Ask Me Why - The Beatles

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"Ask Me Why" - The Beatles (1963)

Although criticized for being played too fast, “Ask Me Why” Lennon was influenced, and draws its opening guitar phrase from the Smokey Robinson and The Miracles’ 1961 song  "What’s So Good About Goodbye.”

The subdued lyrical love song includes a Latin-tinged rhythmic guitar jangle and tickling percussion licks by Ringo. One interesting aspect of it is when in the second half of the verse- the track changes- although briefly, from a commercial ballad to a more intense rhythm and blues tune.

Although generally thought to be written by Lennon to his wife Cynthia, the track is emotionally gripping due to is incessant drive and the manner in which the speaker appears to waver in the amount of self-control he can muster.  This gives the song a humble charm of its own. Although it’s a low-intensity affair, it derives its strength from the intricacy of its vocal arrangements. In the end, it comes off more than an earnest and submissive proclamation of love.

Says Beatle scholar Alan Pollack:

“The music here is nowhere nearly as derivative as it may seem at first glance. The quaint arrangement and corny backbeat have a nostalgic power of sufficient magnitude to seriously get in the way of an objective assessment of its craft. On some level, the legitimacy of such first impressions is neither to be denied nor argued with.”

Website Pop Matters adds:

“Beyond the draw of its changing patterns, what’s so rewarding and almost endearing about the vocal proficiency of “Ask Me Why” is how it exists in such small moments. Looking at the bigger picture, isn’t it remarkable to consider that part of the Beatles’ historic stamp on the pop world could unveil itself in the singing of just one word, like “misery”?”

Adds Professor Ken Womack:

“In ‘Ask Me Why,’ romantic love affords the speaker with the pure, unadulterated knowledge that “I should never never never be blue,” yet his happiness—his happiness, no less!—still causes him to weep in unchecked desolation. The speaker’s gloom is belied by the glee with which John sings the lyrics. “

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