I Don't Want to Spoil the Party
Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1964
Chords/Tabs: I Don't Want to Spoil the Party
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/complete ending)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- The instrumental and vocal arrangement create a folksy, even
countrified facade for this song, but virtually everything else about
it including the lyrics suggests the pop/rock Beatles style.
Conceptually it's another kind of hybrid.
- The repeat pattern of the form with its use of a bridge instead of a
refrain, as well as the chord choices and melodic style, suggest the
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 occurring 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 modalism.
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 around
the V-of-vi chord does stretch the envelope a bit.
- As we've seen in several other folksy songs on the Beatles For
Sale album, 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 inexplicably 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 change,
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 for
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
establishes the home key and sets the stylistic tone for the rest of
what will follow:
|G |- |D7 |- |- |- |G |- |
G: I V I
- The rhythm and lead guitar take the prominent role in this
section with the entrance of the bass and drums carefully held back
until the very end of it.
- The solo work is reminiscent of the music heard in the rest of the song
though when you look at it more closely you discover an extremely unusual
example here where the material for the intro is in fact not
heard again in the body of the song.
- The verse is sixteen measures long and built out of four phrases equal
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 third
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-vi)
particularly feeling left hanging as a sort of harmonic non-sequitur. The
melodic D# which sits above that same B chord similarly makes for an
indirect cross-relational clash with the D natural that is implicit in
the D Major chord at the end of the phrase.
- The manner in which the flat-VII is deployed here is slightly unusual.
We're more used to seeing it used predominantly in place of
V, or else used in frequent alternation with V. Here, for a change,
we're set up to expect such a clear domination by the V chord that the
sudden and 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
chord 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
- 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 side.
- The bridge is twelve measures long and is built out of a repetition of
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 standard (not to say rushed) four-measure model by a doubling up
of the harmonic rhythm starting in measure 3, but the way it stands
with the sudden drawing out of the melodic rhythm, makes a
more dramatic, rhetorical effect.
- In contrast to the verse which is closed in harmonic shape (in spite
of the adventurous third phrase), this section is open-ended in order
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. Beatles 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, comparable
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 melodic
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 glad.")
- 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-song genre.
- The extent to which the Beatles were capable of transcending the
nominal bounds of the cliche is effectively brought home by comparing
our current song with one of the more popular examples in this model
done by another roughly contemporaneous "artist"; I'm thinking of the
one about "my party" and "I'll Cry If I Want To" -- yes, go
ahead and flame me for even thinking about mentioning this one in the
same article :-).
- The crux of the matter can be summed up as a case of "less is more."
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 spectrum
of possibilities that includes at one extreme the open betrayal by a
significant other, and at the other extreme, the case of a secret
admirer merely disappointed over a lost opportunity to gaze from afar.
- 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 marketing
related as well as merely aesthetic.
Alan (email@example.com OR uunet!huxley!awp)
"It's all your fault, getting invites to gambling clubs. He's probably
in the middle of an orgy by now." 071592#62
Copyright (c) 1992 by Alan W. Pollack
All Rights Reserved
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Ook op Beatles for Sale:
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