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 26 May 1967[1]
Recorded 9 and 21 February 1967,
Regent Sound Studios, London; EMI Studios, London
Genre Psychedelic pop,[2] baroque pop[3]
Length 2:36
Label Parlophone
Songwriter(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin

"Fixing a Hole" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released on their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was written by Paul McCartney, although credited to Lennon–McCartney. The Beatles recorded the track in February 1967, with the main session taking place at Regent Sound Studios in central London. It marked the first time that the Beatles had used a British studio other than EMI's facility at Abbey Road for one of their EMI recordings.

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:[4]

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

Years later, McCartney acknowledged that the song was an "ode to pot". [5]

Recording[edit]

The first of two recording sessions for "Fixing a Hole" was at Regent Sound Studios in London on 9 February 1967, in three takes. Regent Sound 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.[6] Also present at the session was a man who had arrived at McCartney's house in St John's Wood, shortly before McCartney was due to depart for the studio, and introduced himself as Jesus Christ.[7] McCartney later recalled: "I thought, Well, it probably isn't. But if he is, I'm not going to be the one to turn him away ... 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."[8]

The lead vocal was recorded at the same time as the rhythm track, a change from the Beatles' post-1964 approach of overdubbing the vocal.[6] Overdubs were added to this recording on 21 February 1967 at EMI Studios.[9]

Musical structure[edit]

The song alternates between the key of F minor (in verse) and F major (in bridge) in basically 4
4
time with a structure of Intro → Verse → Verse → Bridge → Verse → Verse (Guitar Solo) → Bridge → Verse → Outro (fadeout).[10] 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 Starr'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 McCartney'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 augmented chord (which includes a G/A note that is a III (3rd) note in the thus predicted F minor 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".[11] 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, McCartney's bass begins a syncopated three-note pattern that leaves the downbeat empty, meanwhile his 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."[12] 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 countermelody, double-tracked phrase descending from Paul's high A vocal note through a "series of biting inversions on the tonic chord;"[12] Harrison later adds an eight bar solo that culminates in a two octave descent.[13] 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).[8][14] 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).[15]

Personnel[edit]

Live performances[edit]

Paul McCartney performed the song live for the first time by any Beatle on his 1993 New World Tour. He later reprised the song on his 2005 US Tour.

Cover versions[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Everett 1999, p. 123. "In the United Kingdom Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...was rush-released six days ahead of its official date, June 1."
  2. ^ Fixing a Hole at AllMusic
  3. ^ "Steve Smith: Wyman and Taylor join the Rolling Stones onstage; Coldplay takes a break". Archived from the original on 3 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. . Pasadena Star-News. 29 November 2012.
  4. ^ Aldridge, Alan. "Paul McCartney's Guide to the Beatles' Songbook" Los Angeles Times 14 January 1968: B19
  5. ^ McCartney, Paul. "Many Years From Now" 15 October 1998
  6. ^ a b Lewisohn 1988, pp. 93, 95.
  7. ^ Miles 2001, p. 256.
  8. ^ a b Rybaczweski, Dave. "'Fixing a Hole' The Beatles Music History". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Fixing a Hole". Beatles Bible. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  10. ^ Pollack, Alan (1996). "Notes on Fixing a Hole". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  11. ^ Pedler, Dominic (2003). Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. London: Omnibus Press. p. 324. 
  12. ^ a b Gould, Jonathan (2007). Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. Piatkus. p. 401. 
  13. ^ Gould, Jonathan (2007). Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. Piatkus. p. 402. 
  14. ^ Everett, Walter. The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology. Oxford Uni Press. p. 107. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  15. ^ Pedler, Dominic (2003). Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. London: Omnibus Press. p. 185. 
  16. ^ BBC Radio 2 2009.

References[edit]

External links[edit]