ot:During These Troubling Times, We Must Not Allow Negitive Thoughts To Seep Into Holiday Party Cheer
- From: Memorella <johnwlsnvll@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2008 07:55:46 -0800 (PST)
|| Notes on "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party" (IDWTSTP)
KEY G Major
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse ->
Verse (guitar solo) -> Bridge -> Verse -> Outro (w/
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- The instrumental and vocal arrangement create a folksy, even
facade for this song, but virtually everything else about it
lyrics suggests the pop/rock Beatles style. Conceptually it's
kind of hybrid.
- The repeat pattern of the form with its use of a bridge instead of
refrain, as well as the chord choices and melodic style, suggest
urban pop style more so than they do C&W, in spite of all acoustic
guitar and vocal harmony mannerisms on the surface of the piece.
Melody and Harmony
- An unusually large number of chords are used, including five out of
the seven naturally ocurring triads (I, ii, IV, V, and vi), plus
flat-VII and two secondary dominants (V-of-V and V-of-vi).
- For a change, the melody contains no touches of any quaint
In fact, you could almost declare it as "purely" in the Major mode,
though the inclusion of the D# in the tune in order to maneuver
the V-of-vi chord does stretch the envelope a bit.
- As we've seen in several other folksy songs on the _For Sale_
the instrumental texture is dominated by the acoustic rhythm guitar
part. Even though the lead guitar is mixed quite forward and "dry"
for its solo section and the outro, its presence is so low key the
rest of the time that you almost don't notice it's there. Even in
the intro, where it ostensibly provides a lead role, it is
mixed down behind the rhythm part.
- In the first half of the verse John sings the top part with either
Paul unusually singing the counter-melody on the bottom for a
or else it's John down there over-dubbed with himself. The third
phrase of the verse features Paul and George switching to a very
un-folksy backing vocal of "oooohs" behind John's solo, with the
earlier folksy texture returning for the final phrase.
- In the bridge it is definitely Paul on top and John on the bottom
a stretch of their trademarked stridently bracing harmonies; note
especially the juicy open 5th on the word "love."
- The intro is eight measures long and with simple chords quickly
the home key and sets the stylistic tone for the rest of what will
|G |- |D7 |- |- |- |G
G: I V I
- The rhythm and lead guitar take the prominent role in this section
the entrance of the bass and drums carefully held back until the
- The solo work is reminiscent of the music heard in the rest of the
though when you look at it more closely you discover an extremely
example here where the material for the intro is in fact *not* heard
in the body of the song.
- The verse is sixteen measures long and built out of four phrases
in length to form an 'AABA' structure that is nicely underscored by
the handling of the vocal arrangement. The first pair of phrases
form a roughly parallel couplet, the contrasting and climactic
phrase provides both the melodic peak as well as an increase in the
pace of the harmonic rhythm, and the section is finally capped by a
repeat of the opening phrase:
|G |- |- |- |
|G |- |D |- |
|e |B |a |D |
vi V-of-vi ii V
|G |F7 |G | |
I flat-VII I
- The third phrase tends to cleave in two with the B Major chord (V-of-
particularly feeling left hanging as a sort of harmonic non-
melodic D# which sits above that same B chord similarly makes for
indirect cross-relational clash with the D natural that is implicit
the D Major chord at the end of the phrase.
- The manner in which the flat-VII is deployed here is slightly
We're more used to seeing it used *predominantly* in place of V, or
used in frequent alternation with V. Here, for a change, we're set
to expect such a clear domination by the V chord that the sudden
belated appearance of flat-VII so near the end of the verse section
catches us a bit by surprise, and makes for what I react to as a
lazy, shoulder-shrugging impression in contrast to, say, the V9
you might have sooner expected in its place. Note, by the way, the
freely dissonant 7th made by the E in the melody over this F chord.
- There is something ironic about the composition of the guitar solo;
superficially much choppier, less melodically continuous, and more
dissonant than the sung tune, yet remarkably closer to the abstract
outline of it if you bother to compare the two of them side by
- The bridge is twelve measures long and is built out of a repetition
the same unusual six-measure phrase:
|G |- |e |A |C |D |
I vi V-of-V IV V
- This six-measure phrase *could* have been coerced into a more
(not to say rushed) four-measure model by a doubling up of the
rhythm starting in measure 3, but the way it stands with the sudden
drawing out of the *melodic* rhythm, makes a more dramatic,
- In contrast to the verse which is closed in harmonic shape (in
of the adventurous third phrase), this section is open-ended in
to better motivate the return of the verse which follows it.
- This is yet another one of the songs on this album to feature the
"classic" Beatles gambit of "V-of-V moves to V by way of IV", with
its concommitant cross relation. _For Sale_ features enough close-
together examples of this device to make you feel as though this
must have been a "new toy" kind of thing for them at the time,
to their apparent fixation with Major/minor combinations on the
_Hard Day's Night_ album.
- We also have another good example here where the bridge provides
not only a change of pace from the verses but also the unique
peak for the song overall. The verse had topped out on G (i.e. the
second syllable of the word "dis-a-ppear"), whereas the bridge here
stretches it up to A (on the word "be" in the phrase "I'll be
- The outro is primarily a recap of the same material heard in the
intro though this time it is scored for the entire ensemble. The
two sections nicely function like symmetrical bookends to the rest.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- The party that *should* have been a blast but which turned out to
be a supremely hurtful confrontation with romantic disappointment
or betrayal is one of the archtypal scenarios of the top-40 pop-
- The extent to which the Beatles were capable of transcending the
bounds of the cliche is effectively brought home by comparing our
song with one of the more popular examples in this model done by
roughly contemporaneous "artist"; I'm thinking of the one about
party" and "I'll Cry If I Want To" -- yes, go ahead and flame me for
thinking about mentioning this one in the same article :-).
- The crux of the matter can be summed up as a case of "less is
The "other" song spells out a kiss-and-tell tale of woe in almost
embarrassing detail. What John gives us, in contrast, is much more
internally ruminative, sparse, and ambiguous.
- Just one example to get you thinking about it and then I'll take my
own advice about less/more and get the heck out of here: it's
impossible to tell for sure from just the lyrics alone what kind of
relationship existed between the protagonist and his beloved prior
to "the party". The truth might lie anywhere along a broad
of possibilities that includes at one extreme the open betrayal by
significant other, and at the other extreme, the case of a secret
admirer merely disappointed over a lost opportunity to gaze from
- The interesting thing about such ambiguity is that it not only
is more "poetic" by nature, but also opens up the likelihood of
the song which contains it to strike resonant chords in the hearts
and experience base of the largest possible number of individual
listeners. And this latter point has implications that are
related as well as merely aesthetic.
Alan (a...@xxxxxxxxxxxxx *OR* uunet!huxley!awp)
"It's all your fault, getting invites to gambling clubs. He's
in the middle of an orgy by now." 071592#62
Copyright (c) 1992 by Alan W. Pollack
All Rights Reserved
This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed
otherwise propagated at will, provided that this notice
intact and in place.
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