You're Gonna Lose That Girl
Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1965
Chords/Tabs: You're Gonna Lose That Girl
Notes On "You're Going To Lose That Girl" (YGtLtG)
Copyright 1989 Alan W. Pollack
All Rights Reserved
We've got a real test of our skills for dealing with pivot modulations in
"You're Going to Lose that Girl." On the way to unravelling it, we'll find
that the clustering of phrases into verses and refrains is also a bit
more complicated here than usual.
Travelling to a Foreign Key
Let's jump ahead for now and note that this song is in E Major and
its bridge ("I'll make a point of taking her away from you ...") is clearly
in the remote key of G Major. There's no flirtation or fake pass here; it's
a fullblown interlude in that second key.
I call this "remote" because there is no G chord (either Major
or minor) that's native to the key of E; remember, there are four sharps
in the key signature, the third of which is G#. The only "rationalizable"
relationship between E Major and G Major would be to say that G is the
relative Major of our parallel minor key. (Think it over; it's convoluted
but it's not double talk.)
But How Did We Get There ?
The great harmonic leap to G deftly happens during measures 28 through 30:
f# D |G
E: ii flat VII
What happens here is a pivot on the "flat VII" chord, treating it, double
entendre style as the V of the flat III; this is gramatically legitimate
though still a surprise -- wouldn't you have expected an E chord sooner
than G ?
When we looked at Help! last time, we saw there a different, but equally
creative and unusual application of the flat VII chord. It's tempting to
suggest that the fact that H! and YGTLTG were composed in close proximity
to each other implies more than mere coincidence.
The modulation to flat III which we have here is the more audacious because
there is an easier/textbook alternate way to make this key change -- i.e.,
switch from Major to parallel minor (e.g., "I'll Be Back"), and then it's a
short hop to the relative Major (e.g., AILH). Off the top of my head I can't
think of a song that combines both these techniques but it's not unheard of;
Going to a foreign key is one thing, but getting back to the original one
can be even more challenging; like rescuing a cat from a treetop. In this
case, the Beatles use a pivot chord we haven't seen yet, the "flat II";
sometimes called the "Neapolitan chord".
It's not all that exotic a chord, by the way; a lot of Baroque music employs
this chord in final cadences such as flat II->V-I with the flat II in its
first inversion. Usage of the flat II chord in YGTLTG is unusual in that
appears in root position and without a V chord between it and the I.
This is not the first time the Beatles used this device; it is used
with similarly audacious effect in "Things We Said Today" to slide back
to the home key from the break.
Our break section cruises along nicely in G, and then just as deftly
as it shifted here from E, it shifts back as follows to E for the beginning
of the guitar solo:
G C G - G C F |E
G: I IV I IV flat VII
E: V-of- flat II I
The effect of this is enhanced by the fact the break is an imbalanced
seven-measure length; repeat the F chord for an additional measure
before dropping to E and you'll see that it's more satisfactorially
four-square in one respect but less, for lack of a better word, "fun."
Putting it All Together
At a high level, the form of this song is a rather standard two-break
model with a guitar solo for verse three:
Verse Verse Break Verse Break Verse
There are some unusual details nontheless. In the songs we've looked
at so far we've seen a convention of two verses, each of which is 4-times-4
(i.e., 16) measures. With YGTLTG, we have something slightly more subtle.
The first section of the song is 30 measures long and consists of 7.5 phrases;
7 of which build a symmetrical "mosaic" out of the following two phrases,
labelled A and B, and the last, half-phrase being the extension which
connects the bridge (measures 28-30 described above):
Phrase "A" ("You're going to lose that girl..."):
E c# f#9 B
E: I vi ii V
Phrase "B" ("If you don't take her out tonight ..."):
E G# f# B
I V-of-vi ii V
The mosaic pattern is A-BB-A-BB-A. For all its symmetry, though, this passage
keeps us a great deal more off balance then the more typical design of 16+16
for a couple of reasons beyond the obvious non-square nature of a grouping of
- there is an almost hypnotic effect created by the fact that both phrases A
and B end with a ii->V chord progression. If it wasn't for the delightful
"9" chord in phrase A (with the falsetto G# in the voices) we'd have a
potential problem with monotony.
- in the instrumental arrangement, the drums make their first appearance on
the first B phrase making the opening A phrase sound ambiguously like
"maybe" an introduction.
From a casual listen, we're not sure how the seven phrases are meant to be
parsed; is it two verses of ABB-ABB with a concluding repeat of A or is it
two verses of BB surrounded on each side with a refrain of A ? But my
question is a bit of a strawman. The section following each break section
is, indeed, a 12 measure verse of BBA design. In retrospect, we must
conclude that the opening 7 phrases are intended to be understood as
two BBA verses preceeded by what we suspected was an introductory A
phrase. Of course, this may be "correct" but probably is academically
beside the point; the un-analyzed, elliptical ambiguity is an important
part of our experience of this song.
Other Choice Details
- another "in medias res" opening: no intro, not even a single chord
from which the singers can find their opening notes -- a miracle of
the recording studio :-).
- a fast harmonic rhythm throughout -- there's a chord change on almost
every measure except, interestingly, in the break sections.
- the final cadence: just when you think we might repeat the trick
modulation to flat III for the third time, the song simply concludes
with a nice, "traditional" flat VII->IV-I ending.
- and of course, those bongos -- unessential but delightful; a sort
of squiggly pencil border drawn around a colorful drawing. For a
really good time (just when you think you've had your fill of this song)
give it a listen, preferably with earphones, and try and hear the bongo part
in the foreground with the rest of the music as "accompaniment." Who
said Ringo couldn't do anything intricate ?
"They tried to fob you off on this musical charlatan,
but *I* gave him the test." 071989#7A
Ook op Help!:
(c) 2023 Serge Girard