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Old 09-16-2007, 10:33 PM
KneadToKnow is offline
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Planned? Goof? Planned goof? The Mamas and the Papas "I Saw Her Again Last Night"


Coming back from the bridge (?) before the 3rd chorus in "I Saw Her Again Last Night" by the Mamas and the Papas, the singer (I'm guessing it's Denny, but what do I know) starts singing about 4 beats too soon then quits abruptly halfway through the word "her."

Does anyone know if this is the "oops, lost count" goof it sounds like?

I really know next to nothing about the group (Michelle's fine, the ham sandwich story ... um, that's about it), but I'm guessing that a devotee would be as familiar with this as I am with things like Prince's acrimonious relationship with Andre Cymone, so I'm hoping this will be a simple question for the right person to answer.

Oooh, second question, same song: there's about 8 notes of the melody that sound like their directly lifted from a Beatle's song but I can't ever keep in my head long enough to figure out which one. Any thoughts? It's the notes that the words "but what can I do, I'm lonely too."
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Old 09-16-2007, 10:47 PM
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Yes, that's Denny. I have always thought that it was a mistake, because they're singing to the pre-recorded backing track and at that spot, the band takes an extra measure to go back to the verse, unlike the other times in the song where it comes to that point.

I'm just supposing here, as I've never seen any reference to why it's there...Anyone have John's book?

The number of tracks they had available to record on may have prohibited them from redoing it. That was likely the best take of what may have been many takes, and rather than try to punch in or redo the track all over again, they probably just left it in. You'd think that during mixing, the engineer could have muted that track for that one section, but maybe not. We may never know. But there's my idea of why it's there on the finished master.
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Old 09-16-2007, 11:34 PM
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The U.S. industry standard by 1965 was four-track recording; and by 1967, eight-track. "I Saw Her Again" was released in the summer of 1966, so was probably recorded on four-track. It should have been easy to mix out Denny's goof from the vocal track, so I'm puzzled why they didn't. Maybe they just liked the sound of it.
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Old 09-16-2007, 11:49 PM
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In fact, re-hearing the song, I notice that the "goof" (at 2:42) is mixed to the right, while the subsequent "correct" male vocals (2:44) are mixed to the left. Further makes me think that however accidental it might have been, it was kept on purpose.

Last edited by Walloon; 09-16-2007 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 09-16-2007, 11:53 PM
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Maybe they didn't care. This was before the time of perfectionism. If you listen closely, there are tons of flubs on early Dylan songs. This might have been the tenth take, and the only one they got through without flubbing it totally, so they might have decided it was good enough.

I used to think that recording sessions went for perfection, but then I read books of the details of the Beatles and Dylan sessions, and I learned better. For instance, that odd start for Her Majesty on Abbey Road was because some technician cut it wrong.

I doubt there is any such book for Mamas and Papas recording sessions, though.

Last edited by Voyager; 09-16-2007 at 11:53 PM. Reason: Papas, not Pappas like Irene
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Old 09-17-2007, 12:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager
...I read books of the details of the Beatles and Dylan sessions, and I learned better.
You're right. Every one of The Beatles' records are based on the one take where they didn't fuck it up. After they did the overdubs on the one good take, they never played it again (after the concert tours were over).
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Old 09-17-2007, 01:38 AM
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If I remember their Behind The Music correctly, it was a goof that they decided they liked after all.
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Old 09-17-2007, 02:20 AM
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According to the M & P Anthology LP, it was a genuine flub left in. But then again, John also claimed the Cass/pipe story was true.
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Old 09-17-2007, 04:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snooooopy
If I remember their Behind The Music correctly, it was a goof that they decided they liked after all.
That's the way Michelle describes it in this YouTube clip.

Quote:
At the very end Denny came in - a false beginning - but he came in so strong and so beautifully that we left it. It sounds like a mistake, it is a mistake, and we loved it, and that's how we left it.
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:56 AM
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At the end of the Bee Gees' I've Gotta Get a Message to You, they go up a step in key, and on the "hold on, hold on" high backing vox, (I think it's Barry) hits the note rather badly and goes "ohhh!" right after, kind of like you would say "Oh, shit!", except without the "shit!" .
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:15 AM
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Excellent. Thanks, all!

It didn't dawn on me until this weekend that I've had this question every time I've heard that song for my entire life, so I knew I finally had to ask someone, and who better than the Dope?

No takers on the second question, I guess?
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:19 AM
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It sounds like he is about to stop or he'll break down "I saw her." Stop "I saw her again last night."

If it's a mistake, it's a lovely lovely one
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow
Oooh, second question, same song: there's about 8 notes of the melody that sound like their directly lifted from a Beatle's song but I can't ever keep in my head long enough to figure out which one. Any thoughts? It's the notes that the words "but what can I do, I'm lonely too."
I believe the Beatles song you're thinking of may be (video link) I Should Have Known Better.
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Old 09-24-2007, 07:06 PM
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Of course the other big flub in a record that was kept in was "Needles and Pinsa".
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Old 02-24-2020, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Oooh, second question, same song: there's about 8 notes of the melody that sound like their directly lifted from a Beatle's song but I can't ever keep in my head long enough to figure out which one. Any thoughts? It's the notes that the words "but what can I do, I'm lonely too."
If you listen to the Beatles' song "A Hard Day's Night", after the first four lines there are two lines with the lyrics "But when I get home to you, I find the things that you do". The notes of these lines (which are repeated a few times throughout the song) sound to me very similar to the ones you're referring to in "I Saw Her Again Last Night". There are differing numbers of notes between the two songs, but the melodic progression sounds the same.

Last edited by NotSoTinyDancer; 02-24-2020 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 02-24-2020, 07:19 PM
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KneadToKnow
Quote:
8 notes of the melody that sound like their directly lifted from a Beatle's song
That wouldn't surprise me. A few years ago I was reading a book on the history of the Beatles and influence they had on music.

