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Beatles from worst to first 1 (206-191)

Posted on May 5, 2006 by olneyce

Alright, here we are at the very bottom. These are the songs that really test the maxim theres no
such thing as a bad Beatles song. And while theres not a song here that I really dislike, even
with my absolute love of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, I can still recognize that it might have
been better if they had left most of these songs back in the studio.
So, without further ado
206. Wild Honey Pie from The White Album
So this is the worst Beatles song, but its not even really fair to call it that. Its only a minute long
and is more a connector than it is a song in its own right. However, I decided that I would
include it, and since I have, it gets the spot at the bottom. That said, its not terrible or offensive
its just annoying. And while I dont find it to be particularly pleasant, its not like I have to lunge
over to hit the skip button (or pick up the needle back in my vinyl days) when Ob-La-Di Ob-LaDa finishes, either. The circular feel to the song is even a little interesting. Still, not very good.
205. Boys from Please Please Me
The lowest ranked of their legitimate songs. It almost doesnt seem fair to poor Ringo to saddle
him with the lowest spot. Its not his fault that he didnt really have much of a singing voice. And
this isnt a terribly recorded song. The drumming is actually pretty solid. But the backing vocals
are a little off, and bop-shoe-op, bop-bop-shoe-op just doesnt fit on a Beatles song. And the
guitar solo is pretty weak. And why is Ringo singing boys, yeah! anyways? The rest of the
song is about girls. I guess theres a chance they were working on Gender Trouble a couple
decades before Judith Butler
204. Little Child from With The Beatles
If not for Johns voice, this would easily have been their worst song. The lyrics, good god, the
lyrics! Wow. little child, little child, little child wont you dance with me, Im so sad and lonely,
baby take a chance with me. And the harmonica solo is pretty weak. And really theres just not
much positive to say. But John does sing it pretty well, so its rescued from being the absolute
worst. Just barely.
203. You Know My Name (Look up the Number) from Past Masters, Vol 2
This song is vaguely Monty Python-esque, though its not really all that funny. Its more weird
than anything else. Its yet another song that I dont hate, but I dont really have much desire to
listen to, either. And since its tucked away as the last track on the second Past Masters album,
its very very easy to avoid it. Given that, its almost certainly my least-listened to Beatles song

probably not more than 20 times ever. I would guess virtually every other song is at least in the
60-70 range, if not far, far more.
202. Why Dont We Do It In The Road? from The White Album
When I first got the White Album as a youngster, this song made me very uncomfortable. I mean,
jeez, why dont we just do it in the road? Now that I am older, it doesnt seem quite as
scandalous as it once did, but I cant really say it does much for me. I do like to hear Paul getting
a little down and dirty (if youll pardon the pun), and the first two seconds are a pretty neat little
drum beat, but I could certainly have lived with a trimmed down White Album that excluded this
201. Dizzy Miss Lizzy from Help!
200. Bad Boy from Past Masters, Vol 1
These two songs go together pretty closely in my mind. I used to actively dislike them both (if I
had made this list 5 or 6 years ago these would certainly have been the bottom two), but Ive
come around a little bit. Both are covers. Both have the classic John rock-and-roll vocals. Both
are pretty tight recordings. And both feature that chiming, piercing guitar that just drives into my
skull and makes me hurt a little bit inside. Dizzy Miss Lizzie ranks slightly lower simply
because of my my anger at its placement on Help!, right after what would have been the perfect
album-closer of Yesterday. It really ruins the tender mood and I cant help but thinking about
how jarring it is, even when I listen to it outside of the album context.
199. Revolution 9 from The White Album
I used to hate this track, considering it to be total nonsense gibberish. Then, I had a phase where I
convinced myself it was genius. Then I went back to hating it. Ive settled somewhere in the
middle now. I definitely have occasional moments where I really get into it. The pastiche is
pretty cool in some places, and its definitely interesting if only as a historical artifact. Still, its
quite a bit to digest, and I really have to be in the mood to be willing to listen to it. If I was
making a list of most significant or interesting Beatles songs, this would probably be quite a bit
higher as I really do think its compelling as a work of art. Its just not a song I really have much
desire to listen to.
198. One After 909 from Let It Be
This was an old song that they had kicking around for years before it finally showed up on Let It
Be. Frankly, I dont think it would have been missed. Its pretty innocuous. Its interesting as an
example of a song that would have fit perfectly into their early period played by the 1969 version
of the band. So in that sense, it helps you see how they had progressed, but in some ways were
coming full circle back to wanting to just play some straighforward rock and roll. But I cant say
it really does much for me other than as a signpost. The version on Let it Be Naked is marginally
better and is the only song from that disc that I think is noticeably better than the original.

197. Everybodys Trying To Be My Baby from Beatles For Sale

196. Honey Dont from Beatles For Sale

Two covers from an album full of inessential covers. The Beatles clearly never produced a bad
album, but by far the closest they came is Beatles for Sale. They look tired on the album cover,
and the music sounds tired. Even the title suggests that they were a little overwhelmed by
Beatlemania. For me, these two tracks pretty much exemplify the notion of inessential Beatles
songs. They arent terrible they just arent really that interesting. Ringo and George take the
vocals and it isnt really the finest moment for either, and the music is serviceable but doesnt
really jump out at you. Honey Dont is clearly the better of the two, and probably could have
ranked a few slots higher if it wasnt so easy to just lump them together.
195. Money (Thats What I Want) from With The Beatles
This is one of those songs Ive always felt like I should like more than I do. Its a fun little song.
And John does good work with the vocals. But, I dont know. Something seems like its missing.
Theres no accounting for taste, I guess.
194. Act Naturally from Help!
The last in series of consecutive lowly-ranked covers. Its a nice little Ringo country-western
song. Theres not really anything wrong with it. It justyou knowis kind of boring. Sorry
193. Sie Leibt Dich from Past Masters, Vol 1
Well, its in German, so thats interesting, I guess. But She leibt dich, yeah, yeah, yeah!? It just
sounds goofy.
192. Shes a Woman from Past Masters, Vol 1
My love dont give me presents. I know that shes no peasant. There. Thats why this song is
ranked lowly. I mean, come on Paul. Beyond that, Ive never liked the strategy of combining the
percussion with a single guitar note over and over and over and over and over. They do this on a
fair number of songs, but usually theres enough going on around it to ease the sound. Here, for

the whole song, its just sitting there in the left channel: whap, whap, whap, whap, whap, until
my ears start bleeding. Ick. This is all a shame, because the song behind all of this is perfectly
good. I just cant get over it.
191. Hold Me Tight from With The Beatles
Whats the deal with Pauls voice on this song? It really does sound like hes got a cold or
something. Theres not really much to say about this one. Its pretty standard early-sixties fare.
Inane lyrics and all. Its as good as a lot of stuff youll hear on the Oldies station, but it stacks up
pretty weakly against the rest of the Beatles catalog.

Beatles from worst to first 2 (190-176)

Posted on May 6, 2006 by olneyce
190. I Wanna Be Your Man from With The Beatles
Here we find yet another lowly-ranked early Ringo song. Its a little too trebly for my tastes. The
story goes that it was written in an afternoon to give to the Rolling Stones for a single, while they
(the Stones) sat in and watched, impressed with the Lennon/McCartney writing team. Neither
version of the song is all that impressive, though, I have to say.
189. Blue Jay Way from Magical Mystery Tour
This song just doesnt really work. Its soooooo slowly paced and the vaguely psychedelic
background effects dont really go anywhere. Its hard to think of it as anything more than
plodding, which is not really the term youd want to attach to a song. I do like the unintentional
tension between the real lyric of please dont be long and the misheard one of please dont
belong. But its one of the few Beatles songs that really has no ability to transcend its era. This
is a song that could only have been recorded in the late 60s and it probably needs to stay there.
188. Love Me Do from Please Please Me
This was their first single, which is weird, since its probably among their worst songs. But
everyone has to start somewhere, even The Beatles. I prefer the version on Please Please Me
(with Andy White drumming) to the one on the first Past Masters disc (with Ringo), though it
really has nothing to do with the percussion. I just think the vocals are a little tighter and Johns
harmonica is better. Anyways Love, love me do, you know I love you, Ill always be true, so
pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaselove me do. Yeah, thats why its this far down.
187. Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! from Beatles For Sale
Many of my lowest ranked songs are, like this one, covers of some of The Beatles heroes of
early rock and roll. I guess I just think that they so quickly transcended their roots and were
producing more complex, interesting, and good music almost immediately. Still, theres

something to be said for a solid cover of a blues classic. And while I dont really enjoy this song
that much personally, its a perfectly good cover of a perfectly good song. I just think virtually
any Lennon/McCartney song is even better.
186. Slow Down from Past Masters, Vol 1
This song starts so promisingly. The swooping piano intro and the quickly moving beat lead into
a great vocal performance by John, including a couple of great screams. It does get a little
repetitive, but even with that, it would still have ranked quite a bit higher if not for the MAJOR
demerits it receives for containing what is without a doubt the worst guitar solo in any Beatles
song. I have no idea what happened here, but its just not even close to the beat and gets further
and further away as it progresses. By the end, Im convinced that George was just plucking
random strings hoping for it to end.
185. For You Blue from Let It Be
George definitely gets the short shrift in my rankings, with a lot of his later blues-influenced
songs not faring very well. Its not that I think theyre terrible it just isnt really my thing. This
song sounds basically identical for the entire track. You could start at any moment in the song
and really have no way of telling. Except for Johns solo on the slide guitar, which is pretty cool.
184. What Goes On from Rubber Soul
I really want to like this song but every year I realize its not quite as good as I thought the year
before. I love Ringo, but his singing just doesnt really do it for me here. Beyond that, the guitar
playing on this song just drives me nuts. Its just a series of short notes. It sounds like perpetually
aborted attempts to actually string something together. I just cant deal with it. And its a shame
because this could be a good song, if it had been produced differently, I think.
183. The Word from Rubber Soul
This song is the dividing line for me. I really feel like it should be higher, but I cant really justify
moving it ahead of any of the songs above it. That will be the case with virtually every song from
here on. Its ranked where it is because other songs are EVEN BETTER, not because it itself is
bad. To put it another way: everything below here is a song I could probably do without.
Everything above here is a song I actively enjoy, to some degree. The Word is one of the first
hippie-oriented songs, about the power of the word: love. And I appreciate it for that. But for
some reason I cant quite define, Ive just never enjoyed the tune. Maybe its the almost-falsetto
voice. Or the not-quite-right arrangement. They were really great about incorporating all kinds of
instruments and making it fit, but the harmonium feels a little misplaced here.
182. Savoy Truffle from The White Album
Yet another lowly place George song. The horn section adds a nice effect here, and like many
White Album tracks, the musicianship is pretty strong the drumming is good and the guitar
solo is well done. Still, lets face facts: its a song about candy. And it inexplicably is lacking in

the driving bass beat that featured so prominently in a number of other songs from this era and
which could have really helped the song rock out a little more.
181. A Taste Of Honey from Please Please Me
Paul sure did love these old fashioned songs. And this track shows he could croon with the best
of them. Thats about it, though.
180. Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand from Past Masters, Vol 1
Not much to say here. Its obviously got a great tune, since its just I Want to Hold Your Hand,
and thats enough to elevate it a little bit, but I cant conceive of why I would ever choose to
listen to this when I could just have the original. Well, novelty, I guess.
179. I Me Mine from Let It Be
Poor George, making his fourth appearance already. Its weird because I actually prefer Georges
first couple solo albums over any of the others, but he does pretty poorly with his Beatles songs.
Part of it is that (as Ive said) I could do with more of I write soft, pretty songs George and less
of Im into the Blues George. This one, despite having a more enjoyable sound than some of
the others, runs into trouble with the lyrics: focusing on ego, existence, and all that stuff. Alan
Pollack, who knows more about the Beatles songs than basically anyone in the world makes the
following comment: But here, in I Me Mine, I fear that George unwittingly traps himself in
the pit of self righteousness, not only by his indiscriminite inclusion of everyone as his target,
but by the essential scenario of the song in which an individual zealously condemns the entire
community for being self-centered. As a counterpoint, his solo album Living in the Material
World has some songs along similar themes, but theyve got a slightly less abrasive, preachy feel.
178. Matchbox from Past Masters, Vol 1
One of many Ringo cover tunes from the early years. Its one of the better ones, but it still cant
really stand up to the work Lennon and McCartney were doing. The rockabilly beat elevates this
a bit, but its really more of a placeholder than anything else.
177. Not A Second Time from With The Beatles
Im a little conflicted on this song. At times it sounds like a close match to some of their weakest
early efforts. At others, it seems to hint at the complexity to come. The instrumentation is
unobtrustive, to the point of feeling a little lackluster, but maybe thats the strength of the song
that John is trying to convince her (and himself) that hes not going to stand for her nonsense any
longer but just doesnt have the willpower to make it stick. Theres an interesting (if somewhat
esoteric) take on the song here.
176. Drive My Car from Rubber Soul

I suspect that this is one of the first songs where my low ranking will conflict with a substantial
number of Beatles listeners. I dont know it just doesnt do it for me. The beep beep, beep
beep yeah thing is annoying. And, for some reason, I just cant deal with Pauls vocals. They
sound atonal, almost grating. All that said, I love the bass, and the piano over the chorus is quite

Beatles from worst to first 3 (175-161)

