Day 41: “Cry Baby Cry” (+ “Can you take me back?”)

When was “Cry Baby Cry” recorded? Jul. 16, 1968

When was “Can you take me back” recorded?  Sept. 16, 1968

When was they first released, and on which album?  Nov. 22, 1968 on “The Beatles”

Who wrote “Cry Baby Cry?”  Lennon

Who wrote “Can you take me back?”  McCartney

Have I heard either song before?  NO

What my research dug up:

Happy Saturday — have two songs for the price of one!  Well, one of them is less than 30 seconds long so it’s not that much of a bonus, but us beggars can’t be chooser.

John wrote “Cry Baby Cry” probably in late 1967, inspired by a TV commercial that used the slogan, “Cry, baby, cry / Make your mother buy.”  Lyric-wise, the song also brings to mind the nursery rhyme, “Sing a Song of Sixpence.”  To quote Allan Pollack, “The fancifully surreal nursery rhyme verses are striking themselves, with their alternating King and Queen, Duchess and Duke. When the pattern is broken in the final verse you wonder if he’s avoiding foolish consistency, or like Paul in “What You’re Doing”, he just ran out of options. But in any event, it’s the unexplained and ambiguous, just-this-side-of-nasty needling of the refrain that fascinates you in spite of yourself. Is John singing the song about “mother” in third person, or is he singing in the first person, in which case the offending line should be taken as self-mocking?”

Pollack’s analysis mentions a demo version Wikipedia didn’t mention.  Based on what Pollack wrote, especially regarding its lack of an intro, I’m guessing this is it.

Two months later, Paul was in the studio working on another White Album track, “I Will.”  According to Wikipedia, there are 67 takes of that song, which, fucking shit.  On the 19th take, Paul “ad-libbed an untitled and un-copyrighted song (referred to as “Can you take me back?” by author Ian MacDonald)” (Wikipedia).  It’s a whopping 28 seconds long, hence it being tacked onto “Cry Baby Cry.”

Notable event of the “Cry Baby Cry” recording process –oft mentioned sound engineer Geoff Emerick resigned.  One of many people feeling the tension during the White Album session, he reached his breaking point during the recording of “Cry Baby Cry.”  Nice job breaking it, boys.  Emerick didn’t work the Beatles again until “The Ballad of John and Yoko.”

The first take of “Cry Baby Cry” appeared on “Anthology 3.”  Quoth Pollack, “the arrangement is slightly plainer in a way that makes you appreciate all the more so the value added by the small details.”

The album version didn’t do much for me, but I’m torn between whether I like John’s demo or Take #1 better.




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