The Beatles, “Cry Baby Cry”

Possibly the least “obscure” band of all time,The Beatles initially seem an awkward fit for this series. Even beyond the singles, dozens of their album tracks have burrowed their way into the collective unconsciousness of 20th Century pop music (“I’ll Follow The Sun”, “Here Comes The Sun”, “Helter Skelter”, “Drive My Car”, “When I’m Sixty Four”–none of them singles). I really had to think for a minute as to what, exactly, would constitute a lesser-known Beatles song.

Slotted between “Savoy Truffle” (a catchy George Harrison trifle) and John Lennon’s infamous sound collage “Revolution 9” on side four of 1968’s The Beatles (more commonly referred to as The White Album), the Lennon-penned “Cry Baby Cry” could be a highlighted on any other band’s album. Here, towards the end of a behemoth containing 29 other tracks (a majority of them far flashier), it gets a little lost. Low-key, mid-tempo and driven by a pounding piano that’s synonymous with late period-Beatles, it’s an understated gem, full of neat little filigree: the accordion at 0:06,  the three whimsical piano chords (as if a cat strutted down the keyboard) at 0:27, the sudden guitar riff at 1:27. Throughout, the volume gently surges and pulls back, lending the recording a dynamic that the band pulls off almost effortlessly.

As embedded above, the track concludes with a somewhat ghostly 30-second snippet of an untitled, unfinished Paul McCartney song, presumably intended as a bridge to “Revolution 9” or perhaps just included on a whim. The contrast between the two compositions is present, but musically, they’re also complimentary to a degree–a preview of transitions within the medley on side two of Abbey Road, perhaps.

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