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Dancing About Architecture: A Songwriter's Guide to the Lennon-Mccartney Catalog

Dancing About Architecture: A Songwriter's Guide to the Lennon-Mccartney Catalog

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Dancing About Architecture: A Songwriter's Guide to the Lennon-Mccartney Catalog

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Lançado em:
Jun 11, 2013


Dancing About Architecture reveals how J&P's very first song, Love Me Do, showcased from the start their individual songwriting fingerprints; how John contributed to the quintessential Paulsong, Yesterday; what makes a Johnsong a Johnsong and a Paulsong a Paulsong; and, among other things, the DNA linking such different songs as She Said She Said and Good Day Sunshine, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Shes Leaving Home, and Norwegian Wood and The Fool on the Hill among many others.

Dancing About Architecture traces the individual fingerprints of J&P on each of their 162 collaborations from Love Me Do to The Long and Winding Road, from the simplest structures (Please Please Me and I Saw Her Standing There) to the more complex (Getting Better and Happiness Is a Warm Gun) to their culmination in the Abbey Road medley; and provides thumbnails for the structures of each song.

Dancing About Architecture is about songwriting more than songwriters and for songwriters more than fans, tracking as it does the expansion of their repertoire through each musical discovery from song to song, album to album, and triumph to triumph until elanem were sitting on top of the world.
Lançado em:
Jun 11, 2013

Sobre o autor

Boman Desai grew up in Bombay, but has lived most of his adult life in Chicago. After studying Architecture and Philosophy, and getting degrees in Psychology and English, he was set to become a market analyst when a chance encounter with Sir Edmund Hillary, his earliest hero, brought him back to his vocation: writing novels. He took a number of parttime jobs ranging from bartending to teaching to find time to write. He got his first break when an elegant elderly woman personally submitted a number of his stories to the editor-in-chief of Debonair magazine in Bombay. The stories were all published, but the woman disappeared and her identity remains a mystery to this day. He has since published fiction and non in the US, UK, and India. His work has won awards from the Illinois Arts Council, Stand Magazine, Dana, Noemi, War Poems, and New Millennium (among others). He has taught at Truman College, Roosevelt University, and is currently on the faculty of the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. He has published five novels, the best known of which are The Memory of Elephants and TRIO. Among other things, he is an amateur musician and Brahms scholar. He may be reached at boman@core.com.

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Dancing About Architecture - Boman Desai



Dancing About Architecture



Love Me Do

P.S. I Love You

Please Please Me

Ask Me Why


I Saw Her Standing There


Do You Want To Know A Secret

There’s A Place

From Me To You

Thank You Girl

She Loves You

I’ll Get You


It Won’t Be Long

All I’ve Got To Do

All My Loving

Little Child

Hold Me Tight

I Wanna Be Your Man

Not A Second Time

I Want To Hold Your Hand

This Boy

Can’t Buy Me Love

You Can’t Do That

I Call Your Name

A Hard Day’s Night

Things We Said Today


I Should Have Known Better

If I Fell

I’m Happy Just To Dance With You

And I Love Her

Tell Me Why

Any Time At All

I’ll Cry Instead

When I Get Home

I’ll Be Back


I Feel Fine

She’s A Woman


No Reply

I’m A Loser

Baby’s In Black

I’ll Follow The Sun

Eight Days A Week

Every Little Thing

I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party

What You’re Doing

Ticket To Ride

Yes It Is


I’m Down


The Night Before

You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away

Another Girl

You’re Going To Lose That Girl

It’s Only Love

Tell Me What You See

I’ve Just Seen A Face


Day Tripper

We Can Work It Out


Drive My Car

Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)

You Won’t See Me

Nowhere Man

The Word


What Goes On (Lennon-Mccartney-Starkey)


I’m Looking Through You

In My Life


Run For Your Life


Paperback Writer


Eleanor Rigby

Yellow Submarine


I’m Only Sleeping

Here, There And Everywhere

She Said She Said

Good Day Sunshine

And Your Bird Can Sing

For No One

Doctor Robert

Got To Get You Into My Life

Tomorrow Never Knows

Penny Lane

Strawberry Fields Forever


Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

With A Little Help From My Friends

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Getting Better

Fixing A Hole

She’s Leaving Home

Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite

When I’m Sixty-Four

Lovely Rita

Good Morning Good Morning

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)

A Day In The Life

All You Need Is Love

Baby You’re A Rich Man

Hello Goodbye

I Am The Walrus


Magical Mystery Tour

The Fool On The Hill

Flying (Lennon-Mccartney-Harrison-Starkey)

Your Mother Should Know


Lady Madonna

Hey Jude



Back In The U.S.S.R.

