Fixing a Hole
Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1967
Chords/Tabs: Fixing a Hole
Notes on "Fixing A Hole" (FAH)
KEY F (dorian minor & Major)
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge
Verse -> Verse (Guitar Solo) -> Bridge ->
Verse -> Outro (fadeout)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- This song has a split stylistic personality: the verse is a
Gershwinesque jazz/blues hybrid, while the bridge is more of a
torch-song pop march.
- The form, on the other hand, is one of the standard two-bridge models;
this one belonging to the sub-category which has two middle verses, the
second of which is an instrumental solo.
Melody and Harmony
- Both the melody and harmony of the verse are cast in a variety of f minor
(the flat 3rd) that is tinged by both the blues (the flat 7th), and the
dorian mode (the raised 6th). The verse harmony is also characterized
by a descending chromatic line in a middle voice. The bridge, in contrast,
opts for the harmonically clean cut Major mode.
- In many other notes, we've talked about the dramatic sentimentality of
the minor iv chord when used in a Major key. In *this* song, the unusual
mode conjured up in the verse sections creates the reverse harmonic
scenario: i.e. a Major IV chord in a minor home key, the effect of which
is, to my ears, one of casual, hard-boiled urbanity.
- The melodic contours of the verse and bridge are as complementary to
each other as is their harmonic profiles. The verse covers a complete
octave plus a third (from F up to A-flat) with a rather sensual mixture
of steps and skips. The bridge restricts itself to only a fifth (C to
G), consists of repeated hammering on a subset of those five notes, and
though placed high in the range, still tops out a half-step lower than
the verse. That high A-flat of the verse (pushed even further in the
final verse to a Bb->Ab appopgiatura) remains the melodic high point
of the entire song.
- This song, by the way, resonantes uncannily with
"Lucy ..." of all
songs, for the way its signature descending chromatic line is exposed
blatantly in the intro, and the way its bridge so sharply contrasts
with its verse; more subtle "competition" 'tween Messrs. L & M, I
- The backing track is dominated by the unusual appearance of a
"rhythm harpsichord" part, still more of McCartney's hyperactive
basswork, and obligatto-like commentary from the lead guitar. I
am particularly fond of the way George scans the majority of his
big solo at a syncopated cross current to the back beat.
- As we've seen with some of Paul's other songs on this album, the
vocal arrangement here again is elaborate:
Paul, solo, with double tracking only at the
it gets high.
Ditto, though this second time around he
Paul, now double tracked. Note, too how the
is modified for the bridges. The guitar comes in at
the end of the first phrase and stays in all the way
through to the downbeat of the next section.
Like before, only this time he doubles
the guitar lick
when it appears.
Guitar solo, with Paul's doubling of the lick at the
end of the previous section overlapping at the
Add backing voices for the first time:
in the first half, and scatting "dit dit" for the second.
Backing voices stay in through to the end.
continues to double the lead guitar lick.
Paul fully double tracked, improvising on the
- The intro consists of a brief harpsichord solo followed by some riding
on the hi-hat cymbals, and seems to be a strange two-and-a-half measures
- 2 beats -
top |C |- |- |
middle |A G# |Ab |- |
middle |F E |Eb D |- |
chords |F C aug. |F9 Bb9 |- |
I V5+ i7- IV
- You *might* want to notate my G# in the second chord as an Ab because
it is sustained as an Ab for the remainder of the phrase. However, I'll
stick with my enharmonic notation of G# to the extent that I hear that
second chord as a V with a raised 5th; in which case, its correct spelling
is with G#, not A flat.
- The verse is eight measures long and derives from the chord progression
of the intro, with its rapid shift from F Major to f minor; shades of
written in the same key, no less. The whole section parses
as one long six-measure phrase with a trailing two-measure obligatto:
top: |F C C C C D |F Eb C C Bb |C F F Ab |Bb C C C Eb|
middle: |A G# |Ab |- |-
middle |F E |Eb D |Eb |D |
|F C |f | | |
I V5+ i i7- IV6/4 (?)
top: |F Ab |F | | |
|f |Bb |f |Bb |
i IV i IV
- I hear the chord in measure 4 as some kind of Major IV chord, though
the placement of F in the bassline and the melodic emphasis given to
the non-harmonic tone of 'C' sure push the envelope.
- The bridge is also eight measures long, but the feel of it is entirely
different from the verse, what with the shift to Major mode, the faster
harmonic rhythm, and the different drumming:
|F C |F C |F C |F |
I V I V I V I
|C G |C G |C G |C |
V V-of-V V V-of-V V V-of-V V
- And don't you gotta love Macca for those trick rhymes like "if I'm
wrong I'm right where I belong" ?
- The outro is built on the plan of one-and-a-half verses, with the
vocalist improvising nicely on the tune, and the fadeout well in
evidence before the end of the first eight measures.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- The message of the words here is superficially similar to
but this song is the more complex, varied, and ultimately more profound
of the two.
- In the previous song, something has already happened to the protaganist
that makes him prospectively certain that from here on in, it's going to
be better. In our current song, though, the protagonist speaks from the
very midst of proactively effecting a change in his circumstances. Yes,
in "Getting Better,"
he eventually gets around to telling us that he's
changing his scene, but in "Fixing A Hole" we catch him in action, so
to speak, from the start; fixing a hole, filling the cracks, painting
a room, taking the time ...
- Even better, the shifting back and forth between the mixed-mode vague
anxiety of the verses and the Major mode self-certainty of the bridges
resonantes so truthfully with the experience of all of us who have ever
been at one of life's crossroads. Especially that ending -
- because no
matter how sure of yourself and the upcoming change you may be in your
better moments, the uncertaintly of change not yet completely implemented
tends to dog you into the fadeout.
"I'm taking the time for a number of things that weren't important yesterday."
--- **Postponed, but **
**not cancelled. **
Copyright (c) 1996 by Alan W. Pollack
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