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  3. Pump Six and Other Stories
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Both were made into movies, with the Gravestone movie titled Sweet Land. One day, Will had us try what sounded to me like a very difficult exercise. He wanted us to write a story in words. The goal was to have the same basic structure of a novel. Open with a character in serious trouble the hook , create a rising plot curve that led to a climax, and have a short resolution the denouement. I fumbled many times, only to find out that by the time I had a bit of a beginning, I was already at words.

To begin a story and carry it through a climax and a resolution and do it all in words seemed impossible. This experience reinforced what all of us learn when we try writing in various forms and lengths. The shorter the piece of writing, the harder it is. Enter Flash Fiction, the new moniker that describes Will's writing assignment from 30 years ago. Not only are such stories fun to read, they're becoming popular.


Not only are the stories words long, which is very difficult to do, but they are really fun! You can get the entire collection on your Kindle for only 99 cents. I asked Mark some questions about it. You write stories that are words long. You call it Flash Fiction. It's a great term. Where'd it come from? It has a beginning, a middle and an end. You can find various versions of it online. One I read was just longer than words. This story is incredibly disturbing, but wonderfully thought-provoking. The craftsmanship — the symbolism, the imagery, and the juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness, evolution and decay, and life and death — is sublime.

I must read that book! I actually had to fast forward through some of the tracks. This is another especially well-crafted piece which is slightly humorous, has an amazing stream-of-consciousness scene that comes across great in audio, and has a slow, chilling, inconspicuous reveal.

Chen was a perfect pick for the Windup stories and Jonathan Davis, a favorite of mine, had some glorious moments though he had a tendency to suddenly and inexplicably affect a bad Southern accent occasionally. Paolo Bacigalupi burst onto the scene in a big way with his excellent SF novel The Windup Girl, which rightfully won both glowing reviews and major awards, and followed it up with a great YA novel, Ship Breaker.

Both books are set in near-future dystopian settings in which the ruined environment plays a big role. Many of these stories work from the same starting point as the two novels: humanity is attempting to extract beauty, or at least a semblance of normal life, from the wreckage they created when forcibly turning the environment, their society, or both as the two are inextricably connected in these stories into something it was never meant to be. In short, these are mostly environment-focused dystopias, but like all great science fiction writers, Paolo Bacigalupi is more concerned with the human impact of the scientific changes be they sociological, environmental, political, The story describes the reaction of a group of security guards when they find an actual living creature — a dog, no less.

This is science fiction with such a powerful psychological wallop that it has the same impact as horror. This story, together with a few others in this collection, has a sufficiently interesting setting that it would be wonderful to see it developed into a full-length work in the future. Both are excellent and highly recommended to readers who enjoyed The Windup Girl.

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Simply unforgettable. Highly recommended. Apr 18, J. A fantastic collection of stories but heavy on the dark and gloomy. Simular to the theme you'll find in The Windup Girl. Makes most dystopian stories seem like a picnic in the park with crumpets and ladyfingers by comparison. Be that as it may, it's outstanding. Oct 19, Rebecca rated it it was amazing.

If you're not a fan of the well-thought-out dystopia, this book is not for you. These stories are grim. Set in worlds where the oil has run out, chemical buildup causes massive birth defects, and worse, these are the cautionary tales that give environmentalists nightmares. At the same time, they're lyrical, rewarding, and for all that they play with world-shaking cataclysms, focus on the best of stubborn, resilient humanity.

For fans of The Windup Girl , there are two stories here from that univer If you're not a fan of the well-thought-out dystopia, this book is not for you. For fans of The Windup Girl , there are two stories here from that universe. There are other stories of small desperations--this is a collection about the hopeless underdog who won't stop fighting. The eponymous heroine of "The Fluted Girl" is a victim of star-hunting and surgical modification gone to barbaric extremes who finds her own way of resisting. And the title story, "Pump Six" features a sewage engineer trying not to succumb to the increasingly dangerous shallowness of the culture around him.

