Day 84: “Hello, Goodbye”

When was it recorded?  Oct. 2 – Nov. 2, 1967

When was it first released, and on which album?  Nov. 24, 1967 as a single

Who wrote it?  McCartney

Have I heard this song before?  YES

What my research dug up:

“Hello, Goodbye” was written by Paul (with a little help from Brian Epstein’s personal assistant Alistair Taylor) at his home in London. Taylor asked Paul about his songwriting process, and, well…

“Paul marched me into the dining room, where he had a marvellous old hand-carved harmonium. ‘Come and sit at the other end of the harmonium. You hit any note you like on the keyboard. Just hit it and I’ll do the same. Now whenever I shout out a word, you shout the opposite and I’ll make up a tune. You watch, it’ll make music’… ‘Black,’ he started. ‘White,’ I replied. ‘Yes.’ ‘No.’ ‘Good.’ ‘Bad.’ Hello.’ ‘Goodbye.’ I wonder whether Paul really made up that song as he went along or whether it was running through his head already.” — Alistair Taylor (Yesterday)

According to Paul, the song was always intended to be unsophisticated — “The answer to everything is simple. It’s a song about everything and nothing. If you have black you have to have white. That’s the amazing thing about life” (Disc). Paul also focused on emphasizing the positive (notice how the song’s narrator is the one saying things like “hello” and “go”). John hated it, calling it in 1980 “three minutes of contradictions and meaningless juxtapositions” (Beatles Bible).

Alan Pollack noted, “There is an ironic tension between the lyrics and the musical mood of this song that operates on a deeper level than the irony of the lyrics themselves. The words sound like a whimsical update of that sentimental favorite of the thirties… The music, though, has a nervous, pounding, passion that seems to curiously belie the words.” Even as a kid, I noticed that tension, so I appreciate the articulation of this observation.

“Hello, Goodbye” is also simple melodically. It’s in 4/4 (common) time and the key of C Major (no sharp or flat notes).

With the working title of “Hello, Hello,” recording began Oct. 2. Overdubs were added Oct. 19; George Martin added violas the next day. Of his time recording, Violist Ken Essex provides maybe my favorite quote of any article I’ve read for this blog – “All of The Beatles were there. One of them was sitting on the floor in what looked like a pyjama suit, drawing with crayons on a piece of paper” (Mark Lewisohn, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions). Paul added a bass part Oct. 25, then another on Nov. 2, finally allowing the song to be mixed and completed Nov. 6.

The “Hello, Goodbye” single was the first song released by the Beatles following the death of their manager Brian Epstein on Aug. 27. The single featured “I Am the Walrus” on the B-side (which pissed John off to no end). “Hello, Goodbye” appeared on the US release of “Magical Mystery Tour” (hence my tag) but not the UK version.

“Hello, Goodbye” was the Beatles’ fifteenth #1 single in America and similarly topped the charts for seven weeks in Britain. It was certified Gold by the RIAA.

But onto what really matters – the music videos!

(Thanks, Ed.) There were three versions of the “promotional film” for “Hello, Goodbye.” On Nov. 10, Paul directed all three – well, in his words…

“I didn’t really direct the film – all we needed was a couple of cameras, some good cameramen, a bit of sound and some dancing girls. I thought, ‘We’ll just hire a theatre and show up there one afternoon.’ And that was what we did: we took our Sgt. Pepper suits along and filmed at the Saville Theatre in the West End.” — Paul McCartney (Anthology)

Video One is the one you just watched – to a point. Originally, the opening was in color and the hula girls danced to the end. According to the Wog Blog, when the Anthology project was released, the opening was rendered into black and white and parts of Video Three were spliced onto the ending instead.

Video Two is similar to the first video, only the boys aren’t wearing their Pepper uniforms, appearing instead in their everyday wear (which, for the late ‘60s is still highly entertaining). The Beatles Bible also notes Ringo’s drum kit has their logo on it, which didn’t appear in Video One.

This version of the video also uses a different version of the “Hello, Goodbye” song found on “Anthology 2.” George absolutely kills it on that guitar part. The piano part sounds slightly more prominent too, but that could just be my ears.

Video Three is basically outtakes from the filming sessions. The quality on this one isn’t as good, but it’s fun enough for me to put up with some fuzz.

Quoth Wikipedia, “The films were not aired by the BBC due to the Musicians Union’s strict rules on miming.” Britain has/had some strange media rules, but I think this one takes the cake of what I’ve heard. Obviously, this rule was unheard of in the US, as Video One debuted on “The Ed Sullivan Show” Nov. 26.

The end of “Hello, Goodbye” plays during the credits of the “Magical Mystery Tour” film. I figured a video of that would be boring, so I’m not posting one.

As I mentioned earlier, “Hello, Goodbye” is one Beatles song I’ve always been conscious of and one of my favorite Beatles songs that I’ve heard so far. I think my nostalgia filter is too heavy to make an objective “this is good/this is bad” statement on this tune (not that that’s a bad thing).




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