Happiness is a Warm Gun, a track off of the 1968 White Album by The Beatles features an interesting song form of ABCD. Each part of the song is uniquely self-contained and separate from the other parts of the song. The song makes limited use of rhyming patterns but does use repetition to create cohesion within the sections. The “A” section starts quietly and builds with intensity after the first few lines are sung, at which point the electric guitar and drums join in and add an edginess to the melody. The song then transitions into the “B” section, which is brief but powerful to creating the overall tone of the song. The “C” section is made up of the same lyrics (mother superior jump the gun) and is performed at a faster tempo than the “B” section. The final section is introduced by a brief guitar lick. The “D” section features the rest of The Beatles singing back-up lyrics that consist of “bang bang shoot shoot” while John Lennon sings the main lyrics of the song. Happiness is a Warm Gun concludes with The Beatles, minus Lennon harmonizing the lyrics “is a warm gun, yeah”.
Johnny Cash's version of Hurt is written in the “ABAB” form with a slight variation at the end of the song. The song features a very loose rhyming pattern that does not necessarily work with all of the A sections. The B section features an “abab” rhyming pattern. The final “B” section has a few extra stanzas before the song concludes. The song ends a capella with Johnny Cash singing the last few words of the song without any musical accompaniment.
A Brief Analysis of the Relationship Between Race and Popular Music (Question Two)
Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, race played an integral role in the field of popular music. Race affected the development of musical genres by taking music that originated from the same styles of music and creating sub-categories that were then marketed towards specific races. Two of the most influential music forms, jazz and the blues were started by African Americans and later modified and adapted into white, mainstream music. The blues inspired many of the popular rock and roll acts from the 1960s, such as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, while the jazz movement inspired generations of musicians to reconsider song structure and playing styles. However, both jazz and the blues were modified by white musicians to make the musical form more palpable and marketable to white audiences. Although the blues was the predecessor to rock and roll, most musical magazines of the 1960s focussed on how complex and novel modern rock was without reflecting on the roots of rock and roll music. As jazz grew in popularity, the musicians that were featured on television were white artists playing swing style jazz, which appealed to white audiences more. Even now, award shows, such as the Grammys, have a racial divide between artists. The hip-hop and R&B category is almost always dominated by African Americans, while the rock and folk categories are filled with white nominations. Although race is not openly discussed often in the field of popular music, it is an important discussion to have because so much of what is on the radio today is influenced by African American music from the past and is not properly credited to its creators.
Variations in Song Performance: Exploring the Different Performances of Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan (Question 3)
Before a song is performed, either live or on a recording, there is a creative process where the music and lyrics are created and edited. While it is important to understand the transformations that happen during practices or the recording studio, the most important transformations are those that take place in performances, especially for popular songs that are played over and over again. One example of such a song is Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan. The song was released as a single (the same version that was released on Highway 61 Revisited later that summer) just a few days before the live performance at the Newport Folk Festival. The audience booed Bob Dylan as he played this song, as it marked his departure from his identity as a classic folk artist and his transition to a popular music artist. The recordings from this concert are unpolished as the backing band sounds ill-prepared and not all that impressive, especially when compared to the studio version of the song. This could be due to the newness of the song or the hostile environment in which it was performed. However, the song remained a staple of Bob Dylan's setlist and later that fall, while on tour to promote Highway 61 Revisited, a member of the audience yelled “Judas!” as Bob Dylan prepared to perform Like a Rolling Stone. This time, instead of the band performing a timid and disorganized version of the song, the song was performed loudly and confidently, as if to let the concert attendees know that Bob Dylan was fulling embracing a new style of music and that his foray into a more rock and roll based sound was not a brief experiment but was here to stay. The performance of Like a Rolling Stone at the Royal Albert Hall and the subsequent concerts was adapted to create a message to the listeners, a change that only happened given the live performance aspect of this song. As Bob Dylan continues to tour the world, he has reworked many of his songs to accommodate his aging voice and his touring band. Like a Rolling Stone continues to change with the world and with the artist. Although studio-outtakes and bootleg demos are easily acquired now, the most important changes to songs can be found in their live performance because live performances are influenced not by record producers or band members, but by the concert attendees and music fans.