Bacigalupi's imagination is terrifying--he conjures worlds that we would hate to live in, but seem all too plausible. But he has such a gift for description and for characterization that you can't help but be pulled in, and find yourself rooting for his all-too-flawed characters to find, if not peace, at least a kind of dignity. Apr 14, Bee rated it it was amazing. Dark, perverted, imaginative and acutely descriptive of our darker nature. Every story caught and kept me until it's twisted ending. He definitely is a talented writer.

And a great story teller. But a bit psycho and probably not a particularly nice person. Which makes for perfectly willing suspension if belive. Guest stars include the 15th Dalai Lama, a priesthood that keeps us from developing disastrous tech too quickly, a sociopathic husband making Peace with his wife's murder. Debauchery is a Dark, perverted, imaginative and acutely descriptive of our darker nature. Debauchery is a big theme. As is our drive to kill ourselves and our planet with said indulgence. I haven't loved hating so many characters in such terrible circumstance.

Bacigalupi does suffering well. He does diseased dystopia with a flourish. The man understands desperation. None of the stories in this collection were bad, and some I would rate 4 or even 4. I think my greatest disappointment was the similarity of all the themes: Bacigalupi writes dystopian stories about humanity's greed and selfishness and environmental devastation, and that's all he writes about.

Two of the stories in Pump Six are from the same world as The Windup Girl , and most of the others easily could be. He's a None of the stories in this collection were bad, and some I would rate 4 or even 4. He's a good writer, but I'd really like to see him open up a bigger toolbox. This collection of stories is a harbinger, I think, of the direction science fiction will continue to take in the 21st century, and Bacigalupi will likely be remembered as one of its guiding forces.

Call it biopunk, or environmental science fiction, or maybe it already has a name - either way, it is literature that deals directly with humanity's current methods of organizing itself, and what effect those methods will have on the planet and on itself. But it's not just that. Bacigalupi is also a This collection of stories is a harbinger, I think, of the direction science fiction will continue to take in the 21st century, and Bacigalupi will likely be remembered as one of its guiding forces.

Bacigalupi is also a glorious writer, an expert at balancing plot and character and setting and theme, of creating tension and shock and horror and, above all, believability, and it is these skills more than anything else for which he should be cherished. To read these early stories is to witness Bacigalupi get a handle on his craft, master it, and then raise it to the level of high art.

Not every story in the collection works, but about of them are outright masterpieces, and the rest are all very worth spending time with. The direction they take the genre is an important one, and a welcome one. Pocketful of Dharma: In Bacigalupi's first published story, I was struck by the contrast between the cutting edge biotechnological jargon he uses to describe the living edifice, and the ancient tropes of the tale itself, a story of a poor beggar boy come to the city to make his way, gazing at the tallest building and dreaming the lives of the rich.

This is, really, a tale as old as civilization, dressed up in 21st-century bio-punk clothes. The beggar boy is even given a package to deliver to a man "with white gloves," and soon finds himself, as the age-old tale necessitates, in a situation far larger than himself. In tone, it's very film noir, with all the characters interested in locating a datacube that might as well be the Maltese Falcon.

A plot gradually reveals itself about a Tibetan rebellion trying to gain leverage over the Chinese and the uploaded AI remnants of the Dalai Lama, but it never really registers. What does register is the vivid imagery of this living architectural monstrosity, a massive animal structure of struts and arteries spreading itself disgustingly throughout the city, literally becoming the city, and the beggar boy's climactic descent down one of its outer surfaces. The "wet organic passageways" and the "damp spongy wall" that bleeds "milky blood" are all intensely visual details, hints of the splendid visual mind that would go on to create the glorious The Windup Girl.

Not a bad beginning at all. The Fluted Girl: This story also feels like a trial run for his later novel, because the titular character, like the windup girl, is a slave girl, a sexual toy, and an "investment. The fairy tale tropes of the castle, fiefs, and glassblowers rest uneasily, I think, with the science fictional aspects, the genetic manipulations and surgeries, and while we do get some exposition about the world beyond the castle walls, it all feels rather artificial, never gelling into a believable and coherent setting.

We have a decadent woman straight out of J. Ballard's Vermilion Sands, or perhaps Sunset Boulevard, and the story is about her cruel hold over the two "fluted girls" who will perform their art tonight at a social gathering for the amusement of her guests. It is when we learn that "fluted girl" is a term to be taken literally that the story provides its most striking moments.

