SFF Song of the Week: Chris Beckett

The SFF Song of the Week slot has taken a brief hiatus to allow me to, ah, savour Christmas,  then have a delightful holiday in Marrakesh.

But it’s back! Today! With a wonderful choice by a fine writer & pal, Chris Beckett, author of The Holy Machine. To read about his work, click here. To read what he has to say about a song from that fantasy epic Yellow Submarine…look downwards…

Chris Beckett writes:

The Beatles: Hey Bulldog

from the movie soundtrack of Yellow Submarine

I suppose it is not very adventurous to pick a Beatles song but this is at least a relatively obscure one.  I absolutely loved this song when I first heard it in the movie Yellow Submarine. After that I didn’t hear it for many years, but I looked it up recently and still found it quite delightful.  It isn’t a particularly original observation, but the Beatles really were good.  As my son Dom commented, most bands would have been glad to release a song like this as a single (and one can imagine bands quite happily settling for this as the trademark song of their career) but the Beatles never even included it on a ‘proper’ album (only on the soundtrack album of the film).  The words, like many Beatles lyrics, engage only intermittently with meaning, but who cares?  The song works, it is full of energy, and it is a perfect showcase for Lennon’s rasping voice.

I like this video too.  Lennon was a bit of a prat in many ways, but I sort of loved him.  I don’t buy, even slightly, into the whole maudlin cult of him as a prophet of peace.  His pronouncements on such matters are usually frankly cringe-makiing.  But there was something sweet and lovable about the man, and something touchingly vulnerable, all of which comes over (for me) in this video.  The first LP record I ever bought for myself as a teenager was Lennon’s solo album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, which lacked the lush arrangements both of Beatles records and of Lennon’s subsequent, rather dull solo efforts.  The rasping voice seemed to have found its natural home in songs expressing childhood pain, and as an angst-ridden teenager I absolutely lapped it up.

One odd thing I notice about my reation to this video.  Almost in the way that the child of a troubled marriage is happy and relieved to see his parents getting on, I still find myself curiously reassured to see John and Paul so obviously having fun together, even after all this time. How sad is that!

Sheep dog standing in the rain
Bull grog doing it again
Some kind of happiness is
measured out in miles
What make you think you’re
something special when you smile

Childlike no on understand
Jack knife in your sweaty hands
Some kind of innocence is
measured out in years
You don’t know what it’s like
to listen to you fears

You can talk to me
You can talk to me
You can talk to me
If you’re lonely, you can talk to me

Big man walking in the park
Wigwam frightened of the dark
Some kind of solitude is
measured out in you
You think you know but you haven’t got a clue

You can talk to me
You can talk to me
You can talk to me
If you’re lonely, you can talk to me

Hey Bulldog

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