Every Little Thing - The Beatles

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"Every Little Thing" - The Beatles (1964)

Celebrating love’s everlasting simplicity and fulfillment,  ”Every Little Thing” is believed to be about McCartney’s girlfriend at the time, Jane Asher. It is another one of those underrated Beatle tunes that took mediocre material- and made it sound much fuller and richer than it was on the surface.

McCartney commented that while it was a catchy song- it wasn’t what he had hoped it would be:

“Like most of the stuff I did- it was my attempt at the next single. But it became an album filler.”

Lennon said:

“That was a very personal one of mine.”

The musical features of the song is Ringo’s  exotic “booming timpani” to punctuate the chorus and on the refrains, unusual tempo changes, and excellent group harmonies. Alan Pollack remarks how the form of the track is subtle- but is neither a two-bridge pop model, nor a folk-like strict alternation of verses and refrains. Instead, he points out, there is some kind of hybrid in which the refrain sections alternate with double verses.

Music critic Richie Unterberger believes the key to the track is the folky melody and  descending dramatic tune which is amplified by strident piano chords:

“The ambling pace of the song breaks into a nearly full-speed gallop, however, in the infectious chorus, where the harmonized vocal ‘every little thing she does’ is immediately rejoined by two majestic low booming notes, like an exclamation point.”

The story line, according to musicologist Tim Riley, is that the singer is a man in love but not quite sure of himself, on the verge of paranoia but not quite peeking over the edge. He
takes the middle road to Lennon’s psychodramas.

Riley writes:

“It’s not twisted up, but it’s not exactly a joy ride either. The title phrase ‘Every little thing she does/She does for me’ could be euphoric spilling with rapture at the prospect of being loved; but it’s not- the mood is contrained and Lennon sings with a deliberate assertiveness, not abandon.”

In his discography on the musical canon of The Beatles,  Ian MacDonald praised the song's "emotional depth" and used this track and others as counter-arguments to the caricature of McCartney as an emotional lightweight. He wrote that the lyrics  makes it clear that the man is devoted to the woman because he is taken by emotional surprise- indeed overwhelmed- by the extent of her care for him. He believes this is a revelation of self-worth brought about by the love of someone he respects.

Beatle author Jonathan Gould believed that the composition turned “the theme of romantic contentment into an expression of gratitude so heartfelt as to be almost heartbreaking.”

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