The rest of the story is window dressing for that central reveal, the dance of the fluted girls and the revelation of the torturous alterations inflicted on their bodies in order to create beauty and art. In both these early stories, Bacigalupi seems to be experimenting with the kind of imagery he would later match with more effective plot construction and more masterful world-building, but his plots thus far have been mainly placeholders to showcase some of that wonderful imagery.

The People of Sand and Slag: A knockout punch. There are many. Bacigalupi stretches the definition of human further than I would have expected; some of the shocks evoke laughs; others make your jaw drop. All the while, we are being conditioned to understand that, with enough time, humans can become accustomed to absolutely anything.

This is a terrifying and topical message, delivered with both confidence and great imaginative force. The Pasho: This densely written tale begins with the smell of shit in the desert, which is a promising beginning. The rest of the story, though, is a bit harder going. It is set in one of those archaic villages that exist, as far as I can tell, only in precisely these types of stories, where the people are simple folk of the earth and their every action and interaction are proscribed and ritualized and imbued with grave and unchanging significance that reaches back into the mists of time.

We discover that these rituals, staying a certain number of meters away from another person, for example, are remnants of a defensive policy ingrained into their minds long ago against some kind of Scourge that destroyed civilization. Now they practice these "old ways" religiously, without awareness of their original intent or when it's time to quit. The villagers are visited by a man who left the village as a child who is now a Pasho, a member of a group dedicated to preserving and re-distributing knowledge back to the people of the Earth.

He is characterized somewhat like a monk, the irony being that rather than preaching God, he is here more or less to preach Einstein. In this mission, he finds himself in conflict with the stubborn conservatism of his grandfather, who wants nothing of these newfangled gadgets, like running water. The majority of the tale consists of a debate between these two characters, articulated in a kind of formal and stilted speech meant to symbolize, I suppose, importance and high seriousness.

Intermittent excerpts from the Pasho organization presenting its philosophy for how to bring civilization back anchor the story effectively, but I found the characters sketchily-drawn and the attack against ignorance and fear too easy. A genuinely complex ethical question is posed: is it right for one group of people to withhold knowledge from the rest of the world and only give it out piecemeal, when it sees fit, for humanity's own protection?

Unfortunately, the grandfather is portrayed as such an ignoramus, and the Pasho so wise and right, that the answer to that question seems to be a simple "yes. In this future, it is impossible to grow food naturally - it all dies. Bacigalupi is a master at word-pictures. He creates devastating imagery within seconds that somehow evokes the entire history of mankind's failures. What is so effective about Bacigalupi's dystopia is how inevitable it feels.

The only edible food in this world is genetically-modified, as well as mediated through massive corporations that hold all the patents and technologies to produce and distribute this food, thus essentially holding a hungry world hostage. These calorie companies can be read as metaphors for all corporations on which we depend for essentials, and which, over time, transform our perspective of reality until it aligns with and serves their profit motive. The characters remember a time of unbridled growth called "The Expansion," the excessive era of ever-increasing productivity and natural resource exploitation that led to the following "Contraction," and it is a humbling moment when the reader realizes that this mythical "Expansion" before the fall is our present world, a way of life we come to understand JUST CAN'T LAST.

The reader is made to feel a sense of nostalgia for the present, as if it has already slipped away from us. The plot follows two men as they try to rescue a third, a geneticist who has discovered a way to grow natural food independently, a man on the run from the calorie companies, hoping to defeat their monopoly through the power of human ingenuity. The tight plot, engaging point-of-view character, and haunting setting all make this one a great addition to a compelling fictional world.

The Tamarisk Hunter: A short, and rather inaccessible story that begins like a sort of nature documentary. See the tamarisk hunter stalk his prey Perhaps the story is too short to feel consequential. I found the prose congested, the logistical details confusing, the characters distant.

Given how much of Bacigalupi's fiction is "message"-based, it is actually surprising how little of it feels like "message fiction," but this one does.

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Government oppressively controlling water supply is bad. Government distributing water unfairly is bad. The common theme from Bacigalupi's other work is of a higher authority holding a monopoly and absolute control over the distribution of some limited but essential natural resource, in other cases food, in this case water.

