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Author Topic: "She Don't Know" on "Mess of Help"  (Read 8520 times)
the captain
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« on: July 21, 2015, 08:38:13 AM »

Forgive me if this specific question has been discussed, but I don't recall it coming up. It might be such a small point or question that nobody (even here) cares.

I understand that "You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone" evolved out of "Beatrice From Baltimore." My question is, does anyone know whether the "she don't / she don't / she don't know" vocal part is a remnant of that earlier song? It seems entirely irrelevant to the final "Mess of Help" song, lyrically speaking; I wonder whether it just remained in the new song / new lyrics because, logical or not, it just sounded cool. (What were they going to do, sing "mess o' / mess o' help / mess o' help?") Not that nonsense lyrics can't and don't make their ways into songs all the time, but it seems like that lyric likely fit better about a song with a subject-"she" than one about community.

Unless maybe there was this one particular "she" who "don't know" the mess of help required to stand alone...  Grin

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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2015, 08:58:55 AM »

Isn't "SHE" the person the lyrics are directed too?
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2015, 09:57:28 AM »

Don't know, but it's Brian singing the 'answering' part of it (the 'she don't know it')
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2015, 10:21:32 AM »

Isn't "SHE" the person the lyrics are directed too?

I'd always assumed the lyrics were a vernacular way of saying "One Needs A Mess of Help to Stand Alone", meaning the songwriter (i.e Brian).

And the "she don't know" could be a reference to a perceived lack of understanding from his female counterpart (i.e. his wife).

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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2015, 08:08:44 PM »

Although I've always been a big fan of this song, I've also always fealt that it's 2 completely unrelated songs mashed together. I think it would have had been a potentially successful single without the "She don't know" breaks.  They come out of left field.
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2015, 09:12:13 PM »

Although I've always been a big fan of this song, I've also always fealt that it's 2 completely unrelated songs mashed together. I think it would have had been a potentially successful single without the "She don't know" breaks.  They come out of left field.

Or the opposite...the "She don't know" parts are the best, IMO.
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2015, 10:15:11 PM »

Aren't they singing, "She don't know a thing" ?
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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2015, 03:02:07 AM »

I'm hearing "she don't/no she don't /no she don't know"
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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2015, 05:51:00 AM »

Would it be fair to say none of us knows the answer to the initial question, then?
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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2015, 06:26:19 AM »

My guess is that it's two separate lyrical parts.  The lead is all about "I need" and the "She don't know" part makes little sense.
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2015, 08:19:20 AM »

Would it be fair to say none of us knows the answer to the initial question, then?

We don't know  Cheesy
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« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2016, 02:35:58 AM »

the lead vocal, is this a Carl double up?  using two different vocal techniques?  always found this
intriguing how they produced this tune.  would love to hear it accapella (which is nude, oops
I lost my head)
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« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2016, 03:45:37 AM »

the lead vocal, is this a Carl double up?  using two different vocal techniques?  always found this
intriguing how they produced this tune.  would love to hear it accapella (which is nude, oops
I lost my head)

There's a discussion of it and other not necessarily nude matters here:

http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/topic,14744.0.html
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« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2016, 01:45:40 PM »

the lead vocal, is this a Carl double up?  using two different vocal techniques?  always found this
intriguing how they produced this tune.  would love to hear it accapella (which is nude, oops
I lost my head)

We went into this in some length on the lead vocal thread which I participated in.  I think we came up with it's three vocals, at least two of which are Carl singing, as you say, with two different vocal techiques, and a third unidentified vocalist who might be Brian but is more likely to be Carl again.
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« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2016, 04:33:45 PM »

the lead vocal, is this a Carl double up?  using two different vocal techniques?  always found this
intriguing how they produced this tune.  would love to hear it accapella (which is nude, oops
I lost my head)

We went into this in some length on the lead vocal thread which I participated in.  I think we came up with it's three vocals, at least two of which are Carl singing, as you say, with two different vocal techiques, and a third unidentified vocalist who might be Brian but is more likely to be Carl again.

Having heard the parts isolated...the third part is Brian, one of 3 songs where he is present vocally (the other two being Marcella and He Come Down)
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« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2016, 05:44:08 PM »

99.99% certain that Jack Reiley could not think of a way to change the middle-eight/tag lyrics to match his rewrite of the "Beatrice" lyrics (and, man, I would REALLY like to hear those in their entirety, they must've been a scream!!).

And so it became this weird field holler thing that takes the "unrequited" aspect of the "Beatrice" lyrics to a different level...clearly the babe that Brian and Tandyn were hot over wasn't returning their, um, "enthusiasm" when they saw her shaking' her booty at Bumbles!

