Yes, I talk about the Beatles a lot. Sue me.
I logged onto Stereogum this morning to see that Entertainment Weekly had compiled a list of the 50 greatest (and five worst) Beatles songs. I see their marketing scheme, publishing this to coincide with the release of Beatles Rock Band and the remastered re-issues of the albums. But if you're going to do something, at least do a good job of it! The list should have been made by Beatles fans, not some entertainment mag dilettante. Refer to the Stereogum link to see EW's list. In the next few days, I'll work on my revised countdown. Here's 50-40!
50. Revolution 9. This one deserves inclusion simply on the merit of how groundbreaking it was. The Beatles had traveled to the opposite end of the musical spectrum from their roots in pop-rock and skiffle. Revolution 9 represented the shift to the avant-garde (heavily promoted by Yoko) and delving deeper into the experimental methods that first appeared with their backmasking on Tomorrow Never Knows. This may not be a song you want to (or would be able to) sing along with in the car, but you can't deny it's originality. I mean, where else in the Beatles' catalog do you hear George Martin called a "cheeky bitch"?
49. With a Little Help From My Friends. This song showcases the best of Ringo (or Billy Shears.) John and Paul wrote this song specifically for Ringo to sing, which shows how acutely aware each was of the others' presence and abilities. The call-and-answer kind of dialogue is perfect for the song, but cover versions (like Joe Cocker's) show the real versatility of the lyrics. (In case you somehow went through adolescence without watching The Wonder Years, here is the Cocker version.)
48. Only A Northern Song. George's first song on my list. It's melodic without being run-of-the-mill pop. Oh, and glockenspiel? Check. It's sequence in Yellow Submarine is pretty awesome as well.
47. She Loves You. Sie liebt dich, ja ja ja! Yes, this song (along with one more that will appear later in the list) was so popular that The Beatles recorded it in German. Bob Spitz describes this one best in The Beatles: "No matter how their music evolved, no matter how they experimented with complex musical textures and electronics, it is hard to think of the Beatles today without visualizing them as four grinning mop-tops positioned in that classic stage pose--the guitars riding high on their chests, drumsticks rhythmically pummeling the cymbals--singing, 'And you know you should be glad: oooooooo,' with a decisive shake of their beautiful hair. Nothing identifies them more vividly."
46. The Fool on the Hill. Paul is really quite good at conjuring up images of lonely people. The tune gives this a quite different feel from his other "lonely" song. To me, it sounds like a bit of an old-tyme side show melody. He is the "fool" to onlookers, but to him, the rest of the world is a bit of a freak show. Just my thoughts.
45. You Never Give Me Your Money. I have to give this song credit as being one of the most important in the Abbey Road suite. Great lyrics, great reprise to its melody later in the musical collage.
44. I Want You (She's So Heavy). An A-side from Abbey Road. This song is simply epic. David Gates writes: "The hypnotically repeated guitar figure in 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' is suddenly, arbitrarily cut off, jolting us into embarrassed awareness that we've let a mere recording carry us away."
43. Got to Get You Into My Life. I am not even going to try and explain anything technical about this song. Just listen to this song and try to be in a bad mood. I rest my case.
42. Julia. Hauntingly beautiful. "Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you, Julia." This was written in part for his deceased mother, as well as for Yoko ("Oceanchild.")
41. What You're Doing. A nice, chorus-less ditty from Beatles VI. Listen to the guitar melody that begins immediately after the introductory drumming, then listen to Turn! Turn! Turn! by The Byrds. Eh?
40. Baby, You're a Rich Man. I think this is a real overlooked gem from Magical Mystery Tour. The feed back sounds fantastic without being contrived. AND Mick Jagger sings a bit of the backup!
Well, there you go. I'll post the next ten when I get a chance. Tschüss!