I Want To Tell You - The Beatles

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"I Want To Tell You" - The Beatles (1966)

“I Want To Tell You” is very much a typical Harrison song; replete with a hard and high anxiety in the lyrics that is further manifested in the musical fabric by dissonance, both harmonic and rhythmic.

At least until 1966, George Harrison’s song writing suffered from an illness of ease. The main theme of the song is about the difficulty in communication.

Harrison commented on the track:

“It’s about the avalanche of thoughts that are so hard to write down or say or transmit. About the unreality of the ‘real world’ where people adopt illusory identities.”

“I Want To Tell You” features a fade-in riff that’s been ripped off countless times since by other bands. Harrison’s thin melody is strengthened by Lennon and McCartney’s harmony, a dose of hypnotic piano and Ringo’s bone-crushing fills.

McCartney is particularly strong with very prominent harmonies that almost amount to a countermelody, as well as his piano playing and his bass line he overdubbed after the song was complete.

The track identifies both lyrically and musically with an emergent rock subculture: the distorted, descending guitar riff at the beginning portends the nascent heavy metal sensibility of Jeff Beck and the Yardbirds, reinforced by the “heaviness” of the hammering beat and continuous thudding bass.

“I Want To Tell You” has no Eastern connections, but is an oddly fragmented song, not surprisingly- since it concerns the difficult of communications. It opens with broken boogie rhythms and blue guitar phrases; and it’s these instrumental forces that sunder recurrent attempts to create a singing line.

As for the meaning of the track, George was telling us that it’s possible to go to a state of mind where the source of everyday confusion becomes visible. From where he stands and chants, with all the time in the world because he has slipped outside of time, he can see very clearly what is confusing things. It’s the claim of everyday consciousness, the standard against which all other forms of consciousness are judged. This claim, so carefully shaped and tended by our culture, causes confusion because it is a lie.

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