Of course the ladies can reinterpret this as a sexist putdown ("She don't know a thing") but I prefer to think that the boys are merely frustrated that "Beatrice" is unaware of (and completely uninterested in) the effect she's having on our songwriters.

And therefore I suspect that Carl decided to thicken that part in the tag to sort of paper all of that over, with the byproduct of that being that he created one of the greatest rocked-out contrapuntal funkorama moments of all time--rootsy and yet still somehow Beach Boyish--aided immeasurably by that fantastic ascending bass line...and the lightning hands of Ricky Fataar, in his greatest BB moment the first time out. Headphone nirvana, boys and girls!
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« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2016, 06:35:10 PM »

the lead vocal, is this a Carl double up?  using two different vocal techniques?  always found this
intriguing how they produced this tune.  would love to hear it accapella (which is nude, oops
I lost my head)

We went into this in some length on the lead vocal thread which I participated in.  I think we came up with it's three vocals, at least two of which are Carl singing, as you say, with two different vocal techiques, and a third unidentified vocalist who might be Brian but is more likely to be Carl again.

Having heard the parts isolated...the third part is Brian, one of 3 songs where he is present vocally (the other two being Marcella and He Come Down)

This aligns with what Mike said at the time regarding Brian's involvement with the album: "Brian was there with 'Marcella', and 'Mess Of Help' has his harmonies with the vocal." He didn't mention "He Come Down" in that sentence, but yes, Brian's there too. Speaking of THAT song....man, that gospel ending is fantastic, with the churchy group harmonies and Blondie wailing away on top!

Ten years after the fact, Carl made this comment regarding CATP "So Tough": "If we had done eight tunes like 'Marcella', it could have been a great rock album, almost a folk-rock album...I wish Brian had been strong enough to produce the record, because it could have been an ass-kicking, great record."
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« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2016, 09:27:22 PM »

the lead vocal, is this a Carl double up?  using two different vocal techniques?  always found this
intriguing how they produced this tune.  would love to hear it accapella (which is nude, oops
I lost my head)

We went into this in some length on the lead vocal thread which I participated in.  I think we came up with it's three vocals, at least two of which are Carl singing, as you say, with two different vocal techiques, and a third unidentified vocalist who might be Brian but is more likely to be Carl again.

Having heard the parts isolated...the third part is Brian, one of 3 songs where he is present vocally (the other two being Marcella and He Come Down)

This aligns with what Mike said at the time regarding Brian's involvement with the album: "Brian was there with 'Marcella', and 'Mess Of Help' has his harmonies with the vocal." He didn't mention "He Come Down" in that sentence, but yes, Brian's there too. Speaking of THAT song....man, that gospel ending is fantastic, with the churchy group harmonies and Blondie wailing away on top!

Ten years after the fact, Carl made this comment regarding CATP "So Tough": "If we had done eight tunes like 'Marcella', it could have been a great rock album, almost a folk-rock album...I wish Brian had been strong enough to produce the record, because it could have been an ass-kicking, great record."

Wait, so we are confirming that Brian is the 3rd lead on Mess of Help ? The one that goes up the octave sometimes? If so, that's a pretty huge revelation! My ears always heard Blondie's tone -- but what the heck do I know?
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« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2016, 09:48:00 PM »

is there anywhere online we can hear or find the isolated vocals?  lots of different thoughts on
those background lead vocals.  Interesting still, we have heard lots of the Capitol material
dissected and available in various forms now, but hardly anything of the great early 70's albums.
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« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2016, 12:30:43 AM »

is there anywhere online we can hear or find the isolated vocals?  lots of different thoughts on
those background lead vocals.  Interesting still, we have heard lots of the Capitol material
dissected and available in various forms now, but hardly anything of the great early 70's albums.
Yes, isolated vocals would be great to hear!
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« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2016, 04:16:00 AM »

We went into this in some length on the lead vocal thread which I participated in.  I think we came up with it's three vocals, at least two of which are Carl singing, as you say, with two different vocal techiques, and a third unidentified vocalist who might be Brian but is more likely to be Carl again.

That discussion starts around here (skipping posts along the way): 

http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/topic,4120.msg71961.html#msg71961

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« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2016, 04:23:49 AM »

the lead vocal, is this a Carl double up?  using two different vocal techniques?  always found this
intriguing how they produced this tune.  would love to hear it accapella (which is nude, oops
I lost my head)

We went into this in some length on the lead vocal thread which I participated in.  I think we came up with it's three vocals, at least two of which are Carl singing, as you say, with two different vocal techiques, and a third unidentified vocalist who might be Brian but is more likely to be Carl again.

