The Tao of the Beatles: “Lady Madonna”

Hail Muse! O ye gods of genius and creativity! Give us a random Beatles song from our randomly chosen random generator… this time we drop an Artemisia stem onto our random Beatles-song selector…and…

Oh boy! Our first real Paul song. Oh, I know, we had “The End,” but this is the first full-blown, get out of the way, a train-of-talent-is-coming-through-and-his-name-is-Paul song.

“Lady Madonna” (Lennon-McCartney, Past Masters Volume Two)

“Lady Madonna” is one of those earwormy tunes that the Beatles cranked out around the time of the Magical Mystery Tour album, that forgotten little period in between the colossal albums Sgt. Pepper and the White Album. Albums are the thing, right? The pinnacle of artistic achievement from, oh, 1965 to whenever iTunes killed them off? A radio hit is great and all, but fans of the artist measure them in terms of albums.

So we critics bounce from Rubber Soul to Revolver to Sgt. Pepper to Magical Mystery Tour (sort of) to the White Album to Yellow Submarine (sort of sort of) and Let It Be and Abbey Road, analyzing and categorizing and comparing…and we forget that in those days, the Beatles released singles too, and that these were not included on the albums. (The idea the Beatles had was that you didn’t want to make your fans pay twice for the same song.)

So as a collector or even just a fan, you have a whole other album’s worth just of songs—songs like “Day Tripper” and “Penny Lane” and and “I Am the Walrus” and “Hey Jude” and “Paperback Writer” and a dozen others. Songs the whole world knows. Not on an album.

Including this one, which is as good as any of them. So much life and energy! Where does all that spirit come from?

MAYBE FROM THE PIANO…

Those pounding chords! You picture a man playing for a big concert hall with no microphones. Just a man and the strings and the strength of his hands on the keys. And the joy in his heart that hits those bluesy chords, turning the blues into something uplifting. Someone like this:

Hmmm…Paul played the piano, sure…but did he INVENT that opening riff?

Nope. Not exactly. Check this out: Continue reading