The Double-A Side Dichotomy

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Tue, 03/19/2013 - 14:38 by Bill McAneny

The BeatlesThe Sensing vs Intuitive dichotomy is an interesting one. It is all about how we experience the world and how we take in information. This is further determined by whether we are Extravert, in which case we orientate to the outside world, or Introvert, in which case we orientate towards our own inner world.

A really good example of this is in the lyrics of the Beatles’ ‘double A’ side single from 1967. On one side is the Lennon composed ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and on the other McCartney’s ‘Penny Lane.’ In the early days Lennon and McCartney wrote songs together but by the mid-1960s they were writing separately. And this ‘single’ represents their individual, very different character types extremely well.

McCartney is an ESFP and so on ‘Penny Lane’ he writes about specifics, what he can take in through the five senses, what he sees, hears and experiences. We can see he points out all the minute details:

On the corner is a banker with a motorcar

The little children laugh at him behind his back

And the banker never wears a mac In the pouring rain...

Very strange

We can see McCartney’s predilection with detail and once again here as he describes exactly where the roundabout is, the nurses features and the fact that she has a tray.

Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout

A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray

Again McCartney records all the specifics so that we too can experience the scene:

Penny Lane the barber shaves another customer

We see the banker sitting waiting for a trim

Then the fireman rushes in

From the pouring rain...

All of these scenes describe exactly what McCartney is experiencing on that specific day, in the rain; what he sees and hears then how it makes him feel “very strange.” He picks out the details are relays them perfectly to us.

Both Lennon and McCartney are ‘F’s and so write about how each place makes them feel but McCartney is describing a real, tangible, concrete place he is experiencing, whilst John Lennon, probably an INFP, is writing about his life and his inner world in ‘Strawberry Fields Forever:’

Living is easy with eyes closed,

misunderstanding all you see

It's getting hard to be someone but it all works out,

It doesn't matter much to me

He uses Strawberry Fields, a small garden in which he used to play as a child, as a metaphor for how confusing life is and how he has given up trying to make sense of it. And his confusion extends further to him being confused as to whether he has really given up.

Always, no sometimes, think it's me, but you know

I know when it's a dream I think I know I mean erm yes but it's all wrong,

That is I think I disagree

Let me take you down, 'cos I'm going to Strawberry Fields Nothing is real

And nothing to get hung about

Lennon here is describing how his life is changing, how he is feeling and the trigger is the memory of Strawberry Fields, in much the same way as Samuel Taylor Coleridge did in “Frost at Midnight,’ where “that film, which fluttered on the grate” opened up his feelings to us.

Even on later songs on which they collaborated, there tends to be a McCartney section and a Lennon section again typifying the S-N dichotomy as we can see on ‘A Day in the Life:’ Lennon’s dreamy lyric…

I saw a film today oh boy

The English Army had just won the war

A crowd of people turned away

But I just had to look

Having read the book I'd love to turn you on

… is counterbalanced by McCartney’s predilection for the specifics:

Woke up, fell out of bed,

Dragged a comb across my head

Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,

And looking up I noticed I was late.

Found my coat and grabbed my hat

Made the bus in seconds flat

Found my way upstairs and had a smoke

Both sets of lyrics are very good and personal to their own experiences but it seems clear that Lennon’s lyrics are more complex and ambiguous, which indicates that he is an ‘N’ whilst McCartney’s project the sensory experiences, the detail and here and now of an ‘S.’

Check out the S-N dichotomy here:

And we would really like to hear of other examples of ‘S’ or ‘N’ lyrics. Have you spotted any in your favourite songs?

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