'You Gave Me The Answer’ - PaulMcCartney.com asks...
For nearly two years now, Paul has been answering fan questions for the website’s monthly feature ‘You Gave Me The Answer’. Since launching we’ve received tens of thousands of questions and it quickly became one of our favourite items to work on.
As this week sees the reissue of the remastered Wings albums Venus and Mars and At The Speed Of Sound - and because ‘You Gave Me The Answer’ was released on the former of the two - we thought it would be the perfect time to ask Paul a question about the song.
We had read in the impressive liner notes of the Venus and Mars Deluxe Edition that the song was a tip of the hat to the music Paul's father would play on the piano at home, but we should also hold up our hands and make a confession - we did this for selfish reasons too!
Several of us here at PaulMcCartney.com play instruments and we’ve always been delighted and impressed by how intricate and complex Paul’s arrangements can be. ‘You Gave Me The Answer’ is a great example with Paul employing F diminished, G# diminished and Bb diminished; chords not often found in pop songs!
We wanted to geek out a little, so our question to Paul was this:
"You have famously talked about how you jumped on a bus across Liverpool to learn the chord B7 from a guy who knew how to play it. How did you get from there to using the more complicated diminished and augmented chords that began appearing on the early Beatles albums and have continued to be used in your songs such as ‘You Gave Me The Answer’"?
We sat down with Paul in his London office just before he left to continue his ‘Out There’ tour of the US. And boy, were we in for a treat!
Paul told us,
“It was a combination of three ways, really. Some were from people showing them to us; for example, Jim Gretty who was a guy from a guitar shop in Liverpool called Hessy’s. He had a guitar and was a jazz player, and I remember him showing us a chord that was F, but it had a couple of notes added. We called it F demented!"
Paul then picked up the acoustic guitar that lives in his office and began playing the F demented chord. You have to really stretch your fingers to make the chord, but Paul did it
“The chord found its way into a lot of things, like ‘Michelle.’ Another chord came in via ‘Along Came Jones’ by The Coasters.”
Paul again illustrated his point by playing 'Michelle' followed by 'Along Came Jones' by The Coasters. (Check out The Coasters' song when you get chance, it's a great tune!)
"Sometimes we would pick them up from sheet music, like, 'Oh! We don’t know that chord'. But mainly it was just figuring it out from listening to songs we liked. We knew that
something went up in the chords, so me and George would work it out. Buddy Holly would use an odd chord like that - ‘Raining In My Heart’ - and the second chord in there was
augmented. We worked a lot of that out by ear. There’d also be songs like 'Til There Was You’ that would have these chords in too."
Paul then told us whilst laughing, "Sometimes we’d be working with people who knew notation and stuff and they would say, 'Is that C diminished? Is that the chord?' And we’d
look at each other, shrug and go, 'Yes!'"
Then, almost as an encore to our question, Paul played us 'Raining In My Heart' by Buddy Holly.
We are always aware of how fortunate we are to work with Paul, but to get our own personal mini-concert was something else! One of the things we love about playing music is that when something inspires you, you want to pick up your instrument and try it out yourself and that evening after work we all raced home to try out the F demented chord (it's really not that easy to play on the guitar!).
Do you play an instrument? How did you learn to play it? Let us know in the comments below…
'You Gave Us The Answer' will return to normal service next time so if you haven't already submitted your questions (send in as many as you want!) you can do so by clicking HERE!