It's All Too Much
Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1968
Chords/Tabs: It's All Too Much
Notes on "It's All Too Much" (IATM)
KEY G Major
------- 2X -------
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Refrain ->
Refrain (guitar instrumental) ->
Refrain (trumpet instrumental) ->
Verse -> Refrain -> Refrain -> Outro (fadeout)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- George's combination in this song of an harmonic drone with a
modal-like tune, pop-rock backbeat, and extended improvisatory
intro/outro yields an Indian/Western fusion that is at least
serendipitous if not ingenious.
- The overall feeling of a come-as-you-are jam session is amplified
by the extent to which the verse and refrain sections are are hard
to tell apart judging from the music along. Both sections are eight
measures long with a 4+4, AA' phrasing structure, and are performed over
a bassline drone over which virtually no harmonic motion takes place.
Whatever formal analysis we draw from the text is in ironic contrast
to the otherwise continuous texture of the track.
- This is yet another interesting Beatles example of how Gesture can
triumph over the specific gravity of Content by virtue of sheer length
and repetition. My own short list of nominees for this category includes
the likes of "I Wanna Be Your Man,"
"Rocky Raccoon," along
with the more explicitly jam session sections of
"You Never Give Me Your Money,"
(dig the infamous outtake!) and "12-bar Blues."
Melody and Harmony
- The tune places off-kilter emphasis on scale steps 2 (A) and 7 (F#),
while avoiding 4 (C); compare/contrast this with
"Within You, Without You."
- The only harmonic deviation from the G Major chord appears in the
refrain phrase, and even there, it's more a matter of voice leading
than full fledged root chord movement.
- The basic backing track of organ, drums, and lead guitar is supplemented
by trumpets and a bass clarinet. Artsy restraint is exercised by delaying
the trumpet entrance until the second instrumental break, and then bringing
it back for the final refrains, and for selected frames of the outro.
- George of course gets the double tracked lead vocal, backed by John and
Paul in the refrains and outro.
- The broad scope of the song is intimated right from the start with
a long two-phase intro that lasts a bit longer than a full minute.
- The first phase, alone, is 16 seonds long, and kicks off with
"To your mother" (in 9th grade I got punched VERY hard in the stomach
by one Leo Sullivan for saying this to him during home room), and a
high-pitched G Major chord followed by noisy feedback.
- The second phase is built out like this:
- One phrase worth of refrain (plus a single lingering "spacer" measure)
scored for organ without other backing instruments or percussion.
- One full instrumental refrain with lead guitar, bass and percussion
in the form of drum kit and handclaps; the latter recorded with a
surrealistically wide stereo image.
- One more full refrain, this time with George singing the title phrase,
starting off in the unlikely context of the pickup to the second measure
of each phrase; surprise :-) And there's one more spacer measure just
before the first verse kicks in.
- As mentioned above, we have a straightforward eight measure section
with AA' parallel phrasing and just a plain I chord.
- And again, we have another eight measure section with AA' parallel
-------------- 2X ---------------
tune |E D |D B |E DBAG|B |
middle |C B |A B |C B |- |
bass |G |- |- |- |
- One measure spacers are added at the end of refrains that are
immediately followed by a verse section; i.e. the first refrain and
the trumpet break.
- Chord charts for this song will show a C Major chord on the downbeat
of measures 1 and 3, and an a minor chord on the downbeat of measure 2
above. I'll stand firm in my claim that there is NO root chord change
anywhere in this section; that it all boils down to neighbor tone motion
in the inner voices superimposed on to the pedal tone of G in the bass.
- The outro here weighs in at around 2:45 in commensurate balance
with the intro. Think about it: the duration of this outro is longer
longer than a non-trivial number of complete Beatles songs!
- On the one hand, you can try your best to "capture" this long
passage in terms of documenting its sequence of subsections; e.g.
title phrase vamping, trumpet fanfares, the quote from "Sorrow,"
the "dead" decalaration, a short instrumental break, followed by
increasingly giddy vamping on the title phrase into the sunset.
- But on the other hand, I dare you to try and analytically "reduce"
it in terms of insight very far beyond what it manifestly offers you
on the surface.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- I have no doubt of George's mystical sincerity, but I cannot
escape the feeling in this song that he is self-effacingly winking
at us with the desideratum, "show me that I'm everywhere and get me home
in time for tea."
- It's an obliquiely phrased mixed message reflecting of an inner
conflict between spiritual striving and the backsliding lust for
bourgeois comfort and respectibility. Hesse's here, Harry Haller,
also know as "Der Steppenwolf," would have been proud. As he put it,
"one day I would learn to laugh. Pablo was waiting for me, and Mozart
"Oh, my God, he's a natural." 121398#160
Copyright (c) 1998 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.
Ook op Yellow Submarine:
Ook op Yellow Submarine Soundtrack:
(c) 2019 Serge Girard