But the story gave me no entrance, no reason or way to care. And it offers nothing in the way of theme that, say, The Calorie Man didn't already explore, and more compellingly. The Pop Squad: And knockout punch number two. It begins with a film noir-tinged crime scene that reminded me somehow of the film Seven I think it has something to do with the spaghetti.

But it soon widens into a harrowing tale of a future Earth populated by high-living immortals, artists and vacationers and concert goers, who have made it illegal to bear children. Bacigalupi seems to be at his best when his stories are told by unreliable narrators, people whose thoughts and assumptions are alien to our own, and we get to follow them as they approach, perhaps reach, perhaps fail to reach, an epiphany about the horror inherent in the way they see the world. Here, that narrator is something like Ray Bradbury's fireman, except instead of burning books, he murders children.

The final scene, with the man at a kitchen table with a woman he is about to arrest and a toddler he is about to shoot in the head, is tension of the highest order. This story stylishly and compellingly explores questions about why we live, and why we procreate, and why we sometimes don't. And it's a hell of a read. Yellow Card Man: Another story set in Bacigalupi's Windup Girl universe, and another reminder of how good he is at weaving together character, setting, imagery, and theme. This one is more of a world-building exercise than a story, perhaps, and more of a character exploration than a plot, but it is a great character piece.

The man of the title is explored with wonderful insight and powerful sympathy, and like many of Bacigalupi's well-realized characters, he is a natural outgrowth of his environment. By this point in the collection, one may be inclined to start taking Bacigalupi's excellent prose and storytelling abilities for granted - but one shouldn't. These stories are starting to feel effortless, but I'm sure they weren't.

Another immersive slice of future horror. Softer: This is the only story in the collection that doesn't feel like it had to come from Bacigalupi's pen. It could have been written just as well by Harlan Ellison, or Stephen King. The opening sentence feels like an attempt to shock, and maybe this idea was shocking to readers of Robert Browning's "Porphyria's Lover" back in , but now it comes off as cliche, like an undergraduate creative writing student's idea of a hook.

The premise is entirely unoriginal, though the story is written well. The murder scene itself is of course excellent, since Bacigalupi excels at capturing believable, if repulsive, psychology, but the man is clearly a sociopath, so any identification with the character is impossible. Basically, Bacigalupi perceptively captures some daily frustrations we all feel, and then presents a character who kills his wife because of them, and then feels nothing.

Cute, but we've been here before. This is Beethoven doodling a limerick. Pump Six: The experience of reading this story is one of a gradual widening of perception.


Each movement of the story removes an outer ring blocking our view, until the end when we, and the protagonist with us, suddenly see the whole world exactly as it is. We start with a bizarre domestic dispute; then we meet the trogs, the "mash-faced monkey people" who hang out on New York intersections having orgies and grinning at passersby; we find ourselves in a future New York of filth, backed-up sewage, contaminated drinking water, drug-infused parties, and mutated children.

The trogs are a brilliant invention, funny and gross and unnerving, but the protagonist's mental journey here is even better. His job is to man the pumps that keep millions of New York City toilets from overflowing. But the pumps are breaking down, and he doesn't know why. Shockingly, it has never occurred to him before or to his boss to go to the pumps directly and check the maintenance warnings. So now he does this. And he finds he has no idea how to follow them. Neither does his boss. They look up the company that services the pumps.

It turns out it went bankrupt almost half a century ago. So, the protagonist sets out for Columbia University's Engineering department - surely someone there knows how to follow maintenance instructions! The tone up to this point has been a sort of dark comedy of errors, but those rings blocking our perception are being removed one by one, and what he finds at his destination is chilling, its implications horrifying. He finds a way in. He walks through the abandoned library and corridors of the university. He meets an old woman among the dust and condom wrappers and piles of ashes who informs him that the Engineering department shut down 20 years ago.

Outside the windows, university students who have joined the trogs in their orgiastic madness are grinning and waving at him to come outside and join them. There is no one alive with the intelligence to run the city. The inmates have taken over the asylum not through force, but merely through living long enough and being the only ones left. Bacigalupi is a master at these limited, unreliable narrators who gradually learn to see the true horror of their world, and here in this last story of the collection, he gives us one of his finest.

