About 7 years ago, a friend of mine sat me down in his room, and made me listen to Abbey Road, from beginning to end. Now, I had heard The Beatles before, of course, and had liked them, but I had never appreciated them like I would begin to that night in some overly purple apartment just off the east Danforth.
I sat and listened, really listened, to the vocals, the lyrics, the guitars, the bass, the drums, everything.
And it hit me just the right way. It possessed its way across the room from the speakers, into my ears, and settled it's way deep into my heart.
From, "Here come old flattop," to "Someday I'm gonna make her mine," Abbey Road became, is still, and, I assume, will remain my favourite album until the day I die.
The rebellious Come Together, the interminably romantic Something (which Frank Sinatra called the greatest love song ever written), the jarring and harsh I Want You (She's So Heavy), the incredibly beautiful and melodious Here Comes the Sun, the amazingly constructed medley's, and the sweetest 23 seconds in musical history in Her Majesty (a special girl's favourite Beatles song) all combine to make this the finest recording ever, in my humble opinion.
But my favourite, absolute favourite Abbey Road song, and therefore my favourite Beatles song, and therefore my favourite all time song ever, is Oh Darling!
It's a desparate song of a man, begging his love not to leave him, claiming that when he heard she was going to leave him, he, "...nearly fell down and died."
The lyrics are simple, nothing to write home about.
No, my friend, this song is all about the performance.
The piano plays the main tune, rarely in a minor chord, yet sounding minor the whole time. It, like the singer, is nervous, yet in control, but loses itself as it reaches the chorus, where it crescends into a frenetic pounding of the highest keys. The guitar, most likely the instrument that would be remembered after the first listening, thrashes a hard chord every few beats, adding to the desparation of the sound, then plays a somehow disjointed, but perfect riff during the chorus. The bass is haunting, sliding around, but then plummeting to the lowest of notes, hitting bottom, as it were, with the singer. The backing vocals present themselves as a pleading wail, while being harmonious at the same time. As the song builds to the chorus, all the instruments join together to hammer 24 hard beats, leading you to a man who's lost all composure. As though the man himself had lost control and is punching a wall or something else in frustration. Yet, he twice catches himself, and the song returns to the pleading calmness we saw in the first verse. However, he twice again falls into all out begging as the chorus replays itself.
The real thing here, though, is the lead vocals. While Lennon said he could have done it better (idiot) this is McCartney's finest vocal performance ever. He says that he practiced the song at least ten times before recording, to try and really capture the strained sounds of his voice. He begins his argument with his lady, trying to calmly, rationally and logically tell her that if she stays with him, he'll "never do her no wrong," but as the chorus hits, the singer has lost it, and screams with that incredible feeling we've all had where we've lost composure, we're making no sense, grasping at straws, saying things that will never work, realizing everything we're saying is the wrong thing, which forces us only to become more irrational and desparate.
McCartney scream/sings like no one else can, and that ability is on full display here.
So, without further ado, I present my favourite Beatles song, Oh Darling! Listen to it again, and again. Each time you do, try and listen to a different part, whether it be the bass, the backing vocals, or just McCartney's performance. It is truly why The Beatles are my favourite band.