Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can you take me back?

Since my blogging style is heavily based upon the album entitled The Beatles, it's probably surprising that I haven't paid more attention to that album (which you probably know as "the White Album").

Certainly I have paid attention to the album at times, for example in my post about "Back in the U.S.S.R."

But I'm going to partially rectify the lack of White-ness by devoting this post to one of the other songs on the album - the song "Can You Take Me Back."

Now if you consult the liner notes for the album, you won't find any song by that name. But if you listen to the album, you'll hear John sing the ending chorus of "Cry Baby Cry." Then you'll hear Paul sing a bluesy fragment. After that there is some very low conversation, followed by the words "Number nine."

Yep, sounds like my blogs.

Well, while the world at large has ignored "Can You Take Me Back," Alan W. Pollack has not. Pollack has published an analysis of the song, although he initially questioned whether he should do so:

"Can You Take Me Back" stands on the borderline for me in terms of whether it should be included in the official canon of Beatles songs. It's performed over a static single chord, presented to us in fragmentary form, and isn't even included on the printed track list of the album on which it appears. On the other hand you can't really argue that it is any less substantive or discretely distinctive than the other White Album fragments or bonsais that do appear on the track list.

Pollack provides a little of the history of the song:

The officially released portion of "Can You Take Me Back" was skillfully excerpted from a longer performance to isolate the best 28 seconds of the entire performance, and create the illusion that the remainder is as special; kind of like an artfully cropped photograph. What we experience as a haunting fade-out verse in mid-course of what we assume is a second verse turns out to be part of a dinky, complete ending coda if you bother to check out the readily available bootlegs of longer excerpts of the session.

For example, listen here (youtube.com).

And yes, even such a short song (as formally released) can cause controversy of its own, especially when some people think that the lyrics include "Robert" rather than "brother." Between that little misunderstanding and the whole "Paul is dead" thing, there are a number of interpretations of what this song actually means.

No wonder Paul eventually went into hiding.

Regarding the Alan W. Pollack excerpts in this post:

Copyright © 2001 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.

While I suspect that my excerpts are fair use, I've reproduced the copyright notice here. Go here to read the whole thing.
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