Long, Long, Long

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"Long, Long, Long"
Song by the Beatles from the album The Beatles
Released 22 November 1968
Recorded 7 October 1968
Genre Psychedelic folk
Length 3:04
Label Apple Records
Writer George Harrison
Producer George Martin
The Beatles track listing

"Long, Long, Long" is a song written by George Harrison, and first released by the Beatles on their 1968 album The Beatles, also known as the White Album.

Music analyst Alan Pollack said the song has "an off-beat mixture of styles typical of the times: a three-way cross between jazz waltz, folk song, and late sixties psychedelia."[1] Critic Richie Unterberger wrote that "Long, Long, Long" is one of the most underrated songs in the Beatles' large discography.[2] Ian MacDonald also argues that the song is Harrison's "finest moment" on The Beatles.[3]

Composition[edit]

"Long, Long, Long" is a love song, though as Nicholas Schaffner notes, it was "the first of dozens of Harrison love songs that are ambiguous in that he could be singing either to his lady or to his Lord". This ambiguity became more prevalent during Harrison's solo career.

According to Harrison's autobiography, I, Me, Mine, the rattling heard at the end of the song was the result of a bottle of Blue Nun wine sitting on the Leslie speaker. When Paul McCartney played a certain note on the Hammond organ, the bottle began to rattle.[3] To compound the sound, Ringo Starr recorded a fast snare drum roll.[4]

Under the working title "It's Been a Long, Long, Long Time", recording for the song began on 7 October 1968.[4] Without John Lennon, the Beatles recorded 67 takes of the rhythm track, with Harrison on vocals and acoustic guitar, McCartney playing a modified Hammond organ, and Starr on drums.[4]

Musical structure[edit]

The Song is in the key of F but has a "floating feel" because Perfect cadences are avoided, the dominant (V) C7 chord refusing to anchor on the tonic I (F chord); for example, the Plagal changes (IV-I) (here B-F chord) in the chorus are fleeting.[5] The role of the bass descending in a '4-3-2-1' pattern as the chords drop from IV-iii-ii-I is a way of establishing an almost subliminal tonic.[6] A notable moment is the use of a minor triad 1st inversion on 'long time' (at 0.17 secs) in which in the triad formula 3-5-1, the 1st note (3) B is heard as the lowest note in the chord, this being described as a Gm/B 'slash' polychord.[7] The lyrics reference to an extreme length of time ("It's been a long, long, long time. How could I ever have lost you, when I loved you?") is accentuated by the stretching out of an already slow 6/8 meter into 9/8 and by the appending of a measure-long instrumental tag (using a Gibson J-200 guitar or a Hammond B3 organ) after each two bars of vocal melody.[8] The refrain beginning "Now I can see you, be you, how can I ever misplace you?" involves a IV (Bb)-ii(gm)- V(C)- I(F) progression with a pedal G in the bass.[9] Everett notes that the Song is played with a D major chord shape but is in F key due to a capo on the 3rd fret and cites Harrison as admitting the "you" in the Song is "God".[10] Everett finds this song more moody, meditative and evocative than Lennon's use of a similar poetic idea ("It's been a long time") as the opening lyric in "Wait".[11] He also notes the close similarity between this song and Bob Dylan's "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands".[12]

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[3]

Cover versions[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Pollack 2010.
  2. ^ Unterberger 2010.
  3. ^ a b c MacDonald 2005, p. 323.
  4. ^ a b c Lewisohn 1988, p. 159.
  5. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p302 fn15
  6. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p302 fn15
  7. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p709
  8. ^ Everett W 'Any time at all: the Beatles' free phrase rhythms' in Womack K (ed) The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles. Cambridge University Press Cambridge 2009, pp185-186
  9. ^ Alan W Pollack. 'Notes on Long, Long, Long' (1998) http://www.recmusicbeatles.com/public/files/awp/lll.html accessed 5 Jan 2012
  10. ^ Walter Everett. The Beatles as Musicians. Revolver Through the Anthology. Oxford University Press. NY. 1999. ISBN 0-19-509553-7. ISBN 0-19-512941-5 pp204-205
  11. ^ Everett W 'Any time at all: the Beatles' free phrase rhythms' in Womack K (ed) The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles. Cambridge University Press Cambridge 2009, p186
  12. ^ Walter Everett. The Beatles as Musicians. Revolver Through the Anthology. Oxford University Press. NY. 1999. ISBN 0-19-509553-7. ISBN 0-19-512941-5 pp204-205

References[edit]

External links[edit]