Dear Prudence

Glass Onion

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Wild Honey Pie

The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill

Happiness Is A Warm Gun

Martha My Dear

I’m So Tired


Rocky Raccoon

Why Don’t We Do It In The Road

I Will



Yer Blues

Mother Nature’s Son

Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey

Sexy Sadie

Helter Skelter

Revolution 1

Honey Pie

Cry Baby Cry

Revolution 9

Good Night


All Together Now

Hey Bulldog

Get Back

Don’t Let Me Down

The Ballad Of John And Yoko


Come Together

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

Oh! Darling

I Want You (She’s So Heavy)


You Never Give Me Your Money

Sun King

Mean Mr. Mustard

Polythene Pam

She Came In Through The Bathroom Window

Golden Slumbers

Carry That Weight

The End

Her Majesty


You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)

Let It Be

Two Of Us

Dig A Pony

Across The Universe

Dig It (Lennon-Mccartney-Harrison-Starkey)

I’ve Got A Feeling

One After 909

The Long And Winding Road

Appendix One Song Siblings

Appendix Two Love Songs



About The Author




Boman Desai has dramatized the story of the Schumanns and Brahms in the form of a novel, citing their original correspondence among his sources. He has researched this most romantic of stories thoroughly, but writes so compellingly that it is like discovering the story anew. The great composers of the age make appearances when their lives intersect those of the trio, and I was glad to see that Desai presents them to us, warts and all, with the deepest sympathy and understanding. It is perhaps his greatest achievement that they appear as fullbloodedly as if they might have been his neighbors.

Zubin Mehta (Israel Philharmonic Orchestra)

I loved and admired this book.

Diana Athill (editor of Norman Mailer, John Updike, V. S. Naipaul)

I loved your book. You completely transported me. I read it through at a gallop. The love & feeling you have for the subject comes through—you disappeared & they appeared on the page, in the flesh, & I could hear their music. Congratulations.

Sooni Taraporevala (screenwriter: Salaam Bombay, Mississippi Masala, Such a Long Journey)

I have just finished your novel, Trio, and found it compelling and illuminating. As a scholar and sometime singer, I fully appreciated the immense scholarship and empathy that went into it. Would that the reading public could appreciate such a story as well told. It’s a story that Tolstoy might have told in similar terms, and I do hope that it eventually gets you the recognition it deserves.

Vernon A. Howard (taught esthetics at Harvard for 20 years)


A big book with a baroque design. By an interweaving of narrative voices, a brilliant picture is drawn not only of individuals, but of a whole upper-class Indian family.


India comes to life with great vividness and humor. Added to that are rewarding insights into the alien wisdom of exiles. The writing is never dull. The observations are acute; you sense a generosity of spirit in Desai’s way of looking at the world and at people.

Yorkshire Post

Fantastical though the framework, the book is neither a fantasy nor science fiction, but a vividly realistic presentation of three generations of Parsis. A variety of strikingly life-like characters, drawn with a warm feeling of kinship, yet with much humor, and often with a penetrating satirical observation, give the novel a vibrant sense of reality.

The Indian Post

The characterizations are vibrant… The writing has so much drive that, once started, it is almost impossible to leave this book unfinished.

The Statesman Literary Supplement, India


A foray into the gruelling initiation rites of a modern woman unafraid of her freedom, the novel is brimful of erudition, some age-old wisdoms and a more recent one that everyone seems to have forgotten: the meaning of gender equality. For all the drama of western feminism, even sexually, intellectually, financially and socially empowered women like [Farida] Cooper are often still pretty much enslaved.

Tara Sahgal, India Today

A stirring page-turner from Boman Desai, who weaves an extremely complex tapestry of marriage, love and betrayal from his story.

Prasenjit Chowdhury, Deccan Herald

With A Woman Madly in Love, Boman Desai has achieved a remarkable feat; he has written an erudite and literary novel which is also a potboiler.

Bapsi Sidhwa, author of Cracking India and The Crow Eaters




I am indebted to many for easing my path while putting this book together, among them again the Dadabhoys (Porus, Zerin, Darius, and Dina—and Amir and Cyrus and Arianna and Chewy), the Limbecks (Kevin and Wendy), Robin Blench, the Weils (Zarine and Richard), Barry Birnbaum, Colm Hennessey and Russell Paulse, the Tata-Colchesters (Shirin and Giles and Farah and Peter), the Diller-Ernsts (Lois and Ron), the Koptaks (Paul and Linda), the Venkateshes (Viji and Venki), Ayeshah Dadachanji, the Chaudharis (Babu and Shama), Shiv Mathur (for the 18 notes)—and, of course, John, Paul, George, and Ringo for immeasurable hours of wonder and joy.


Elvis Costello is reputed to have said: Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. It’s a really stupid thing to want to do. He is right insofar as every piece of music must be heard to be fully appreciated, writing about music can never be a substitute for the music itself, but there is an art to writing (and reading) about music that is pleasurable for its own sake—sometimes, depending on the music under the microscope, more pleasurable than listening to the music itself.

