29
Sep 09

The Most Important Game Ever Made #9: Workin’ In A Cool Mine

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And we’re back.

The Beatlebots continue to rock the Ed Sullivan show with ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, which the actual Beatles never played on the show, at any time, ever. Beatles, Cheatles more like etc etc etc… actually, at this point, I’m beyond caring about the deceit and the fakery and the lies upon lies. Let the myth-making commence.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2N2toyZMY8

Funnily enough, when I was actually playing this I had nothing – it was one more level, and I was more irritated that I somehow wasn’t getting all five stars even on the easy-peasy bass part than I was fascinated by the subtle interplay of the soundscape. Maybe there’s an argument here for Rock Band turning you off music as much as it brings you in – at the time, I was in a foul mood for various reasons I won’t go into, so the game became a game, a stress reliever, and the music just flowed over me in the background as I let the weight of the world slip off me and concentrated on hitting the right coloured buttons in sequence. All I got from it then was that Ringobot was still retarded (2:19 for the evidence) and the rest of them were sort of… there. Apart from Georgebot, who played the solo again, now wedged firmly into place as a soulless, solo-delivering machine, gazing into space like the Manchurian candidate while bobbing from one foot to the other. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Anyway, the song itself didn’t really leap out at me until I had a look at that video. As the in-game factoid-spouter informed me, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ is the song of the movie of the comment, being originally a witticism tossed off by Ringo after a gruelling 24-hour sesh, which was then suggested as the title of the Beatles’ first movie, and then finally became a song in its own right on the strength of that. (Wikipedia confirm this. DON’T JUDGE ME.) I suppose this bizarre genesis makes it one of the Beatles’ most glam, celebrity-driven songs, which is why it fits in on the Ed Sullivan stage, which so far seems to be exploring the Beatlemania aspect of their music. (Or that might be just me.)

On the other hand, it’s one of the least glamorous songs so far. It’s basically an optimistic version of ‘Workin’ In A Coal Mine.’

That’s Lee Dorsey, wondering how long can this go on. Dorsey’s dwelling on the brutality his circumstances – the only time he mentions not being at work is to groan that he’s going to be too tired to enjoy himself come Saturday night – and the music’s right there with him, down to the ongoing chink-chink-chink of his swinging pick.

Cut to Lennon and McCartney, and the chunk-chunk-chunk of the factory conveyor belt, the straight, unceasing 1-2-3-4 rhythm, alternating between the titular chorus/verse (is there a difference here?) and the upbeat ‘when I’m home’ bits, punctuated by a dink-dink-dink not a million miles away from Dorsey’s coal mine. The solo comes in like a lunchbreak, the jangling guitar at the start and end of the track like the factory hooter signalling the start and end of the working day. The boys are hard at work, even if they’re producing fame and fortune instead of car engine parts.

But over the top of the conveyor belt beat, we get Lennon and McCartney’s voices, not bemoaning the regular chunk and thunk of the machine the way Dorsey did, but thinking about the home that’s waiting, the sleep they’re going to get and the girl they’re doing it all for. (Pimp Daddy watch – it’s another goods-for-services transaction from the Beatles and their omnipresent Sugar Train.) Where Dorsey sang the blues, the Beatles romanticise. The clean-cut nice young men of pop are now the smiling workforce, happy to toil for an honest farthing.

This was probably speaking to a fair chunk of the audience – we were a manufacturing country, as Girls Aloud pointed out, and at one point a fairly significant load of Beatle fans would have been slaving away in a factory, or a building site, or at best an office, saving up the necessary spends to go out and get the latest Beatles single along with a nice mop-top haircut and a ticket to the pictures. Or something. That seems very Sixties, somehow – kids working at the factory and buying records on the weekend. I’m wondering what the modern equivalent would be.

Call centres?

NEXT: A final farewell to Ed Sullivan.

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