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Notes on "For You Blue"


Notes on ... Series #175 (FYB)
  by Alan W. Pollack
       Key: D Major
     Meter: 4/4
      Form: Intro | Verse |
                  | Verse | Break (Instrumental) |
                          | Break (Instrumental) |
                  | Verse | Verse | Outro (with complete ending)
        CD: "Let It Be", Track 11 (Parlophone 0777-7 46447-2)
  Recorded: 25th January 1969, Apple Studios
UK-release: 8th May 1970 (LP "Let It Be")
US-release: 18th May 1970 (LP "Let It Be")

General Points of Interest


Style and Form

  Next note "For You Blue" qualifies as possibly the most uncomplicated and straightforward song on the "Let It Be" album. It's one of the very few original Beatles songs in which every section is a strict twelve-bar blues frame. And the official version features a relatively tight performance of a snappy instrumental arrangement for just the Beatles four that resonates nicely with the unusually unmuddied romantic euphoria of the lyrics. "Ah, very good that, George."

Melody and Harmony

  Next note The tune is heavily inflected with the blue third and seventh degress, and it covers a broad range (from F-natural to the 'A' a tenth above) in jumpy style. The characteristic motif of the rising leap of a sixth (on the words, "love you" in the first phrase ) is followed through by sixth-spanning triadic leaps in the remaining two phrases.
  Next note The chords, of course, are I, IV, V, plus a cameo appearance in the intro from V-of-V.


  Next note George is on acoustic guitar, John on slide, Paul on piano, and Ringo (what else would you expect?) on drums. The setup appears downright cozy judging from the clip of this song that appears in the film.

Section-by-Section Walkthrough



  Next note The intro is six measures long with a three-beat pickup to the first downbeat:
      |D       |G6/3    |E7      |A7      |-       |
   D:  I        IV       V-of-V   V

   [Figure 176.1]
  Next note The intro is played by George solo. The other instruments all join him for the start of the first verse.
  Next note The progression of IV to V-to-V is a novel way of exposing what is otherwise a familiar Beatles cross relation. Hint — Lennon and McCartney more often would reverse the order of the two chords; e.g. "Eight Days A Week" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".


  Next note The body of the song consists of six twelve-bar blues frames. George opts for the particular variant of this form in which the IV chord breaks up what is usually an harmonically monotonous first phrase, and V appears in the final measure all the better to motivate the arrival of the next section:
      |D       |G       |D       |-       |
   D:  I        IV       I

      |G       |-       |D       |-       |
       IV                I

      |A       |G       |D       |A       |
       V        IV       I        V

   [Figure 176.2]
  Next note The penultimate measure of this section incorporates a classic, chromatically rising bassline line cliché of: D - F# - G - G# - A.


  Next note The back-to-back break sections divide up roughly to feature the slide guitar and piano, in that order. The slide solo recalls the jumpiness of the tune without repeating it by rote. The piano solo starts off with chopping chords in a descending blues scale, but then degenerates into a less clearly differentiated rhythmic pattern.


  Next note The complete ending is simply tacked on to the end of the final verse.

Some Final Thoughts

  Next note Of course there is no recording from the "Get Back" period that wasn't tampered with at least slightly in its official release. This one has John's FBI/pot-smoking introductory comment flown in from elsewhere, and a lead vocal that was overdubbed way the hell later, in January 1970!
  Next note Nor is there any song from the period which did not go through some alteration and variation in the course of the sessions. Noteworthy among the "For You Blue" outtakes:
  • No two run-throughs ever repeat the same apparently spontaneous spoken commentary heard over the break sessions. The version on the "Get Back" album even features a verbal silence during the breaks that almost smacks of a kind of reverence; at least compared with "Go, Johnny Go" and "Mr. Bluthener!"
  • A couple of examples survive where the music breaks down either during or immediately following the intro; e.g. "Quiet please!!"
  • The otherwise complete alternate on the "Anthology" sports only one twelve bar's worth of break.
  Next note A very early and rough performance of the song survives from the Twickenham sessions, with a different intro, and a condensed form of Verse -» Break -» Verse -» Break -» Verse. Following the final chord, the microphones capture John's teasingly simple question to George, "pretty short, isn't it?"
  Next note Ouch.
  Alan (090599#176)
Copyright © 1999 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.