Composer(s) : Traditional :Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1969
Chords/Tabs: Maggie Mae
Notes on "Maggie Mae" and Other _Get Back_ Session Fragments (MMFRAG)
KEY G Major
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse ... (rough ending/fadeout)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- "Maggie Mae" (MM) follows on the heels of the song
"Let It Be,"
ending off side 1 of the LIB album with a surprisingly wry flourish.
- That the song
"Let It Be" needed a touch of levity to relieve the
tension of both its coming (see
"Dig It") and going suggests that
someone though the song might be just a touch too heavy and serious,
left entirely to its own devices.
- That MM's location as the final track on side 1 of the album is part
of its effect per se is both a fact and a phenomenon you're not familiar
with if you know the album only from the medium of Compact Disc.
- Back in the dark ages, you had to get off your ass and flip the
record over if and when you wanted to listen to side 2. If you
owned a plain turntable, the music stopped at this point. If you
owned an automatic changer, you could remain in your seat and listen
to a side from *another* album, or if you positioned the changer
bracket a certain unadvertised way, you could continually replay
side 1 of the current disk. But moving on to side 2 of the same
album still took some effort of will, no matter how small. For the
home listener, it also created a moment of reflection, and indecisive
vulnerability. The unspoken questions you always had to answer were,
am I ready for side 2 right now? Did side 1 pique my interest to go on
with it? Or do I need to hear some other kind of music or peace and quiet
in order to be quite prepared for that eventuality?
- Polishing off side 1 with the fragment of a raunchy so-called
"traditional" ditty performed in the overdone caterwauling style
of amateur street corner buskers was an arch Beatlesque way of spiking
- Contrast this with the handling of the two throwaway tracks on
each of the two lineups for the GB album:
- GB is last song on side 1
- MM and DI appear in-order in middle of side 2, between TOU and LIB.
It's as if they felt TOU also needed a touch of levity on the way out.
- LIB is last song on side 1(!), letting it truly speak for itself.
- MM and DI appear in-order in middle of side 2, between TOU. and (here's a surprise)
"Long and Winding Road."
Melody and Harmony
- The ditty itself is nice enough music as such things go. The tune
features the complete diatonic scale, and has a nice arch shape with
a unique high point that balances an ascent predominated by triadic leaps
with a scalewise descent.
- The chords are the three chords to learn when you're learning only
three: I, IV, and V.
- The production values are suitable for a performance on the Harvard
Square subway platform; just heavy strummed acoustic guitar, light
drum kit, and Paul and John singing in roughshod vocal counterpoint,
pronouncing the words with a set of working class dipthongs that would
set Henry Higgins' teeth on edge.
- The lyrics are a scant step up the foodchain of musical sophistication
from a genre of smutty ballads we passed around the Junior High schoolyard
in my days; e.g. "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" or "Bang Bang Lulu."
At least the Beatles show the good taste here to cut it short before anyone
pulls any strokes that Shake'll be sorry for.
- We get just one chord to set the key and starting note for the singers:
- The refrain is sixteen measures long in a totally squared-off 4 by 4
|C |- |G |- |
G: IV I
|G |- |D |- |
|G |- |C |- |
|G |D |G |- |
I V I
- The chord choices are very simple, but the changes and the harmonic
rhythm are well varied. Note the acceleration of harmonic rhythm
in the 4th phrase and the slow syncopation caused by the I chord spanning
the end of phrase 1 and the start of phrase 2.
- The gambit of opening such a refrain on a chord other than I is something
quite rare in songs written by the Beatles; take a look at
"And I Love Her," "Hello Goodbye,"
or the first section of "Happiness ..."
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- MM bears the weight of all the song fragments performed during the
GB month as much as DI bears the weight of the sloppy jam sessions.
And in this case, I'm talking literally about *fragments* of songs,
not to be confused with the relatively well rehearsed performances
of oldies such as "You Really Got A Hold On Me" or "Mailman Bring Me
No More Blues," or "Great Balls of Fire" that respectively appear in
the film, on the Anthology, and bootleg.
- Compared to the more fully worked out covers whose selection seems
consistently made on the basis of Beatles nostalgia for their
roots, what I call the fragments appear often out of "nowhere" as
rapid fire musical free associations that sort out into an astonishing
taxonomy of categories. A more exhaustive listing would demonstrate
healthy helpings of Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, Elvis, and many other direct
influences. My personal short list below is oriented toward categories
you might be surprised to find at all, in increasing order of unlikelihood.
Pop Standards of the sort you don't usually associate w/Beatles
Ach Du Lieber Augustin
A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody
Baa Baa Blacksheep
Frere Jacques (alright, I know it's in the background of PW)
Hello Dolly (Paul sings, of course)
Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (of Allan Sherman fame)
Tea for Two
Theme from the Third Man (think "zither")
I'm So Tired ("Emma segga ...")
Inner Light (John sings!)
Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da ("Pling!")
Please Please Me
Strawberry Fields Forever (Paul sings!!)
Songs they made up as they went along
Fancy Me Chances
Negro in Reserve
Shaking in the 60s
Teacher was a'lookin'
- Next time, it's on to side 2.
"The Bulldog Gang, the Clapstoppers, and the Cement Mixers
Copyright (c) 1995 by Alan W. Pollack
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Ook op Let It Be:
(c) 2021 Serge Girard