Different listeners will have different interpretations. On hearing Brahms’s Fourth Symphony, Elisabet von Herzogenberg (among his closest friends, whose opinion he valued) wrote to say: It is a walk through exquisite scenery at sunset, when the colours deepen and the crimson glows to purple. Her response is even more interesting juxtaposed with that of Richard Strauss, who received an unforgettable impression of the new Brahms Symphony, the Andante of which ‘reminded him of a funeral procession moving in silence across moonlit heights.’ It doesn’t matter that the same movement evoked moonlight for Strauss and sunset for Herzogenberg. Moonlight and sunset may not be the same, but they have aspects in common, both invoking heavenly bodies, both striving for expression beyond words, and it is the similarities that tell us more about the music than the differences. The music could never, for instance, characterize a chase or a battle or a cartoon. If someone were to offer such an interpretation he would be subject to suspicion himself.

Costello’s disenchantment with writing about music is perhaps easy to understand. Composers compose, aficionados listen—and talking heads prattle, often more intent on what they have to say about the music than what the composer has to say. In a Post-Deconstructionist age it becomes too easy to misinterpret an artist’s original intent in favor of the interpreter’s intent, or to saddle an artist with the psychological baggage of the interpreter. John Lennon grew sick of explaining that the acronym (LSD) in Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was a coincidence. Paul McCartney has said he could understand that many interpretations may be applied to a phrase or piece of music, but when someone suggested that Can’t Buy Me Love was about a prostitute he drew the line—and the line MUST be drawn, but not at the risk of throwing away baby and bathwater.

George Martin (who produced the Beatles) called Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sculpture in music, referring to the layering of one track over another, but the phrase also suggests a lazier use of the imagination than either Herzogenberg’s or Strauss’s, merely an exchange of one genre for another—and that is the more telling thrust against dancing about architecture, that it merely substitutes one genre for another. In that respect it is intrinsically different from Writing About Music since writing, unlike dancing, is a critical as much as an artistic tool. Martin’s phrase also suggests that sculpture is more elevated than music, which is rubbish, providing fodder for Costello’s pique. In Martin’s defence, he is a superb producer, without whom the Beatles would have scaled lesser heights. He is not a writer and not to be blamed for being imprecise with words. Unfortunately, too many who call themselves writers are no less imprecise.

On a lighter note, I am reminded of a song from my boyhood, Poetry in Motion, by Johnny Tillotson. If a woman can be poetry in motion, then why not architecture in motion? Also, while we may be imprecise about what we mean by dancing about architecture we may surely agree that dance is itself a form of interpretation—and if dance may interpret Sleeping Beauty or the Rite of Spring or Billy the Kid, why not the Taj Mahal? We may agree no less surely that dancing about the Taj Mahal would be different from dancing about Falling Water or Anne Hathaway’s Cottage or the Empire State Building—and perhaps that is a significant enough difference to allow dancing about architecture.


Getting to know a song is like getting to know a person. A catchy song draws attention like a charismatic person. That is the surface appeal, and necessary to draw attention. Some are satisfied with an attractive song, a rich husband, a trophy wife. Others dig deeper.

Dancing About Architecture is about digging deeper. It is not an analysis of the songs (I’m a songwriter¹, not a musicologist, barely a musician), but traces the development of John Lennon and Paul McCartney as songwriters and recording artists with each successive release, tracing each new advance in inspiration and craft from song to song, musically and lyrically, highlighting their First use of various tools in the songwriter’s kit from the most basic song structures, harmonies, modulations, arrangements, and riffs to feedback, syncopation, time signatures, and tape loops among other such experiments, as dictated by their inspiration and whims, incidentally revealing what makes a song tick. The focus, even when production developments are mentioned, remains on the craft of the song itself, its composition more than its performance or production.

None of these Firsts matters much alone, and some are admittedly arbitrary (for instance, With the Beatles bears George Harrison’s First contribution, Don’t Bother Me, to the Beatles catalog), but I chose to err on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion. More to the point, the incremental growth in Lennon-McCartney’s understanding of how a song worked, the accumulation of knowledge and technique from album to album, incidentally bringing the pop song into the realm of art, forced others (as Carole King said) to go back to the drawing board and rethink what it meant to write a song. The pop song had reached its most sophisticated heights in the first half of the century with the advent of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Duke Ellington, and Rodgers and Hart/Hammerstein among others—but sophistication proved its death knell. It needed new direction to keep from stagnating, and found it in Rock and Roll. Elvis Presley’s following proved so gargantuan that the songwriters of Tin Pan Alley were forced to change their style to suit the huge new market he had created: sophistication was out, simplicity in; subtlety out, confrontation in; romance out, passion in; pleasantries out, attitude in; big bands out, rock combos in; suits out, hair in.

