Today’s entry is from NYFOS@Juilliard cast member Gerard Schneider.
The song I have chosen for my submission is Junk from Paul McCartney’s 1970 self-titled album, McCartney. Originally considered for inclusion on the both The White Album and Abbey Road, this short and simple song features a sparse arrangement of acoustic and bass guitar, xylophone, and drums.
Written during Paul’s time with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India, the song relates the loneliness and isolation of relationships, and the pain, memories, and emotions held by the material possessions of those couples – now ‘junk’.
Motor cars, handle bars
Bicycles for two
Broken hearted jubilee
Parachutes, army boots
Sleeping bags for two
Buy, buy says the sign in the shop window
Why, why says the in junk the yard
Candlesticks, building bricks
Something old and new
Memories for you and me
Buy, buy says the sign in the shop window
Why, why says the in junk in the yard
The melancholy lyrics instantly turn my mind to the now-famous six-word novel often attributed falsely to Ernest Hemingway:
For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.
Although I find myself struck with a great sense of sadness when listening to this song, I marvel at McCartney’s ability to imbue such human emotion into his depiction of otherwise mundane objects.
Paul McCartney’s great love for the song was such that he chose to include it not once, but twice on McCartney – once in the form discussed above and another on the B side as Singalong Junk. The arrangement of the latter differs greatly from Junk; removing the vocal entirely and replacing it with a piano melody, inserting a line for mellotron and featuring the drums more prominently. In both cases, Paul said this about the song:
“[I] wonder about why we leave things that were a part of our lives and replace them with others, because at the same time we leave memories attached with those objects, in a real metaphysical way…”
As I age and continue to learn my craft, I recognize that there are facets to this song still left for me to discover. And the most excellent thing about a song you truly love is that it can never be thrown away.
This week our curators of the Song of the Day blog are the Artistic Administration staff of the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (our next concert, “At Home,” which will take place both at Caramoor and at Merkin Hall, features Caramoor’s 2016 Schwab Vocal Rising Stars). Today’s selection comes from Caramoor’s Manager of Artistic Planning, Ellie Gisler Murphy:
I Will – The Beatles (1968)
I grew up in a family of incredibly serious amateur musicians. My father, a scientist and an early music fanatic is quick to write off anything that was composed after 1920 and his ear very quickly turns off in disgust at the hint of anything electronic, post-tonal, or explicit. He’s a purist, which I’m proud of, with very few exceptions, one of them being The Beatles, which my mother, a true child of the 60’s, fully endorsed. The Beatles became just as steadfast a character in my childhood as classical composers were. Perhaps because of their similar reverence to form, romanticism, drama and a clear willingness to change and evolve, they drew great respect from my father, and thus was allowed to be played freely and loudly throughout my life.
I’m feeling very close to the song “I Will” lately, as it was the backdrop for my husband’s and my first dance at our recent December wedding. The very short (and very sweet!) acoustic song seems nearly an afterthought on the extensive White Album, surrounded by irreverent, electric and ground-breaking pieces like “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” and on another side, “Helter Skelter”. But of all the pieces in the Beatles canon that came before and after, Paul McCartney said that I Will was one of his favorite melodies of all time. The affection he had for the piece resulted in a drawn out search to find the words to fit. Each different set of lyrics Paul and his partners came up with left him wanting, and in the end he settled for something he had written himself. The words, “very simple”, “straight love-song words really”1, make it a complete snapshot – simply a tender, uncomplicated and vulnerable love.
My favorite words:
And when at last I found you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
All the things you do endear you to me
Oh, you know I will.
1Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now by Barry Miles
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