I’ve Just Seen A Face - The Beatles

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"I’ve Just Seen A Face" - The Beatles (1965)

Recorded in December 1965, McCartney said of "I’ve Just Seen A Face":

“There’s an insistent quality to it that I liked. It was a breathless race to the finish.”

A slightly bluegrass, country and western lyric keeps dragging your forward and pulling you to the next line. The best part of the song is the sheer simplicity of it. The joy, fate and wonder of falling of love in at first sight captured in the gleeful skipping and cheerful nature of it as it breathlessly sails past us.

The spiraling acoustic guitar introduction and energetic middle eight give the song a sophistication uncommon to the genre. It’s been regarded as a “musical equivalent of an armful of freshly picked daisies.”

Says Professor Ken Womack:

"With its stirring acoustic introduction, the composition pointedly eschews the perfunctory stories about love in so many early Beatles songs, instead providing listeners with an abrupt, imagistic portrait of the first flush of heart-stopping romance: Magisterial, over-whelming, and with a minimum of verbal fuss, it’s an uncomplicated representation of love that the Beatles had been striving toward throughout their career."

Beatle scholar Alan Pollack adds:

"Aside from the delightfully unplugged arrangement, and a greater than ever amount of attention paid to compositional detail, this song manifests a button-busting sense of energy that is timeless and most compelling.  The form is reasonably clear in some sense, but it's also unusually complicated and would appear to have absorbed the influence of several styles. The strict alternation of verse and refrain in the second half is rather folksy. The triple refrain as an outro is reminiscent of the R&B rave-up. And the whole thing is lead off by an extraordinary intro that is not so easily pigeon-holed. "

The instrumental texture is characterized by the folksy sound of several crisply recorded acoustic guitars. The jazzy wire brushes in place of the usual wood sticks for the drum kit, not to mention overdubbed maracas, create subliminal free associations with other styles.   McCartney is closely single tracked for a change on the lead vocal, the more intimately for us to feel the slight quiver in his voice.

By this point in their careers, The Beatles had been freely borrowing and blending various stylistic elements of pop, rock, folk, blues, and still other styles for quite a while. Still, this otherwise sweetly simple "folk rock" song really pushes the envelope in terms of the sheer number of diverse styles juggled simultaneously as well as the effortlessly seamless manner in which they are fused.  

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