You Won’t See Me - The Beatles

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"You Won’t See Me" - The Beatles (1965)

"You Won’t See Me" was inspired by the melody of The Four Tops’ hit I Can’t Help Myself.”
McCartney later admitted, “we were the biggest nickers in town.”

Referring to the great Motown bass player, he writes in his autobiography that the song had a “James Jameson feel to it.” As for its authorship:

“It was 100 percent me, but I am always happy to give John a credit because there’s always a chance that on the session he might have said, ‘That’d be better’.”

"You Won’t See Me" is about McCartney’s tumultuous 5-year relationship with actress Jane Asher as he composed it the day after she had walked out of the relationship. The singer is losing his mind because his ex-girlfriend refuses to answer his calls.

McCartney said he wrote the composition around a descending scale (a motif which occurs in both parts of the song), but when it came time to record it, he incorporated and built a new rhythm around it. It was written around a two note progression that McCartney had hit very high on the first two strings of his guitar.

Beatle scholar Alan Pollack commented that the standard backing combo is conspicuously augmented by piano and tambourine. McCartney, he adds, provides an extremely active and melodic bass part with Ringo supplying an unusually detailed patterning to the drumming part.

The overall effect of the track is one of the musical texture increasing in density and complexity over the course of the song. This is somewhat curious in light of the fact that the instrumental texture such as the piano, bass, drums, and punctuating chords on the offbeat in the electric guitar, is unchanged throughout. In other words, this perceived increase in thickness and texture is entirely due to the vocals. 

Pollack writes:

“Paul’s bass emerges as an irreplaceable part of the overall texture of the track as his bass lines begin to soar with inventive counterpoint to the rest of the band. The drums themselves are double-tracked which provides a good opportunity to hear Ringo’s low-pitched, slow-cresting crash cymbals.”

“You Won’t See Me” is unique in the Beatles musical canon as it changes tempo slightly- yet quite noticeably. Since Ringo was known for his near-metronome sense of timing, it has been suggested that he was merely following Paul’s rather complex piano, laid down at the same time, and that he was forced to slow down as McCartney did.

The speaker/frustrated lover indicates he would he would continue the relationship despite being done wrong. However the girl fails to hear the plea. Rather than attempt to understand the other person’s position, the narrator prefers instead to wallow in self-pity.

What we can learn from the composition is a method for becoming philosophers. It provides us with no substantive description of the “mind” or “me,” but instead relies on the intuitive plausibility of the distinction. We are being asked to recognize the distinction as one we can use in our everyday life. That is, before we can provide some positive conception of these two.

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