Pity the poor stalker.
November 11 1965 was a good days business for the lads. “You Won’t See Me” was recorded that day as was “Girl” and “I’m Looking Through You”.
They were determined to break new ground nearly every session. The recording is three minutes twenty-two seconds long which makes it the longest song they had recorded up to that point. Unusually McCartney sings lower harmony while Lennon and Harrison take the higher parts. I may be mistaken but I believe this is the first time they had done this as well.
Each verse starts on the 4th beat of the preceding bar but the title hits the 1st beat hard making it sound like a grim pronouncement, which is exactly what it is.
Because “You Won’t See Me” is a song about stalking.
From the time he was 20 years of age Paul McCartney has been in the public eye in a way that very few of us could imagine. When John said that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus he was not bragging, he was reporting.
That kind of fame comes at a cost. It had become virtually impossible for Paul or the others to venture onto the streets of any major city. His garbage was regularly sifted though by fans and journalists for a clue about his private life. Ha, there was no private life, just studio followed by touring followed by promotion followed by studio followed by touring and on, and on, and on.
Not only that but the PR training that any public figure takes for granted today was simply not available to him. Remarkably he handled the whole PR circus around The Beatles with an enormous amount to grace and style, very rarely putting a foot wrong thing in public.
By the time he wrote “You Won’t See Me” at the age of 23, he was familiar with having his every move monitored, judged and assessed.
You could stay Paul McCartney was the most stalked man of his generation.
McCartney was and still is also a profoundly empathic human being. It is one of the reasons he has been so successful at almost everything he has done. So empathic in fact that he managed to write this song from the perspective of the stalker.
Lennon on the other-hand could be said to be empathalogical or psycho-empathic, that is he knew exactly how to piss people off and was compelled to do it almost every chance he got.
McCartney treats the stalker tenderly, as we all should. He knows these are very sad, powerless people who believe their own salvation can only come via attaching themselves in any way to the powerful amongst us.
When we look at the song line by line it becomes very clear that this piece is as sad as Eleanor Rigby, if not sadder.
Please listen to our recording and follow this annotated lyric sheet.
“When I call you up your line’s engaged”
Of course the line is engaged. The door will be forever locked and you will be on the outside.
“I have had enough so act your age”
And just a little bit of petulant rage is concealed here. You can almost smell the teenage poutyness.
“We have lost the time that was so hard to find”
The person being stalked has no time course. He has a very full and productive life but the stalker has lots of time to ponder, plot and worry about his/her muse. Time moves very slowly when you have nothing to do but think about what you want.
“And I will lose my mind if you won’t see me”
And there it is – the madness begins.
“I don’t know why you should want to hide, but I can’t get through my hands are tied”
Of course the stalker does not understand why the stalkee does not want to be seen. The stalker has no empathy whatsoever. If he had any idea how futile it is to follow someone so obsessively he would stop. It is because he believes that there is hope of catching his prey that he continues. Has any famous person ever taken up with a stalker, of course not. But somehow the stalker believes there is hope.
“I won’t want to stay, I don’t have much to say but I can’t turn away and you won’t see me”
He does not have much to say simply because he is not interesting. All he would be able to talk about is his perception of the stalkee. More compulsion. He really can not stop himself.
“Time after time you refuse to even listen, I wouldn’t mind if I knew what I was missing”
A hectoring tone re-appears. Of course the stalker will never know what he is missing because the object of his desire will never give him the time of day.
“Though the days are few they’re filled with tears and since I lost you it feels like years.”
Time is beginning to have no meaning, every second stretches out. There is no escape from this obsession.
Yes, it seems so long since you’ve been gone and I just can’t go on if you won’t see me.
The collapse is now in full effect and we hear the implied threat of self-murder. It is like one of those often written but rarely read suicide-notes that say “You’ll miss me when I’m gone”. (Public Health Warning – if you write something like that in your suicide note you won’t be missed)
But the real threat is in the title.
You Won’t See Me when I call you at 3 am.
You Won’t See Me while you get undressed and I have my telescope trained on your window.
You Won’t See Me as I wait outside the Dakota Building.
Our version, sung by Victoria Villalobos, takes this theme even further. She is singing to Paul directly and has even found out his unlisted phone number. Just before the last verse she calls him only to find that she has reached his voicemail.
She sings to him, sweetly and tenderly.
She knows that he will call back.
He will, won’t he?
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Victoria Villalobos – yes that’s her real name – was born in San Salvador and travelled with her family throughout Central and South America during out her youth.
She started sing at age 7 and has never stopped She attended Junior High in Peru and graduated High in Bogota, Colombia.
After moving to the United States she sang in bands around Washington DC and signed to MCA Universal with the band Big Bang Theory.
Victoria moved to New York in 1996 with hopes of being a super star of stage and screen but wound up being a super star in the business of music for advertising.
She enjoys her career in production, collaborating with a myriad of even more famous superstars.
You can see a selection of her work at www.vmusicsource.com