Together, these stories are like a statement about what the genre ought to be writing about. It reminds me of the sprouting cyberpunk movement of the early 80's announcing its presence, but Bacigalupi does this without the fanfare, or the page introductions. He just does it by writing amazing stories. We should read them, and then follow him wherever he wants to take us next.

View all 6 comments. Nov 23, Lightreads rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , science-fiction , collection. Specfic collection, with a tilt towards smart, scary near-future dystopias. People keep comparing him to Ted Chiang. It's accurate in that they're both really good short storyists, but Bacigalupi is doing fundamentally different things than Chiang does.

These stories stress-test individual pieces of what we think of as our normal infrastructure — safe drinking water, reproduction, renewable food sources. A few selections, with links to the stories where available online. I recommend the whole co Specfic collection, with a tilt towards smart, scary near-future dystopias. I recommend the whole collection, though. The one that's sticking with me the most right now. When food monocultures are intellectual property, and calories are contraband. Read them both here. This freaked me right out. It's prototypical of the collection: beautifully written and effective in its transparent manipulativeness.

Read it here. I've avoided short story collections for quite a while. My general glib answer is that by the time I'm invested in the characters, the story is over. After reading a few really quality short story collections lately, I've reevaluated that stance. My real problem is distrust.

You have to trust that the editor, or in this case the writer, have good taste and vision when they pick what's placed within the collection. When it's a single writer's stories this becomes much easier. Investment comes quickl I've avoided short story collections for quite a while. Investment comes quickly in Bacigalupi stories, he doesn't give me time to doubt my investment in each new premise.

Each story has a satisfying heft, a huge world with a nice little chunk taken out of it. He makes his huge scenarios surprisingly approachable time and time again. Not to say that it's science fiction of wide-eyed wonder and deep-space exploration. His stories generally center on something that's slipped horribly out of place in our society's development and in technology. I appreciate his willingness to avoid dystopia, which has degenerated into a YA cliche in recent years. The world has gone awry in most Bacigalupi stories, but people have adapted, they've made a new life under the new requirements and challenges.

It's what made The Windup Girl one of my favorite books of the year, and you can see the same energy and intellect on display in this collection. Speaking of the Windup Girl, there are two stories from the same universe in this collection. What impresses me the most is that they don't come off as a not-quite version of that world, a rough draft for his final vision. Both stories serve as interesting prequels to the book, and simultaneously manage to feel self-contained.

Bacigalupi displays more imagination and invention in this short story collection than a lot of writers display in an entire career. My only regret is that he lacks more work to read. My favourites were The fluted girl and The Pasho. Recommended to lovers of very dark fiction. After pawing through the first story in Pump Six, I imagined it would constitute serial penalty kicks for the grim master. A creditable early lead vocal on the Chuck Berry classic by George Harrison, who loved the song.

It was a stage favorite that is a little tepid on record. Since Please Please Me , eight months earlier, the band had had three No. The release of With the Beatles was where things in England began to get weird. Stores were overrun by teenagers wanting the record. It is said to have sold a half-million copies on its first day ; that would be the rough equivalent of 4 million copies in the U. They worked out the logic of this or that scenario, and delivered verdicts or advice accordingly.

It took a while before actual love songs with recognizable people and situations in them would be in the offing. The new six-disc mega rerelease of Sgt. Pepper includes a reproduction of the actual poster. The Beatles set themselves up as Sgt. So why were Sgt. The result is a decent novelty song that provides ammunition for those, like me, who contend that, track for novelty track, the song quality on Sgt.

A flaw in their contracts allowed them to record outside songs for movies, a financial windfall for the studio lucky enough to make the film. What no one expected was that a young, canny director named Richard Lester would make the resulting movie an unexpected classic, with any number of comic set pieces, ranging from the slapstick to the satirical, that remain invigorating and pointed to this day. In one scene, George is taken in to be quizzed by an amoral adman on what British youth were thinking.

The anvil sound is hilarious. Wait — Maxwell kills people? In the wan Let It Be movie, you can see John Lennon looking pensive as the band runs through this piffle, wondering how his life has come to this. Docked 50 notches for the verse in which Maxwell kills the pataphysical scientist. She seemed cool. Much later, McCartney would allow that he was guilty of laziness for putting nontracks like this on his albums.