Posted on May 7, 2006 by olneyce
The songs in this group are not significantly ahead of the ones from yesterday. Were still in the
territory of songs that are pleasant enough but I very rarely go out of my way to play. Theyve
got some good (occasionally great) elements, but all have their flaws, too.
175. What Youre Doing from Beatles For Sale
Its got a decent little guitar riff, and the opening drum beat is very solid. This is one of those
songs that I may have ranked lower than I would have because of my disappointment in what it
fails to do. This has some of the elements of a great little Spector-esque song that would really
come over the top. But instead, it just hints at that without ever taking off. The guitar solo in the
middle is pretty weak, and the melody is just inexplicably a little bit off. A better production of
the song could really have bumped it up a lot, but the version we actually got is just a testament
to the fact that even The Beatles made mistakes sometimes.
174. Another Girl from Help!
Dont really have much to say about this one. Nothing spectacular. I guess it shows how good the
Beatles were that thrown-together songs, rushed to be ready for the movie, could still be pretty
173. Dr. Robert from Revolver
There are three basic themes in rock and roll. 1) Im in love; 2) My life is miserable; 3) I have a
doctor who prescribes me crazy drugs. This song falls into the third category. So theres that. Its
got a nice little beat and the well, well, well, Im feeling fine segment is among the best
moments on Revolver. Still, its definitely the weakest track from the album (which really is
praising with a faint damn)
172. Roll Over Beethoven from With The Beatles
Theres really nothing wrong with this song. Its a great cover, with guitar-playing as good as
anything on Chuck Berrys original, and one of Georges best vocal performances of the early
years. So whys it so low? Its more to do with my personal tastes than anything else. The Beatles
always seem best to me when theyre breaking new ground, or when theyre delving back into
less rock-oriented genres. It may seem weird, but The Beatles as a straight-up rock band have

always been the least impressive to me. So this is a faithful translation of Chuck Berry, but I
guess Id just rather hear them cover Smokey Robinson.
171. Love You Too from Revolver
The first song on which they really put the sitar to use. It doesnt have quite the appeal of the
other sitar-songs, though. This is due mostly to the fact that it is very close to the genuine article
where a song like Norwegian Wood is really just a regular Beatles song with the sitar as an extra
instrument. Even Within You, Without You is really two separate musical portions, one the
droning Indian-influenced background and the other a George Martin orchestrated, and very
Western classical score. So, while I find Love You To to be interesting in its faithful effort, I
just cant really get into it. My musical tastes are pretty decidedly western, so I enjoy harmonies
and melodies. Which means this is one of a number of Beatles songs where I can appreciate the
artistry without necessarily wanting to listen to it all the time.
170. All Together Now from Yellow Submarine
I dont get mad at this song for being ridiculous, over-the-top, and silly. Its meant to be that and
it works just fine on those terms. Its just that I have to be in the mood for a silly song to really
have any desire to listen to it. And while those moods arent exactly uncommon, this song cant
beat out the majority of their catalogue which are more versatile and meaningful. But seriously,
who doesnt love the Yellow Submarine movie?
169. Im Happy Just To Dance With You from A Hard Days Night
168. Do You Want To Know A Secret from Please Please Me
These songs would be higher if they just didnt feel so precious. I know that a lot of the songs at
the time were the same, but its just a little too much for me to deal with. Theyre great little 2minute pop songs, though. Do You Want to Know a Secret in particular has an interesting
chord progression and the little introduction Youll never know how much I really love you;
youll never know how much I really care which is never returned to. Both are sung by George,
for what its worth.
167. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill from The White Album
Lets get it out of the way: the three seconds when Yoko sings drag this song down a bit. I really
like Yoko, but this song really could have done without her. As for the rest of it, its wacky, zany,
maybe even kooky. I like the tune fine, and vaguely metaphoric Shooting an Elephant-esque
story is fine, but its not one of their stronger songs.
166. Tell Me What You See from Help!
I really wish this song was better. The arrangement is a little lackluster, and on about a third of
the lines, the vocals are just terrible. It almost sounds like theyre trying to spitouteach
wordseperately and enunciate perfectly, which is fine for a grammar school class,
but hardly appropriate for rock and roll. Its really a shame because its a beautiful song,

particularly the look into these eyes now section. A little bit better done and this could have
jumped up 60 or 70 spots.
165. I Want You (Shes So Heavy) from Abbey Road
When Im in the right mood, I really enjoy this song. When Im not, I wonder who decided that
they needed to spend 8 minutes on the subject of I want you, I want you so bad its driving me
mad. Shes so heavy. Ive always enjoyed the sudden cut-off at the end and after many listens
have become quite good at pinpointing it. As for the song itself, its technically very well done,
with a neat little bass line, some fine drumming, nice guitar flourishes, a well-placed organ, and
the heavy, almost bruising extended coda. Also, I like it as a a counterpoint to the medley which
dominates side-two. Back in the days of records that you had to actually get up and turn over,
there was something appealing about the symmetry (or lack thereof) in one side being a bunch of
tiny songs melded to make one extended song, while the other is a very short song extended for a
very long time.
164. Baby Its You from Please Please Me
A cover from their first album. Ill admit that I havent heard the original so Im not sure what to
compare it to. It does seem like a song more suited to a womans voice, but in spite of that, John
does a really fantastic making it his own. Its got a great 50s feel to it with the sha-la-las and
Johns flourishes. They would soon move on to bigger and better things, but if they had never
moved past this kind of stuff, they still would have been a pretty great band.
163. Im Down from Past Masters, Vol 1
162. Long Tall Sally from Past Masters, Vol 1
I never used to like these two songs all that much (see my comments on Roll Over Beethoven)
but Ive come around on them a bit. Theyre frantically paced and feature some of Pauls best
rock-and-roll vocal performances. Long Tall Sally was their usual show-closer, and was
replaced by Im Down for some of their last concerts. Its one of the few situations where I can
imagine that The Beatles live would be even better than the studio versions. Also, my brothers
band used to do a cover of Im Down that I really enjoyed.
161. Devil In Her Heart from With The Beatles
Not their most impressive cover, but not too shabby either. The back-and-forth dialogue between
John and Paul who warn George shes got the Devil in her heart, and George who insists no,
shes an angel sent to me is a little cutesy, but it works okay.

Beatles from worst to first 4 (160-141)

Posted on May 8, 2006 by olneyce

Were still pretty low on the list, but I genuinely enjoy all of these songs. Theres a number of
early-period pop numbers, a few later tracks (including one that is sure to surprise some folks),
and all three of their under-one-minute songs.
160. Honey Pie from The White Album
One of Pauls many attempts to re-create the music his father loved. Its got a nicely loping feel,
and would feel perfectly in place on one of Pauls solo albums from the seventies. Which can be
either a good or bad thing, depending on how you feel about the post-Beatles Paul. Its a
pleasant-enough song, though it doesnt knock my socks off.
159. You Like Me Too Much from Help!
Just a nice song by George. I really enjoy the way the harmony and the rising cymbals from the
its nice when you believe me / If you leave me section transition flawlessly into the
resumption of the tone of the verse as Georges voice emerges alone: I will follow you and
bring you back And I really enjoy the piano which drives the song and gets the centerstage
for the middle of the song.
158. Good Night from The White Album
Too much orchestration. Too much with all the background vocals. But in spite of that, this is one
of the few Ringo songs where his voice is a PERFECT match. It just makes you feel good, safe
even, to listen. Its a great lullaby. One thing: it really is a perfect fit to end the White Album,
especially given that Revolution #9 is the second-to-last song. After the madness of that track,
having such an old-fashioned, yes, even schmaltzy song, is a palate-cleanser, leaving you free to
end the album, turn off the lights, and go to sleep unfettered.
157. Her Majesty from Abbey Road
At just 23 seconds, its easily the shortest Beatles track. Originally planned as a connector to
follow Mean Mr. Mustard, it starts with a single chord which would have been the final sound
of the previous track. Then, its just Paul and his acoustic guitar, singing a little ditty. The story
goes that they had no intention of saving it but someone in the studio liked it so much they
tacked in on the end and everyone ended up agreeing that it provided just the right amount of
comic and emotional relief. The medley is clearly their crowning achievement, and a fitting end
to their career, but it might be just a little bit TOO much on its own. The long pause at its
conclusion gives everyone a chance to catch their breath, and then drops this song on you, just to
remind you that The Beatles are as clever and fun as they are musically talented.
156. Mr. Moonlight from Beatles For Sale
I know a number of folks who would put this among their least favorites. I can understand why.
Its a cover and feels a bit out-of-place with the rest of the Beatles work, particularly with the
weird Hammond organ instrumental bridge. But, for some reason, I am strangely attached to the
song. I really enjoy the bass/drum dum-dum-dum-dum-BAM lead-up to John belting out Mr.

Moonlight which is reversed at the end of the bridge, with the drum-beat and then a series of
bass notes.
155. Dig It from Let It Be
154. Maggie Mae from Let It Be
These are hardly songs at all, just snippets tossed onto Let It Be to help evoke an organic
feeling. It was envisioned as an album about the making of an album, thus the inclusion of some
of the more playful moments. However, while these are songlets more than songs, they are not
throwaways. Both are a bit of fun, musically and lyrically. Dig It represents the jam sessions,
with playful, even silly lyrics, and a rising sound. Maggie Mae is a fun harmony, with John
and Paul doing their best to make Henry Higgins scream. An important consideration is the
placement of these songs on the album. They bookend Let It Be which is very clearly a very
powerful, but possibly overly emotional, song. Placing these two on either side of it provides a
little relief and helps to lighten the mood a bit.
153. When I Get Home from A Hard Days Night
I like the sound of this song, and Johns Ill love her more is devastating, but it loses a whole
lot of points for the lyrics. Whoa-oh, ahhhh. And then Im gonna love her til the cows come
home. Come on guys.
152. Chains from Please Please Me
A great old Goffin/King song. Nothing particularly special going on here, though its one of
Georges nicer vocals from the early years.
151. Because from Abbey Road
One of those songs that Ive always felt that I should like more. Its very pretty. The multitracked three-part harmony is great. But it just doesnt do that much for me, and I dont really
know why. Part of it is that, like most of Abbey Road, when listened to by itself it is not nearly as
enjoyable as when listening to the entire album. This is clearly true for the medley, but I think its
also the case for every song: the composite exceeds the sum of the parts.
150. Ask Me Why Please Please Me
One of their least-sophisticated sounding songs. Also one of their first compositions, which may
be closely connected. The lyrics arent anything impressive, but the singing is lovely, and on
closer listen, you realize that the progression is a little more complicated than it might seem at
first. The verses are virtually identical, but they break off at different points to move into either
the chorus or the bridge, depending on the location in the song. Moreover, the chorus flits in and
out, almost dropping in at random, and exiting in quite different fashion. The first time it ends
abruptly, allowing for a sharp return to the verse. The second and third times, it lingers, easing
into the bridge and then the fadeout. These changes are minor, but in my mind, they give it just
enough weight to sustain it.

149. Taxman from Revolver

Its a little too repetitive for me, with the same guitar riff driving the whole song. When the
second guitar takes on a larger role toward the end, it really helps, but a little more variation in
percussion throughout the song would have been great to alter the tone a bit. In spite of that, the
lyrics are clever (its one of their first non-love songs) and the guitar interlude is great.
148. Every Little Thing from Beatles For Sale
I love the opening guitar. Pretty standard fare otherwise. Two minutes, double-tracked vocals by
John, a John/Paul duet for the chorus. He loves her, shes great, life will be good from now on
because theyre together. This will never be among my favorites, but I also cant really imagine it
coming up and me skipping it.
147. Come Together from Abbey Road
Alright, this is probably a lot lower than most people would put this song. What can I say? It just
doesnt do it for me. For all that I love the bass line and Johns spooky lyrics and the guitar riff as
he sings come togetherright nowover me, the song just sounds a little tired, or maybe
quiet. It feels like it ought to be coming after you but instead it just treads water. And the outro
seems far too long to me. Still a good song, but I rarely find myself thinking I really should
listen to Come Together right now.
146. Misery from Please Please Me
I like this song more than I probably ought to. Theres nothing particularly impressive about it,
other than the general impressiveness that goes along with all of their early work. That said, its
got a great beat, the jauntiness of which provides a nice counterpoint to the downbeat lyrics. And
for some reason I just love the descending piano notes that punctuate the bridges.
145. Yes It Is from Past Masters, Vol 1
I like a lot of things about this song, but it loses substantial points because John sounds so bored.
Admittedly, the motif of the song is languorous sadness, but he just sounds disinterested more
than anything else. Its not until the chorus that you remember just how great a singer he is. From
that point on, the three-part harmony is much stronger, and the emotional impact of the song is
clear. But those first 45 seconds or so really drag it down for me.
144. I Dont Want To Spoil The Party from Beatles For Sale
I really love the chorus to this song. However, the rest of it just doesnt do much for me. The
background harmonies are pleasant, and the guitar solo is nice, but for some reason the vocals
just dont mesh together right. It all sounds a little flat to me (especially on the line I think Ill
take a walk and look for her where they unfortunately try to rhyme care, there, and her).
Still, that chorus is something else. Really fantastic John/Paul melody.

143. I Need You from Help!

This is a nice little song, though it doesnt really stun me at all. I have to say that I cant really
get into the organ or whatever it is that is the primary background instrument. Its more
distracting to me than anything else. George provides serviceable vocals, and the low-key tone
works fine to convey the feeling of gentle longing.
142. Oh! Darling from Abbey Road
I go back and forth on this song. I love Pauls vocal performance it sounds so ragged and
fierce. But it also feels kind of tired. And its got the annoying single-guitar-note-as-percussion
thing going on. Which I really dislike. When Im in the mood, it would be ranked higher, and
when Im not, it would be quite a bit lower. So Im putting it here as a compromise.
141. Till There Was You from With The Beatles
Paul really loved these old show tunes, and he does sing them very well. And George plays a
nice guitar, too. Though, for some reason, Pauls pronunciation of saw as sarr just drives me
up the wall.