They mentioned the Mamas and Papas and talked about how John Phillips was struggling with the whole idea that music taste was moving away from his "wheelhouse" of folk and into rock.

The book quoted some interview with Phillips as saying that he put on his headphones, got stoned out of his head and then put the Beatles latest album on repeat and listened to it for hours. He said he then came out and immediately wrote the songs for "If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears" deliberately patterning the chords and melodies and vocal styles after the Beatles.

Can't say that it's actually true, reading it in a book on the Beatles doesn't really mean anything, but it wouldn't surprise me.
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Old 02-25-2020, 07:26 AM
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According to the M & P Anthology LP, it was a genuine flub left in. But then again, John also claimed the Cass/pipe story was true.
The what, now?
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Old 02-25-2020, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 View Post
The what, now?
The story goes that Cass Elliot wanted to be in the group that John Phillips was forming (which would become The Mamas and the Papas), but he wouldn't let her, because she couldn't sing high enough. Then, she was in an accident in which she was hit in the head by a pipe, and suffered a concussion. Once she recovered, she could hit the high notes, and John hired her.

However, it's generally believed that Phillips' reluctance to bring her into the group was because she was fat. The pipe story was apparently conconcted after the group bcame successful, to cover up Phillips' real reasoning.

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/mama-cass-pipe-voice/

Last edited by kenobi 65; 02-25-2020 at 08:08 AM.
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Old 02-25-2020, 09:03 AM
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Thanks, NotSoTinyDancer and GMANCANADA! That was worth the wait!
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Old 02-25-2020, 09:27 AM
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Of course the other big flub in a record that was kept in was "Needles and Pinsa".
You referring to the "pins-ah" (which they rhyme with "begins-ah") or is there indeed a big flub?

I've always been intrigued by musical mistakes. Started when I heard Van Morrison turn a page of sheet music in Slim Slo Slider... but Denny's is the biggest, and leaving it in was bold.

Last edited by digs; 02-25-2020 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 02-25-2020, 09:45 AM
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(Just noticed that this is a Zombie)

I remember reading (I don't have time right now to find a site) that it was a mistake that they liked and decided to go with. Subsequently, they stated that they had done it on purpose. Subsequent to that, Paul McCartney threw the BF flag on that. He said that it thought it as genius, but he didn't believe for a second that they did it intentionally.

I think over time, the strong consensus is concurrence with McCartney - mistake that really worked.

Last edited by spifflog; 02-25-2020 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:31 AM
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You're right. Every one of The Beatles' records are based on the one take where they didn't fuck it up. After they did the overdubs on the one good take, they never played it again (after the concert tours were over).
Not to derail, but I love this video walking through how many weird recording errors are audible in "I'm Looking Through You."
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Old 02-26-2020, 06:46 AM
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At the end of "Let Me Roll It" by Wings from the Band On the Run album there's an extra beat in the outro that kind of sounds like a hiccup - instead of baDUMP tick baDump it goes baDUMP baDUMP tick baDUMP. In his book recording engineer Geoff Emerick said it was an editing mistake (back in the razor blade and splicing tape days). He was mortified when they were listening to the playback for the first time and wanted to fix it immediately, but Paul liked it and not only left it in, they played it that way when performing it live after that.
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Old 03-18-2020, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Coming back from the bridge (?) before the 3rd chorus in "I Saw Her Again Last Night" by the Mamas and the Papas, the singer (I'm guessing it's Denny, but what do I know) starts singing about 4 beats too soon then quits abruptly halfway through the word "her."



Does anyone know if this is the "oops, lost count" goof it sounds like?



I really know next to nothing about the group (Michelle's fine, the ham sandwich story ... um, that's about it), but I'm guessing that a devotee would be as familiar with this as I am with things like Prince's acrimonious relationship with Andre Cymone, so I'm hoping this will be a simple question for the right person to answer.



Oooh, second question, same song: there's about 8 notes of the melody that sound like their directly lifted from a Beatle's song but I can't ever keep in my head long enough to figure out which one. Any thoughts? It's the notes that the words "but what can I do, I'm lonely too."
On the anthology album, they made the mistake and decided to keep it.

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Old 03-18-2020, 06:02 AM
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... I really know next to nothing about the group (Michelle's fine, the ham sandwich story ... um, that's about it), ...
Ham sandwich = urban legend. Mama Cass Elliot died of a heart attack.
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Old 03-19-2020, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Oooh, second question, same song: there's about 8 notes of the melody that sound like their directly lifted from a Beatle's song but I can't ever keep in my head long enough to figure out which one. Any thoughts? It's the notes that the words "but what can I do, I'm lonely too."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spoke View Post
I believe the Beatles song you're thinking of may be (video link) I Should Have Known Better.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NotSoTinyDancer View Post
If you listen to the Beatles' song "A Hard Day's Night", after the first four lines there are two lines with the lyrics "But when I get home to you, I find the things that you do". The notes of these lines (which are repeated a few times throughout the song) sound to me very similar to the ones you're referring to in "I Saw Her Again Last Night". There are differing numbers of notes between the two songs, but the melodic progression sounds the same.
I've been trying to reconcile these comments, and I can't. However...

3_4___3___4_5____3-2__1
I saw her a-gain last night

3____4____3_5____5______5
It's been a hard day's night


I haven't listened to this in forever. Phillips was a great songwriter. K.D. Lang once declared that good songwriting comes from being constantly surprised, and the chord progression here does that beautifully.
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Old 03-19-2020, 11:49 PM
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John Sebastian does exactly the same thing on "Darling Be Home Soon"
https://youtu.be/pAur4CWJIPw?t=129
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