The Night Before - The Beatles

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"The Night Before" - The Beatles (1965)

“The Night Before” is one of The Beatles’ more underrated compositions.

A light, romantic pop song balanced with a strong bluesy foreground, it describes the troubles couples have in relationships.

Walter Everett says that the track is also distinguished by the Hohner Pianet- an electronic piano that amplified vibrating reeds. Both Paul and John play on the track. McCartney would comment:

 “That sound was one of the best we had got on record.”

Everett describes how Lennon turned a knob to saturate the keyboard with maximum tremolo. This was in contrast against the new sort of guitar/piano dialogue heard in the instrumental break.

Commenting on the vocal arrangements, Beatle scholar Alan Pollack points out that what appears at first as a garden variety call-and-response pattern, actually turns out to be a single thread vocal line shared, between the double-tracked soloist (Paul) and the backers.

The track features an early example of how Ringo’s drumming can set the tone for a track.

Writes Professor Steven Baur:

“Ringo builds and sustains a swelling, high-pitched overtone drone with a heavy ride cymbal pattern, played relatively close to the edge of the cymbal. The proximity to the cymbal edge and Ringo’s heavy playing produce the obtrusive overtones, but because he plays with the tip of the stick, the straight eight-note ride pattern that drives the song is audible through the cresting cymbal sheen.”

The pop music website AllMusic commented how around this time in mid-late 1965, McCartney began to excel at “haunting melodies” and “The Night Before” was an excellent example.
Veteran music critic Richie Unterberger writes:

“That's particularly so when his inquisitive lead vocals in the first half of the lines of the verse are answered by almost melancholy harmonies singing "ah, the night before" in an almost commiserating tone. The melody does become jauntier in the latter parts of the verse before resolving on an almost plaintive plea from Paul for the girl to treat him like she did the night before. (Must have been quite a night.) The Beatles threw in some unexpected detours even on their minor songs, and in this one, the bridge goes off in a completely unexpected minor-keyed melodic direction.”

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