The English composer and musicologist Wilfrid Mellers, in his now classic scholarly study of the Beatles, Twilight of the Gods, calls the early Beatles period, the period of screaming girls and “yeah, yeah, yeah,” their “Edenic” period. In his study, Mellers give particular attention to “There’s a Place,” the American “B-side” (there’s a quaint old term for you) to their iconic cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Twist and Shout.”
Given that the song wallows in obscurity in the Fabs’ canon, you must be wondering Professor Mellers chose to give it serious scholarly attention and why I would choose it as the subject of of an essay. Other sources report that while John, Paul, George, and Ringo originally had high hopes for the song, that they themselves lost interest caused possibly by its having been a bit of a struggle for them to record. From being a song they expected to be their next #1, “There’s a Place” ended up as album filler and a B-side to a popular cover song.
As both Professor Mellers and I will argue, that’s a bad underestimation of what really is one of their finest early tunes.
Wilfrid Mellers’ discussion of the song is pretty erudite and likely to go over the heads of most readers. He describes “There’s a Place” as “resolutely diatonic despite its melismata and parallel triads,” and while he’s right, and brilliantly insightful, about how the harmonic structure of the song attains its haunting qualities, he’s likely to make eyes glaze over. That seems a shame to me, but there it is.
By: Jim Booth
Source: Scholars and Rogues