Monday, September 10, 2007

(being) For the Benefit of Mr. Kite

A Little Bit of History:
On January 31, 1967 the Beatles went to Knole Park near Sevenoaks in Kent. "There was an antique shop close to the hotel we were using in Sevenoaks," remembers former Apple employee Tony Bramwell.

"John and I wandered in and John spotted this framed Victorian circus poster and bought it."
Inspired by the finely-wrought language and the evocative names of the performers on the poster, John began to compose a song based on it.

"Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite" was recorded at EMI Studio Two on February 17, 1967, and was released on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album on June 1, 1967, in mono and stereo.
John's original poster was last known to be in the possession of Sean Lennon.

Moving On, or What I'm Getting At:

This song scares & intimidates me. Honestly, I hadn't become fully aware of this song until a year or two ago, but it wasn't until this past Christmas (thanks, Anna) that I researched the lyrics & dove into the musical orchestrations. All in all, SCARY. John, Paul, & the gang keep me biting my finger nails, checking over my shoulder, & peering around street corners in trepidatious (did you know trepidatious isn't a real word? I had no clue!) fear for a solid three minutes.
Breaking the song down to its lyrical bare bones, there are very few moments of levity.

For the benefit of Mr. Kite

There will be a show tonight on trampoline

The Hendersons will all be there

Late of Pablo-Fanques Fair, what a scene

1) Songs which feature proper first names intimidate me like woa. I'm not all that historically in-the-know, so I typically assume any proper allusions are nuggets of historical trivia I am unaware of. What benefit are you talking about, John? Who is Mr. Kite? Who are the Hendersons? Where is the Pablo-Franques Fair? I DON'T KNOW!!!

Over men and horses hoops and garters

Lastly through a hogshead of real fire!

In this way Mr. K. will challenge the world!

2) Lyrics that do not rhyme scare me like woa. The rhyme scheme of Portion One follow a simple flow. Thank god. Yet, in Portion Two, the boys break the scheme (hooray nonconformity!) to line up "fire" with "world." Why'd you break the rhyme scheme? Why didn't "fire" rhyme with "world?" I DON'T KNOW!!!

3) Nicknames (whether "in" or due to an abbreviation) created not by me are scary, but even more intimidating. First off, I don't know Mr. Kite, and though he may be a perfectly jovial & brave fellow, I cannot bring myself to refer to him by a nickname. Since A) I don't know him, and B) I didn't come up with that truncated moniker, I cannot find reason or rationale to shorten his name to a singular letter. Had I, say, grown up next to, worked along side, or baptized the daughter of daring Mr. Kite, I may have the balls to call him "Mr. K." Second of all, "in" nicknames imply a time I was around & a place I was present. I only feel comfortable using a nickname whose origin I was present to experience. Are the Beatles really good friends with Mr. Kite? How come John can shorten his name? Could I? I DON'T KNOW!!!

The celebrated Mr. K.

Performs his feat on Saturday at Bishopsgate

The Hendersons will dance and sing

As Mr. Kite flies through the ring don't be late

4) Even more glorifying allusions! Mr. Kite is celebrated? WHY!?! Where is Bishopsgate?! I'VE NEVER BEEN THERE!!!

Messrs. K and H. assure the public

Their production will be second to none

And of course Henry The Horse dances the waltz!

5) Carnivals (carnival oom-pa-pas specifically) scare me like woa. Even before I read into the history of this song, the terrifying allusions to a benefit being at a carnival-like atmosphere were blatantly clear. And you know what you get when you have a carnival-like atmosphere? Clowns. ::shimmy shakes:: Worse still is the haunting waltz that plays during the bridge. A ghostly, fading waltz mixed with the cacophony of carnival barkers, organ grinding, &, scariest still, the nays of malnourished & non-Unionized dancing horses in captivity. Why has the benefit turned into a carnival? Who thought teaching Henry to dance was a good idea? I DON'T KNOW!!!

6) Again, more broken rhyme schemes. "None" & "waltz" do.not.rhyme. "'Course" & "horse" rhyme, so why can't "none" & "waltz?" I DON'T KNOW!!!

The band begins at ten to six

When Mr. K. performs his tricks without a sound

And Mr. H. will demonstrate

Ten somersets he'll undertake on solid ground

7) British phrasing intimidates me like woa. Somersets? SomerSETS? Englishninja, please. While enjoying a pint & slogging down a basket of fish n' chips at the corner pub, blokes don't ask for pepper & set, do they? DO THEY? The extra "u" in our somersaults is for "unscary." What's with British phrasing? Do Brits still call "an acrobatic feat in which a person tucks in mid-air and moves the feet over the head" a "somerset?" Will anyone PLEASE pass the sault & pepper? I DON'T KNOW!!!

'ving been some days in preparation

A splendid time is guaranteed for all

And tonight Mr. Kite is topping the bill.

8) Now there's a sorta conforming rhyme scheme??? "All" & "bill" rhyme as much as "that" & "twat," but at least they're trying. Who do the Beatles think they are, swapping rhyme-schemes on us? At the very last line, no less. Well, I guess they're the Beatles, but aaaaahhhhh!

I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS SONG (besides the historical context posted above regarding the Victorian poster) & IT SCARES & INTIMIDATES ME MORE THAN LIFE!!!

Oh yeah, after all's said & done, I love this song. The way a battered wife still loves her alcoholic, ruffian husband.

Time to cleans my ears with some non-scary waltzes. Is any waltz non-scary? MAYBE!!!


A to the S said...

The extra "u" in our somersaults is for "unscary".... peed my pants.

Michelle said...

"'All' & "bill' rhyme as much as 'that' & 'twat,' but at least they're trying."

Ha! I almost forgot about that. Twat.

Anonymous said...

ah william, but you HAVE been to the city in which bishop's gate resides. clearly SOMEONE never read his brockett ;) oh and i got your letter today. you are freakin sexy. If i ever come out...erm I mean...BI! NO I MEAN... BYE!!!!

(seriously though you rock my world, made my day, and thank you a million times over)