The song If I Fell is in the movie Across the Universe, but the couple kiss instead of singing the darker lyrics and it made me think of this essay I wrote.
Life is a bitch, isn’t it? Back to Chris Rock “How’s a guy gonna get shot just after releasing a song called Starting Over?” I worship John Lennon. He was the only guy pre-Bono (who I still remember bowing down to a statue of Lennon at the US Festival), who thought about what he could do positively with his talent and the great fame and fortune that had been bestowed upon him. Elvis thought about it a lot, but was pretty much too overwhelmed by it to do anything other than buying people a lot of Cadillac’s. If Bono went to Elvis for help with the African AIDS crisis, there’d be a bunch of HIV positive Botswana’s driving around in Escalades.
More importantly though, hearing John Lennon’s voice just never fails to make me smile. Hecan be singing about Heroin withdrawal in Cold Turkey, and I’m beaming like a little school girl. The only thing in his entire catalog I can’t handle is Mother. Mother is not on my iPod. Mother scares the living shit out of me. If you are playing Mother at your parties, you need to be seeking psychological help immediately.
Artist’s voices change through time if they manage to make it out alive past the age of 27. Frank Sinatra’s is obvious. Elvis at the end of his career always sounded like Cher to me.
John Lennon’s voice got sort of higher and more limited. Maybe he just stopped masking it with effects in his search for truth. The Lennon vocals that knock me out the most are the early ones where you can hear that they were right when they quoted him in Backbeat as being “fucking desperate” – desperate to find true love. Especially on the bridges of Anna, This Boy, and my favorite a cover of the Phil Spector hit To Know Him is to Love Him (genders reversed). Spector wrote the song about his departed father (or maybe he just thought the phrase on his father’s grave was cool), something which Lennon was well acquainted with. He turns it into the ache and pain of someone who wants healing from the loss of his mother in the arrival of a true love for the ages. Something he sang about achieving almost incessantly after he’d met Yoko Ono. This isn’t an out there interpretation. He literally says as much in the song Julia. Here is the bridge to the Beatles cover version. Just hearing Lennon cry out the word why punches me in the gut every time.
Why can’t she see?
How blind can she be?
Someday she’ll see that she was meant just for me
The dark side of Lennon, the one that gave him his edge, the one that kept his peace and love message from making him look like Doug Henning, is implied in that last line. Lennon doesn’t seem to believe that the girl will one day end up with him. He just wants her to feel his pain.
That’s why If I Fell and not Helter Skelter is the most evil song in the Beatles catalog.
If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand
’cause I’ve been in love before
And I found that love was more
Than just holding hands
If I give my heart to you
I must be sure
From the very start
That you would love me more than her
If I trust in you oh please
Don’t run and hide
If I love you too oh please
Don’t hurt my pride like her
’cause I couldn’t stand the pain
And I would be sad if our new love was in vain
So I hope you see that I
Would love to love you
And that she will cry
When she learns we are two
If I fell in love with you
That’s some twisted stuff, falling in love as a way to hurt the one that hurt you. How can any girl think she isn’t second best after hearing that? And yet, after he sings that joyful I would love to love you – I’m swooning like the rest of those screaming girls.
By the way, a lot was made quite cruelly about the fact that Yoko was ugly especially when compared to his first wife Cynthia. As far as I can tell, when you’re dealing with a man who could have any woman on the face of the earth – your wife included, that’s a pretty good indication that’s he’s totally in love with her and should be congratulated and applauded for appreciating a woman with a brain. That aside, I have no interest in hearing her fake orgasm on Double Fantasy ever again.
One more quick note about this song. I love listening for the spot where Paul tries to hit the right note for the word vain and fails miserably. Rock and Roll is all about leaving the charming mistakes alone.