You Never Give Me Your Money - The Beatles

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"You Never Give Me Your Money" - The Beatles (1969)

The conventional view is that “You Never Give Me Your Money” is about The Beatles’ business problems. The line “you only give me your funny paper” is how they felt they were being paid for their efforts.

George remarked on the track:

“We get bits of paper saying how much is earned and what this and that is but we never actually get it in pounds, shillings and pence. We’ve all got a big house and a car and an office, but to actually get the money we’ve earned seemed impossible.”

The track synthesizes a folksy-ballad style with musical elements that are typically associated with popular jazz standards and jazz-based harmonies. It becomes a pop symphony as the ensuing sequence resembles a dream not so much in the subject matter of the individual segments…but in the almost hallucinatory way one musical lyrical setting unfolds into another.

The song does two verses of one tune, and then the bridge is almost like a different song altogether. It makes it quite melodic as these melodic overtones are the result of his guitar being fed into a rotating Leslie speaker. The evocation of nostalgia by the honky-tonk piano and the haze of the filtered colors have a “flashback” effect, as the singer remembers a time when he had “nowhere to go.”

Beatle scholar Ian MacDonald remarked how in the song, everything hangs on the words “nowhere to go,” which he wrote: “arrived at ruefully but instantly spun round and see from the other side: as freedom as opportunity.”

“You Never Give Me Your Money” is about being ambitious and creative youths that has been forced into an ordinary life. Taking different daytime jobs that gives them no peace of mind. Artistic people with dreams that have so much to give but nowhere to put it - “oh that magic feeling nowhere to go.” And then finally the conclusion of the person’s dreams, quit your job, stop moaning your ordinary life, and live it. “One sweet dream Pick up the bags and get in the limousine.”

Musicologist Tim Riley points out that the song moves from the imperfections of a love relationship to the fond memories of carefree unemployment; the vocal journey across the stereo horizon traces the leap of imagination that the singer takes from adulthood back to wishful naiveté. He believes its underlying theme is about failure in communications rather than about money per se. About love and freedom. Riley says it’s the ironic equivocations between the two themes that create the mysterious quality of the track.

Professor Ken Womack adds:

“Tethered to the establishment and fettered by his money the speaker begins to reflect upon his more liberated youth when he was genuinely free from the self-mollifying dictates of the crowd. He remembers enjoying a magic feeling with nowhere to go during those carefree early years, a time when going nowhere was a virtue, rather than a putdown.”

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