6.05-HELLO GOODBYE (Beatles)



You say yes,
I say no.
You say stop
And I say go go go. Oh no!

     You say goodbye
     And I say hello.

     Hello hello.
     I don't know why you say goodbye,
     I say hello.
     Hello hello.
     I don't know why you say goodbye,
     I say hello.

I say high,
You say low
You say why
And I say I don't know. Oh no!


          Why why why why why why
          Do you say goodbye goodbye? Oh no!


[Repeat 1st verse]


     Hello hello
     I don't know why you say goodbye,
     I say hello...
     Hello [modified in transition]

               [Coda: Hey la hey aloha (8x)]

Hello Goodbye was "the longest chart topper since She Loves You", states The Beatles Bible. That doesn't jive with my own calculations (I Feel Fine; Help!; A Hard Days Night and We Can Work It Out all stayed on the charts longer and consistently higher). Be that as it may, Hello Goodbye was the most popular of all psychedelic Beatles songs. (And this was a group that had put out a large sample of psychedelia.) In U.S. sales, however, Hello Goodbye placed behind the Doors' Light My Fire and the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations, and behind Whiter Shade of Pale internationally, of the psychedelic singles considered in this collection.

It is interesting to note that of the songs included in this survey of psychedelic music, Hello Goodbye / I Am the Walrus is the last single of the genre to reach number one within the classic psychedelic era. Immediately afterward, the number ones went to a blend of psychedelic and pop that seemed aimed at the tween audience in a genre of music that became quickly known as “bubblegum” in 1968. Granted the Beatles had been aiming at a teen audience when they released their first records. And one could argue that Hello Goodbye itself was cute and clever enough to be embraced by tweens and their mothers. The song itself might have had an ear to the beginnings of hit “bubblegum” records: Incense and Peppermints (Strawberry Alarm Clark) was released about a month earlier to reach #1 in the U.S., though it did not chart in the UK. In the couple of months following Hello Goodbye, the success of “bubblegum” accelerated, with Judy in Disguise (John Fred and his Playboy Band, #1 U.S., #3 UK) and Green Tambourine (Lemon Pipers, #1 U.S., #7 UK) following in quick succession. The psychedelic genre would continue to produce hits during 1968, but it was forced to be harder and darker to distinguish itself from the saccharine rot that it had itself created. Hard rock became more attractive to psychedelic bands, with the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream leading the way, than the music of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Alistar Taylor reports of this song in Steve Turner’s book A Hard Day’s Write (p.139) that he had asked Paul McCartney how he wrote his music. McCartney took him into his dining room to give him a demonstration on his harmonium. He asked Taylor to shout the opposite of whatever he sang as he played the instrument—black and white, yes and no, stop and go, hello and goodbye. Taylor later said, "I wonder whether Paul really made up that song as he went along or whether it was running through his head already." In a later interview with Disc magazine (reported in Turner’s book), Paul McCartney said of this song: "The answer to everything is simple. It's a song about everything and nothing. If you have black you have to have white. That's the amazing thing about life." It seems to me that Hello Goodbye has a Janus-faced lyric, appropriate for the end of one year and the beginning of another. In hindsight, it also marks the end of the first phase of classical psychedelia and the beginning of the harder style of "roots" rock music that the Beatles would issue afterward for singles.

The last 45 seconds of the song are a singalong play on the word Aloha, which means both hello and goodbye. The melody of this section sounds strikingly similar to the chorus of the Kinks’ Lola, which was released in 1969.