She's Leaving Home
Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1967
Chords/Tabs: She's Leaving Home
Notes on "She's Leaving Home" (SLH)
KEY F Major (Mono) E Major (Stereo)
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Refrain ->
Verse -> Verse -> Refrain ->
Verse -> Refrain -> Outro (w/complete ending)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- The Beatles were uncommonly sharp at coming up with surprising,
unlikely stylistic blends or "bends." But from this point of their
career onward, Paul, in particular, would ocassionally indulge a hankering
stylistic "mimicry". The latter is much more difficult to pull off with
artistic success because the attempt to sound "authentic" in such cases
puts you at risk of sounding equally trite or "facile."
- A definite pattern emerges in those endless listener polls of most or
least favorite McCartney songs where you find his more ingenious blends,
"For No One,"
or "Penny Lane" high on the
preferred list, and the more straight mimics, such as
"Maxwell's Silver Hammer"
or "Honey Pie," very much on the unfavored one.
- "She's Leaving Home" is, perhaps, closer to the mimicry end of the
spectrum than it is to the blend end; hence its lingering controversiality
among even usually strong fans, and the revisionist complaints about how
it has not aged well. But, as we take our typically close look at the
music, we find it's not at all that simply cribbed from cliches.
- I know that I myself get a bit irritated by the extent to which the cloying
arrangement for strings and harp seems rather heavy-handedly chosen to
underscore the old-fashioned cluelessness of father and his wife's take
on what their baby's done. But I dare say, the *music* itself provides
a nicely intruiguing, stylized spoof of that same semi-classical drawing
room style, so popular at the turn-of-the-century, and to which it is
said that ragtime and roaring 20s jazz were a direct and rebellious reaction.
Melody and Harmony
- An intentially overlush impression is created the operatic wide sweep
of the tune, and the almost wall-to-wall usage of 7th and 9th chords.
- It is by his including the unexpectedly modal flat-VII and minor v chords
here that Paul subtly reminds us that this IS a parody of sorts.
- The backing track is one of the more homogeneous ones you'll ever
find on a Beatles track. The repeated sections show some amount of
modernistic variation, but Mike Leander's hand here is more restrained
and less inventive than was George Martin's in
"Eleanor Rigby;" a shame
the latter person's line was engaged when Paulie called him up for this
- The backing vocals for the refrains feature an unsual kind of antiphonal
counterpoint. It's neither a hocket (where a single melodic line is
arranged over two or more parts), nor your typical polyphony where the
two or more lines move at the same time. Did you ever notice how
some of the string parts which fill the spaces between verse phrases
anticipate some of the melodic byplay of this refrain?
- I'm going to transcribe the song is a slow-spun 12/8, where four
of what you'd otherwise parse as single measures in fast 3/4 make
up one long measure.
- The intro here consists of just 1 such measure with an elaborated
arpeggiation over the I chord. If you want to get picky, you can
argue that end of each half measure implies a shift to the IV6/4 chord,
but I believe your perception of the big picture is limited to the I
- The verse is four measures long and parses into a three phrase
pattern of ABB (2+1+1):
|E b f# |c# F# |
E: I v7 ii7 vi V9-of-V
|B |- |
4 3 4 3
- The harmonic rhythm continually slows down, making you feel by the
end of each verse some combination of exceedingly relaxed and exhuasted.
- The use of D natural in both the chords and tune of the first phrase
adds an unexpected Mixolydian modal touch.
- Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a more extreme example in
a Beatles song (that we've studied to-date) of a single chord being not
merely sustained, but embellished simultaneously with an appoggiatura and
a 9th as is the B Major chord in the second half of this section.
- The refrain is an unusual 4.75 measures long, and the antiphony of
the vocal parts makes a challenge of trying to parse out its subphrases:
|E |- |
|- D |c# F# |
flat-VII vi V7-of-V
|c# F# |
- The end of this refrain is surprising both metrically (because of
that dropped quarter measure), and harmonically because of the way the
V-of-V is allowed to resolve directly to I at the start of the next verse,
without the benefit of the V chord intervening.
- The final refrain includes the missing quarter measure and procedes
with the following two measures:
|c# F# |A E |
vi7 V-of-V IV I
- The V-of-V to IV is a much favored progression of the Beatles, though
the "plagal" IV-I final cadence seems chosen for its cliche connotations
of faintly religious sentimentality.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- The question of whether or not the Mono Pepper really has some
authoritative precedence over the Stereo Pepper is sharpened by
the fact that SLH appears mastered a complete half-step lower
and slower on the Stereo mix of the album; we're talking what
sounds like the exact take simply played back slower to sound
in E rather than F Major.
- Yes, I know Lewisohn's quote of Richard Lush about how the mono
version is the "only real" version. I'm even willing to be swayed
in the case of the current song by the way in which the faster tempo
makes it sound less corny and cloying. And yet, I wonder.
- I cannot believe that every single difference between the two
mixes of the album is a matter of more care and forethought having
been given to the Mono version. The one detail that tests the common
wisdom for me in particular is the awkward splice on the Mono version
between the last chicken cluck of the
"Good Morning Good Morning" fadeout
and the opening lead guitar lick of the Sgt.'s Reprise. For me, the
Mono mix here remains an amusing "outtake" which they had the opportunity
to fix at the last minute for the stereo mix.
- And if you're willing to admit even that *one* challenge to the Mono
legend, then you're forced to admit at least a shadow of a doubt with
respect to the two tempi of "She's Leaving Home." Is the slower one
in Stereo to lugubrious, or did they think, in hindsight, that the
higher version was simply too fast, too high, and too thin? Oh right;
you're never too thin :-)
"I'm going parading before it's too late." 012196#111
Copyright (c) 1995 by Alan W. Pollack
All Rights Reserved
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