Analysis: Here, There and Everywhere by The Beatles

by ttucker23 on December 9, 2009

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The Beatles' Here, There and Everywhere. This cover was used when the song was released as a single in Portugal.

Here, There and Everywhere is one of the best songs on The Beatles’ Revolver and its brightest affirmation. Paul McCartney is the song’s sole writer (despite the Lennon/McCartney credit), and it is suffused with his inveterate sentimentality. But it is sentimental in the best possible way, balancing finely ordered poetic thought with an intoxication that suggests the writer is ‘drunk with love’ (as Jonathan Gould puts it in Can’t Buy Me Love).

Even John Lennon, The Beatles’ most cynical band member and the first to pull up McCartney on his sentimental tendencies, called Here, There and Everywhere ‘One of my favourite songs of the Beatles’ (Playboy interviews, 1980).

In purely compositional terms, the song stands as a beautiful example of music and lyric working together to reinforce meaning. McCartney sets the song in three closely related keys, analogous to the ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ of the song’s title: G major (the first half of the verse), E minor (the second half of the verse) and G minor (the bridge).

Harmonic shifts like these are unusually sophisticated for popular music, but if this were not ingenious enough, the modulations are made to work at precisely the right moments. Ned Rorem describes the first modulation in The Music of the Beatles, New York Review of Books, 1968 (quoted in The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles by Dominic Pedler, pg 80):

‘Here, There and Everywhere’ would seem at mid-hearing to be no more than a charming slow ballad but once concluded it has grown immediately memorable. Why? Because of the minute harmonic shift on the words ‘wave of her hand’, as surprising and yet as satisfyingly right as that in a Monteverdi madrigal…

That harmonic shift is the sudden appearance of an F# minor chord after four bars that are solidly in G major. This is followed by a move to B7, which takes us to E minor, the relative minor of G major.

That a surprise modulation occurs on the line ‘changing my life with a wave of her hand’ makes that change all the more real to the listener. It provides a vividness to the detail that is reminiscent of a similar line from Virginia Woolf’s The Waves: ‘But look—he flicks his hand to the back of his neck. For such gestures one falls hopelessly in love for a lifetime.’

Likewise, the most significant moment in the song is handled with consummate skill – the opening out into ‘everywhere’ that makes this song a statement of all-embracing love. Look at how the song builds to this moment so beautifully. ‘Here’ is introduced on the dominant (D7) in the intro (‘To lead a better life, I need my love to be here‘) and is then immediately appropriated by the tonic G major at the start of the verse (‘Here, making each day of the year’). It’s as if the singer has pulled his lover closer to him and the song immediately becomes more intimate.

‘There’ has been through the same journey, first showing up on the dominant (D7) at the end of the verse (‘nobody can deny that there’s something there‘), and is likewise immediately appropriated into the tonic (G major) for the start of the second verse (‘There, running my hands through her hair’).

For the ‘everywhere’ section, the song shifts even more abruptly, leaping from D7 to F7 (‘I want her…’), a completely alien chord to the predominant G major tonality. It then moves to a remote Bb major (‘…everywhere’) before settling on G minor (‘…and if she’s beside me I know I need never care…’). How much more satisfying then is the final appropriation of ‘everywhere’ in its turn, back in the main key of the song, G major – ‘But to love her is to need her everywhere…

The last verse brings together all three states (‘here’, ‘there’ and ‘everywhere’) for the first time in the tonic G major. It is one of the most sublime endings in all popular music – ‘I need her here, there and everywhere’ – as the melody reaches a high ‘g’ on ‘…where’ and the final plagal cadence sounds a distinct ‘Amen’.

Here, There and Everywhere can be heard on Revolver by The Beatles (Amazon affiliate link).

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