An anticlimax to the last uninteresting album the band would release for several years. They broke up for a lot of reasons. Then Lennon started using heroin. Fun times, fun times. Later he tried to paint the other Beatles as the bad guys. The result is just that — show-offy. This first turned up on an American release, Beatles VI. The vulnerability is charming, though. One of the least interesting songs on the otherwise sparkling Rubber Soul.

Ringo Starr grew up Ritchie Starkey — without a father and in the slums. He nearly died from an infection at 6 — remaining in a hospital for a full year. He then contracted tuberculosis, which gave him an extended stay in a sanitarium and no chance at all of regaining his footing in school. The dismal future that awaited him was thwarted by chance.

His natural likability and gifted affinity for the drums changed everything. He came alive on stage — sporting a streak in his hair and flashy rings. That put his life on its unlikely trajectory, and ultimately made him a worldwide household name for some 55 years now. That likability, his reliable steady beat, and his flair for a tasteful fill made him an important part of the Beatles, which is saying something. He sang lead on 11 songs. The good songs went to the movies and toward the grueling single-release schedule that Martin and Epstein enforced.

Beatles for Sale, which came out between the two soundtracks, was another unprecedented smash, spending months at No. Great groovy fuzzed-out bass line, though. Supposedly recorded in one take. One assumes this was a live crowd-pleaser, because its charms are elusive on disc. American records were rare in Britain, and the band picked up what songs they could from the eccentric assortment that presented itself; this was originally done in a distaff version by an obscure Detroit girl group called the Donays, written by one Ricky Dee.

Of the four Beatles, Harrison was the only one who grew up in a nuclear family; like the others, though, he also grew up with an outhouse, and playing in rubbled lots, the detritus of a terrible war that had given undue attention to Liverpool, a major port. Lennon could of course be much crueler about it. Harrison responded by leaving Lennon out of his autobiography. This is routinely referred to as a Beatles oddity, but the song itself is from The Music Man , one of the best American musicals of the era.

The song about the meter maid, fine. But we draw the line at animal songs, particularly when the story, pointless to begin with, goes nowhere. Much later, Lennon would play it with the Plastic Ono Band. He, too, grew up marginally in a damaged city; he lost his mother at More than any of the Beatles, and indeed more than just about anyone you can think of, he has radiated happiness and contentment and not in a self-satisfied way for most of his life. He was in the biggest-selling band of the s, and was probably the biggest-selling artist of the s as well. He was also — how to put this?

He smoked marijuana heroically most of his life, and lived a great love story with his wife, Linda Eastman, until her too-early death in If Paul McCartney has a dark side, it is the voice inside him demanding that he dominate every genre of pop music with his cosmically pleasurable, almost ridiculously facile skills. Here, a number for toddlers. And some people say he was a humorless moralist. But there was a way in which he was always on parole, and over the years his resentment grew.

Docked another five notches for having basically the same title as another, even worse, song on the same album. This one, by Roy Lee Johnson, is a genuine oddity, partly crooned, party wailed. He has an amazing voice. In addition to the lulling arrangement and production — novel and relaxing, spectacular and subtle — we have Paul mulling things over, a step up from grinning platitudes about nothing.

The argument against it is that it is in the end an argument for the status quo. Given his place in the universe, of course Paul McCartney liked things the way they were. You might think the song is directed at rich, complacent hippies — but the rich, complacent hippies in the Beatles would never write a song about that, would they? The very antithesis of a moon-spoon-June love song.

Pump Six and Other Stories

Lennon grew up a striking artistic personality, living, it needs hardly be said, at a time and in a place where this was barely recognized. Without getting too psychological about it, you can say this left him with lingering anger and displacement issues, manifesting in lots of drinking and random acts of cruelty many never forgot. As the Decade of the Beatles wore on, a growing realization of some of these issues put his sensibility on a collision course with the unprecedented circus of a professional life he had inadvertently found himself in.

