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notes on ...

Notes on "Another Girl"


Notes on ... Series #72 (AG)
  by Alan W. Pollack
       Key: A Major
     Meter: 4/4
      Form: Intro | Verse | Verse | Bridge | Verse |
                  | Bridge | Verse | Outro
        CD: "Help!", Track 5 (Parlophone CDP7 46439-2)
  Recorded: 15th, 16th February 1965, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 6th August 1965 (LP "Help!")
US-release: 13th August 1965 (LP "Help!")

General Points of Interest


Style and Form

  Next note If you make the effort to get beyond the pedestrian lyrics and the by-today's-standards embarrassing visual background given this song in the "Help!" film (Paul out on a beach holding a woman sideways and "playing" her like some kind of anthropomorphic bass guitar — or do I misremember it?), you find here a song that is a veritable cross-section of the tricks and trademarks of the Beatles to this point of their career.
  Next note We also find in this song yet another example of John's cross-influence on Paul. Though the influence in this case is not as obvious on the surface of things as it is in the case of, say, "Paperback Writer" and "Rain", the parallels between "Another Girl" and "You're Going To Lose That Girl" are as striking as they are surprising, once they've been pointed out to you.
  Next note The form sounds subtly more unusual than it actually is because of the extremely refrain-like final phrase of the verse section. The last time we had seen this effect, way back in this series "You're Going To Lose That Girl" and "It Won't Be Long", it had thrown us off guard quite a bit. Once you parse this phrase as part of the verse proper, the form suddenly reveals itself as one of the standard forms, with two-verses, two-bridges, and only one verse intervening. The use of such a pseudo-refrain, though, especially when it also appears as the song's introductory section, does have a unique the power to, if not outright confuse, make a formalistically fluid impression.

Melody and Harmony

  Next note The melody makes prominent thematic use of downward chromatic scale fragments and a certain amount of noodling around the same few notes in a constricted pitch range; both Beatles' trademarks.
  Next note Although the song is hardly a twelve-bar blues ditty in terms of chords, tune, or phrasing, the melodical stress on the flat third (C-natural) and flat seventh (G-natural) scale degrees projects bluesy feel overall.
  Next note The verses rely entirely on I, IV, V, and the flat-VII deployed simply as a neighboring chord between two instances of I. The bridge, though, features an unusual (in context of the Beatles) full-blown modulation to the key of C Major whose relationship to the home key is that of "relative Major of the parallel minor"; the latter being one of this songs principal and unmistakable connections with "You're Going To Lose That Girl".
  Next note The emphasis on the melodic flat third is sufficiently stronger than average here to create a Major/minor ambiguity regarding the mode of the home key that is somewhat reminiscent of "I'll Be Back". The effect is especially noticeable where the music returns to A Major at the end of the bridge, and makes you wonder in retrospect if, in the verses, it really was only the melody and not the chords too performed in the minor mode; what do the chord books say there? Is the first chord A-Major or a-minor?


  Next note Paul is double tracked on the lead vocal with the familiar italicizing effect of the backing voices joining him on the recurring title phrase.
  Next note George supplies notable guitar fills, the frequency and raucousness of which both increase over the course of the song.

Section-by-Section Walkthrough



  Next note The song opens vocally with absolutely no instrumental cue, yet another affinity with John's "You're Going To Lose That Girl" and "It Won't Be Long".
  Next note The intro turns out to anticipate the final phrase of the verse section. It's a phrase whose length comes out to be closer to five than four measures; at the very least, it ends on the downbeat of the fifth measure. A side effect of this peculiarity is that the phrase tends to suggest an elision or overlap with the beginning of whatever follows it whenever it appears:
                                      |Verse --»
      |A      |D      |A      |D      |A ...
   A:  I       IV      I       IV      I

   [Figure 72.1]


  Next note The sixteen measure verse has a phrasing pattern of AABC and sounds almost like a non-traditional twelve-bar form plus short refrain:
    ----------------------------- 2X ------------------------------
   |A              |G              |A              |D              |
    I               flat-VII        I               IV

   |D              |-              |-              |E              |
    IV                                              V

   |A              |D              |A              |D              |
    I               IV              I               IV

   [Figure 72.2]
  Next note The IV chord which gets sustained through four measures that don't exactly coincide with where the phrase divisions lie provides a good example of how harmonic rhythm can be used to strong, albeit subliminal effect.


  Next note This eight-measure section sounds as though entered as an elided, directed extension of the 'refrain':
      |C     |G     |C     |G     |C     |E     |A     |E     |
   C:  I      V      I      V      I
                               a:  III    V      I      V

   [Figure 72.3]
  Next note The music briefly modulates to the key of C Major before it pivots back to A. The pivot in this case relies on tricking you into expecting a return to a-minor with the A-Major chord then coming as a surprise twist.
  Next note The pivot into the modulation is interesting; forcing you, as a listener to hear the final D chord in the preceding verse punning itself as both IV in the home key as well as V-of-V in the new key, the latter not being resolved until two measures into the bridge.
  Next note As is so often the case, the bridge provides melodic contrast with the verses in the way that the erstwhile noodling within a small range is replaced here by an extended arch shape which supplies at its zenith the unique melodic high point of the piece.


  Next note The outro is a simple extension of the verse ending with the title phrase repeated a canonical three times.
  Next note The trailing guitar lick at the very end is a novel touch that helps unify the song overall from the way in which it carries forward both the motif of the ubiquitous guitar fills and the bluesy undercurrent.

Some Final Thoughts

  Next note This song may be far from what you'd call one of Paul's career highlights but you've got to admire his craftsmanship here even if the material itself is less than entirely distinguished.
  Next note You may want to quibble with Paul from time to time over whether or not you think he exerts a sufficiently discriminating filter on the supply of new ideas and directions which pop into his head. But in terms his facility in the developing of such ideas and his seemingly casual and second-nature mastery of technique, you can only be amazed; maybe :-)
  Alan (122292#72)
Copyright © 1992 by Alan W. Pollack. All Rights Reserved. This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed and otherwise propagated at will, provided that this notice remains intact and in place.