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Author Topic: Revolution In The Head  (Read 9579 times)

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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #40 on: October 12, 2004, 03:12:37 PM »


Could you then share your findings with us?
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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #41 on: October 12, 2004, 03:15:20 PM »

Yeah left Hands hold together
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Sadie4

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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #42 on: October 12, 2004, 05:03:20 PM »

Talking about left hands. In Shout!, which I consider the best book about the Beatles, the author says Paul was left handed only to play the guitar, but that in any other aspect in life he was right handed.
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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #43 on: October 13, 2004, 04:48:49 AM »

Some samples for those clamoring, a small part by no means all.
Ian's book is actually thought highly of pretty universally, as an inersting read, but as you can see, musically speaking it has too many incorrect notions:

==

The question posed by Robert Seely, regarding the revised edition of
Revolution In The Head, was roughly:

  "I do recall some complaints about the first edition, matters of
  accuracy I think, but I cannot remember what those complaints
  specifically were..."

Moving to the first pair of significant Beatle songs, MacDonald has
on page 54:

  McCartney's gift as a melodist is obvious in the bold range of his
  line. Whereas Lennon's lazy irony is reflected in his inclination
  towards the minimal intervals of everyday speech, McCartney's
  sentimental optimism emerges in the bold rise and fall of his tunes
  and bass-lines.
    P.S. I Love You, for instance, covers more than an octave -- yet,
  in its middle-eight, which doubles as its intro, Lennon OBSTINATELY
  harmonises on one note..." [my caps].

The relevant facts about P.S. I Love You are simple: The main tune of
the verse covers about a fifth. The cadence, which looks more like
Lennon's hand, covers an octave. There is one leap of a third and one
an octave.

Yes, Lennon harmonises on a single note in the bridge and intro. But
why not: the melody part is basically a one note part as well! Does
that make it "lazy... minimal... everyday speech"?

Now, take the next song in the book, Please Please Me. Lennon's tune,
has three leaps of a third, and one enormous leap of an octave to a
high B, which then falls down various chord tones.

The problem with MacDonald's theory about Lennon's one-note-itis is
that it is simply not supported in fact. Lennon makes a habit of these
high, dramatic leaps: From Me To You, second clause in the verse,
Help!, "please please help me", Ticket To Ride -- there are many more.
(And probably the octave leap in the bridge of McCartney's I Saw Her
Standing There: "in mi-ine".)

McCartney on the other hand is more tuneful simply because he usually
moves by single steps (think of All My Loving). It is Lennon who often
sings the unsingable -- think of the opening drop of a fourth in the
opening line of It Won't Be Long.

Lennon is also much more likely to use chordal melodies. Think of "and
I'll send it along" in From Me To You, or the similiar passages in
Glass Onion ("strawberry fields") or the bridge of I'm So Tired
("putting you on").

In the early period Lennon is also much more likely to start or land
on non-chord tones at the start of a bar. All I Gotta Do or Not A
Second Time are good examples.

Now, to MacDonald's observation that Lennon sings a lazy one-note
harmony in the bridge of P.S. I Love You. What does he say to the
prominent, one-note harmony McCartney sings in the verse of Please
Please Me? Nothing. But this harmony is crucial to their first #1 hit.
And so it goes on. Almost every musical observation he makes is
questionable (and we are only on his song number 3).

Yes, there is a difference between the melodic, harmonic, lyric and
arrangement styles of Lennon and McCartney, and yes there even some
easy rules -- but more about that some other time.

On the other hand, his non-musical stuff is fine and I refer to the
book often in that regard.

---Ian Hammond (Ozzie musicologist)


There were too many musical errors in the book for me to let slip, but
I do think that it's section on the Sixties (was it the Preface?) was
extraordinary.

---Tom Hartman (of the Aerovans)


I found the non-musical stuff thought provoking.

It got a huge reception in the U.K., but I think there are some
particular local conditions there. There's a school of thought over
there that says that (popular) music is inextricably linked to the
social environment at the time of its creation. I think they take the
angle too far, and, in particular, I think it leads to a lot of
unsupported wishful thinking masquerading as psudeo-science. What it
does do, however, is provide an excellent vehicle for the literate,
verbal and largely non-musical commentator -- and that encompasses
many rock critics.

I remember once getting stuck out in the desert on a fiercely hot day.
I had to get back to camp without perishing, so I rolled about in one
or two small pools of water on the way. They were in fact just liquid
mud and supported a small, nasty biting life form. So, I'd roll about,
happy to be getting cooler, but my joy was often interrupted by these
painful nips I was receiving. Reading REVOLUTION IN THE HEAD was a bit
like that.

AND:

I guess I've knocked it as hard as anyone else has for the factual
errors. At a musical technical level he's obviously way out of his
depth, just repeating what others have told him without any clear
understanding.

That said, I've always rated it as one of the most important Beatle
books so far. His all-over summary is the best available and he does
understand the soul of the machine.

A paradox? Nope, he just needed a better musical sub-editor.

AND:

Regarding their art/aeshetics:

The most popular has been Ian MacDonald's REVOLUTION IN THE HEAD,
however he seems to get *every* musical example wrong. I recently read
his "Beatles" entry contibution to the huge Grove dictionary of music
where he assigns the reason for the Beatles' success down to McCartney
and Starr.

AND:

His cultural stuff was good. His song technology was ludicrous.