Having heard the parts isolated...the third part is Brian, one of 3 songs where he is present vocally (the other two being Marcella and He Come Down)

This aligns with what Mike said at the time regarding Brian's involvement with the album: "Brian was there with 'Marcella', and 'Mess Of Help' has his harmonies with the vocal." He didn't mention "He Come Down" in that sentence, but yes, Brian's there too. Speaking of THAT song....man, that gospel ending is fantastic, with the churchy group harmonies and Blondie wailing away on top!

Ten years after the fact, Carl made this comment regarding CATP "So Tough": "If we had done eight tunes like 'Marcella', it could have been a great rock album, almost a folk-rock album...I wish Brian had been strong enough to produce the record, because it could have been an ass-kicking, great record."

Wait, so we are confirming that Brian is the 3rd lead on Mess of Help ? The one that goes up the octave sometimes? If so, that's a pretty huge revelation! My ears always heard Blondie's tone -- but what the heck do I know?

Mike's comment confirms it in MY mind.
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« Reply #22 on: August 05, 2016, 06:20:14 AM »

I don't know the answer to the initial question, but whenever I don't understand lyrics, I always assume it means the same thing:
"She don't know..." Is referring to Linda McCartney not knowing that she married Faul and not Paul who died in a car accident in 1966. Faul needs a mess of help (please please help me!) to stand as Paul.

This explanation is fully documented in my weed!
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« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2016, 02:49:41 PM »

If you have a receiver/tuner that isolates left-right channels and puts out a signal into both speakers/headphones, you could get a lot of clarity on the (intermittent) three leads in the verses. That's what we used to do back in the day with "Mess of Help" because it was clear that the track had a lot of panning.

When you do that, you get a gruff Carl who's in play throughout all of the verses, a smoother Carl who is in play during the second half of each verse, where the melody changes as it flows into "...a mess of help to stand alone", and an intermittent Brian adding accents on words in various places.

Sounds to me like Carl might have doubled parts of the gruff vocal, particularly in the third and final verse.

Hard to tell who's singing the "she don't know/she don't know it" lines that followi Carl's "She don't know a thing" in the tag. There are clearly more voices in the tag, which enhances and "thickens" the earlier middle-eight.

I went back and read Adam's 2007 post on this, and I don't think we're too far off in terms of what's going on, but all of that track listing material from Alan is fascinating and I sure wish he would spend some more time trying to figure out what's really where. This is definitely one of a handful of tunes that would have been amazing to watch through the full course of its creation, right down to the mixing, where some of the final mysteries may still be lurking...
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« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2016, 05:39:29 PM »

If you have a receiver/tuner that isolates left-right channels and puts out a signal into both speakers/headphones, you could get a lot of clarity on the (intermittent) three leads in the verses. That's what we used to do back in the day with "Mess of Help" because it was clear that the track had a lot of panning.

When you do that, you get a gruff Carl who's in play throughout all of the verses, a smoother Carl who is in play during the second half of each verse, where the melody changes as it flows into "...a mess of help to stand alone", and an intermittent Brian adding accents on words in various places.

Sounds to me like Carl might have doubled parts of the gruff vocal, particularly in the third and final verse.

Hard to tell who's singing the "she don't know/she don't know it" lines that followi Carl's "She don't know a thing" in the tag. There are clearly more voices in the tag, which enhances and "thickens" the earlier middle-eight.

I went back and read Adam's 2007 post on this, and I don't think we're too far off in terms of what's going on, but all of that track listing material from Alan is fascinating and I sure wish he would spend some more time trying to figure out what's really where. This is definitely one of a handful of tunes that would have been amazing to watch through the full course of its creation, right down to the mixing, where some of the final mysteries may still be lurking...

Just tried that! Aside from the obvious clean Carl lead, I hear:

1. The "gruff" voice. Maybe Brian? (as it does resemble his 15BO voice). But I'm just not sure. Some of the stylings sound more like Carl to me.
2. A higher pitched, nasal "clean" but shouty voice, which DOES sound a lot like 72-era Brian to me. This voice goes into harmony at points.
3. Maybe yet ANOTHER voice, which goes into a falsetto octave at points, and sounds more like Blondie than anyone else to me.

So maybe as many as 4 vocals on that left channel? And sometimes as little as 2? It does have a kind  of loose group feel....

I have also always identified Brian as the "answer" vocal in the "She Don't know" tag-

EG - She don't-she don't-----------she don't know
         Brian:    SHE DON'T KNOW IT

thoughts?
« Last Edit: August 05, 2016, 05:40:32 PM by linusoli » Logged
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