Composer(s) : Lennon
Year : 1977
Chords/Tabs: Real Love
Notes on "Real Love" (RL)
KEY E Major
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Refrain ->
Intro -> Verse -> Refrain -> Break (Guitar solo) ->
Verse -> Refrain (fadeout)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- In the spirit of many other Beatles "double A-side" singles of the
past, "Real Love" and
"Free As A Bird" are uncommonly complementary.
Though much less troubled than
FAAB, RL manifests its own packet of
love's pangs. By the same token, RL's over-riding sense of jubilation
is best understood in light of FAAB's exploratory ruminations. In other
words, I think these two songs are most effectively listened to in the
order in which they appeared; try and imagine it the other way around.
- Compositionally, RL is a worthy sister-song to FAAB. Yet again, we
have a neo-classic and capacious formal variation, this time on the
Refrain model. In this case, the novel twists are in the guise of the
intro repeated in the middle of the song (look *WAY* the heck back to
"Thank You Girl" for a Lennonesque precedent!),
a short guitar break
in a key and on a chord progression not heard elsewhere in the rest of
the song, an outro with an unusually large number of repeats, a sprinking
of unusual chord choices, and a Major/minor gambit.
- What I call the "pangs" here are not so much a part of a story as they
provide a foil against which the more chipper mood can shine more brightly.
I'm reminded of baritone's entrance in the finale of Beethoven's
9th where, just as he is about to introduce the "Ode to Joy" in its
decidedly Major key of D, he adjures the crowd, in reference to the
tempstous d minor music of the orchestral intro with the words,
"Oh friends! Not these sounds! But let us strike up sounds more
pleasant and more joyful." (Loses something in the translation,
but you get the drift.)
Melody and Harmony
- The tune is almost purely pentatonic; consisting primarily of
the notes E, F#, G#, B, and C#. 'A' shows up briefly as a passing
tone in the final phrase of the verse, but D# scrupulously avoided.
John's ongoing propensity toward this melodic mode is manifest in
such numbers as
"All I've Got To Do,"
"I Call Your Name,"
"In My Life,"
"And Your Bird Can Sing";
just to cite a subset of the total.
- The refrain is set on melodic ground that is distinctly higher than
that of the verse, even though the verse itself manages to cover a
full octave; it's just that the refrain tops out a full fifth higher
than where the verse does.
- The tune also has a way of casually running roughshod over the chords.
A close look at it reveals not only some juicy appoggiaturas, but
unresolved neighbor tones.
- The harmonic cliche which is creatively played upon in FAAB appears
here in the second half of the refrains and the outro in its unvarnished
form. This large does of predictability is balanced out by three details
in the harmony which add surprisingly effective touches of pathos:
- the e minor key choice for the intro (especially when it shows up
for the second time *following* the E Major of the verses and refrain)
- the "gratuitous" deployment of the augmented chord in the opening
progression of the verse
- and that piquant half-diminished chord at the peak of the refrain.
- In contrast to FAAB, where the finished product remains in the same
key and at the same speed of John's demo, RL is sped up some ~12% to
sound a full step higher (E) than the demo (which appears to be in D).
I assume this was done at least in part to effect the snappy tempo.
- The arrangement has many touches of the kind of section-to-section
layering and variation you come to expect of the Beatles, though
these touches are *much* less rigidly patterned than usual; possible
telltake signs of a rush job, or an intentional underscoring of John's
roughshod approach to the tune? On the clear side, you find some
rhythm guitar work added to the second intro, and the lead guitar
first appears in the second verse but then stays in for the duration.
Less clear is the handling of the backing voices; they generally
turn up toward the end of each section, though it's not *every*
section, and not always exactly the same place in each section.
- There is a recurring leitmotif in the accompaniment of scale fragments
which either ascend or descend; the musical equivalent of those Sgt. Pepper
suits falling on the diagonal in the video. The verse opens with a falling
bassline that is balanced out in the next phrase by a chromatically
rising guitar riff in a middle voice, and at the end with a falling
line in the last couple measures. The refrain similarly features
a falling middle part in the lead guitar between the first two
- And if you have any doubt this is a *Beatles* song, listen for
the tambourine shots which reliably fall on beats 2 & 4, starting
right out in the first intro.
- The instrumental intro is four measures long and has a pseudo-classical
rocking part played on some kind of keyboard:
------------- 2X --------------
|e |B |
e: i V6/3
- The V chord is presented in its 1st inversion. This helps the
phrase feel more relaxed, less transitive, and it also sets up
a logical antecedent to the descending bassline at the start
of the verse; play it with the V chord in root position and
note how both effects are lost.