Beatles from worst to first 5 (140-121)

Posted on May 9, 2006 by olneyce
Hello everyone arriving here from the link on the Blogger homepage. Heartache With Hard Work
is a blog about music, with some songs available for download, and a (usually fairly lengthy)
discussion of those songs. Usually, the emphasis is on new indie music, but this week I am
indulging in my first love, The Beatles, and going through their entire catalogue, ranking the
songs from worst to first. This is installment number 5.
Stick around, read, and comment if youd like
Today we encounter two songs that could end up in last place for some people (both campy tunes
by Paul, unsurprisingly), a few songs by George, and a TON of early period Lennon/McCartney
tracks. These are also the last of the songs that, as much as I like them, I could live without.
Everything above here is basically essential to my continued (semi)functional existence.
140. Birthday from The White Album
Alright, who doesnt listen to this song on their birthday? I sure do. Its got a great guitar riff
(one of their best, actually. The Beatles never really were that much about guitar riffs), but it
doesnt really do much beyond that.
139. Run For Your Life from Rubber Soul

I have a tough time getting over the misogynistic lyrics. I try to see it as part of the many
dualisms in Johns personality (especially given its placement on an album with The Word),
and academically, that makes sense to me, but its hard to really LIKE a song about tracking
down and hurting a woman. Yknow? Other than that, its a really good song.
138. This Boy from Past Masters, Vol 1
Gets extra points for its placement in A Hard Days Night. Ringos stroll around town while the
song plays is just perfect. Its got a great three-part harmony, and some very nice John solo
lyrics. It goes very well with Yes It Is, another pretty three-part harmony
137. Ill Get You from Past Masters, Vol 1
This is one of those could be a lot higher or could be a lot lower depending on my mood songs.
Its fairly standard early-Beatles fare, albeit a pretty solid example. But the harmonies are great, I
love the opening line Imagine Im in love with you with its presaging of Imagine almost a
decade later, and I like that the harmonica becomes basically a rhythym instrument, never taking
the mainstage but always in the background guiding the tune. And its fun to listen to them
stumble on the words, but just plug along in the bridge (1:14 to 1:18).
136. Words Of Love from Beatles For Sale
One of my favorite Buddy Holly songs, and they do a pleasant cover. Its not substantially
different than the original, though the harmonies (particularly as the song fades) are quite nice.
135. Rocky Racoon from The White Album
A lot of people dont like this song, and I totally understand why. Its almost a guilty pleasure for
me. Still, I think people get too caught up in the silly lyrics, and the meandering half-singing
half-talking, not-quite-on-a-beat introduction. The vaguely country feel is pleasantly done, and
the musical interludes (the harmonica moving to the front for one bar, the piano solo, which
makes you feel like youre in a saloon, etc.) are perfect. And, despite the fact that the song is
basically three and a half minutes of the same beat, it doesnt sound monontonous.
134. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
My favorite part of this song is the circus-like atmosphere in the middle when everything sounds
like its going in circles. The story goes that John had them snip the tape into little pieces and reassemble them at random. The imagery of the song is fantastic, and it only improves it to know
that its basically all cribbed from an old poster John had. Talk about extracting genius from the
mundane Oh, and that crazy section of looped sounds? They recorded it, cut the tape into
snippets, tossed them in the air, and re-assembled them at random. Delightful.
133. Tell Me Why from A Hard Days Night

I see this as the representative example of the Beatles early period. They have better songs and
worse songs, and this one is pretty much right in the middle. It doesnt really go anywhere new,
but it isnt totally conventional. Its got a great harmony, some nice drumming to hold the beat,
and an occasional guitar flourish from George. Its got some of the bitterness and anger that set
The Beatles (and John in particular) apart from many other contemporary artists, but it doesnt
feel as visceral as some of their very best songs from this period. I cant imagine this is anyones
favorite Beatles song, but I also cant imagine anyone who hates it.
132. Only A Northern Song from Yellow Submarine
I go back and forth a bit with this one. At times I really enjoy the melody, the chaotic background
sounds, and the slyly self-deprecating lyrics. At others it sounds SLOOOOOOOW, the
background is distracting, and the lyrics seem a little too accurate to be ironic. The song is about
how George constantly got pushed into the background as a songwriter, and about the deal they
had signed with meant they didnt actually own any of their music (they all were owned by
Northern Songs Ltd.), which seems pretty unfair, and eventually led to Michael Jackson owning
the rights to all the Beatles songs. Doh!
131. Babys In Black from Beatles For Sale
Lets begin with oh how long will it take til she see the mistake she has made just a fantastic
John/Paul harmony. This song is ranked as highly as it is almost solely for the power of that line.
The rest of it is decent, though after many years Im still undecided about the guitar solo. Unlike
most George solos, which provide a subtle twist on the main theme, this one goes off into the
woods and spins in circles by itself. While its a little jarring, the solo, combined with the
plodding, waltz-but-not-quite-a-waltz beat give the song a pleasantly chaotic feel.
130. Flying from Magical Mystery Tour
Its an instrumental, but it really just sounds like they never got around to finishing the song and
adding words. The result is a half-improvised take around some very slight changes in chords.
And the music only last about 90 seconds, with another 40 seconds of sound effects as it fades
into the distance. All that said, I really enjoy the tune, as well as the slightly bouncy guitar that
chugs along. I often find myself humming the tune for hours (or even days) after listening to it,
and that should count for something, shouldnt it?
129. The Night Before from Help!
When I was very very young, this was among my favorites. Then, for a very long time I more or
less forgot about it and it was relegated to the bottom of the list. Listening to it closely again for
this project, I was reminded of how solid a song it really is. Great vocals by Paul, great
drumming by Ringo, lovely background vocals. A devastating little song about betrayel.
128. Theres A Place from Please Please Me

Opens with a great harmonica lick and takes off from there. The drum counterpart when they
sing and its my mind is perfect. And, I think the harmony between John and the backing
vocals is perfectly discordant. They track along with each other, but for the verses John is
slightly off. Paul and George create the framework while John extemporizes. And then, when
they join together for the chorus, it has an even greater effect.
127. Youre Gonna Lose That Girl from Help!
Great background vocals is what sets this song apart for me. Paul and George follow closely
behind John, echoing his lyrics, kicking in on each line a second or two before John finishes to
create a lovely layered effect.
126. The Inner Light from Past Masters, Vol 2
Heres something that doesnt sound the same as the rest of their songs. One of Georges Indianinfluenced songs, all the backing instruments are Indian and that lilting whatever-it-is that forms
the basis of the introduction and appears occasionally through the rest of the song is really
something else. It sounds almost human at times. The lyrics are typical spirtual-George fare:
See all without looking, do all without doing. This was the B-side for Lady Madonna. Could
they have found two more different-sounding songs to put together?
125. Long, Long, Long from The White Album
Why, oh why is this song so quiet? Why is it placed right after Helter Skelter? Did they want it
to end up as the most obscure Beatles song? I have to admit it was only very recently that I gave
this one any real attention. This is due to two factors. First, the magic of MP3s makes it easy to
play the song on its own instead of just with the album where the contrast with Helter Skelter
makes it a huge let-down. Second, the ability to substantially increase the volume of the track
makes it easy to actually HEAR it. It used to be one of my least favorite songs mostly because I
didnt realize it had a tune. Now that Ive turned up the volume substantially, I realize its a
beautiful song, especially the lightly played bass riff. With a different production and different
album placement, this could really have been great.
124. Your Mother Should Know from Magical Mystery Tour
Another one of Pauls excursion into the dance hall songs of yesteryear. Still, it also clearly
benefits from the late 60s musical scene, with a great little bass line, the strong keyboards that
drive the song, and the harmonium interludes. It also benefits from a strong ending, just rolling
along for the first 1:45 and then suddenly kicking it up a notch as the drums play a much more
prominent role in the final verse.
123. Maxwells Silver Hammer from Abbey Road
So the synthesizer is almost ridiculously outdated. So the song is cutesy and yet-another Paul
tribute to his fathers music. So its about a serial-killer. So what? Its a great song. The bassline
is fantastic, Pauls voice has just the right amount of sly self-awareness, and the chorus is great.

Its an interesting counterpoint to Johns Instant Karma! which came out around the same time.
Same theme: slightly different approach.
122. Thank You Girl from Past Masters, Vol 1
An early, short song. Its one of their happier gee I love love songs, which I enjoy. I especially
like that its not about how shes pretty, but instead about how he likes being with her, and how
she makes him feel good. I really like Ringos drumming here, too.
121. I Want to Tell You from Revolver
The fade-in opening is used here to great effect, giving the song the feel of something much
larger than the simple two-and-a-half minutes that you hear. George said a few years later that he
got it exactly wrong. From the Eastern perspective he would soon adopt, it should be it isnt me,
its just my mind. Its funny that he stumbled into a line so radically opposite what he would so
believe a few years later.

Beatles from worst to first 6 (120-101)

Posted on May 10, 2006 by olneyce
Were really getting into songs that I love now. Theyve all still got their flaws, but there is a
great deal to recommend every one of the songs today. Another one of my likely to infuriate a
few people picks is here today. I guess it all depends on how you feel about the line: you were
in a car crash and you lost your hair.
In non-Beatles news, I went to Seattle yesterday and picked up a ton of new records that Ive
been wanting for awhile, so once I finish up with The Beatles, Ive got a lot of new stuff to get
cracking on. I also have to say that even in the age of blogs and downloads and instant access to
music even before its released, there is something very satisfying about walking around a record
store with a bunch of CDs in your arms.
120. Im A Loser from Beatles For Sale
Their first serious foray into a more folk-ish sound. John is at his cuttingly bitter best. Unlike
some of his other unhappy-love songs, this one is not an attack on the woman who hurt him, but
is almost entirely directed inward.
119. Dont Bother Me from With The Beatles
Georges first song, which Ive always enjoyed quite a bit. He described it as an exercise in
songwriting, to see if he could do it, and didnt give it much more credit than that. I agree that its
not particularly sophisticated, but its got a nice minor-key sound to it, and the bleakness of the

lyrics are a nice counterpoint to the mostly-optimistic, almost gleeful, Lennon/McCartney songs
from their early albums.
118. Its Only Love from Help!
John didnt think much of this song in his later days, considering it a throwaway. While I think
that criticism is too harsh, I do sort of see where hes coming from. Though I really enjoy the
song, it just doesnt have enough substance to break into the top 100 for me.
117. I Should Have Known Better from A Hard Days Night
The double-tracked vocals from John where he harmonizes with himself on Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii should
have is pretty much the entire reason why I love this song. The rest of it is pleasant enough,
with a nice bit of harmonica on the side, but it wouldnt really stick out from any number of
other early songs otherwise.
116. Wait from Rubber Soul
This is a song from the Help! sessions, brought in to bring Rubber Soul up to 14 songs to meet
the deadline. Therefore, its commonly referred to as being a little out of place, as being on the
wrong side of their breakthrough. Frankly, I dont see it. Its not the strongest track on the record,
but its not the weakest, either. The subject-matter is pretty simple (yet another take on Ive
been away, now Im coming back), but the percussion (with a tambourine and some nice drum
rolls) and the harmonies fit right in with the more sophisticated sounds of the rest of the record.
115. No Reply from Beatles For Sale
A strangely melancholic album-opener. While most of their early albums kicked off with
optimistic rockers, this one suggested that things were changing. Not only is the sound different
(the Dylan influence is clear), the subject-matter is along the lines of classic John: why have
you ruined my life? usually saved for much later in the album, or for a b-side to a more
rollicking single. The sound they put together for the quick bursts of I nearly died! is pretty
amazing, the the bridge If I were you, Id realize is just fantastic.
114. You Wont See Me from Rubber Soul
A great song about lost love from Paul. Its more wistful and less accusatory than similar-themed
ones from John (No Reply, You Cant Do That, etc.). Here, Paul simply tries to convince her
that he is lost without her, that she should give it more of a chance. Its a group effort, with some
lovely singing by Paul, some nice harmonies, and a couple great drumming sections (particularly
the time after time section).
113. When Im Sixty-Four from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
This song, more than almost any other, really defines Sgt. Pepper for me. Not because its my
favorite, and not because it exemplifies the hippy/counterculture element of the album. Rather,

because its the exact opposite. That the biggest band in the world could release an album
containing this song and have it be lauded as cutting-edge, as the defining sound of a new
generation just reveals how much they were on the top of the world. Were going to release
anything we want, in any style, and youre going to love it. In a way, the album became a focal
point for the counterculture precisely because it was so unique in its combination of different
styles. If it feels good, do it pretty easily translates into if it sounds good, play it after all. So
here we have a little bit of old-fashioned camp on perhaps the most influential rock album of alltime. As it should be
112. Dont Pass Me By from The White Album
Ringos first song, and I think its a shame it took until 1968. Sure, its not the most complex
song ever, and sure its a little silly, but it really does have a nice tune, and that fiddle gives the
song such a perfect country-western feel. The song had been floating around for at least a couple
years before the White Album and I tend to think it never would have been released if they
hadnt made a sprawling double-album. So while I complain sometimes about the inclusion of
some mediocre songs, I think Paul was right when, on the Anthology, he responded to these
criticisms with its the bloody Beatles White Album. Shut up. Everybodys got a couple songs
they could do without, but one persons filler is another persons favorite song.
111. The Ballad of John and Yoko from Past Masters, Vol 2
The neat thing about this song is that it was recorded in a single session by John and Paul alone
(and some nice drumming by Macca, no less), in the spring of 1969. I think it shows that in spite
of the other stuff going on (the impending breakup) things were not always as tense as all that.
This is just the sound of two friends making a song off the cuff, and having a good time doing it.
By the way, in a song skewering the press, I dont think its a coincidence that John chooses the
phrase theyre gonna crucify me given the blow-up over his bigger than Jesus comments a
couple years before.
110. Back In The U.S.S.R. from The White Album
Pauls spoof on the Beach Boys and Chuck Berry, and also one of the more rocking songs from
the White Album. I do wish the bass was given a little more prominence. Theres this great beat
buried down there. How they managed to release this song and not have the Red Scare folks
come after them in a serious way, I dont really understand. I mean, obviously its not meant to
be taken at face value, but since when were these folks known for getting the joke?
109. Within You Without You from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
This song is a stunning bit of fusion. An Indian raga overlaid with a Western melody. I
understand (and to some extent agree with) all of the complaints. From one side, its a curiously
atonal song, a let-down in the middle of a rock album. From another side, its the musical
equivalent of curry powder, the Anglicized variation on the Indian original. And there are
definitely times when Im listening to Sgt. Pepper and find it a bit of drag in the middle. But
most of the time, I try to appreciate it on its own terms, as a hybrid of cultures and musical styles

