Yer Blues - The Beatles

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"Yer Blues" - The Beatles (1968)

"Yer Blues" was The Beatles good-natured jab at the British blues scene during the latter half of the 1960s.

Lennon used “yer” instead of “your” in the title so as not to be taken too seriously.

McCartney told him not to title this song “Year Blues,” but “just say it straight.

However Lennon kept the title as he was self-conscious about singing blues, explaining:

“We were all listening to Sleepy John Estes and all that in art school, like everybody else. But to sing it was something else. I’m self-conscious about doing it.”

The Beatles recorded the track in Abbey Road Studio Two’s “annex,” a side room which McCartney referred to as "a cupboard." They jammed together from 7pm to 5am in what was basically a closet, in order to “create the vibe of the early years.”

Ringo said it was one of his all-time favorite sessions:

“We were just in an 8 foot room, with no separation, just doing what we do best: playing.”

Written by John in India while he was “up there trying to reach God and feeling suicidal,” the composition features a complex structure, as the song transitions among 12/8, 6/8, and 4/4 time signatures. The emotional angst in this music belies the parody of the title. Lennon referred to the song as an expression of pain and stated that he “was trying to express it in blues idiom.”

The tracks's razor-edged musing speaks about all-out desolation and suicide with Lennon exploring the gravest aspects of loneliness, going so far as to read suicide as the logical result of protracted isolation.

Proffessor Ken Womack says that with the lyric “Yes, I’m lonely / wanna die,” John’s speaker knows better, realizing, as he does, that his society has given up on him, that his existence has become devoid of meaning.

Beatle scholar Alan Pollack calls the track one of the Beatles’ big “gesture” songs; those in which production and performance values rather overshadow, even overwhelm the underlying raw material.

It is the type of song where the gesture is to be exploited for its suggestive connotations of the cliché and the cultural ready-made. Pollack believes Lennon was particularly fond of doing these; In this case, it is a kind of intense, over-wrought and stylized Blues that is conjured, the sort that was quite popular in Britain at the time.

Pollack adds: 

“The backing track sounds thick but also built up from relatively spare resources. Keep your eye on that lead guitar lick that sort of mimics the lead vocal. The lead vocal is strangely recorded to sound some vague combination of double tracked, fed-back, and reverbed.”

For author Jonathan Gould, the song is a reminder of the cultural realism that distinguished the Beatles form so many of their musical contemporaries in Britain: their acceptance of the idea that, except as a subject of self-parody, certain expressive modes of African-American music lay outside the realm of their experience and hence beyond their emotional range as singers.

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