The result in the latter years of the s was a lot of growing up, and out, in public, via this or that very personal, and sometimes not very attractive, artistic statement on the matter. This is a takeoff on Animal Farm , and anything but subtle. Funny voices, too. This is a slow grinder, sung earnestly by Lennon.

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Way too much echo on the track, though. Painfully plain, this is one of the first complete songs McCartney and Lennon wrote together. Simple is not the word; there are exactly 17 different words in the song, three of which manage to extend to two syllables. If you grew up with Abbey Road you probably still love it.

This is a less interesting, blaring track. The animation film Yellow Submarine was built around it years later. The film was not written by the Beatles, and does not feature their voices either, but their inspiration made it a highly enjoyable cinematic experience, then and now. And no one could reproduce the inherent manic feel of the Beatles. I respect that Lennon is trying to strip down his work to elements, lose his ego, profess his love for Ono, and disappear to be reborn, all that shit.

The outro is interminable, undergirded with a roar of white noise, a nice effect. It finally ends, abruptly, with a sharp cut, mid-note. Later, Emerick came to feel Lennon was right. What came to be called the Get Back sessions featured songs like this — a guitar or two, bass drums, maybe a keyboard, with natural voices on top.

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You want to like songs like this — and particularly this song, with two of the most familiar voices in the world winding around each other with obvious pleasure. The documentary made of these sessions, Let It Be , is an engrossing, wan, sometimes joyous, but ultimately troubled look at four friends who could no longer get it together to record earth-shattering music. The band shelved the material and eventually re-formed to record and release Abbey Road. The Get Back session tracks, by this point a red-headed stepchild, were later refashioned to varying degrees by Phil Spector and put out under the name Let It Be , which inadvertently became, in the eyes of the public, the Beatles sad swan song.

This is one of them. With a sober nod to the past, they played it during the recording of Let It Be. Its official name is merely The Beatles. Side one:. Side two:. Despite the conceptual problems, there are striking moments in the first half, not least the cutaway to the credits, and of course the conceit of the foursome going home to a row of townhomes, all of which were connected inside.

The Help! There are various stories about whom or what this song is really about, but in the end the critical undertones seem sophomoric; after all, the Beatles had been surviving on amphetamines for nearly a decade. The intro is one of their drabbest. Too many of his songs consist of the title words repeated over and over in the chorus. The band played it on the famous rooftop concert in Let It Be , but it was left off the album. The song, famously written as he waited for some friends on Blue Jay Way in the L.

Some nice sounds though. Those who shelled out money for them at the time could take comfort only in the fact that they must have been more tedious to make than they were to consume. Indeed, Harrison has three songs on the album. Sound and music and meaning came together for the band here in a way that it never would again. They were adults with an ever-changing, ever-more-pointed way of looking at the world; at the same time, the extraordinary tastefulness of the production techniques instilled by George Martin gave them powerful tools to capture those impressions.

This has a hummable melody, a decent bridge, a rambling bass track by McCartney, and really not much else. I guess this is a minor Beatles song, from the period just before things started to get really interesting, but the melody and the arrangement mix, here, as in so many other songs in their oeuvre, in a lovely and highly likable way. Note the waltz time in the middle eight, with the melancholy insert from Lennon.

The band barrels through the verses at top speed, not noticing they are supposed to done herky-jerky style. As recorded, three minutes of pop glory set to a melancholy, aching melody, wrapped up in whistles, flutes, vocals, production swirls, and McCartney ululations. We take it all for granted now, but the sound spaces created on the track are exquisite. The result is lulling and stately, a dream in audio Technicolor.

Too much of the lyrics are clumsy. Is Paul himself the Fool on the Hill? Pepper to compare with the three or four landmark tracks he delivered on Revolver. This song took its inspiration from a Corn Flakes commercial. There are a lot of groovy sound effects, but the story it tries to purvey is a little confused, and it clashes conceptually with the far more visionary treatment of the same subject in the last track on the album.

Here we have JoJo andSweet Loretta, with other whimsical words strung together as if they mean something, which they most assuredly do not. The Lennon-McCartney songwriting sessions were supposed to take care of vapid lyric conceptions like this. McCartney is barely even processing what he is saying. I sing along every time it comes out of a speaker within earshot, just as you do. The real star here is the sound.