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- Posted on Sep 9th 2009 4:30PM by David Chiu
One of the first-ever Beatles records I got when I was a teenager in the late '80s was '20 Greatest Hits.' Originally released in 1982, it was a collection of the Fab Four's No. 1 U.S. singles. (This was 18 years before the 'Beatles 1' album and is now out of print). On Side Two of that vinyl LP is 'Hello Goodbye,' which over time has become one of my all-time favorite Beatles songs. According to 'The Billboard Book of Number One Hits,' 'Hello Goodbye' reached the top of the U.S. pop singles chart on Dec. 30, 1967, and stayed there for three weeks.
To me, that song represents one of my favorite phases of the band, which is the 'Sgt. Pepper'/'Magical Mystery Tour' era -- a period when the Beatles were at their most adventurous in the studio. 'Hello Goodbye' represents Paul McCartney at his best as a songwriter thanks to his catchy melodies on that track. But while the song's music exudes a sunny-sounding vibe, the lyrics are somewhat enigmatic and contradictory, like the title itself: "I say high/You say low.../I don't know why you say goodbye/I say hello."
So what do the lyrics all mean? In Barry Miles' 1997 book, 'Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now,' the former Beatle explains: "There are Geminian influences here, I think: the twins. It's such a deep theme in the universe, duality -- man/woman, black/white, ebony/ivory, high/low, right/wrong, up/down, hello/goodbye -- that it was a very easy song to write. It's just a song of duality, with me advocating the more positive." However you interpret it, 'Hello Goodbye' is a great pop song.