeah
For she would never be free
When I was around

The chorus that follows the second verse is identical to the chorus that follows the first verse, so there’s no need for me to repeat it.

“Ticket to Ride” was on the Help! soundtrack
Here’s the bridge that follows that second chorus.  It’s essentially a mini-bridge that they repeat:

I don't know why she's ridin' so high
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me
Before she gets to saying goodbye
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me

The second half of the song is essentially identical to the first half – albeit slightly rearranged.

The third verse (which follows the bridge) is simply the first verse repeated.  It’s followed by the same chorus.

The bridge is then repeated word for word and note for note.

Next, the second verse is repeated, followed by the same ol’ chorus.

Finally, there’s a short coda (or “outro”): 

My baby don't care, my baby don't care
My baby don't care, my baby don't care
My baby don't care, my baby don't care

Let’s face it – we don’t need the bridge of “Ticket to Ride” to be repeated, and we don’t need the second verse (plus chorus) to be repeated.  The song should really have gone to the coda immediately after the repeat of the first verse and chorus.  (Better yet, the Beatles could have written a new third verse rather than repeating the first one.)


The problem is that “Ticket to Ride” would have only been 2:20 long if it had ended before the repeat of the bridge.  By repeating the bridge and repeating the second verse (plus the chorus), the Beatles stretched it to 3:11.

There are a lot of Beatles songs that are no longer than 2:20 – “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Help!,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Paperback Writer,” and “Lady Madonna,” to name just a few.  I would have preferred “Ticket to Ride” without the padding, but the Beatles decided otherwise.

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When all is said and done, “Ticket to Ride” consists of two four-line verses (each of which is repeated), a chorus that repeats one line (“She’s got a ticket to ride”) three times, a six-line bridge that’s really a four-line bridge because two of the lines are repeated, and a coda that repeats the same short phrase (“My baby don’t care”) over and over.

If you take out all the repetition, you end up with exactly 15 lines containing a total of 80 words (counting the “yeahs”).

That’s not atypical of Lennon and McCartney songs.  John and Paul cranked out a lot of songs together  in a very few years, but there wasn’t much in the way of substance in many of those songs.  

Here’s “Ticket to Ride”:



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