that is almost stunningly complex in its amalgamation of these perspectives. And its really quite
pretty, too.
108. I Saw Her Standing There from Please Please Me
The opener for their first album, and what a great opener it is. A great rock and roll song, not just
for the time, but for all-time. Its got the handclaps, a driving drum beat, a nice scream, and some
great guitar-work by George. And for a song about seeing a girl across the dance-floor, its
riddled with sexual tension. The well-hidden naughtiness in the line She was just seventeen, you
know what I mean gives the song just the right amount of edge. So why isnt it ranked even
higher? Well, because all the other songs are EVEN BETTER.
107. Yer Blues from The White Album
Jeez, sometimes you have to wonder how tough it must have been to live inside Johns head.
This song punches you in the gut a few times and then kicks you to the curb. Its a little crazy to
listen to this and realize that this is the same band that only a couple years ago was singing
Love Me Do. Or, to put it another way, its crazy to listen to this song and have the very next
song be Mother Natures Son. Talk about versatility.
106. Ill Cry Instead from A Hard Days Night
It ends almost as soon as it starts. Its under two minutes, is only two verses, and has such a
quick ending (no outro at all) that if you blink you might miss it. Its got a great country/bluesy
feel, and John is at his misanthropic best. The moment with about 10 seconds left when the
guitars disappear briefly and its just John singing show you what youre loving man can do is
great stuff.
105. Good Day Sunshine from Revolver
The intro to this one is what does it for me. That rising piano, the quick drum beats, and then the
good day sunshine I just cant help but smile. And it probably shouldnt get extra points for
this, but whatever: the transition between the end of this one and the bursting out of the guitar
from And Your Bird Can Sing is among my all-time favorite transitions.
104. I Call Your Name from Past Masters, Vol 1
The weird thing about this one is that I didnt hear the Beatles version until long after I had
grown accustomed to it as a Mamas and the Papas song. It almost sounds like a totally different
song when done by Mama Cass. I like them both, but I have to say Ill go with John. And if you
toss in a little bit of George on the guitaryouve got a really great song.
103. You Cant Do That from A Hard Days Night
Another John song that takes fear of losing love in a slightly dangerous direction. Also, another
John song that deals with his worries about how others will think: but if theyd seen you talking

that way theyd laugh in my face. Its a song about being angry, not about being sad. John never
mentions how he actually, yknow, FEELS about his ladyfriend. Its all jealousy, worrying about
what others will think, etc. Musically, its got a great beat, a heavier sound, and George really
rocking out the guitar. Its a little too choppy for my tastes, but still a great song.
102. Dig A Pony from Let It Be
Full of nonsense John lyrics, and a great guitar interplay. This song has always seemed to me like
it could have been much better. That feeling of mild disappointment has definitely influenced my
opinion of it, and it was initially ranked quite a bit lower. Its a little ragged and a little repetitive,
and the nonsense lyrics from John might have been better. For instance you can radiate anything
you are is great, but I cant say I get you can syndicate any boat you row. But forcing myself
to judge it on its own merits, rather than on my imagined scale of what could have been, Im
forced to accept that its a great song, flaws and all. Especially the All I want is you bit.
101. All Ive Got To Do from With The Beatles
One of the better tracks from their first two albums, which unfortunately means its still forced to
languish down here, but it really is a great song. John really lets go in the bridge, and then pulls it
back in for the verse. And the song fades with his mmm mmm mmms and you just want to
play it again

Beatles from worst to first 7 (100-76)

Posted on May 11, 2006 by olneyce
Ill do 25 today, and 25 today, which will get us to the top 50 for the weekend. Today, the
emphasis is strongly on the middle and late periods, with five tracks from Sgt. Pepper alone, and
only six from everything pre-Rubber Soul.
100. From Me to You from Past Masters, Vol 1
One of their first big songs, in their pre-Beatlemania days. Its a pretty simple love song (well, as
simple as you can expect from the Beatles). Its written to you to emphasize the closeness to
the fans. Its got the great harmonies. Its the sort of song that can really make you understand
why pretty much every teenage girl in the world fell in love with these guys.
99. Old Brown Shoe from Past Masters, Vol 2
I never really liked this song that much while I was growing up but Im starting to come around
on it. Its got a great beat, and the lilting piano gives it a fun, almost loping sound. Whens Pauls
bass enters into the fray, with its quick-paced variation on the same theme, it makes for a great,
almost oval-shaped sound, if that makes any sense. This song, more than any other, probably
fared the best in my final results compared to my initial thoughts. Since I still have trouble

thinking of it as anything other than a throwaway tucked on the end of the second Past Masters, I
was amazed to discover that it comfortably beat out some songs Ive loved for years.
98. Michelle from Rubber Soul
Its so schmaltzy and beautiful andhow did this end up on a rock record? Perhaps my favorite
thing about this song is that perfectly toes the line between parody and genuine affection. Is it
schmaltz or ironic schmaltz? Is it French or faux-French? Is it serious? Whatever it is, I love it.
97. If I Needed Someone from Rubber Soul
Great riff. One of Georges better songs, though also one of his least unique, in that it doesnt
sound all that much different than a Lennon/McCartney song from the time.
96. Any Time At All from A Hard Days Night
Oh, George, how you can make the 12-string guitar sing! That, and the bridge there is nothing I
wont do is what makes this song for me. Most bands would kill to write a song this good,
and were still barely breaking the top 100. Think about that.
95. It Wont Be Long from With The Beatles
Now THIS is how you kick off an album. And have I mentioned Johns voice recently? Lord
almighty, he could sing. I also love the call-and-response yeah, yeah, yeah, yeahs and that
descending guitar riff. As for the lyrics, theres always been some ambiguity for me. Did she
dump him or did she just leave physically (like, on a trip or something)? Either way, I like it.
94. Fixing A Hole from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
One of the interesting things about Sgt. Pepper (as I alluded to when discussing When Im
Sixty-four) is that most of the songs arent anything particularly cutting-edge on their own.
However, because each song is so inextricably tied to the album (and its mythology) that they
grow into something more when heard in context. Read simply, this is just a song about
discovering that its perfectly easy to live a happy, satisfied, and complete life without going out
into the world or doing anything important. Read another way, its a song about heroin (the
junkie fixing a hole) or its about the counterculture and dropping out from society. Absent
its place on Sgt. Pepper, this song would probably be a lot lower. But here, perfectly placed
between Getting Better and Shes Leaving Home, all of the things I might never have heard
are made clear. Maybe that means Im buying into the Sgt. Pepper hype. If so, oh well, Im just
going to enjoy it.
93. Please Mister Postman from With The Beatles
John really can sing, cant he? This song is ranked this highly purely based on his vocal
performance. Not that theres anything wrong with the music or the backing vocals or anything;
theres just nothing really special there. Johns vocals, however, are almost to-die-for. Wow.

92. Get Back from Past Masters, Vol 2

The first question is which version. I very slightly prefer the one on the Past Masters disc, mostly
because the outro is a lot of fun (though I do love I hope weve passed the audition from the
end of the version on Let It Be). To be honest, I cant really detect much a significant difference
other than that. As for the song itself, its always been one of those that I felt like should be really
high up there but just never seemed to listen to that much. Great song, just not one of my all-time
favorites. I also love the Simpsons episode with the Be Sharps parody of the Beatles, where after
they play a rooftop show, George drives by and says its been done. And Homer ends with I
hope weve passed the audition, everyone laughs and Barney says I dont get it.
91. Day Tripper from Past Masters, Vol 2
Ive mentioned that the boys, for all of their great songs, didnt really have many good guitar
riffs. Well, this is the mother of all the exceptions. One of the very best riffs out there. It kicks off
the song, and ties it together the whole way through. I know Ive got it ranked relatively low, but
if you told me this was your favorite Beatles song, I wouldnt really have any reason to argue.
Its not EXACTLY my cup of tea, but it really is a great song.
90. Magical Mystery Tour from Magical Mystery Tour
I like this one a little more than perhaps I ought to. Its a bit of a throwaway, and its not really all
that interesting musically. Still, it just puts me in the right mood. The percussion (particularly as
the song slows down for those 15 seconds in the middle), and Pauls voice on the magical
mystery tour is coming to take you away just gets me pumped up to listen to the rest of the
album. As a standalone song, it would probably fare worse, but since its pretty inextricably tied
to the rest of the album in my mind it does just fine.
89. Ill Be Back from A Hard Days Night
The list that inspired me to do this project has this one ranked as the #2 Beatles song, which
frankly astonished me. I had never even thought this would be in someones top 20, much less
#2. Still, I gave it a few more listens, trying to see what I had missed, and discovered that it
really is a pretty good piece of music. I had never quite given it the attention it deserves, tucked
all the way at the back of the album there. Its an almost perfectly crafted piece of two-minute
pop. Heartache, love, and the way it makes us all go crazy typical John sentiments have
almost never been expressed so clearly. Its sad with just enough of a hint of happiness to explain
why we keep coming back for more.
88. Helter Skelter from The White Album
The mythology of this song is expansive. Theres the origin story (Paul read a review of The
Whos I Can See For Miles describing it as the loudest, wildest music ever made and wanted to
prove them wrong), the appropriation of the song by Charles Manson (including writing it in
blood at one of the murder scenesyikes), the credit given by many to this song as part of the
birth of heavy metal, the original 27-minute version, the multiple fadeouts. All of that makes it

interesting as a cultural artifact, but it would still be a great song on its own merits. Loud,
devastating, and raucous, ended perfectly with yet another aborted fadeout and Ringo screaming
I got blisters on my fingers!
87. Girl from Rubber Soul
Achingly beautiful, filled with sadness and pain. This is a much more mature song (both lyrically
and musically) than their standard fare from even a year earlier. It also is a (somewhat) rare
example of John single-tracking his voice. Listening to this one, its not difficult to understand
why he often chose to double-track. His voice here is so raggedly tender that it would never work
on some of the more upbeat numbers. But here, its perfect
86. Think For Yourself from Rubber Soul
Great fuzzed-out bass layered on top of the regular bass track here. Its really the focal point of
the song. This is one of Georges best Beatles songs. It does sound a bit like George trying to
write a Lennon/McCartney song, but there are enough Harrison elements here to make it clearly
his own.
85. Yellow Submarine from Revolver
This is the only song I ever learned how to play on the piano. And was among my very favorite
songs when I was 10 or 11. And I really do love the Yellow Submarine movie. And I love Ringo.
The first really great concert I ever went to was to see Ringo and his All-Starr band when I was
13 or 14. And he played this song and it pretty much made my day. Its obviously nothing
complicated, but it just serves as yet another example of the ease with which the boys could
transgress musical boundaries. Its like the had a checklist of genres they needed to cover:
Rock, check. Indian, check. Psychedelic, check. Classical, check. Ballad, check. Childrens
song, eh? Hey Ringo, come on over, weve got a song for you. And that is all JUST on
Revolver. As Alan Pollack says: Could anyone other than the Beatles get away with this? Try to
imagine Yellow Submarine as the first or second song of a no-name group. Indeed.
84. Cry Baby Cry from The White Album
This is a bit of a weird one. The King and the Queen, the Duke and the Duchess, what these have
to do with the chorus beats me. And what ANY of it has to do with anything else in the world, I
also have no idea. And the music is a little crazy, too. Its incredibly thick, with that piano
drenching the whole track, and assorted other instruments keeping the background sounds at a
constant. Still, theres a very sweet melody underlying it all, and Johns vocals have the perfect
ghostly feel.
83. Lovely Rita from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
What is this here? A rock song on Sgt. Pepper? Who wouldve thought? This one is, like many of
Pauls songs, a vignette, a slice of not-quite-everyday life. In this case, about not quite making it

with an attractive meter maid. While it doesnt rock out like Helter Skelter or anything, it adds
some much-needed oomph to the middle of side two.
As a sidenote, one of the great things about that album is the way they managed the peaks and
valleys of the rock quotient. After a long section at the close of side one and beginning of side
two, they kick off a three-part section where they amp up the voltage in preparation for the
climax in the reprise and the denouement of A Day in the Life. I have no idea if I only think
the song order is perfect because its Sgt. Pepper, but I really cant imagine it working nearly as
well any other way.
To digress (again), this one and When Im Sixty-Four were the two songs that would have
been cut had Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields not been kept separate as singles. Its
certainly true that these are the two least essential songs on the album, but I think it would have
lost some of its playfulness without them.
82. Ive Got A Feeling from Let It Be
Theres a lot to be said for the early-era version of the Lennon/McCartney collaboration, when
they wrote much more in tandem. But, to be honest, I think they were at their very best when
they produced almost-complete songs on their own, and then let the other tweak around a little
bit. Songs like this one go one step beyond, turning two completely separate song fragments into
one whole song. Theres really no reason to think the songs should go together except that it fits
so perfectly. When John starts in with everybody had a good year, its like a drink of cool
water in the middle of Paul rocking out. And when theyre each singing their own song at the
same timeits as good as any harmony. In my mind, this is what Let It Be was supposed to be
abouttheir more mature selves making the rock album that they never could have imagined at
the age of 22.
81. Mother Natures Son from The White Album
For what is at heart a very simple song, this one is intricately layered. The acoustic guitars, the
light touch of brass, mild percussion, a bit of drumming buried deeply. This is clearly one of the
tracks written in Rishikesh, with its themes of nature and unity with the world. It also shows just
how powerful a little bit of humming can be, when its done right.
80. Getting Better from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Two things to love about this one. First, and most obviously, the absolutely perfect distillation of
what made the John/Paul partnership so perfect. Paul sings unambiguously Ive got to admit its
getting better and John returns: it cant get no worse. Put together, and its profound in its
simplicity. Second thing to love: the bass, which really takes off on the second verse. It frames
the song so well that it sounds remarkably full and rocking despite its rather leisurely pace.
79. I Feel Fine from Past Masters, Vol 1

Here is another counter-example to my claim that The Beatles didnt have all that many great
guitar riffs.. This song has one of their best. And that feedback to kick off the song is pretty
amazing. Ringo really pounds the drums. And the Im so glad section just sends shivers
down the spine.
78. Baby Youre A Rich Man from Magical Mystery Tour
I said earlier that Blue Jay Way might be their only song that is unable to transcend the era in
which it was recorded. However, there is an argument to be made that this song might be another.
But this might require a question of what it means for a song to transcend its origins. Sure, its a
hippie song for a hippie time, both musically and lyrically. Still, where Blue Jay Way was
boring, this song is playful. It is a product of the 60s in a way that makes that era come alive
even now. All those crazy instruments, lyrics about finding true meaning in life
I first listened to Magical Mystery Tour on an incredibly scratched record. On all the other songs,
this was an annoyance but nothing more. On this one, though, there was a divot that meant I got
to listen to the 1.8 seconds of John saying beautiful people at around the 52-second mark on
repeat until I got up and pushed the needle along.
77. With A Little Help From My Friends from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
76. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
You pretty much have to put these two songs together. For all the talk of Sgt. Pepper as a
concept album, the concept only extended to these two songs (and the reprise). Sgt. Pepper
is a fantastically tight rocker, with Pauls screaming vocals and churning bass line stealing the
show. Also, the use of crowd noise is done expertly to heighten the anticipation of the arrival
of Billy Shears at centerstage, and to make the segueway into With a Little Help From My
Friends seamless. That song is the #2 Ringo song on this list (sandwiched in between two songs
about being underwater). I actually remember hearing the Joe Cocker version of this song first,
somehow (thats what growing up in the 80s watching The Wonder Years will do for you), and
still appreciate that one greatly, but you just cant beat Ringo. He sounds so plaintive, so honest.
Once again, the bass dominates this song (a sign of things to come on the rest of the record). As a
final note, once again the arrangement of the tracks on Sgt. Pepper is perfect. The campiness of
these two songs is a great way to ease the transition into to the crazy genre-bending to come. And
it just gets you feeling good.