---Ian Hammond

All quotes obtained from rec.music.beatles newsgroup


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SieLiebtDich

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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #44 on: October 24, 2004, 04:33:55 AM »

so this book isn't a good one eh......hum my neightbor problely has it i am not sure, he collects beatle books
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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #45 on: October 24, 2004, 04:36:36 AM »

[quote by=Sie_Liebt_Dich link=Blah.pl?b=books,m=1078928553,s=44 date=1098592435]so this book isn't a good one eh......hum my neightbor problely has it i am not sure, he collects beatle books[/quote]

It's a popular book, and I have to admit the people I quoted (well, person) castigates the musical theories and such that MacDonald tries to fob off, but says the rest of the book, especially the sociological and historical beginning chapter(s) are excellent.

SO I would say the review is mixed and not as dire as I made it sound initially.

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SieLiebtDich

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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #46 on: October 24, 2004, 05:50:12 AM »

oh o.k then it sounds good thanks Charlie ;-D
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retrocool73

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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #47 on: October 28, 2008, 12:08:39 PM »

I love this book - but I would never call it pefect. McDonald was a critic in the truest sense of the word, and whilst obviously a fan of the band the book becomes essential reading due to the fact he does criticise songs and that you wouldn't necessarily agree with everyting he does write.
Having said that, writing a song-by-song guide to the Beatles that disects and comments on the songs in such detail and yet is also still somehow a 'cultural guide to the sixties' was ingenius.
Of course, we all now know that Ian McDonald meant what he wrote and that the overly critical approach & mourning for the 1960's were not simply words in a book
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JimmyMcCullochFan

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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #48 on: January 12, 2009, 08:05:41 AM »

Saw this at Borders a few weeks back but I picked up a Jim Morrison biography instead.
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I Am The Kiwi

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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #49 on: January 19, 2009, 12:39:28 AM »

Easily the best book on The Beatles I have read, and the only one to approach them from a musicological perspective (as far as I know).

MacDonald has his prejudices (raging Macca-love, distaste for hard rock, fuddyish disregard for any pop music made after the 70s), but his analysis is thought provoking and carries considerable intellectual weight. I especially liked the way he identifies the differences between the Lennon and Macca melodic and harmonic styles.

He also wrote a brilliant article on Nick Drake shortly before he killed himself a few years ago, sadly. Perhaps the guilt of dismissing Across the Universe as a "babyish incantation" was too much?
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An Apple Beatle

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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #50 on: January 19, 2009, 10:28:00 AM »

Welcome I am Kiwi....Agreed...my fave Beatles book thus far and good to have alongside George Martin's & Geoff Emericks Abbey Rd accounts. I was surprised about Macdonalds references to Macca's 'weedy' singing in Helter Skelter but it's still a top book including his breakdown of the 60's.
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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #51 on: January 28, 2009, 04:55:08 PM »

I know that REVOLUTION IN THE HEAD is practically in the Beatles canon by now, but more frequently I find myself turning to Tim Riley's TELL ME WHY when I want some musicological critique. Riley's prose is dryer, but I learn more in his book somehow. And I'll just echo the thought that MacDonald goes way too easy on Paul and way too hard on everyone else. It's clear where his tastes lie. And that's OK, but I think Riley tries harder to be objective. His critiques are very thoughtful, and even when I initially disagree, I end up seeing it from his point of view eventually, even if I still don't totally agree.

One great thing about REVOLUTION IN THE HEAD is that it lists songs in the order they were recorded. Which is a great reference to have.
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QuarryMan89

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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #52 on: February 07, 2009, 12:12:50 AM »

Would you believe I haven't read this one yet? I plan to get around to it eventually.
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stevejrogers

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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #53 on: December 24, 2011, 03:18:38 AM »

Quote from:  link=topic=118.msg1331#msg1331 date=1078946057
The book is error-riddled, and "imaginative" as Charlie said.

However, I'll disagree with him when he says MacDonald is "clearly a fan". It has always struck me that he wasn't a fan of the Fabs. Rather he is a fan of Macca, if anybody.

Futher, he is one of those writers who are continually looking for a fruitier phrase - and MacDonald finds them! This can make his prose style a bit dense and distracting.

One thing that struck me is McDonald's stating that John Lennon hated the song Let It Be based off of John's quips like "are we supposed to giggle during the chorus."

Which incidentally, that take is on the Anthology version of Let It Be and Paul shoots back a "Yes."  Obviously you can't see any non-verbal cues like an icy glare, but considering Paul answers John's quip leads one to think John didn't hate it all that much and despite their relationship going further south by the minute during the sessions, Paul seems to have taken it as good natured ribbing.
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Re: Revolution In The Head
« Reply #54 on: January 15, 2012, 04:56:47 AM »

I'm reading this book right now, it is amazingly interesting. Yes, like some of you have said he praises Paul's music just a little bit to much and he's very hard with everyone else, yet i think he's quite objective (I don't want to sound like the autor but, lets face it; Paul always composed more accordingly to the strict forms of the musical patterns and theories. This does not means he necessarily wrote better music, that's really up to individual perception and depends in lots of other things). You do have to read this book carefully though, you might be surprised of the facts (and opinions) behind each recording. McDonald might trash your favourite songs and that could be dissapointing and heartbreaking unless you're pretty sure of your Beatle convictions.
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