Monday, December 17, 2007

Razor's Retro Reviews: The Beatles' White Album (Side 2)

Side Two

It is a little known fact that Ringo referred to his wang as the "fifth" Beatle.

1. Martha My Dear (McCartney)

Like side one, side two begins with a McCartney song, which was a solo effort, without the influence of any of the other Beatles. It’s a lovely song without much substance, which McCartney has been known to effortlessly churn out.

According to, ‘Paul McCartney, the primary author of the White Album's "Martha My Dear," has been both lauded and reviled for his ability to toss off impeccably crafted pop songs about trivial subjects, transcending their somewhat superficial lyrical agendas through sheer melodic strength and ingenious arrangements. "Martha My Dear" is one of the more frequently cited examples of those qualities.’

What they said.

It’s a good song but easily overshadowed by many of the other songs on the album.

Here’s a funny little video I found featuring ‘Martha My Dear’:

2. I’m So Tired (Lennon)

Lennon wrote this song at 3 in the morning so it’s a fitting title. It also expressed the boredom and restlessness he felt in his life at the time. Lennon pleads over and over again ‘I’ll give you everything I’ve got for a little piece of mind’. The song starts off with a pretty slow tempo but picks up to deliver a pretty damn good song. It’s also one of the more ‘normal’ songs on the album, especially for Lennon.

3. Blackbird (McCartney)

Finally, McCartney starts pulling his weight with this wonderful acoustic song, the beauty of which lies in its simplicity. As for the lyrics, they’re a metaphor used by McCartney to show his support for the black civil rights movements of the world.

"That Britney Spears bitch is crazy."

Unfortunately, that’s not how Charles Manson interpreted the song, as he thought the song predicted the uprising of the black people that would give rise to Armageddon. This is one of three songs on this album that Charles Manson cited as his justification for the murders committed in his name.

4. Piggies (Harrison)

This song gives one the impression that Harrison put all his efforts into ‘While My Guitar…’ and was wiped out when it came to contributing more material for the album. The song works as social commentary about class and corporate greed but it just sounds childish. It’s very difficult to take this song seriously and is therefore one of the weaker moments on the album.

I hate to bash Harrison, but he leaves me no choice here. Charles Manson, on the other hand, took this song too seriously as he interpreted the line ‘What they need's a damn good whacking’ as a call to arms against the police…this is the second of the three songs that influenced Mr. Manson

Here’s a cute little montage:

5. Rocky Raccoon (McCartney)

While ‘Back in the USSR’ took a shot at the Beach Boys, ‘Rocky Raccoon’ takes a shot at Bob Dylan, basically saying, ‘I can do what you do, I just choose not to’. Two in a row for McCartney, as this song is fun as hell. I particularly enjoy the use of the old school saloon piano. This song tells the story of a loser who loses his woman to another man, and challenges his rival to a gunfight, with bad consequences. It sounds like a serious song, but it isn’t, it’s very light-hearted.

Check out this video, it’s ‘Rocky Raccoon’ acted out by Warcraft characters, it’s well done:

6. Don’t Pass Me By (Starr)

This was Ringo’s only contribution on the album…poor Ringo, he tries so hard. It’s an OK song, but clearly doesn’t live up to the rest of the album. It’s catchy, and to be honest, this is the only one of their albums where this song would fit. Fun Fact: This song was, inexplicably, a huge hit in Sweden where it hit #1 on their pop charts…crazy Swedes, you just don’t know what they’ll do next.

Two out of four Swedish twins agree: Ringo is sexy, ja!

Here’s a video of the song playing over that train cartoon show where Ringo played the conductor:

7. Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? (McCartney)

McCartney is at it again with his weird shit. This song is under 2 minutes and simply repeats the title over and over again, but it’s also probably the bluesiest thing McCartney’s ever done. Really, McCartney does the blues, and he’s very good at it.

Once again, it’s probably his way of saying, ‘I can do this if I want, I choose not to’.He wrote this song when he saw two monkees go at it in the middle of a road in India and loved the simplicity of it.

Christ Linda, I'm a rock star not a chew toy.

8. I Will (McCartney)

McCartney follows up his song about crazy monkey love with a type of song that’s more his type. ‘I Will’ is a sweet and simple ballad that he wrote for his wife Linda. It’s a nice song that nicely contrasts the blues of the previous song. This one also falls under two minutes, and although it does seem simple, it took 68 takes to get it right.

9. Julia (Lennon)

Side two comes to an end with a Lennon ballad that he wrote about his mother, Julia Lennon. This is the only Beatles song that Lennon plays and sings unaccompanied by the other Beatles (McCartney on the other hand did it several times). It’s a nice slow song, but nothing special. I personally find it a little whinny and a poor choice to cap off side two of the album.

Overall, side two was a hit and miss side. It’s not as good as side one, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not better than anything else out there, especially that rap crap the kids listen to. McCartney is the superstar on this side of the album while Lennon disappoints a bit by offering up only a few tepid ballads. Harrison and Starr’s contributions are also forgettable.

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