Beatles from worst to first 8 (75-51)

Posted on May 12, 2006 by olneyce
Were really getting into the greats now. There are bands I like quite a lot who have never made a
song as good as any on this list. Some of their most musically interesting songs show up today.
Also, going into today, there were 75 songs left, 13 of which were from the White Album. That
ratio has been reduced a bit since there are six White Album tracks up today. Its a great album
but its not quite that great

75. And I Love Her from A Hard Days Night

I dont know much about music theory, but my understanding is that a lot of the effect of this
song is created by the way it blurs the line between major and minor keys. So bittersweet, so
pure. Pauls voice hovers above this song like a halo, particularly on bright are the stars that
74. Hello, Goodbye from Magical Mystery Tour
One of my ABSOLUTE favorites when I was growing up, and its been slowly but surely falling
ever since. I still love it a lot, but the silliness and simplicity has started to feel a little bit
strained. You can call it a loss of innocence or a refinement in taste. Either way, the point is that I
just cant quite make myself suspend my disbelief and accept that Paul has discovered something
profound in You say yes, I say no, you say stop, and I say go, go, go. Great instrumentation,
though. The strings, the guitars, and that outro is pretty fantastic.
73. Cant Buy Me Love from A Hard Days Night
One of Ringos finest drumming jobs. The crashing of the cymbals, the underlying beat. It really
drives the song. The section of the A Hard Days Night movie where this played is almost
certainly one of the best music videos ever. Beyond that, the scream before the guitar solo is
great, and the solo itself is one of Georges finest. In fact, I cant think of another one thats
better. The songs just screams energy and excitement. Beatlemania doesnt seem hard to
understand when listening to songs like this.
72. Everybodys Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey from The White Album
Perhaps the very best all-out rock and roll song theyve got. This one is a bruiser. Theres that
ringing bell just making your whole body move, a crazy drum beat that always sounds like its
just about to tear away from the rest of the song but never quite does. And, some typically John
lyrics, opaque in their simplicity. Great stuff.
71. You Really Got A Hold On Me from With The Beatles
A really great cover of an already fantastic song. As Ive said, I wish the boys had done more
covers of these type of songs and less of the rock/blues stuff. Their talent with harmonizing and
arrangements (especially with the presence of George Martin) really adds something special.
When theyre all singing together on I love you and all I want you to do it is simply
70. Lady Madonna from Past Masters, Vol 2
The Beatles generally avoided the saxophone, which I think was a wise choice. Its such an easy
instrument to abuse. But this track is an example of using a sax as it was meant to be used, to
bolster a solid rock line, and to add even more energy. Youll notice that the musical
accompaniment is different for almost every section of the song. Different combinations of

drums, guitar, bass, sax, piano, and harmonies give it an incredibly textured feel. That, combined
with the quick pace, means that I never cease to be amazed that its only a little over two minutes
69. P.S. I Love You from Please Please Me
Not one of their more sophisticated songs, it basically plays on the same beat with the same
chords the whole way. But, for some reason, it just appeals to me very strongly in a way that a lot
of their other early songs dont. I do like the idea that the song itself is the text of the letter and
the title is the p.s.
68. Tomorrow Never Knows from Revolver
I dont even know where to start. While this is by no means my favorite Beatles song, its very
high on the list of songs I could listen to on repeat for a very long time. No matter how many
times I hear it, I find there is always more to uncover. That they put this together with the
technology available in 1966 is, frankly, just astonishing. Its like finding out that the Wright
Brothers built their flying machine out of a couple sticks and some saltwater taffy. Some
scattered thoughts/sounds: the seagulls, a guitar solo that sounds like its being played from some
dimension thats just a bit out of kilter from our own, listen to the color of your dreams, and
lets not forget that underneath all of those effects, its a pretty darn good rock song.
67. Martha My Dear from The White Album
Yeah, so its about Pauls sheepdog. Thats just fine by me. Its a very pretty, and fun song, with
some long instrumental sections. The background music is quite interesting on this one, with the
piano running through the whole way, the brass section, and drums and a bass that are faded in
and out in different sections. For a very short and seemingly simple songs, there is a lot of aural
66. Glass Onion from The White Album
John wrote this song mostly to poke fun at everyone who insisted on reading deeply into his
nonsense lyrics. Accordingly, he references a number of older songs and introduces a number of
new classically bizarre Lennon phrases to dazzle and confuse (glass onion, cast iron shores,
dove-tail joint). Musically, its one of their more rocking numbers, with some great drumwork
and a thumping bass beat.
65. Twist And Shout from Please Please Me
What a performance by John! This is what Paul was hoping to get with his attempt to run his
voice ragged before recording Oh! Darling but that is nothing compared to what John got here
the old-fashioned way. The Isley Brothers original is a classic and a fantastic song, but it pales in
comparison to Johns performance. There are a lot of their songs I like more, but Im not sure
theres another one I would have rather seen them do live.

64. Hey Bulldog from Yellow Submarine

Here we find one of the least-known Beatles songs (if there indeed could be such a thing), since
its one of the four tracks that only appeared on Yellow Submarine. Its a shame because its not
only one of their better songs, its also one of their most unique. It would be worth the price of
admission if only for the first 13 seconds, You first get the central riff of the song pounded out on
the piano. The second time through, the drums and guitar kick in, and the third time the bass and
the tambourine (I think) join up. And it all goes boom. The rest of the song is pretty great, too.
That bruising riff holds throughout, and theres the extended outro, with the trademarked fadeout-back-in-fade-out-again. Alan Pollack has a pretty interesting discussion of it here thats
worth reading.
63. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

Surely everyone knows the it is/isnt about LSD story, but Ill summarize just in case Youll
notice that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds conveniently translates into the acronym LSD. John
has insisted from the very beginning that this was never his intention and that the inspiration for
the song came from a picture drawn by Johns son Julian. For all the details, check out the
Wikipedia entry.
Given the existence of the picture, the girl named Lucy, and Johns insistence, Im inclined to
believe the story as far as it goes. Still, it doesnt really mean that much as the song is obviously
about LSD regardless of the reasons for choosing the title. As if the lyrics werent enough
(tangerine trees and marmalade skies, plasticene porters, a girl with kaleidoscope eyes,
and so on), the musical soundscape with the harpsichord or whatever it is, the crazy fluttering
guitars, and vocals from John that seem to float up out of the ether would be proof enough. Some
people swear by Elton Johns cover. Those people clearly have gone off their medication.
62. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) from Rubber Soul
John trying to write an oblique song about an affair and having it be so oblique that no one ever
guessed. They were too busy being confused by the suggestion that he was an arsonist. This is
their first use of the sitar, and I think its a perfect fit. Its obviously much less authentic than
their later attempts, but thats kind of the charm. It gives the song just the right amount of exotic
charm. Ive always really loved the line I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me.

61. Anna (Go To Him) from Please Please Me

The best Beatles song that none of my friends have ever heard. Of all their covers, I think this
one might sound the most like a Lennon/McCartney number. The original is nothing spectacular,
but it is transformed in the hands of John, who gives one of his very best vocal performances.
Lyrics that suggest sadness at the departure of a woman are turned into a firestorm. Any emo
band out there would be well-served to listen to this record 10 or 15 times to see how its meant
to be done. Id really like to squeeze this one into the top 50, but it just isnt going to happen.
60. A Hard Days Night from A Hard Days Night
And here was the magic of the 12-string guitar made clear. That opening chord! The fadeout!
The solo! And throughout the song, the guitar and a virtual wall-of-sound brought to life by
Ringo and his drums.
59. If I Fell from A Hard Days Night
Bonus points here for the very best John/Paul harmony. After the beautiful introduction sets the
stage, its all harmony from there out. The lyrics reflect the desperate tension of love, between
wanting your feelings to have true requited love, but being so afraid of rejection that you are
unwilling to give yourself up. And as if all that wasnt complicated enough, the pain of a failed
love and the feeling of devastation at rejection is framing all of that. For a very pretty song,
theres a lot of psychological trauma going on here.
58. Sexy Sadie from The White Album
John wrote this song as a tirade against the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, after discovering that he had
tried to sleep with one of the women there. He was convinced to change Maharishi to Sexy
Sadie and to remove the curse words, but its still a delightfully vindictive song. Great guitar,
57. Revolution from Past Masters, Vol 2
I know some folks go the other way on this, but I strongly prefer the single-version to the one on
the White Album. The sloppy, loud full-frontal assault of the guitars, Pauls scream to kick it off,
and Johns in-your-face vocals completely define this song for me, to the point where listening to
Revolution 1 kind of weirds me out. I used to wake up to this song every morning, because I
knew it would get me revved up for the day.
The lyrics are typically John in their ambiguity. I think its pretty powerful to come out with your
political song and have the basic point be: we all want to change the world, but I really have
no idea how to do it. Hes not against revolution, but he wants to be convinced that its
revolution for a purpose, not just for its own sake. I think the lessons of Robespierre and Stalin
(to pick a couple) suggest that he may have been onto something. Yes, be political, but dont
think youve ever got a stranglehold on the truth, or that those who disagree on tactics are

automatically your enemies. As John says: you say youve got a real solution, well you know,
wed all love to see the plan. I sure would
56. Im So Tired from The White Album
This song, more than almost any other I can think of, perfectly evokes the feeling it describes.
Raw, angry, bitter, listless, terrified, depressed, on the verge of a breakdown. When John finally
lets loose and screams Im going insane its an instant of release. The final 20 seconds consist
of three repetitions of Id give you everything I got for a little piece of mind over a cacophony
of drums and bass in a wonderful heightening and release of the tension.
55. Something from Abbey Road
I know a fair number of people who rank this one #1 and I cant really say theyre wrong, yet
here it is in the 50s. What gives? Well, Im not sure. I want to put it higher but I just cant justify
moving anything below it. This is an instance where if I were doing the best of The Beatles,
this would be about 40 spots higher, but all Im doing is my personal favorites and it just doesnt
quite make it. We all know this is a great song, so Im not going to get into the details. But one
funny story: Frank Sinatra declared Something to be one of the greatest love songs of all-time,
and regularly sang it in concerts, though (in typical fashion for the perpetually overlooked
George) he often referred to it as his favorite Lennon/McCartney song.
54. Paperback Writer from Past Masters, Vol 2
Its amazing to think that this was only their second song that wasnt about love. They clearly
could write love songs in a lot of different ways without them getting old, but its still pretty
amazing that it took until Revolver for them to start writing about novelists and taxmen and
yellow submarines. I love that this song is written in the form of a letter, in particular that it
begins Dear Sir [or Madam]. Ive always wondered whether the narrators book was actually
any good. I have to assume the answer is no, based on the description we get of it. But I still hold
out hope that maybe it really is good and hell make it big. Musically, this is one of their
strongest tracks, with that fantastic bassline and a great lead riff.
53. While My Guitar Gently Weeps from The White Album
In terms of musicianship, everyone is at their best here, from a great piano introduction and
fantastic bass-work from Paul to drumming by Ringo that is taut with tension to some nice lead
guitar by a fellow named Eric Clapton. I cant fault the decision to go with this version since it is
devastatingly well done and really drives home the feeling of abandonment of ego, and the
spiritual emptiness of most peoples lives. Still, its almost too much. The sparse, acoustic
version on the Anthology suggests that they might have produced a version a bit less depressing.
Maybe Im a fool for wanting a fundamentally dreary song to still be pretty, but thats just how I
feel, and I dont know that theres much point in trying to change at this point in my life. As it is,
I still love what we ended up with, and can appreciate the artistry that went into it, while still
wishing for a little more.

52. Two Of Us from Let It Be

Supposedly a love song from Paul about Linda, and that may very well have been his intention.
But lets face facts. This is about John and Paul, even if only accidentally. I mean, You and I
have memories longer than the road stretches out ahead. The two of them romping around the
town, and eventually finding their way back home, playing games, and living life simply for the
joy of itthis is the song where John and Paul say goodbye. The warm harmonies between John
and Paul and the acoustic instrumentation only heighten the feeling. I know the atmosphere when
they recorded this song cant have been all fun and games, jokes and smiles. Still, you have to
feel that, for at least a few minutes when they recorded this, they remembered just how they
cared about each other. Maybe its a bit maudlin of me, but so be it.
51. Rock And Roll Music from Beatles For Sale
This is the last cover on the list. Everything in the top 50 is all John, Paul, George, and Ringo. I
like Chuck Berry a lot, but I have say that the original of this song just doesnt, yknow, SOUND
like rock and roll music. I know my standards now are a lot different than they were 50 years
ago when it came out, but only a few years later The Beatles came out with this version which
rocks pretty damn hard. Oh, and John has a great voice in case I havent mentioned that recently.

