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Play it Right! "Drive My Car"

October 9, 2014
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George Harrison’s still-confounding intro to the Beatles’ “Drive My Car” (from Rubber Soul) leads the listener to believe that he’s starting the two-bar lick on the downbeat, which makes for a corker of an entry in our “Where’s one?” sweepstakes.

 

Ex. 1 illustrates this theory and why it just doesn’t add up. For one thing, it necessitates an additional eighth-note in bar 2 in order to sync up with the bass, drum pickup, and proper hookup with Guitar 2 in bar 3. The problem, for me at least, is that it sounds totally right until the end of bar 2, where the beat turns around. Another version of this anomaly would be to play the lick starting with a two-eighth-note pickup on beat four of the count-off measure. This also sounds “right” but requires a bar of 3/4 followed by a bar of 7/8—certainly not what the lads intended!

Ex. 2 reveals the real truth. If you reverse engineer the lick by counting backwards from the downbeat of bar 3, you’ll discover that the whole deal starts with a single eighth-note pickup into bar 1, which means I’ve been hearing it completely backwards for nearly 50 years! Everything may sound flipped around, but now we’re perfectly synced with Paul’s bass lick (on “three-and-four-and” in bar 1), Ringo’s four-sixteenths-plus-an-eighth tom fill starting on beat three of bar 2, and the ensuing verse rhythm figure in bars 3 and 4. And all was well with the world!

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