“You Can’t Do That” – The Beatles
The baton has been passed to me this week to pick a song from the Beatles “later early years”. 1963 and the early part of ’64 to be exact.
I was initially a bit concerned with how to describe this era; in part because it’s a transition period that I think even the Beatles themselves would have trouble explaining and describing, and in part because I wasn’t alive during the time unlike a large portion of the current population (a somewhat humble point I like to make whenever discussing music from what has to be the most magical, creative, and groundbreaking period in history–music and otherwise).
But, after some thought, some reading, a good amount of listening, and only a little bit of BS-ing I think I have a pretty good, albeit brief, idea of how to describe this period. And my choice for the day, “You Can’t Do That”, off of the quadruple platinum A Hard Days Night exemplifies it beautifully.
Coming off of an explosion in popularity, international recognition, and with only a few years on a label under their belt, the Beatles were evolving. Their sound, to this point, was pretty poppy. Though they had some catchy and poppy songs throughout their career, there was definitely a transition point where things changed. Guitars got riffier, music became less polished, and the vocals showed a certain edge. Perhaps it’s because this is their first album to be recorded on four-track tape, allowing for proper stereo mixing. Either way, you can tell the difference.
A Hard Day’s Night, the Beatles third album made in a studio, is actually the soundtrack to the band’s film of the same name. “You Can’t Do That,”, recorded in the famous Abbey Road Studios, was written by John Lennon (as were 9 of the other 12 songs on the album), and has been called semi-autobiographical.
Listen close and you might gain some insight into the inner workings of John Lennon’s mind.