Beatles from worst to first: Interlude

Posted on May 12, 2006 by olneyce
156 down, 50 to go. Im rather obsessive about ranking my music on iTunes, mostly because its
the only way I can keep track of all he new stuff I listen to. But also just because I like to rank
and order things (obviously). Its a happy coincidence that I have exactly 50 Beatles songs
ranked at 5 stars. As a point of reference, I have around 400 total 5-star songs. Which means The
Beatles alone comprise 1/8 of all my favorite music. That seems about right.
If youll pardon me a few moments to gush
They had 20 number-one singles. They had 5 songs in the top 10 at one time. They released over
a dozen albums, all of which have great music on them and most of which could fit comfortably
on a top X albums of the rock and roll era list. And remember that this all took place over only 7
or 8 years.
Say what you will about their music (and I understand that not EVERYONE loves them as much
as I do), you cannot deny the cultural significance of Beatlemania, of the first global satellite
broadcast being 4 guys telling us that love is all we need, of that first Ed Sullivan show
Langdon Winner said, and perhaps it is hyperbole, but perhaps it is not: The closest Western
Civilization has come to unity since the Congress of Vienna in 1815 was the week the Sgt.
Pepper album was released. And, while I get annoyed with Pitchfork at times (as we all do), one
line from there that I truly enjoy is in this review: Want a simple method for destroying any

credibility you might hope to earn? Slam Sgt. Peppers and talk up Deathray. Its that easy. Find
something else with which to compare contemporary artists. The Music Machine, the Seeds,
Badfinger, the Zombies, and even the Kinks are begging to be referenced. Lets not compare a
kid who wins a paper airplane contest to the Wright Brothers.
The Beatles were the last (maybe the only) band that held the center of contemporary music
together. They were staggeringly popular in a way that Im not sure can ever be duplicated.
Because in the 21st century, things fall apart, the center cannot hold. There are no bands with
anything close to the broad-based appeal of the Beatles.
This is not to say that a band has to be popular to be great. But part of what makes the Beatles so
amazing is that they were able to excel not at a limited number of things, but at virtually
anything they tried. They could try their hand at all kinds of different things, but anyone can do
that. Only the Beatles could do it and do it well. Incredibly well.
I guess the thing that seems most significant to me is that, in general terms, if youre into any
kind of music that could be even loosely defined as rock music, then youve probably got a list
of at least 15 or 20 Beatles songs that you love. And even if youre not into rock music at all
(my Grandmother, for example, who would pay any amount of money not to have to listen to the
Stones or the Who), you probably still have that list.
Should we get stuck on The Beatles? No, of course not. As great as they were, it was a long time
ago, and there has been some truly fantastic music since then. I understand this completely, and,
in fact, I started writing this blog so I could talk a bit about the new big things. But neither
should we let our obsession with the new prevent us from recognizing and experiencing the old.
The Beatles are not simply an anachronism. They are not just the music our parents listened to.
Their songs are as alive today as they ever were, and will continue to be alive hundreds of years
from now. And thats really all its about. When theres great music, it deserves to be listened to
and enjoyed. The Beatles arent the only ones capable of it. Lots of people make great music and
people should listen to what they like. There are lots of styles, lots of genres, lots of ways to
make great music.
But its telling that, for basically any band that you think is up there, finding their way of
reaching for the stars, the Beatles are right there next to them. Theyre the jack of all trades,
master of all. They do a little bit of everything and do it all well. Rock, schmaltz, childrens
songs, world music, pure pop, folk, folk-rock, ballads, songs about love, songs about taxes,
sleeping, death, karma, drugs, etc. and so on.
And, to top it all off, they sang songs like All You Need is Love and they meant it. And
millions listened, and they believed it. And thats pretty awesome.
Tomorrow Ill get started on the top 50, but for those who are wondering, heres the breakdown
by albums:

Revolver: 7
The White Album: 7
Magical Mystery Tour: 5
Help!: 5
Abbey Road: 4 (or 10, depending on how you count the medley)
Sgt. Pepper: 4
Past Masters, Volume Two: 4
Let It Be: 3
Rubber Soul: 3
Beatles For Sale: 2
Past Masters, Volume One: 2
A Hard Days Night: 1
Please Please Me: 1
With The Beatles: 1
Yellow Submarine: 1
And youll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

Beatles from worst to first 9 (50-31)

Posted on May 13, 2006 by olneyce
Two songs from George bookend the list today, which means hes only got one left for the top
30. And we finally reach Ringos second, and last, song. We also close the account on A Hard
Days Night, With The Beatles, Beatles For Sale, and Yellow Submarine. Do you have any idea
how difficult it is to choose among these songs now?
If other folks out there have top 10s theyd like to share, Id be interested. Especially if they
differ substantially from mine. What dont I understand about your #2 song, which I was silly
enough to put at #85?
Tomorrow will be up through #11, and then Ill do the top 10 on Monday.
50. Its All Too Much from Yellow Submarine
Im guessing this one wouldnt be in the top 50 for too many folks, but something about it really
appeals to me. The shimmering guitar, the same fascinating hybrid of Western melody and
Eastern drone that makes Within You, Without You interesting. This one does not have a Wall
of sound as much as it has an Ocean of sound. Lyrically, I think this song serves as an
essential counterpoint to Georges other songs on the subject of spirituality and Eastern religion.
The line show me that Im everywhere, and get me home for tea shows that George didnt
always have to be so deadly serious.
By the way, the recently remastered version that came out on the re-done Yellow Submarine
shows that sometimes less is more. The new version has the benefit of modern technology which

can separate every instrument or tone on its own track. While this makes for a much crisper
sound, it pretty much ruins what makes this song great. I dont want to extract the sounds, I want
the whole thing to hit me together so I can lose myself in the chaos.
49. Dear Prudence from The White Album
I think its fitting that this one immediately follows Its All Too Much, since its the closest
John came musically to Georges droning sound. It really just repeats that single guitar line for
the entire song, with small variations. While I know one person who HATES this song with a
fiery passion for precisely that reason, I think it makes the song interesting. The whole song
builds and builds, adding a piece here, subtracting one there, remaining stuck on the same theme,
but inexorably growing, until it all comes together at 2:37. Then, when John sings wont you let
me see you smile its about as big a climax as they ever created. But, the thing is, theyre not
even done yet and theres still another 40 seconds before theyre going to let you go.
48. Shes Leaving Home from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Yes its a little overdone, but its still stunningly beautiful. Written by Paul after reading a news
report about a runaway, this is yet another song from Sgt. Pepper which perfectly captures an
element of the countercultural explosion, but from a unique perspective. Its a song about
dropping out, abandoning your square parents who just dont get it and cant understand that
theres more to life than money and comfort. But heres the thing, its written from the
perspective of the parents, for whom we cannot help but feel sorry. They may not get it, but its
not their faultthey just wanted what was best for their daughter. That they are clueless as to
what she wants and needs is a strike against them, but we understand that they are not bad
people, nor do we find much reason to sympathize with the daughter. The parents want to
understand, they simply cannot. As such, it is not a polemic, but rather is a recognition of broad
forces in society that make things tough for everyone.
47. She Loves You from Past Masters, Vol 1
What is there to say about this song that everyone doesnt already know? It is glorious
everything that made The Beatles so amazing, so mind-blowing to the world in 1963 and 1964
the harmonies, the furious drumming that lifts the whole song into the stratosphere, the clever
lyrics, its all here. And dont even get me started on the yeah, yeah, yeahs. As I said a few
months ago about Johnny Boy, there is really no need for a lyric in rock and roll beyond the
simple repetition of yeah, yeah, yeah. If you cant say everything you want to say with that,
maybe it wasnt worth saying in the first place. There is no pretense here, nothing beyond She
loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah! And thats just all there is.
46. Ill Follow The Sun from Beatles For Sale
A simple, but beautiful song. The primary instruments are those gently plucked acoustic guitars,
and the light tapping is the only percussion. Its less than two minutes and so gentle that it almost
feels like it would blow away in the wind. Which is sort of the point, given the songs emphasis

on transience and the departure of love. Its really quite a depressing song when you get right
down to it, but so beautifully done that it doesnt seem to matter.
45. Things We Said Today from A Hard Days Night
A great song in a minor key, sounding dark and ominous, without succumbing completely. The
tone of the music adds a great deal of flavor to what might otherwise be seen as relatively
inconsequential lyrics. I love you, even when youre far away. Well surely be together forever
is given a new context. You notice that the song is mostly about the hard times, that the time of
happiness is far off in the distant future. It is there, waiting for us surely, but we are forced to
recognize that it will not be easy, nor necessarily pleasant to get there. Love will sustain, but can
we really be sure? Its all Paul here, with some nice shifts between single and double-tracking the
voice to change the mood. One more thing: the moment at around two minutes where the bridge
bleeds into the verseLove is here to stay and thats enoughto make you mine, girlis pure
genius. Sidenote: this is the one song from A Hard Days Night to crack the top 50, for what its
44. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da from The White Album
Yes, yes, I know that lots of people hate this song and let the complaints roll in if they must. I
dont care. Its an incredibly fun song, one that I still, to this day, cannot listen to without
discovering about 30 seconds in that I am bouncing merrily along to the beat. That bass simply
will not let me go, and the horns, the handclaps, the piano, and everything else only add the
effect. Sure, its not the most substantial song ever, but who wants to be serious all the time? Life
goes on, after all, and sometimes you just have to let it go, give into the beat, and enjoy it.
43. The Fool On The Hill from Magical Mystery Tour
And just in case those who hate Ob-La-Di are still complaining that Paul is a talentless
huckster, we have this song to shut them up. If you cant find the time to lighten up, here is
something of much more weight to satisfy you. Those woodwinds! That voice! The man of a
thousand voices talking perfectly loud! Its got a great scene in the movie, too.
42. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club
41. Good Morning Good Morning from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
I combined the first Sgt. Pepper so why not combine the reprise as well? These two go
together every bit as much as the two opening tracks. After the many, many diversions over the
course of the album, and the slow-burner of Lovely Rita the boys pull out all the rock and roll
stops to bring the house down. On Good Morning, Good Morning, the guitars are blistering,
the horns are almost percussion instruments, and the constant changes in meter give the song a
herky-jerky feeling. As Paul would later declare, this was John skewering the suburban torpor.
Can we transcend the banalities of life in the modern liberal state? The pulsing sound and sly
irony in Johns voice suggests that even amidst the drudgery, all is not lost. Each verse concludes
with the line, Ive got nothing to say but its okay, which is better than nothing, eh? The

extended outro fades into animal sounds, and out of it emerges the reprise, which rocks quite a
bit harder than the original. Some fantastic drumming, and a big goodbye to the crowd, closing
off the album, and giving A Day in the Life the space it deserves.
40. All My Loving from With The Beatles
The best song from With the Beatles, hands down. Its also the best of their many well be apart,
but our love will endure songs from the early years. I love the way it jumps right out of the gate
with close your eyes and Ill kiss you. Im told its a fairly sophiscated song musically, though
I dont really know A from B as far as that goes. I do know that its got a great melody, though.
39. Im Only Sleeping from Revolver
The production still sounds amazing 40 years later. The backward guitars are nicely done, and
the overall feel of the song is of heaviness, even drowsiness. Its precisely the sort of song that,
totally apart from the lyrics, feels appropriate for a listless late morning when you just cant drag
yourself out of bed to face the day. Johns vocals are, as usual, well done. But the highlight for
me might be, as bizarre as it sounds, the short interludes with the bass (for example, from 1:56 to
2:03). Its such a small part of the song, but it really sets the whole mood. If you pay attention,
youll notice that bass riff throughout the song. By the way, you can contrast this one with Im
So Tired. Same basic theme, but such completely different approaches that they end up feeling
and sounding totally dissimilar.
38. Eleanor Rigby from Revolver
Almost certainly the preeminent example of Pauls ability to create a story in a song, Eleanor
Rigby is like an entire novel condensed into a two-minute song. It is so brilliant because the
first two verses sound entirely disconnected, and it isnt until the final verse that you understand
the connection between these two. Beyond that, it is so fitting that although they are connected,
the meeting of the two only serves to heighten the feeling of loneliness. And those strings!
Where would The Beatles have been without George Martin? Surely they would still have been a
huge band, but I think it would have been nowhere close to the same thing.
37. Got To Get You Into My Life from Revolver
The third from Revolver in a row, and they really run the gamut. From the classical orchestration
of Eleanor Rigby to the trippy backwards guitars and lazy sound of Im Only Sleeping to
thewellwhatever it is that weve got here? Is it a pop song? Is it rock and roll? Blues?
Motown? It was re-released in the 70s as a single and did reasonably well but are we sure it
wasnt actually originally from then, but fell through a wormhole and dropped back a decade in
time? Because it sure sounds more at home in that decade. The horns really make this one, and
Paul gives a fine vocal performance. This is also another example of perfectly organizing the
tracks on the album. I Want to Tell You, which is similar both in theme and style, leads into
this one. And on a normal album, this would be the big finale, with the extended outro to send us
all on our way. Butjust as we are packing up our things and looking for the exit, the lights dim
again and we are hit full-force with Tomorrow Never Knows.

36. Strawberry Fields Forever from Magical Mystery Tour

A tour de force for John, drawing in many of the elements they had introduced on Revolver and
Sgt. Pepper, with bizarre chord progressions, a whole host of backing instruments, backwards
tapes, studio mutterings buried in the mix (this is where the infamous supposed quote of I
buried Paul is meant to be. In fact, John is simply saying cranberry sauce). One new
innovation, which would appear on a number of occasions is the false ending. Musically, it draws
from the heavy music which was beginning to emerge from San Francisco. Lyrically, it draws
from Johns childhood to paint a picture of inchoate anxiety and confusion. And yet it is not
negative. Nothing really makes sense, and we all experience our lives differently. But maybe
thats just fine.
One other note on the studio trickery. As is often discussed, the final version is really two
different takes spliced together. The problem was that the two takes had been recorded in
different keys! So take 7 (in the key of A) was speeded up slightly, and take 26 (in the key of B)
was slowed down, in order that they would both approximate the key of B flat. Of course, the
transition is not quite seemless (you can notice the change at the 1:00 mark the latter section
sounds thicker, if that makes sense), but in my mind this is a bit of serendipity, as the song is all
about feeling a bit disjointed without being able to quite explain why or how.
35. Octopuss Garden from Abbey Road
Ringo didnt do too badly for himself, did he? Only two songs, but they both fared pretty well. In
fact, Im pretty sure he will end up with the highest average ranking. Though to be fair, a huge
part of why this song is so good is the ridiculous talents of the other three, the backing vocals,
the guitars, the bass The series of descending notes behind we would be so happy, you and
me and the guitar in the last 30 seconds as Ringo repeats In an octopuss garden, with you
are some of the very best Beatle-moments. Still, Ringo does a mighty fine job himself. Great
drumming, and this song is perfectly suited to his voice: warm, friendly, no pretension, no
assumed irony. He is singing a song living in an octopuss garden and all you can think is yeah,
that does sound nice, doesnt it, Ringo?
34. Here, There, and Everywhere from Revolver
Incredibly beautiful. Especially Pauls voice, and those harmonies. When he sings there
running my hands through her hair, my heart pretty much just melts. The only thing that holds
me back on this one is something Ive mentioned before: the single-plucked guitar notes over
everysinglebeatofpercussion. It just punctuates the notes too much. The musical
accompaniment is so secondary to this song that it should stay far in the background and
accentuate (as it does in the bridges). Its a minor complaint, but were splitting hairs to try and
rank these things at this point.
Paul wrote the song after hearing Pet Sounds by the Beach Boyshe wanted to produce
something that could stack up. It certainly beats 12 of the 13 songs from that record, though I
have to say God Only Knows is probably even better.

