alan w. pollack's
notes on ...

Notes on "I'll Follow The Sun"


Notes on ... Series #60 (IFTS)
  by Alan W. Pollack
       Key: C Major
     Meter: 4/4
      Form: Intro | Verse | Verse | Bridge | Verse |
                  | Verse (half guitar solo) | Bridge |
                  | Verse (with complete ending)
        CD: "Beatles For Sale", Track 5 (Parlophone CDP7 46438-2)
  Recorded: 18th October 1964, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 4th December 1964 (LP "Beatles For Sale")
US-release: 15th December 1964 (LP "Beatles '65")

General Points of Interest


Style and Form

  Next note Form-wise, this is one of the more straightforward ones we've seen in a while: a familiar two-bridge model where two verses, one of which is a (partial) instrumental solo, separate the bridges.
  Next note The folksy first impression created by the primarily acoustic arrangement and performance style is belied by chord progressions and a tune that are distinctly non-folk-like.
  Next note Ever since we crossed the approximate frontier of the "Hard Day's Night" album, I've been pointing out repeated examples of the Beatles' tendency toward blending elements of the Blues style into a pop-rock context. Along with some of the other songs on the "For Sale" album, this particular one is a fine example of the Boys playing the same trick, but with folk elements instead of the Blues.

Melody and Harmony

  Next note A relatively small number of chords is used throughout. Although the song is ultimately seen to reside entirely and firmly within its home key of C Major, the manner in which the chords progress during the verse does challenge your clear perception of the home key. There's even (in my humble opinion) some slight harmonic awkwardness to the verse as though Paul were self-consciously striving for something new.
  Next note Chromatic line clichés that are concealed within an inner voice of the texture play a role here reminiscent of what we've seen in both the earlier "Hold Me Tight" and the later "You Won't See Me". The more obvious example here is found in John's descending vocal counterpoint during the bridge. This is nicely balanced out by a longer upward run in the verse, but the latter is quite a bit better concealed to the extent that it is merely implied by the schematic voice leading of the underlying harmony rather than being explicitly called out.
  Next note The verse melody is a standout, not only because it contains an unusual series of upward leaps of a fourth, but also for the extremely large pitch range traversed by its expressive arch shape.


  Next note The instrumental backing is most characterized by the finger-picking acoustic guitar part, in spite of the presence of electric instruments on the bass and lead guitar parts. Note the unusual lack of any percussion part. Where was Ringo, off practicing timpani for the other cuts?
  Next note Although it is Paul undeniably in the vocal spotlight, John plays an uncannily subtle supporting vocal role; he's actually in there singing along almost the whole way, though you hardly even notice it! For example, John doubles Paul in unison for the first half of the verse only to drop out leaving Paul exposed solo in the second half. The bridge features similar by-play between the two of them.

Section-by-Section Walkthrough



  Next note The intro is a mere two measures long and serves to establish the home key as well as the background guitar figuration:
      |C      G       |F      C       |
   C:  I      V        IV     I

   [Figure 60.1]
  Next note As the song unfolds, this intro turns out to be nothing more than an anticipation of the ending of the verse section, and indeed, the same couple of measures provide the defacto "outro" at the end.


  Next note The verse is eight measures long. Though it metrically scans into two phrases of four measures each, it melodically consists of one long phrase:
   line:  D              E-flat         E-natural      F#
 Chords: |G             |F7            |C             |D             |
      C:  V              IV             I              V-of-V

         |C      e      |D      G      |C      G      |F      C      |
          I      iii     V-of-V V       I      V       IV     I

   [Figure 60.2]
  Next note Harmonically, this section begins away from the home key (on V) but converges eventually toward one though not before throwing us a few curve balls — i.e. the "gratuitous" dominant seventh on F (after all, it doesn't resolve to B-flat), the deferred resolution of the first V-of-V, and the appearance of iii in the so-called 6/4 inversion with B in the bassline.
  Next note I believe that in the context of this strange progression, the embedded line cliché plays a significant role in holding the whole thing together by providing a clear (albeit concealed) thread of continuity. The speeding up of the harmonic rhythm in the second half of he section also helps.
  Next note A slight modification is made to the two verses which precede the bridge sections: the C chord is sustained through measure 7 and is converted into a dominant seventh (V-of-IV) during measure 8.


  Next note The bridge is also eight measures long though its two four-measure phrases are nicely parallel in structure:
    A-natural      A-flat         G
   |d             |f             |C             |C7            |
    ii             iv             I              V-of-IV

   |d             |f             |C             |d              |
    ii             iv             I              ii

   [Figure 60.3]
  Next note As with the verse, this section also starts out away from the home key, eventually converges toward it, only to close right back on the ii chord, as is required to properly motivate the verse which follows with its own opening on V.
  Next note The downward line cliché provides us with one of the first minor iv chords we've seen in a while; and in a "Paul song", no less!

Some Final Thoughts

  Next note An astonishingly almost-but-not-quite version of this song has been preserved for us on a mysterious rehearsal tape attributed to the Quarrymen of spring, 1960.
  Next note The form presented there is essentially the same as the official version, but the music varies quite a bit at the detailed level. For example, the key there is G, while our album version is in C, and the bridge sections there each conclude with a brief guitar lick that is totally absent in our version.
  Next note The most intriguing thing about the older version is how un-snugly the melody sits atop the chords. In re-working it for the official version, Paul must have been conscious of this problem to the extent that he changed so much of the harmonic content for it. The thing is, as we've noted, that even the official version of the song retains a certain "charming awkwardness" about it that only makes me wonder all the more: was the song somehow jinxed in a way that prevented Paul from fixing it up completely, or is at least some of this so-called awkwardness part of the intended effect here, perhaps?
  Alan (062992#60)
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.