Oh Paul McCartney, you delightful trickster, you. The longing strums that open “I’ve Just Seen a Face” make for one of the most deceptive intros in the Beatles’ catalog. Because what follows those first 11 seconds is one of the sweetest and most sincere songs you could ever hope to hear. (I feel like there have been a couple of these delightful little numbers popping up lately. Maybe I’m naturally too cynical for them to show up any higher.)
I know that “I’ve Just Seen a Face” has emerged as a bit of a low-key fan favorite in recent years (if I remember correctly, this at least used to be my sister’s favorite Beatles song), and when McCartney saw fit to start performing Beatles songs live six years after the break-up, it was easily the most obscure of the mere five tracks he opted to play, so clearly he holds it in high regard too. But as I skim the list, not even Paul harmonizing with himself in the chorus can boost it above any of the other songs that I love so very, very much. Why didn’t anyone tell me that the Beatles had so many good songs? This is like when I moved to Chicago and was like, “Hold up, why is it so damn windy here?”
And why aren’t people doing choreographed dances in the street?
“I’ve Just Seen a Face” feels like one of those songs that’s been around forever, sung by 19th century sailors as they passed time on the seas, imagining how they would spend the money they earned from transporting spices and whatnot. Squeezing his wordy monologue in with barely a breath, followed up with a whimsical string of “Hmmm”s and “La-da-di”s, McCartney makes it look effortless as always, even as the speed increases towards the tail end of the song. I’m overall not a big fan of the folksy sound of the Help! album, so that’s where “I’ve Just Seen a Face” loses traction for me.