Ticket To Ride - The Beatles

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"Ticket To Ride" - The Beatles (1965)

Recorded in  February 1965, Lennon said "Ticket To Ride" was the first “heavy metal” song due to its droning bassline, repeating drums, and loaded guitar lines. He would reduce McCartney’s contributions on the song to the way Ringo played the drums.

McCartney remembers it quite differently: We sat down and wrote it together for a full three-hour songwriting session, and at the end of it all we had all the words, we had the harmonies, and we had all the little bits. We wrote the melody together; you can hear on the record, John's taking the melody and I'm singing harmony with it.

The song's meaning has been subject to a number of interpretations over the years. While ostensibly about a liberated girl choosing her own path in life, it could also refer to the time they spent in Hamburg- specifically- the licenses prostitutes in that city had to acquire to have a clean bill of health to be legal. John claims he had coined the phrase 'a ticket to ride' to describe these cards.

Yet another version of the song’s origins comes from McCartney himself who says his cousin Bett and her husband Mike Robbins owned a pub on Union Street in Ryde, on the south coast of the Isle of Wight. In the early 1960s Lennon and McCartney hitch-hiked to stay with them, and several years later the journey inspired a pun on the phrase “ticket to Ryde.”

The song represented the first use of the Beatle’s  new technique: recording rhythm tracks first and overdubbing vocals and other layered effects later. The rhythm parts were harder and heavier than they had been on any previous Beatles outing, particularly in Ringo’s stormy stutters and rolls. It was the first Beatle song that went past three minutes and the first attempt to convey on record the impact achievable live.

The track was unique due to the glistening opening guitar riff that establishes the beat, and the jagged, whack-and-jump drum pattern that rams the beat forward.  Harrison used a new device that would do so electronically: the volume/tone pedal, which could alter the tone’s dynamic profile after its articulation by the hand.

Ringo always played to the vocals- and this song is a perfect example. Throughout, he is in almost telepathic sync with the heartbreak theme, and follows Lennon where he needs him to be.

McCartney remembers of the track:

"I think the interesting thing was a crazy ending: instead of ending like the previous verse, we changed the tempo. We picked up one of the lines, My baby don't care, but completely altered the melody. We almost invented the idea of a new bit of a song on the fade-out; it was something specially written for the fade-out, which was very effective but it was quite cheeky and we did a fast ending. It was quite radical at the time."

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