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2.16-TAXMAN(Beatles)

Beatles

LISTEN

[Intro]

Let me tell you how it will be.
There's one for you, nineteen for me
'Cause I'm the Taxman.
Yeah, I'm the Taxman.

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
'Cause I'm the Taxman.
Yeah, I'm the Taxman.

        If you drive a car, I'll tax the street.
        If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
        If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat.
        If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Taxman!

[Break]

'Cause I'm the Taxman.
Yeah, I'm the Taxman.

Don't ask me what I want it for
(Uh Uh, Mister Wilson!)
If you don't want to pay some more
(Uh Uh, Mister Heath!)
'Cause I'm the Taxman.
Yeah, I'm the Taxman.

Now my advice for those who die,
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the Taxman.
Yeah, I'm the Taxman.

                And you're working for no-one but me.

Taxman!

[Coda]


Taxman begins the Revolver album with distortion of pre-recording studio noises, something the Beatles would use again in Sgt. Pepper, as if the band were tuning up. It was an introductory device taken up by other popular musicians for albums later, such as the intro for David Watts by the Kinks on Something Else and Sing This All Together by the Rolling Stones on Satanic Majesties Request to suggest a live concert was about to begin. Otherwise though, Taxman is a straight ahead rock song sung with wit (Mr. Wilson & Mr. Heath were major British politicians of the time) laid out along a well-worn blues framework. The Bee Gees would make a 1967 pop song In My Own Time that imitates the musical structure closely. But the lead guitar, played by Paul McCartney, is outstanding and takes the melody through all sorts of changes, as well as introducing a knockout arabesque in the break and conclusion. Despite the Arabic flavor of Paul's guitar, however, the overall feel of the song is more rock than psychedelic.

Alan W. Pollack (Notes On) wrote: "When the music starts, we are given two measures worth of instrumental vamping on the bassline ostinato that pervades the song. The melodic contour and rhythmic pattern of this figure make for an interesting comparison with the ostinati of Day Tripper and Paperback Writer. Though hard syncopations feature prominently in all three of them, the figures of the earlier two songs spread out over two full measures and have an arch-like melodic shape. In our current song, the duration of the figure is one measure only and it's melodic contour, such as it is, is much more like a saw-tooth than an arch; overall, it lends the song a feeling of being tense and tightly wound."

Jonathan Gould, in his book Can't Buy Me Love (2007, p. 350) suggests that the cry of Taxman! is a takeoff on the popular early camp TV show Batman, which was introduced in 1966. The lyric "Declare the pennies on your eyes" refers to the English custom of putting pennies on the eyes of the dead so that they wouldn't open when rigor mortis set in. It's a way of Harrison sardonically emphasizing that he's been taxed "to death".

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