More importantly, Rock and Roll was a social as much as a musical revolution. The stultifying conformity of the 50s needed nothing so much as the breath of fresh air that blew in from Memphis, Tennessee in 1955, a breath that wafted around the world, crossing national and political boundaries (I once saw a postcard of a guitar-slung Elvis tacked to the wall of a mud hut in rural India), most importantly to Liverpool, England. John said nothing affected him before Elvis, Paul said Elvis picked him up when he was down, John singled out Heartbreak Hotel, Paul All Shook Up, ironically beginning the movement that was to eclipse Elvis. No less ironically, they eclipsed Elvis by making the music sophisticated again, adding ingenuity to attitude while sacrificing none of the edge inherited from Elvis. It is this development from the simple back to the sophisticated that I have attempted to trace from song to song and album to album. It is a measure of the distance traveled by Rock and Roll that Elvis Costello has written songs as sophisticated as any by Cole Porter & Co., but nothing in the pre-50s canon matches the post for sheer grit. In large part, it was a sign of the times. The music had always been there for those interested enough, in the black churches, ghettos, and nightclubs, but it took an Elvis to bring the music into the mainstream.

In deference to the earlier songwriters it should be said that even at their peak Lennon-McCartney were less sophisticated than Cole Porter, less knowledgeable than the Gershwins, less complex than Duke Ellington, less craftsmanlike than Rodgers and Hart, less clever than Lerner and Lowe, less concise than Irving Berlin, less this than them and less that than those, no song of theirs has a longer melodic breath than the Bee Gees Fanny (be tender with my love) and How Deep Is Your Love, no song has greater bite than Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone and Idiot Wind, their lyrics (with notable exceptions), especially early in their catalog, were primarily functional, catch phrases exalted into songs—but, no argument, their timing was the best. They represented the century like no one else, absorbing those who went before (Porter, et cetera, from the music of their parents, but also Bacharach-David, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Smokey Robinson, Lieber-Stoller, Richard Penniman, Pomus-Shuman, and Goffin-King among others), and influencing those who came after (Jagger-Richards, the brothers Wilson and Gibb, Bob Dylan, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, John-Taupin, and Elvis Costello to name a few). No other songwriters looked backward and forward with the same aplomb. Most of those who went before couldn’t match their influence, and most who came after couldn’t match their range (Paul Simon and James Taylor were never rockers, nor were the brothers Wilson and Gibb, Jagger-Richards and Dylan were never as melodic, Mitchell never as extraverted, HDH never as introverted), but even among those who could match their range, among them Stevie Wonder, John-Taupin, and Elvis Costello (even exceeding their range), John-Taupin were never as serious, Wonder and Costello never as much fun. Lennon-McCartney were all things to all people, rockers and balladeers, lyricists and melodists, extraverted and introverted, serious and fun, political and pop, in part the reason they appealed to a generation like no one else, musicians and non-musicians alike. Their popularity had as much to do with their timing as their talent—which was phenomenal.

They were intuitive musicians, uneducated but curious—which was their saving grace. George Martin, their producer, knowing as much as he did about music, was skeptical of their talents at first, suggesting songs by established songwriters to fill their albums, even suggesting they not end She Loves You on a 6th chord (Harrison’s inspiration) because it was old-fashioned, it was a jazz chord, not done in pop—but they insisted, and Martin became a believer. They cared less about what was done or not done than about what sounded right. It was the simplest test. If it sounded right the rest didn’t matter. Agatha Christie said if the facts bely the theory, throw away the theory. Academics and intellectuals tend to stick with the theory, either too lazy or smug or otherwise unwilling or unable to test their conclusions—but not the Beatles, always more intelligent than intellectual. Many songwriters understood music better than Lennon-McCartney—intellectually, but not intuitively. Had they known what they were not supposed to do, they might never have done it. What they knew didn’t matter as much as what they did with what they knew. Learning a new chord they included it in the next song; hearing an unusual sound they incorporated it; making mistakes they left them in if they enhanced the song. What they didn’t know they could learn, but what they knew couldn’t be taught—and, ironically, songwriters who understood music better would not have had their day had Lennon-McCartney not paved the way.

Their curiosity sustained them no less through their success. Where others were content to rest on their laurels (Presley the prime offender on the evidence of his experiences in Hollywood and Vegas), their successes spurred them to greater creative heights. With the Beatles would not have been possible without Please Please Me, likewise A Hard Day’s Night without With the Beatles, Beatles for Sale without A Hard Day’s Night, and so on. Each album built on the previous, creatively and technically, except The Beatles (better known as the White Album, a conglomeration of the various styles they had perfected, though not without further experimentation)—and Let It Be (once to be called Get Back, a return to their roots), recorded before Abbey Road (their magnum opus, the culmination of everything they knew), but released after.

Everyone has favorites, but this book is not about favorites. It is

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