P.S. I Love You - The Beatles

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"P.S. I Love You" - The Beatles (1962)

McCartney wrote in his autobiography that “P.S. I Love You” was just an idea for a song- a theme song based on a letter, like the "Paperback Writer" idea:

“It was pretty much mine. I don't think John had much of a hand in it. There are certain themes that are easier than others to hang a song on, and a letter is one of them. 'Dear John' is the other version of it. The letter is a popular theme and it's just my attempt at one of those.”

Lennon commented:

 “That's Paul trying to write a Soldier Boy like the Shirelles.”

Melodically it could be considered in retrospect as typical of McCartney's writing style, with Lennon contributing a single note harmony emphasizing the beginning of each stanza.

Beatle scholar Ian MacDonald described “P.S. I Love You” as "a dark sidestep". It was them trying to sound like Buddy Holly. The "P.S." part of the song was a subtle reference to "Peggy Sue", from the lyric "I love you, Peggy Sue.”

The look and feel here is decidedly not that of rock-n-roll. It's rather more like lounge-pop or Latin dance music, in large part due to the tempo, beat, and choice of percussion instrumentation.  

Beatle scholar Alan Pollack says that the vocal arrangement presents Paul in the solo spotlight with a particular style of backing vocal from John and George. Though the backing part persists virtually all the way through, there is more interesting detail to it than initially meets the eye.  He points out how in all verses except the last one, the backers sing behind isolated words only, making for a musically italic/bold effect. In the last verse, yet again to avoid foolish consistency, this effect is dropped in favor of them singing all the way through with McCartney.

The Beatles’ most vivid instrumental colorings early on were sometimes tied to rhythmic effects. Most vividly, stylized Latin rhythms were often recreated by the Beatles, who consciously sought “the next big beat.”

Musicologist Walter Everett believes that on a deeper level, contrasting phrase lengths yield an asymmetrical structure that allows for the introspective unfolding of chromatic harmonies suggesting that the singer’s persona is probing deep within his soul.

He writes:

“He’s contemplating the manifold nature of his inner thoughts and emotions as he decides how he should best declare his love. I believe this asymmetrical nature of the Beatles’ rhythmic/harmonic expression, a hallmark of their style and one not typical of other pop hits, helped them forge a more direct bond with their listerners.”

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