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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Beatles Song of the Week: "Ob La Di, Ob La Da"

Here's a song that I found enjoyable enough, just a harmless piece of bubble-gum pop music with a nicely infectious beat and the type of easy chorus you can sing under-your-breath to get yourself through the day. And the song certainly is that, but as it's my current Beatles Song I'm Obsessing Over, let's talk a little bit about "Ob La Di, Ob La Da".





One thing I'm quickly learning about the Beatles is that they just don't do a whole lot of standard openings to their songs. This one starts with a piano riff that sounds like a rag-time fanfare before settling downward into the actual key and rhythm of the song. I find that the effect almost makes it seem like what we're hearing is the very end of one song that segues directly into this one. The song uses a lot of different influences (reggae-tinged lyrics and melody combined with a honky-tonk piano), and a lot of external sounds are employed to make the studio recording sound like a raucous live performance.

The lyrics are...well, they're just happy. I can't describe it any other way: "Ob La Di, Ob La Da" just drips happiness. It's not ridiculously sappy happiness, either -- it's just the nice happiness of two people who meet and fall in love and run their barrow in the marketplace while the other sings at night in the band. I can think of few songs that are more devoid of cynicism than this one. I read somewhere that Lennon, Harrison, and Starr all hated this song because it was too light -- a puff piece, really -- but I think that McCartney was really onto something here, and that the song makes a small statement about finding happiness in the small moments of everyday life.

Desmond has a barrow in the marketplace
Molly is the singer in a band
Desmond say to Molly, girl I like you face
And Molly says this as she takes him by the hand

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da,
Life goes on, bra
La la how the life goes on
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da
Life goes on, bra
La la how the life goes on

Desmond take a trolley to the jewelers store
Buys a twenty carat golden ring, (rin-ring)
Takes it back to Molly waiting at the door
And as he gives it to her she begins to sing (sin-sing)

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da
Life goes on, bra
La la how the life goes on
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da
Life goes on, bra
La la how the life goes on

Yeah, In a couple of years they
have built a home sweet home
With a couple of kids running in the yard
of Desmond and Molly Jones

Happy ever after in the market place
Desmond lets the children lend a hand
Molly stays at home and does her pretty face
And in the evening she's a singer with the band

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da
Life goes on, bra
La la how the life goes on
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da
Life goes on, bra
La la how the life goes on

Happy ever after in the market place
Molly lets the children lend a hand
Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face
And in the evening she's a singer with the band

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da
Life goes on, bra
La la how the life goes on
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da
Life goes on, bra
La la how the life goes on
And if you want some fun
take Ob-la-di-bla-da

3 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

Have you heard the Anthology 3 version of this? It has a wholly different arrangement. According to the notes, it's the only wholly completed song they ever scrapped.

I think you're right; it's a better song than the other Beatles (and frankly, I) thought it was.

S ELEMENT said...

Always loved that song. Have you seen this video? Fun cover version...

Jay said...

I always loved this one - yeah, it has a great, upbeat feel and the lyrics might be just fluff, but they're good fluff!

Personally, I think I preferred the Marmalade cover - it seems to have a little more energy, somehow.