33. Dont Let Me Down from Past Masters, Vol 2

This song has been steadily rising in my opinion for a couple years now. At the current pace, its
scheduled to take over the #1 slot in early 2007. I said a couple of days ago that Ive Got a
Feeling is what Let It Be was really supposed to be about, but that was wrong: this song is what
it was all about. It sounds like it was recorded all in one take. Its delightfully imperfect. And its
just haunting. Johns voice goes into I cant even count how many different places, with screams,
yelps, deep places, and soaring heights. And that piano playing by Billy Preston is justhave I
already used the word haunting? Well, it gives me shivers.
32. Eight Days A Week from Beatles For Sale
We should need no explanation for this song. It is pure joy to listen to it, and thats all there is to
it. The faded intro, the clever title, the pureness of the melody. If ever you have been in love, you
know that it feels like this song is playing inside your head constantly.
31. Piggies from The White Album
I know its not a particularly consequential song, but who cares? Its a great bit of fun, and one of
the few times that George shows his playful side. Add in the macabre element of the cannibalistic
piggies, the not-so-subtle digs at The Man, and the joyous melody and youve got a song the
whole family can love.

Beatles from worst to first 10 (30-11)

Posted on May 14, 2006 by olneyce
Were getting very close to the end now. Trying to choose which song to keep low is growing
more and more painful. A lot of the famous ones are on the list today, but there are at least a
couple that might be a little bit more under the radar. Youll notice that a group of 10 songs from
22-31 come from only three albums (Rubber Soul, Help!, and the White Album). Not really sure
why that happened.
My discussion on a number of these is a lot more personal than I have been before. Thats what
happens when we get into my very favorite songs by my very favorite band. These songs have
been the soundtrack to my life for the last 15 or 20 years. For my happiest moments and my
saddest moments, these songs were there, keeping me company, helping me along.
By the way, Ive finally caught up to myself on the comments. When I started, I had a good 3 or
4 day buffer of comments on the songs completed. The gap has been narrowing each day and
now I have nothing written for the last 10. Frankly, the task is a little daunting. How can I
possibly explain what makes these songs so great? But Ill get it done, I hope, and tomorrow will
come the top 10.
30. Blackbird from The White Album

Utter simplicity. Its just Paul, his guitar, and (I think) a metronome. The first few seconds are
among the most beautiful moments of music I can think of. All your life, you were only waiting
for this moment to arise The only thing that marrs the song for me is the bird noises at the
end. I dont think theyre terrible, and when Im in the right mood, I even appreciate the texture
they add to the song. But I do think it might have sustained the lighter-than-air feeling even
better if it had stayed just Paul and his guitar. By the way, whats the deal with all the songs
about animals on the White Album? Weve got Blackbird and Piggies to start with. But then
theres Rocky Raccoon. And as Ive mentioned Martha My Dear is about Pauls dog. And
Bungalow Bill is about hunting. And just in case we were wondering, John lets us know that
his monkey has nothing to hide.
29. Nowhere Man from Rubber Soul
Amazingly enough, this is the first time they wrote a song that wasnt about love. Its not the
most sophisticated song, maybe even a little trite compared to their later cosmic musings, but the
simplicity is also part of its charm. Some people seem to think the song is preachy, but I think
that misses the pointJohn wrote this song at himself, making this the thematic precursor to Im
So Tired and other songs about his state of mind. Great harmonies here. And I love the Nowhere
Man from the Yellow Submarine movie.
28. Happiness Is A Warm Gun from The White Album
Four totally unique songs (or song fragments) in one, all in under three minutes and somehow it
not only holds together, it creates a gestalt whole that is far beyond the already significant
strengths of each part. Section 1: Shes not a girl who misses much. Draws you in slowly and
then hits you again and again with fascinating imagery. The man with the mirrors on his boots is
actually someone John knew (he was trying to see up girls skirts). Section 2: I need a fix.
Dominated by that fuzz guitar, it only lasts about 20 seconds, but paves the way perfectly for
Section 3: Mother Superior jumped the gun. That would be Yoko. The tambourine enters, and
after a couple repetitions we finally encounter Section 4: Happiness is a warm gun. The dark
mood of the song is lifted and we are treated to a back and forth between John and his chorus
aboutwellhappiness being a warm gun.
The title comes from an advertisement John saw which claimed that happiness was, indeed, a
warm gun, but Ive always enjoyed the ambiguity of it. First, is the gun a gun or a metaphor for
You-Know-What? It is clearly sexual, but exactly how sexual? Second, are we meant to
understand that happiness is a state which is achieved upon the firing of a gun? Or is it that
happiness itself IS a warm gun?
27. Julia from The White Album
This song holds a special place in my heart. When I was in high school, a friend of mine named
Julia died in a car accident. She was one of the more amazing people I have ever met:
spontaneous, intelligent, caring, wise, and fun. She was the kind of girl you just knew was going
to be President one day, or write a world class symphony, or cure cancer. But more importantly,
you knew that she was going to live life to its fullest. I never got to know her as well as I would

have liked, something I only realized completely once she was gone. When I heard about the
accident, I couldnt help but think of the line half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just
to reach you. Johns song is for his mother, but I think the sentiment is the same. A sense of
loss, an ethereal sound, the delicately plucked guitars, and Johns heartbreaking voice. Julias
parents set up a foundation in her name that does all kinds of things that Julia would have loved.
While a song this beautiful is a fitting tribute, a tangible foundation that gets real things done is
even better. I miss you, Julia. Im sorry I never got to know you better.
26. I Will from The White Album
Theres a run on White Album songs, with 5 of the last 6 coming from it. This is the last one, and
its a bit of a surprise to find at the top of the heap. Still, for all the amazingly complex work that
they were doing at the time, my heart continues to fall back on this simple, short, and incredibly
beautiful song about an ideal love, or perhaps for someone who has come to fill that idealized
role. I used to walk around for days at a time with this in my head, almost in a dream. I would
wait a lonely lifetime
25. Youve Got to Hide Your Love Away from Help!
Last winter, I went through a pretty tough time which included several weeks alone in Hanover,
New Hampshire. During that time, I listened to this song a LOT. Its not a common feeling for
me, but there are times when you just cannot even imagine trying to face the world because
youre so busy trying to keep yourself from falling apart. This is John at his folky (is that even a
word?) best. Ive talked a lot about his voice on the more upbeat numbers, but he shows here he
can do the world-weary folk-singer just as well. The classic debate about which Beatle is your
favorite is a tough one for me. Purely based on the songs, I think I might have to go with Paul,
but with John, you know the emotion, the pain, and the joy is all real. He can lash out and
threaten to break every heart in the world on Ill Cry Instead, he can insist that All You Need
is Love and he can sit devastated in the corner on this song, and you understand its all different
aspects of the same person.
24. Ticket to Ride from Help!
In some ways, this song was the turning point. Beatles For Sale showed them going in new
directions, but the release of this single a few months later made it clear that they were soon to be
walking on paths never before seen. From the first few seconds, with that ringing guitar riff and
the crazy drum beats, this is the real deal. And the moment when John sings awwwww, shes
got a ticket to ride is one of my all-time favorite moments in any song.
22. Im Looking Through You from Rubber Soul
23. Ive Just Seen a Face from Help!
These songs come from two different albums, one of which was supposed to be the
breakthrough but to my ear, they sound to be cut from very much the same cloth, showing
once again that the best moments of Help! are everything that Rubber Soul is meant to be.
Acoustically driven, these show Paul at his folk-rocking best, with an ever-so-slight bit of blues

influence. Thematically, I also see them as connected. Ive Just Seen a Face is that first
moment, when you have glimpsed all the glory of creation. You stumble over yourself, and the
words to express your joy cant seem to come fast enough. All you want is to hang onto that
ephemeral feeling. Im Looking Through You is on the far side, when you have seen your
dreams fall through. Yet it is also about a single moment of realization, when everything that
once made sense finally is revealed as false. It rocks a little bit harder because, as we all know,
the fall from the heights is a lot more devastating than the climb.
21. Here Comes The Sun from Abbey Road
Can a song feel like sunshine? Yes, it can, and George Harrison is here to prove it. This is my
favorite George song (though it runs into some stiff competition from a number of his solo
songs) and its just one of those tunes thats guaranteed to make you feel good no matter what. It
gets the full Beatle treatment, with some fine drumming by George and those glorious handclaps.
I really enjoy George when he is just a little less serious, and just expresses joy at being alive
(which is why, as much as I like his first couple solo albums, I think my favorites might be the
ones from the 80s: Gone Troppo and Cloud Nine where hes just having a blast with his
A thought about album placement: Abbey Road was designed to be an LP where you would have
to, physically, get up and turn the record over (imagine that!). In that context, there was
something significant about moving past the thunderstorming coda of I Want You (Shes So
Heavy) and into the sunlight of Side Two. The same effect holds true on the CD, but I
sometimes think it comes a little too quickly. The time it took to change the record provided a
little breathing room, an intermission, between the changing of the seasons.
20. And Your Bird Can Sing from Revolver
Worth the price of admission just for that opening guitar lick. It just jumps out of the speakers,
grabs you by the collar, and shakes you around. An interesting comment was left a couple days
ago by The Sanity Inspector: I liked the story Joe Walsh told about And YourBird Can Sing.
He practiced and practiced until he could finally play the guitar part, and then later learned that
George had simply double-tracked himself. Wow!, Walsh quoted himself as saying. Am I the
only person in the world who can play this? Thats pretty funny. For what its worth, John
never liked the song, but what does he know?
19. Please Please Me from Please Please Me
This song is pure energy. In bottled form, its more dangerous than liquid nitrogen. Ford is
working on a new model of car which runs entirely on this song. That blackout across the
Northeast back in 2003? Yeah, it was caused by me playing this song too loudlyit overloaded
the whole grid. There is the come on, come on section, the clever wordplay (I do all the
pleasing with you, its so hard to reasonwith you, oh yeah, why do you make me blue?), and
that amazing guitar (check out from 46-48, for an example). I defy anyone to listen to this song
and not feel blessed to simply being alive and in possession of functioning ears.

18. I Want to Hold Your Hand from Past Masters, Vol 1

Speaking of music that could start a forest fire How did they not just give up after this song
how did they have the courage to try and top it? The magic of this song is amazing: you can
really understand how it changed the world. Its just a series of climactic moments, one on top of
another, until you just cant take it any more. And when their voices rise up with that third I
cant hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide its like a volcano erupting. And the handclaps, dont forget about the
handclaps. And how many completely different ways can you make I want to hold your hand
sound like the single most important thing that has ever been said? I count at least three in this
song. Fine, I admit it, if I had been born 30 years earlier, I would have been right there screaming
my lungs out for this song.
17. I Am The Walrus from Magical Mystery Tour
The very best of their more experimental songs (depending on how you define A Day in the
Life), this one goes off in about a million directions, yet somehow manages to never feel lost or
off track. Despite the reputation for this as seriously far-out, I will say that the thing which grabs
me more than anything else is that its got a fantastic beat. Some of my favorite moments (a list
which cannot possibly be exhaustive): John singing Im cryyyyyying. The overdub of the radio
broadcast from King Lear: oh, untimely death! (bear in mind that it wasnt plannedthis is just
what was one. Talk about serendipity). I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all
togetheronce again, from a song thats intentionally nonsense, this is one of Johns more
profound lines. The middle section with those strings and sitting in an English garden waiting
for the sun. Just an amazing song.
16. The Long And Winding Road from Let It Be
Alright, Ill admit it. I like the Phil Spector-ed version best. Sure, it isnt what Paul intended, but
even a genius can be (very slightly) wrong once in a while. The strings and the chorus give the
song a grandiose feel that it really needs. Its incredibly pretty and moving, but it is the kind of
song that has to feel epicit shouldnt just be moving, it should make you ache insideand the
orchestration helps it achieve that. If you need one example to prove Spectors version is better,
check out the section from 2:25-2:40. In Pauls version, he repeats many times Ive been alone
in a curiously dull spoken voice. Spector eliminates it and adds a soaring violin solo, and its
exactly what is needed.
Funny story about this song, it features prominently in a movie I made in college: The 30-Minute
Return of the King. For reasons not worth getting into now, a friend and I decided that we should
show Peter Jackson how it was MEANT to be done, and produced a movie without all the
Hollywood silliness like special effects and acting talent and a script that goes longer than
25 seconds between penis jokes. Needless to say it was a smashing success, though for some
reason our invitation to the Academy Awards seems to have gotten lost in the mail. Anyways,
this song plays over the scene where Frodo and Sam struggle on toward Mt. Doom (the long and
winding road that leads to Mordorget it? Hahaha. Oh I slay me sometimes). The rest of the
soundtrack is similarly awesome, including such classics as I Whupped Batmans Ass by
Wesley Willis, Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler, and the Mortal Kombat theme.

