Saturday, 19 September 2009

What You're Doing

I want to compare two versions of the same song by one of my all-time favourite bands... simply to try to explain how songs, when played over and over and over again, can get reworked and developed, as part of the songwriting and arranging process.

I'm trying to go thru the same process myself with my own new material. Unfortunately I don't have others to 'bounce' those news ideas off, like these guys did!!! But, I'm getting there...

"What You're Doing" by The Beatles [Lennon/McCartney]
Early studio rehearsal [Take 11]
Recorded 29 September 1964

[Thanx to
Planet Mondo]

[This is a complete 'bootleg' but taken directly off the master tapes; not found on any of their official releases].

Here is the song in its original form, when they are still experimenting with different arrangements, 2-part harmonies, and song structure. This is them, absolutely live in the studio [which is how they recorded most of their stuff anyways], literally playing in each others' faces, just 'routining' a new song... playing it over-and-over until they get something that feels 'right' to them. Just the four of them, live, no overdubs. Simply pure Beatles. Gold.

I really love this simple unadorned version, simply because of Lennon-McCartney's close 2-part singing! It's REALLY good - and it's really hard to do. Just goes to show that these blokes really could sing, especially when they are literally face-to-face and singing against each other. These seemingly-simple 2-part harmonies in this version (which they dropped for the finished song) are really difficult to do [the actual difference between notes are actually quite close... and part of Lennon & McCartney's unique 'sound'] - but they make it sound so natural and normal.

The actual groove is something that really gels within me too... I know this sorta stuff is not everyones' cup-of-tea, but this simple clean pop-rock syncopated stuff I really love.

Of course, Mr Harrison is playing his electric 12-string guitar, which simply chimes away on the repeated little lick gloriously... [sigh]. But the sound of the room [with Ringo's drumming very basic and simple - simply because that's all the song needed], makes this such a glorious insight into how a band actually sounds.

This, then, is the finished complete released version of the same song, "What You're Doing", as heard on their December 1964 album "Beatles for Sale"

You can see how they took it in a different direction and arrangement, after working thru it together at different times over a period of a few weeks. Here, McCartney sings basically on his own [the others just sing background 'ooohs', rather than actual block-harmonies], the solo section is different [with piano overdubs], and of course the 'Be My Baby' drum intro and outro.

It's just part of the 'process' of songwriting and arranging. Any new song can go in any different direction at any stage of its development. Rarely is a song 'completely finished' when first written... they always need to be 'explored', examined and developed.

The beauty of this particular little British r'n'b combo is that they really knew what they were doing, simply because they'd played together so often. It really shows.

song chart memes

Peas be with ewe
Mal :)

Subscribe Subscribe to this Blog


  1. Sorry buddy don't know much about music but I did enjoy the Beatles Pie Chart. I always get a laff from reading you.

  2. Hey MTG thanks for the linky..
    What You're Doing - is one of those overlooked Beatles belters..

    You can find a fistful of Fabs Goodies here too - booty remixes, cover versions, Macca covering other songs..

    Catch you round matey

  3. It's actually one of my favourite songs of The Beatles...I love most of their stuff but certainly have a number of faves.