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Fab Four Face-Off: What's your favorite song from 'A Hard Day's Night'?

September 8, 2009 |  6:35 am

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In anticipation of the official release of the Beatles' remastered catalog this week, Pop & Hiss asks the musical question -- what would go on your Beatles mix tape?

Third in my picks for the best song from each of the Fabs' 13 remastered albums, this entry considers "A Hard Days' Night," the third album in the newly remastered series.

Applaud me or argue with me for choosing....

"When I Get Home."

I know, most of you are already shouting me down. This obscure rave-up, buried on the second side and not even present on the American version of the album, pales in significance next to the title track, with its harmonically insane opening chord announcing a huge leap forward for the band; or to the gently intricate reverie of  "If I Fell," or to the "future nostalgia," as Paul McCartney called it, of "Things We Said Today."

But part of the fun of rediscovering the Beatles through these remastered discs is finding new favorites that cast the old ones into a different light.

Right now, I'm in love with this little mover, and especially the multi-toned vocal squeal that kicks it off and runs throughout. It's a John song, and typically it's teeming with mixed-up emotion -- he wants to get home to his baby to love her and squeeze her, but given the jealousy expressed on the very next track ("You Can't Do That") you have to wonder if he's not also pondering a more confrontational encounter. "Oh-whoa-I-I-I," he yelps, and Paul and George complete the refrain with their voices and guitars, stretching it like a turtleneck sweater between the major and minor keys.

The song goes on that way, partly a romp and partly a warning. "I've got no time for trivialities," John spits; Ringo smashes his cymbal like he's rapping on the window of a slow-moving bus.The band seems to be pushing the song itself, and anybody listening to it, out of the way.

A little bridge describes the anticipated meeting with the loved one as, well, kind of a quickie. John will "love her 'til the cows come home," but soon enough he's gonna "walk out that door again." Then it's back to the main body of the song, and another factor surfaces.

"I've got no business being here with you... this way," John sings, gurgling a little. Uh-oh. Maybe the song's odd tension, that squirmy shift between keys, represents a guilty conscience. And so "When I Get Home" gives a different (Cynthia?) twist to the theme of jealousy that pervaded so much of Lennon's early work.

Plus, it's an excellent soundtrack to doing the Twist.

-- Ann Powers

Photo: Apple Corps Ltd., 2009

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