Wednesday, 12 November 2008

[73] Everyone Had a Hard Year [It Came From Youtube]

'Everyone Had a Hard Year' was a demo cut by John Lennon during The Beatles' sessions for The White Album. The acoustic demo, based around lyrics that took the form of a litany ('Everybody...'), was based around a finger-picking figure very similar to other Lennon songs of the period ('Dear Prudence', especially). However, the mantra-like structure of the song was obviously unfinished, and in the demo recording, the performance peters out at the end of the lyrics. Nevertheless, the song has a meditative, intimate quality, like a lot of Lennon's acoustic work of the period.

It was picked up again during the troubled Let it Be sessions, and was mixed together with other elements from Lennon and McCartney demos to create 'I've Got a Feeling'. The song retains a similar structure, but with a more fleshed out band performance, and a more conventional verse-chorus progression. Part of the original demo occurs as a Lennon middle eighth. Sadly, it is one of worst Beatles songs from their worst period. A meandering attempt at a dirty rock song, complete with McCartney howling with all his anemic might. The fragment of 'Everyone Had a Hard Year' is a gem in the rough of its context.

And now, years later, 'Everyone Had a Hard Year' has been reimagined and covered by the reformed members of Yellow Magic Orchestra (as HASYMO), who have performed it live. They take the repeating guitar figure, and the litany, tinker with them slightly, and craft a precious, lilting piece. The use of electronics, synths and horns flesh out the core of the song, and retain its repetitious momentum while providing a wonderful ebb-and-flow structure. Yukihiro Takahashi's vocals are also some of his best.

Check out 'I've Got a Feeling' at Wikipedia.

Read the lyrics to 'Everyone Had a Hard Year' here.


Postscript 13/11/08:

An interesting addition. I recently came across another link in the chain. The HASYMO version did not occur in a vacuum, but was instead informed by a previous reworking of 'Everyone Had a Hard Year' by German IDM group März, from their 2002 album Love Streams, titled 'Everybody Had a Hard Year'. It seems that the general arrangement of the electronics and the guitar were taken from this version, although I cannot find a full stream for the track to be sure about other elements.

Read a review of the album (which does not acknowledge the source of the lyrics) here.
Listen to a (very short) extract of the song at Last.FM

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