SONG TITLE: CRY BABY CRY
PERFORMER: THE BEATLES
SONGWRITER: JOHN LENNON / PAUL MCCARTNEY
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1968
This song is compelling as hell, but it is a little difficult to get a handle on, and it gets lost in the overall brilliance of the White Album. The lyrics do make literal sense, but the point is not obvious. They give details of the day to day personal lives of a king and queen. There is no punchline, or obvious significance to the story.
The lack of meaning, I think, is the point. The melody is quiet and melancholy. With the royal talk, the little bit of phase shifting in the acoustic guitar, and the accordian, there is a sense of being suspended in dream time. Something’s wrong in dreamland; there is a sense of emptiness, and foolishness. “Cry, baby, cry. Make your mother sigh. She’s old enough to know better.” I suspect this is all some heroin induced hallucinatory reflection of his take on the Beatles themselves: foolish pampered rich people.
The Beatles were known for being bonus babies; they frequently threw in a hot melodic idea at the beginning or end of a song which was not repeated. This one is particularly good, and really completes the song. All the fancy production tricks drop away as Paul pleads forlornly “Can you take me back where I came from, brother can you take me…baaack.” That lonesome high note on the last “back” is just the saddest thing. This makes perfect sense, and needs no further explanation.