Jimmy Webb’s Tunesmith is one of those songwriting books that gets better as it goes along. It’s scrupulous about crediting songwriters whenever they’re quoted, and the Publishing Credits at the end are commendably anal. Nevertheless, this, on page 133 of my 1998 paperback edition, where Webb is recommending that songwriters study unconventional structures:
If you are uncertain as to the labeling of a particular section, make up your own name for it. As John Lennon wrote: “There’s nothing you can hear that can’t be heard” (“All You Need Is Love”, © 1967 Lennon and McCartney)
Now Webb wrote All I Know, and has probably survived more drugs than I ever will. So I doff my hat, I do, but is that line even in “All You Need Is Love”? Where? Even if you didn’t know the song by heart, think about it: what would Lennon have rhymed it with?
Nothing you can blur that isn’t blurred
Nothing you can fur that isn’t furred
Nothing you can poo that isn’t turd
Or the square root of two is a surd, a blooger’s a nerd, flip you the bird, Duchamp is absurd, Grease is the word. You can see why Lennon chose a different path.
The rest of the book, by the way, is very good.