Researching the Beatles' mysteries hidden in plain sight.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Looking at fret board
This is an issue that has had it's proportions exaggerated and blown out of proportion, and it just won't go away, so I am going to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation into it.
Many say "'Faul' constantly looks at his hands during the Hello Goodbye promo film!" and that "it's clearly obvious that doesn't know how to play the instrument." In the Hello Goodbye video, I see him look at his hands a grand total of 5 times, and 3 of those are during the last 10 seconds of the song (excluding the outro). And when he’s not looking at his hands, he’s doing a fine job, going for long intervals without looking. He even stomps for awhile, without looking at his hands, which would require even more concentration. But most of all, bearing in mind this is not a live performance and it doesn’t matter if he’s hitting the right notes. www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBZ8ulc5NTg
alternate take. I see him do it twice, maybe half a third time, here. Once is when going from the very end of the neck to the middle, which would require just about anyone the need to look. www.youtube.com/watch?v=suEUPQFSJm0
1969 live rooftop concert, tearing it up with nary an unnecessary hand-look. Not even during the intro to I Dig A Pony, which is quite complex. That’s quite a feat. The rest of the song features lots of spacious walk-downs, that would understandably require some looks. At 6:35 he repeats the entire intro sequence without looking, not counting looking at the fret board to start the riff after a one measure of rest. And I don’t see one look during Get Back. www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFJFsyAAoZ4 I don’t know how many people here know how to play the bass lines to Beatles songs, but most of them, particularly the ones after Help! are quite intricate though they’re mostly 3rds & 5ths bluesy riffs, which wouldn’t require much looking. By 1967 the bass lines became more intricate, and the ones they performed on the roof in 1969 are no exception. I spent two years learning to play every Beatles song on guitar, bass and piano. I got most of them down, but one of the few that I just could not get was the bass line to Hello Goodbye. And that was after two years! There’s a lot of mind-bending pretzel twists in that bass line. Frankly, I'm astounded at how well he performs it in the promo film. What I think many people don’t realize is that a lot of Beatles & Wings bass lines are often times essentially similar to lead guitar solos. Taking into account he 'wrote' it, I’m still not surprised that he’d have to look at his fret board a handful of times on Hello Goodbye, especially when considering it was only approximately a few months old at that time.
You’d think if Paul was replaced by someone "that couldn’t play as well as Paul", they would make sure the bass lines were simplistic enough so that if he ever did perform them live, he could do it easily. Unfortunately, they didn’t play these songs during the Beatlemania years, and we can’t compare how a pre-67 Paul would’ve performed these songs. I know they did a lot of things to perpetuate the PID mythos, and the ‘looking at the fret board’ argument has a bit of merit, but as it seems to me, gets exaggerated. Not saying it’s not there. But forcing a ‘never’ vs. ‘constantly’ comparison is stretching it.
The first Beatlemania performance I found, I see him make an awkward hand-look at 0:20, and a few more times after that, though I only watched the first minute. He also does a strange rubbery dance thing with his leg I’ve never seen before.
Another thing I found odd, is that after 2+ years of playing for hours every night in Hamburg, 'Paul' hadn't established a consistent playing style by 1964.
Here 'Paul' plays by plucking the strings with his thumb, with his elbow tucked in and his guitar angled out. Sloppy and awkward stage presence. This a performance of I Wanna Be Your Man in 1964 during the Big Night Out show on TV. www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNis0oxrJ7k
The Paul in this video has the same stage presence and awkward performance style. Here they are performing Twist And Shout and She Loves You.
During this performance of Twist & Shout he plucks by the pickups, and during She Loves You he plucks with his fingers up by the neck. This Paul has a big head and narrow chin, and a bigger Adam's Apple than usual.
The first 30 seconds he's on screen in this Day Tripper promo, he looks at the fret board 5 times. And many more times after that. www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTajbTWhMRc At 1:54 he does the Hello Goodbye leer.
I feel as though this looking at fret board angle has been blown out of proportion. Particularly coming from the one Paul vs. one Faul theory.