- The verse shifts directly to the parallel Major key of E. Its
eight measures musically divide into two phrases of equal length,
though the words parse into a design of AA'B (2+2+4).
- The bassline of the opening phrase is a standard walking descent
but the harmonization of it is far from standard. If you handed
this into your Harmony 101 teacher as homework you'd get, at best,
a wise guy's B-; i.e. you'd flunk it outright in terms of following
instructions, though if the professor had *half* your sense of humor
he'd give you back the difference for cleverness and cheek; as long
as you refrain from throwing blackboards out the window.
- The opening five measures move from I to V, but it's a mistake to
give Roman numerals to any of the intervening chords. You experience
this move much more as a lazily led countrapuntal filling out of the
distance between the two chords. Note the couch potato minimal movement
of some of the voices on the one hand, and the going out of the way
to force the augemented chord (measure 4) on the other:
soprano |B |- |- |- |
alto |G# |- |- |G natural |
tenor |B |D# |E |D# |
bassline|E |D# |C# |B |
|A |B |E A |E A |
IV V I IV6/4 I IV6/4
- In spite of the pentatonic tune, the harmonization of the final two
measures here contain a modal touch from the flat 7th (D-natural) which
appears as a passing note between the E and A chords in the accompaniment.
Note how in the first four measures, the tune *twice* leaves a C# hanging
unresolved over the chords which harmonize it.
- The bassline of the last two measures sustains the note E, robbing the
chord change above it of any sense of transitive motion. Many a theorist
will say that what I've labelled as "IV 6/4" really isn't even a chord
change; just the result of melodic neighbor motion of two voices in
between those E Major chords on either side. I think they are correct.
- The refrain is eight measures long and is built out of four short,
equal phrases that parse into an AA'BB' pattern:
|E |A |E |A |
I ii6/5 half dim. I ii 6/5 half dim.
|E c# |A B |E c# |A B |
I vi IV V I vi IV V
- The chord on A in measures 2 & 4 is a half-diminished F# chord in its
6/5 inversion; think of it as an otherwise garden variety "ii6/5" chord,
chromatically altered here to sentimental affect. Note the guitar part
in the first refrain playing the downward scale fragment that emphasizes
the C-natural in the half diminshed chord.
- Perhaps the best example in the entire song of a melodically dissonant
note nonchalantly left unresolved is the G# sung in measure 4; your
desire for it to resolve downward to F# is so strong that when you
hum the song to yourself in absence of the recording, you have a
tendency to provide the F# resolution in your own vocal rendition;
check yourself out on this.
Break (Guitar Solo)
- The guitar break is entered as a non-sequitor from the end of the
second refrain; all of a sudden you seem to find yourself in the
key of f# minor.
- The section is an unsquare, rhetorically extended length of 5 measures
in which the V chord back to the home key gets more than the usual
amount of emphasis; the latter motivated by the desire to set the
real home key straight in the wake of the disorienting key change
at the start of the break:
|f# |C# |f# |B |
ii V-of-ii ii V
- The guitar part is characterized by rhythmic triplets, as well as
a dwelling on the descending melodic appogiatura of C#->B which
resonates nicely with the tendency of the verse tune to hang around
those two notes.
- The second half of the refrain provides the basis of the outro where
it is repeated a relatively large number of times, seven(!), in its
entirety before the fadeout is made complete. Do you suppose this
was done out of affinity for, and in allusion to, the likes of
or is it more an aesthetic acknowdgement of the so-called "extended
dance mixes" of the 80's and 90's?
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- As appropriate as it seemed for FAAB to appear in the key cluster
of A/a/C, it seems equally so for the contrasting RL to appear in the
key of E. Yes, I know John placed it in D for his demo, but the
now released version is the *Beatles* definitive form of it.
- E Major is a popular key for guitar players in general; the standard
tuning and layout of the strings making it easy to finger the basic
chord set. But just browsing through Beatles songbook, it's striking
to note how many times they chose this key. The following list is
a representative sampling rather than an exhaustive search, but note the
bias toward the early end of the chronology:
- That last one appropriately takes us full circle back to where we
left off in our regular studies which, hopefully, we pick up with next
"... don't you know it's gonna last." 120895#195
Copyright (c) 1995 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 Anthology 2:
(c) 2021 Serge Girard