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notes on ...

Notes on "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window"


Notes on ... Series #188 (SCITTBW)
  by Alan W. Pollack
       Key: A Major
     Meter: 4/4
      Form: Intro | Verse | Bridge |
                  | Verse | Verse | Bridge (with complete ending)
        CD: "Abbey Road", Track 13 (Parlophone CDP7 46446-2)
  Recorded: 25th July 1969, Abbey Road 2; 28th July 1969,
            Abbey Road 3; 30th July 1969, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 26th September 1969 (LP "Abbey Road")
US-release: 1st October 1969 (LP "Abbey Road")

General Points of Interest


Style and Form

  Next note "... Bathroom Window", despite its extremely long title, turns out to be quite shorter in duration than it seems when you listen to it. Check out the track length, only 1:57; and that includes those last four measures of the previous track with the falling scale in the bassline. I believe this musical illusion is created by the extent to which the two preceding fragmentary tracks provide a foil for this one's being relatively full grown in the form department.
  Next note This song also turns out to be pretty much the only song in the medley that comes close to approaching one of the traditional forms. And even so, it has the peculiar trait of putting a single verse up front, with two verses between the bridges. Darn clever, those Beatles, hmm?
  Next note The lyrics flip flop between the entertainingly clever and annoyingly inscrutable.

Melody and Harmony

  Next note The tune is bluesy in a "Get Back" sort of way, with a melodic emphasis on flat 3 and 7 that turns many of the chords into not necessarily quite functional dominant seventhh chords. Yes, you can rationalize I7 as though it were V-of-IV, but IV7 allows no such explanation.
  Next note In spite of its using a surprisingly small total number of chords, the song manages to include an unusual modulation to the key of "flat-III", thereby providing yet another place in the medley where A and C Major are used in direct opposition to each other.


  Next note The backing track is essentially identical to that of "Polythene Pam" no surprise since the two tracks were recorded in a single long take, though unlike "Polythene Pam", this one has no sections that are completely instrumental. The acoustic guitar is heard much less prominently here than on "Polythene Pam", but still maintains at least the status of what in cooking you'd call a secret ingredient.
  Next note Paul has the lead vocal double tracked throughout. The first and third verse have scat backing vocals sung in falsetto. The bridges have a backing vocal that tracks the lead in parallel thirds.

Section-by-Section Walkthrough



  Next note The last four measures of the "Polythene Pam" outro, with the downward scale in the bassline, serve as the nominal intro to this song; at least that's how the tracks are indexed on the CD of the album.
  Next note The long awaited resolution of the E-Major chord to A on the downbeat of the first verse here is one of the most vividly orgasmic moments in the entire Beatles songbook, at least this side of the bridge section of "Day Tripper". What really grabs me, beyond the big bang of actual arrival itself, is the sophisticated way in which the backing vocals and drum work in the third and fourth measures of that verse create a cascading followup wave of euphoria.
  Next note Many years ago I once had the experience of accellerating out from the tollbooth onto the upward approach to the Bronx Whitestone bridge coincidentally just as my tape player reached this point of the album. In cinematic terms, it was "rush" for me equivalent to that moment in "The Graduate" where the hero pulls out at crusing speed onto the center span of the Okaland Bay (Golden Gate?) bridge just as Simon and Garfunkel hit the first big chorus of "Mrs. Robinson":-)


  Next note The verse is sixteen measures long with four equal phrases that make a poetic pattern of AAAB:
       ----------------------- 3X ------------------------
      |A7          |-           |D7          |-           |
   A:  I                         IV

      |D           |-           |A           |-           |
       IV                        I

   [Figure 188.1]
  Next note In the first three lines the lyrics are scanned in a manner that avoids the downbeat of the phrase, and rather shifts the rhythmic emphasis to the third measure. The pattern is broken for the final phase where the effect of allowing the lyrics to coincide with the phrase downbeat for the first time combined with the slow, subtle harmonic syncopation created by the sustaining of the D-Major chord over the phrase boundary makes the entire verse seem a bit lopsided in retrospect; compare this, for example, with "Drive My Car".
  Next note By the way, there is some standout lead guitar work found here filling out those lyrical gaps between the lines.


  Next note The lopsided effect is developed further in the bridge, which I believe should be parsed as if the final two measures of the verse (on the A-Major chord) actually overlap as the start of this section:
      |A           |-           |d           |-           |
   A:  I                         iv

                                |D     C     |B     A     |
      |A           |-           |d           |-           |
   A:  I                         iv
                             C:  ii

                                 1  2  3  4   1  2  3  4
                                |C        B  |-     A     |
      |G           |-           |C           |            |
   C:  V                         I

                                 1  2  3  4
      |G           |-           |C        A  |
   C:  V                         I
                             A:  flat-III I

   [Figure 188.2]
  Next note This leaves the bridge with an unusual fifteen-measure length, as though it were accidentally-on-purpose left one measure short of what "should have been" the more regular sixteen measures.
  Next note The outbound modulation is effected by using the cliché of the minor iv chord in context of a Major key as a clear pivot. The return modulation is more abrupt both in terms of it having virtually no harmonic preparation and the placement of the return A-Major chord on the final beat of the final measure of the section. In the first bridge, this makes the start of the next verse sound (again) lopsided. In the second bridge which ends the song, this change of chord on the final beat practically throws you out of your seat; "Oh yeah!"
  Next note We find two examples of a prominent downward scalewise bassline in this bridge. The one in the second phrase is completely straightforward. The one in the third phrase rhythmically plays out the change of notes in the bass using the 3+3+2 pattern we saw on this album in both "Here Comes The Sun", "Because", and "... Money".

Some Final Thoughts

  Next note Yet again we are dealing with an Abbey Road song for which there are Get Back era takes to be found out there; most notably, one from the first day of the Apple sessions on Anthology 3.
  Next note That particular outtake follows the more conventional formal recipe of placing a bridge after each of the three verses. Also, the harmony of the verse section uses the I -» vi -» IV cliché, an effect dropped in place of the starker I -» IV we have in the official version.
  Next note Two other points of interest:
  • Paul talks aloud at the end of the performance, as he is often overheard doing in these sessions, about possible ideas for making the song more elaborate.
  • In the bridge it sounds like he is personally already toying with the 3+3+2 bassline idea, but none of the others yet follow his lead. But that's okay for now, at least.
  Alan (010200#188)
  See also: The "Abbey Road" Medley
Copyright © 2000 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.