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"Birthday"

Categories: Beatles songs

Artwork by Ant for Beatles song "Birthday"
You say it's your Birthday?
It's my Birthday, too, yeah!


Yeah, today — we're gonna have a good time with this one! As fate/destiny/Beatlenicity finds me in the thick of The White this year round, the cha-cha-cha-chance has to be seized...

McCartney's 'party-piece' kicks off the exceptional Side Three in fine and rousing fashion, storming in on the back of the tumbling drum break with a combined bass/guitar riff that sounds like it's been souped up direct from some 50s' rock 'n roll classic — only you can never decide quite which one. Written and recorded in a single day, the spontaneity still shines through.

Though Lennon dismissed it as 'a piece of garbage', his own contributions can hardly be described as reticent — and hell, man, it even got Yoko singing for the chorus! It's him on guitar here, for starters, with George givin' the six-string bass some serious stick. And no worries about our Ringo — always up for a good time!

What "Birthday" lacks in craft, it more than compensates for with enthusiasm — The Beatles demonstrating, beyond the shadow of a doubt that, when it came down to basic twelve-bar balls, they still had plenty more than it took.

Soundie Chris Thomas, standing in for GM, must've had his work cut out trying to keep the levels together as they rip it up to the bridge, with Paul screaming the cue count: a baptism of fire which must've stood him in good stead for his encounter with the Sex Pistols the following decade, producing "Anarchy In The U.K."

Yes, we're going to a party, party!

And — in a classic case of 'don't look now lads, but Uncle George isn't lookin' — that's precisely what they did...

I strongly suspect that the little party who accompanied Paul round to his place to watch Little Richard 'n' Big Jane Mansfield in The Girl Can't Help It on the telly mid-session may also have been party to the hoovering of copious quantities of some rather fine Columbian Marching Powder before returning to the studio, where the job was finally finished at 5 am. Macca had it all lined up.

I would like you to dance:
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance!


The temple-throbbing, hair-bristling intensity of "the rockingest rollingest — and most mightily coked-up — shindig" of a vocal with which it's delivered turns it into an offer you simply can't refuse — 'specially when Paul's ridiculously sproingy piano gatecrashes its way into the instrumental onslaught:

D-a-a-a-a-a-n-c-e ... y-e-e-e-a-a-h-h-h!!!

Yeah, and a Penniman on you too, John Lennon!

Gift-wrapped in fine falsetto, with some hefty power-chord reinforcement, the whole package is neatly tied up with a few strands of that riff; all topped off with a big, chiffon ribbon of feedback. As an incitement to enjoy your day, it comes in second only to 'Happy Birthday To You' in terms of universality, and blows that song's candles clean out in terms of energy!

Paul went alternating this one with "Mother Nature's Son" on his last tour, depending on how the mood took him. When it took him this way — as it did when I saw him in Barcelona (the ticket a "Birthday" present) — then boy did it take him...

Gonna have a good time!!!

17th February, 2010
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