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Fixing a Hole

"Fixing a Hole" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released on their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was written by Paul McCartney, although credited to Lennon–McCartney.

Writing

In a 1968 interview, McCartney said that the song was "about the hole in the road where the rain gets in, a good old analogy—the hole in your make-up which lets the rain in and stops your mind from going where it will." He went on to say that the following lines were about fans who hung around outside his home day and night, and whose actions he found off-putting:

Years later, McCartney acknowledged that the song was an "ode to pot".

Recording

The first of two recording sessions for "Fixing a Hole" was at Regent Sound Studios in London on 9 February 1967, in three takes. Regent Sound was used because all three studios at EMI's Abbey Road Studios were unavailable that night, so this was the first time that the Beatles used a British studio other than Abbey Road for an EMI recording. Also present at the session was a man who had arrived at McCartney's house in St John's Wood, shortly before McCartney was due to depart for the studio, and introduced himself as Jesus Christ. McCartney later recalled:The lead vocal was recorded at the same time as the rhythm track, a change from the Beatles' post-1964 approach of overdubbing the vocal. Overdubs were added to this recording on 21 February 1967 at EMI Studios.

Musical structure

The song alternates between the key of F minor (in verse) and F major (in bridge) in basically 4/4 time: :introverseversebridgeverse verse (guitar solo)bridgeverseoutro (fadeout)

On track one George Martin opens on harpsichord, briefly playing a descending chromatic line (resembling "Michelle") in a staccato-like pattern 4/4 time, but Ringo Starr's hi-hat in the final measure of the introduction introduces a swing beat that stays for the remainder of the song. The first eight-measure verse begins with McCartney's vocals on track three ("I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in"). The optimistic word "Fixing" here is sung to a piano F major chord (bass now also on track one playing an F note) but on "hole" a C augmented chord (which includes a G/A note that is a III (3rd) note in the thus predicted F minor scale) (bass now playing a C or V (5th) note in both the F major and F minor scales) pivoting towards the Fm pentatonic minor scale on the more negative mood of "rain gets in". The Fm key melody in the verse is tinged both by blues flat 7th, and Dorian mode raised 6th notes. The harpsichord repeats the descending chromatic line in the F minor key in swing beat. In the second half of the verse, McCartney's bass begins a syncopated three-note pattern that leaves the downbeat empty, meanwhile his vocal is dropping to F an octave below (on "stops my mind"), climbing back to C ("from wandering") then sailing free of the song's established octave to a high falsetto A flat on "where it will go." George Harrison then comes in on track two in the seventh and eighth measure with a syncopated distorted Stratocaster with gain, treble and bass all turned up high, providing his distinctive countermelody, double-tracked phrase descending from Paul's high A vocal note through a "series of biting inversions on the tonic chord;" Harrison later adds an eight bar solo that culminates in a two octave descent. McCartney, Lennon and Harrison do backing vocals on track 4 for the bridge ("And it really doesn't matter if I'm wrong I'm right where I belong I'm right") in the parallel major key (F). This shift between minor (verse) and major (bridge) is also seen in the songs "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" (verse E, chorus Em); "Michelle" (verse F, chorus Fm); "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (bridge A, verse Am), "I Me Mine" (chorus A, verse Am), "The Fool on the Hill" (verse D, chorus Dm) and "Penny Lane" (verse [bars 1–3] B, verse [bars 4–8] Bm).

Personnel

  • Paul McCartneydouble-tracked lead vocals, harpsichord, bass guitar
  • John Lennon – backing vocals, bass
  • George Harrison – backing vocals, double-tracked lead guitar, maracas
  • Ringo Starr – drums
  • George Martin – harpsichord

    Personnel per Guitar World.