Fixing a Hole

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"Fixing a Hole"
Song by the Beatles from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Released 1 June 1967
Recorded 9 and 21 February 1967,
EMI and Regent Sound studios, London
Genre Rock,[1] baroque pop,[2] Psychedelic rock
Length 2:36
Label Parlophone
Writer Lennon–McCartney
Producer George Martin
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track listing

"Fixing a Hole" is a song written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and recorded by the Beatles, featured on their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Writing[edit]

In a 1968 interview, McCartney said that the song was "about the hole in the road where the rain gets in, a good old analogy—the hole in your make-up which lets the rain in and stops your mind from going where it will." He went on to say that the following lines were about fans who hung around outside his home day and night, and whose actions he found off-putting:[3]

See the people standing there
who disagree, and never win
And wonder why they don't get in my door

Recording[edit]

The first of two recording sessions for the song was at Regent Sound Studio in London on 9 February 1967 in three takes. Regent was used because EMI's Abbey Road studios were not available that night. This was the first time that the Beatles used a British studio other than Abbey Road for an EMI recording.[4] Overdubs were recorded on 21 Feb 1967 at EMI studios Abbey Road.[5]

The lead vocal was recorded at the same time as the rhythm track, a change from their post-1964 approach of overdubbing the vocal.[4]

Paul has also stated about the recording: "The funny thing about that was the night when we were going to record it, at Regent Sound Studios at Tottenham Court Road, I brought a guy who was Jesus. A guy arrived at my front gate and I said, ‘Yes? Hello’ because I always used to answer it to everyone. If they were boring I would say, ‘Sorry, no,’ and they generally went away. This guy said, ‘I’m Jesus Christ.’ I said, ‘Oop,’ slightly shocked. I said, ‘Well, you’d better come in then.’ I thought, Well, it probably isn’t. But if he is, I’m not going to be the one to turn him away. So I gave him a cup of tea and we just chatted and I asked, ‘Why do you think you are Jesus?’ There were a lot of casualties about then. We used to get a lot of people who were maybe insecure or going through emotional breakdowns or whatever. So I said, ‘I’ve got to go to a session but if you promise to be very quiet and just sit in a corner, you can come.’ So he did, he came to the session and he did sit very quietly and I never saw him after that. I introduced him to the guys. They said, ‘Who’s this?’ I said, ‘He’s Jesus Christ.’ We had a bit of a giggle over that…But that was it. Last we ever saw of Jesus!"[6]

Musical structure[edit]

The song alternates between the key of Fm (in verse) and F (in bridge) in basically 4/4 time with a structure of Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Verse (Guitar Solo) -> Bridge -> Verse -> Outro (fadeout).[7] On track one George Martin opens on harpsichord briefly playing a descending chromatic line (resembling "Michelle") in a staccato-like pattern 4/4 time, but Ringo’s hi-hat in the final measure of the introduction introduces a swing beat that stays for the remainder of the song. The first eight-measure verse begins with Paul’s vocals on track three ("I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in"). The optimistic word "Fixing" here is sung to a piano F major chord (bass now also on track one playing an F note) but on "hole" a C aug chord (which includes a G# note that is a III (3rd) note in the thus predicted Fm scale) (bass now playing a C or V (5th) note in both the F major and F minor scales) pivoting towards the Fm pentatonic minor scale on the more negative mood of "rain gets in".[8] The Fm key melody in the verse is tinged both by blues flat 7th, and dorian mode raised 6th notes. The harpsichord repeats the descending chromatic line in the F minor key in swing beat. In the second half of the verse Paul's bass begins a syncopated three-note pattern that leaves the downbeat empty, meanwhile Paul's vocal is dropping to F an octave below (on "stops my mind"), climbing back to C ("from wandering") then sailing free of the song's established octave to a high falsetto A flat on "where it will go."[9] George Harrison then comes in on track two in the seventh and eighth measure with a syncopated distorted Stratocaster with gain, treble and bass all turned up high, providing his distinctive counter-melody, double-tracked phrase descending from Paul's high A flat vocal note through a "series of biting inversions on the tonic chord;"[9] George later adding an eight bar solo that culminates in a two octave descent.[10] McCartney, Lennon and Harrison do backing vocals on track 4 for the bridge ("And it really doesn't matter if I'm wrong I'm right where I belong I'm right") in the parallel major key (F).[6][11] This shift between minor (verse) and major (bridge) is also seen in the songs "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" (verse E, chorus Em); "Michelle" (verse F, chorus Fm); "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (bridge A, verse Am), "I Me Mine" (chorus A, verse Am), "The Fool on the Hill" (verse D, chorus Dm) and "Penny Lane" (verse [bars 1-3] B, verse [bars 4-8] Bm).[12]

Personnel[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Fixing a Hole at Allmusic
  2. ^ Smith, Steve (29 November 2012). "Wyman and Taylor join the Rolling Stones onstage; Coldplay takes a break". Pasadena Star-News. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Aldridge, Alan. "Paul McCartney's Guide to the Beatles' Songbook" Los Angeles Times 14 January 1968: B19
  4. ^ a b Lewisohn 1988, pp. 93, 95.
  5. ^ "Fixing a Hole". Beatles Bible. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Rybaczweski, Dave. "'Fixing a Hole' The Beatles Music History". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Pollack, Alan (1996). "Notes on Fixing a Hole". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Pedler, Dominic (2003). Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. London: Omnibus Press. p. 324. 
  9. ^ a b Gould, Jonathan (2007). Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. Piatkus. p. 401. 
  10. ^ Gould, Jonathan (2007). Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. Piatkus. p. 402. 
  11. ^ Everett, Walter. The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology. Oxford Uni Press. p. 107. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Pedler, Dominic (2003). Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. London: Omnibus Press. p. 185. 
  13. ^ BBC Radio 2 2009.

References[edit]