Hmmmmmm, I seem to have gotten a little off track here, so lets just move on to the next
15. Across The Universe from Let It Be
This is the song in the top 20 that is the most mercurial for me. I originally put it in the top 10,
and it still could easily be there on a good day. But other times I might drop it as low as 20.
Either way, its an all-time great, of course. Way way back on One After 909 I commented that
the Let it Be Naked version of that song was the only one to be superior to the original. I have no
idea how I forgot about this one. I fell in love with the Spector-ed version, but this is one case
where the lush orchestration is UTTERLY out of place. And dont even get me started on the
World Wildlife version from the Past Masters. Im not prepared to say that the version on Naked
is the perfect version of the songsadly, I dont think the perfect version existsbut of the
imperfect options, it is clearly the best. Mostly unvarnished, we are able to here the pure beauty
of the song. In my mind this song goes hand in hand with someone standing alone on a hilltop at
night, staring off into the distance, perhaps at some object beyond the curve of the earth, perhaps
off into the stars. And the lyrics are among the very best poetry they ever created. Pools of
sorrow, waves of joy, thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letterbox, and more.
14. We Can Work It Out from Past Masters, Vol 2
Much celebrated for the John/Paul interplay between verse and bridge, and rightly so. Its like
two completely different songs, both in tone (we can work it out vs. life is very short), and in
style (upbeat rock number vs. downbeat waltz). Yet the transition between the two is so perfect
that you cannot even imagine how one could exist without the other. As Johns bridge ends with
the slowed-down waltz, Pauls verse burts forth with a renewed force, like the sun cutting
through the clouds. One thing youd never notice until you pay attention: the forcefulness of the
underlying instruments grows substantially over the course of the song. Try listening to it and, in
the middle of that last verse by Paul, quickly switch back to the opening few seconds. It builds
gradually, but what starts off as gentle-but-insistent ends up with quite a kick.
13. She Said She Said from Revolver
There was a time not all that long ago (5 or 6 years, perhaps) when this one wouldnt even have
been in the top half of my favorite songs from Revolver. If youll pardon the pun, I shouldve
known better. Everything that made the middle-period great is here to be found, including but not
limited to: the almost overpowering lead guitar, great drumming, pyschedelic imagery,
experimentation while still keeping a firm grip on writing great tunes. Oh, and the seamless
amalgamation of two completely different songs into one perfect whole. Who would ever have
guessed that the sunny little fragment when I was a boooooooyyyyyy, everything was right
would turn out to be exactly what was needed to complete a song about a terrifying drug trip. No
one but these boys and thats why theyre the biggest band of all-time. One final note: check out
the way the pace of the drums quickens substantially in the last 20 seconds. It creates a
fascinating double-effect of a fadeout that, at the same time, heightens the adrenaline rush of an
already overwhelming song.

12. Rain from Past Masters, Vol 2

This, even more than Octopuss Garden is Ringos shining moment with The Beatles. Just
listen to that drumming! Next time anyone tries to tell you that Ringo wasnt any good, play this
song at them and theyll shut up right quick. Everyone else shows up to play as well, with some
great guitar-work, and probably their most seamless piece of studio trickery. Other songs might
be more complex, but the backwards vocals are perfectly integrated, such that they feel entirely
organic. And the whole song feels like a tidal wave. I know its a cliche to call something
punchy, but Im not talking about a little punch, Im talking about flat-on-your-back, wake-meup-next-week punchy. Im not sure you could do any better with the technology weve got now.
Oh, and theres some great lyrics from John, one of his best efforts at social commentary minus
the heavy-handedness. Anyways, how is this song not more famous? If you havent heard it, go
out and buy a copy of the Past Masters volume 2 today. You wont regret it.
11. A Day In The Life from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
How in the world is this song not number 1? What more can we expect from music? If I was
doing a best of list, it might very well be at the top, but as its just me and my tastes, this one
somehow gets bumped out of the top 10. Doesnt really seem right, but there it is. Its the
quintessential song from the quintessential album. I cannot possibly do justice to it, so I will shy
away from any attempt to speak about whats REALLY going on here and instead simply
mention a few highlights.
To begin with, any discussion of this song is, by law, required to mention both of the following.
1. The interplay between John and Paul. In some ways, this song is the mirror image of We Can
Work It Out. Here, the primary verse is Johns eerie accounts of the the news today, while
Paul supplies his own completely distinct song for the bridge. For a brief moment, we move from
abstraction to the concrete, from the gauzy texture of Johns section to the smoother, lighter feel
of Pauls, from the bizarrely mundane events of the world out there to the bizarrely mundane
events of ones own life. 2. The orchestra. They brought in 41 people who clearly had no idea
what they were in for. For that huge buildup, they were left completely on their own, apart from
the general instruction to get from the lowest note to the highest by the end of the 24 bars. It is
fascinating to listen to all the instruments rising, but each at their own pace. And then, after an
almost unimaginable build-up, that final piano note, lasting over 40 seconds as they turn the
volume up higher and higher to catch the fading hum.
Apart from those, can we talk for a second about the sound of the song? Delightfully off-kilter,
particularly in Pauls bridge, the piano, the drums, and the bass do everything in their power to
keep you off balance. Johns voice is another highlight, as if broadcast from another plane of
existence through some twisting of space and time around a dimension we cant even understand.
I could go on and on but the more I do the more Ill have to beat myself up for ranking it this
low, so Id better be on my way.

Beatles from worst to first 11 (the top 10)

Posted on May 15, 2006 by olneyce

And here are the top 10 (or top 9, or top 16, depending on how you feel about the medley, a
question which you will soon discover I am conflicted on myself). All of these songs are
amazing, and when Im listening to any one of them, I am completely satisfied. I have some I
like even more than others, but you really couldnt go wrong with any of them.
Im going to be (even more) long-winded than usual today, which I hope you can forgive. I could
talk almost endlessly about these songs, and there are tons of anecdotes, favorite moments, and
memories about these songs Ive left out.
10. All You Need Is Love from Magical Mystery Tour
Sure, it sounds a little silly in this cynical day and age. And sure, it probably sounded a little too
starry-eyed even at the time. But who cares? Maybe love alone isnt enough, but we have to
believe that its possible. At some point in the Anthology, one of them (probably Paul)
commented that one of the great things about The Beatles is that, at their core, they sang songs
about love and joy and positive things. And this is the best of them all.
This song was written specially to be broadcast on the first ever global satellite transmission.
Over 300 million people watched as the biggest band in the world told them that love was
enough. That such a thing could even occur gives me some hope. It opens with the theme from
La Marseillaise, which adds a perfect amount of international flare (and also reminds me of one
of my all-time favorite movie scenes in Casablanca when Victor Lazlo leads the crowd in a
rendition of this song to drown out the Germans). Other highlights include deceptively simple
lyrics from John: nothing you can know that isnt known, nothing you see that isnt shown,
theres nowhere you can be that isnt where youre meant to beits easy and a fantastic outro
with the love is all you need the playful horns, and that transcendental moment when out of the
swirling sounds emerges she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah. It all comes full circle
Oh, and speaking of favorite movie scenes, one of the most heart-wrenching is in the Imagine
movie when this song plays as the whole world mourns his death. Theres one moment when you
can see someone singing along at the top of her lungs with tears streaming down her face. The
magic of John is that it doesnt seem the least bit silly for her to feel that way.
9. Yesterday from Help!
This is justifiably one of the most famous songs of all time. Every detail is done exactly right.
Holding off on the entrance of the strings until the second verse: perfect. The descending notes at
the end of the second bridge (now I long for yesterdayayayay): perfect. Perfect
craftsmanship, perfect songwriting, perfect singing. Such sadness, such aching loss, its a portrait
of a heart that is breaking, as sophisticated as any novel could be. I would say that theres no
point in me even describing the song since if you havent heard it you clearly have been living on
Neptune since 1965, but I have a good friend who insisted that she had never heard this song
until I played it for her. No joke.

8. Help! from Help!

Bursts out of your speakers with that opening Help! and then launches into the very best of
their upbeat rockers. John turns in yet another fantastic vocal performance, but Paul and George
do just fine for themselves as well. Have you ever noticed the variations in the backing
harmonies? At times, theyre singing along with John, at times theyre following behind him, at
times theyre a step ahead. I really think its a big part of what makes the song sound so unique,
and what gives it such a broad scope.
Another thought: Ive been talking through this whole thing as if Nowhere Man was their first
song that wasnt about love because Ive always been told that. But now that I think about it, this
isnt really a love song. At the time, one might assume I do appreciate you being round is a
romantic sentiment, but in retrospect there is no reason to think so. This is a song about finding
yourself to not be sufficient for the tasks you face, and reaching out for help, for support in
getting your life together. That could be romantic, but its really much broader. Its also
incredibly brave. Its hard to admit that youre scared and that you dont have all the answers,
especially if youre a rock star on top of the world.
7. For No One from Revolver
The day breaks, your mind aches, you find that all her words of kindness linger on when she no
longer needs you. Who starts a song like that? Thats just amazing. And then theres the French
Horn solo, which for 14 seconds proves that there is a God, and he was caught on tape in the
Abbey Road studio in 1966. And then the horn returns to break your heart all over again, joining
with Paul for the beginning of the final verse. And, as if all that wasnt enough, theres the
haunting piano and the light touch of the bass. I love Yesterday, obviously, but I really think
this is the definitive song about heartbreak and loss.
6. Let It Be from Let It Be
Theres a part of me that knows the song is a little too sappy, overwrought, and overdone. But
theres a much stronger part that just doesnt care. Its so good it has every right to be over the
top. You couldnt go wrong with any of the versions, but my favorite is the one on the original
Let It Be for the most organic sounding of the various solos, for the backing ooooooooooos,
and for that moment about a minute and a half in when the song explodes. My absolute favorite
is when Paul sings I wake up to the sound of music Somehow it just seems to be enough. No
matter the trouble, you wake up to the sound of music and you know that you can go on.
5. Penny Lane from Magical Mystery Tour
This is the song I rely on to make me happy no matter what the circumstances. When my
grandfather died, I listened to this song on repeat for hoursit was the only thing that kept me
from feeling like the whole world was slipping out from under me. When things are getting me
down, this is what I hold in reserve. I always know that if I havent had to put on Penny Lane
yet, it cant really be that bad. More than anything else, its the sound of Pauls voice. Its like
hes smiling the whole way through the song. The bouncing bass and the churning piano help,

too. And then theres the glorious trumpet which, like on For No One has its solo in the sun,
but returns later in the song to lend a hand for the climax. But that voice. Thats what its all
Regarding the Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever single, its common for people to declare
it the conclusive proof that Paul is an entertainer while John is an artist. This is usually phrased
in a value-neutral way, but the subtext is almost always to declare that John is more sophisticated
and Penny Lane, for all of the pleasure one has in listening to it, was not as ground-breaking or
as forward-looking. In my opinion, thats just plain silly. Penny Lane is every bit as nuanced,
every bit the work of art that Strawberry Fields is, and it has the added benefit of sounding like
laughter, like a warm afternoon in the park, like every friend you havent seen in a decade but
run into on the street, like getting off a plane and seeing your loved ones. He sketches all of these
characters, reveals their foibles and silliness, their strangeness, but only gives us just enough to
understand how little we understand. And we come to realize that the point is not to understand,
but simply to love without cause, to accept without knowledge. Rather than trying to seek out, to
identify, to control, we let the world wash over us, and accept it as very strange.
4. In My Life from Rubber Soul
Is there a more beautiful love song in existence (okay, there is one: Romeo and Juliet by Dire
Straits, but stillonly one)? But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares with
you. The romance is so powerful because it is not overwhelming or effusive. It is not simply a
song on the theme of gee, youre swell in Johns musings on the importance of memories and
the past, he comes to the slow realization that this moment, this time with one particular person,
is the best of times. We tend to romanticize the past, and the present always seems to slip away
from us. It is sometimes hard to take stock and recognize true wonder and happiness when it is
being lived.
Many of the traditional Beatles tricks are at play here. There is Johns double-tracked voice,
intimate and tender, and Paul joins in on every other line. Also, three songs in the top 10 share a
classical instrumental interlude (the horn solo on For No One, the piccolo trumpet on
Penny Lane and the piano on this song). Of the three, this one is my favorite. George Martin
recorded it slower and then speeded up the tape to give it the dancing, baroque feel we all know
so well.
3. Hey Jude from Past Masters, Vol 2
This has been my favorite Beatles song since I was about 10 years old, to the point where it was
almost instinct: whats your favorite Beatles song? Hey Jude, of course. Ive sort of been
dreading the arrival of the top 10 because I knew it was going to force me to really think about
whether it was still true. Hey Jude has been there for me for my whole life, an institution, and
foundation for my whole being. But still, there comes a time to say goodbye, and in doing so, to
move on to the next stage of your life. Its kind of the whole point of the song after all: Hey
Jude dont let me down, you have found her, now go and get her. So I know in the grand
scheme of things, where I rank a song by The Beatles doesnt really matter that much, but its

symbolic. Its about recognizing that people can change, that beauty can be discovered in new
places, and that holding onto the past for its own sake is silly.
As for what makes this song so great, I think everyone knows. Even the most emphatic of the
Paul-bashers have to admit the purity, the genius of this song. Starting with Paul, alone at his
piano, and slowly bringing in backing elements to reach a stunning crescendo, and then
sustaining that climax for the final four minutes of the song. The drums come in at the perfect
moment, but (like many great elements of Beatles songs) this was serendipity. Ringo was in the
bathroom when this take began and had to rush back; he enters the fray several measures past the
original planyet it works perfectly. This song also features the glorious harmonies that just leave
my heart in a puddle on the floor (seriously, you can take the Beach Boys, you can take the
Everly Brothers, you can take em all Ill take The Beatles for my harmonies). And then the
whole monumental four minute outro. It is transcendentthe na na nas burrow into your soul and
you achieve a deep and abiding inner peace. Meanwhile Paul is going nuts with his
extemporaneous screams, and the background music only continues to grow. This was their
biggest selling single, and rightly so.
1. and 2. The Abbey Road Medley (You Never Give Me Your Money/Sun King/Mean Mr.
Mustard/Polythene Pam/She Came In Through The Bathroom Window and Golden
Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End) from Abbey Road
So here we are. I said at the beginning that I would consider the medley to be two songs, which I
still dosort of. I originally had the second part (Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End)
at #3 and the first part at #10. But thats not fair. Its really a single piece, a work of art that spans
15 minutes and many phases. If we had any doubt, the reappearance of the refrain from You
Never Give Me Your Money in Carry That Weight would make it clear. In its totality, the
medley is the clearest proof in existence that the whole may not only be greater than the sum of
its parts, but may transcend them to such an extent that it becomes something completely
different. So, in retrospect, I probably should have made it a single song. Feel free to mentally
adjust every song up one spot accordingly, if youd like.
Three of these songs (You Never Give Me Your Money, She Came in Through the Bathroom
Window, and The End) would fit comfortably in the top 20 on their own but the broad scope
provides time for dramatic ebbs and flows. The three form the backbone of the broader work as
the start, the end, and the climactic moment in the middle. But the other songs provide
background, dramatic progression, and (in some cases) breathing room.
Paul is in charge, but everyone gets their moment in the sun. Ringos drumming is fantastic
explosive and strong (check out Bathroom Window), and he gets his one drum solo to shine.
All three guitarists trade licks on The End demonstrating that these boys knew how to rock and
roll as well as anyone. John is at his playful best on Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam.
You Never Give Me Your Money sets the stage, with its own mini-arc, a story that would make
Springsteen proud, of what happens when nothing is left but everything is possible: one sweet
dream came true today However, this is only the introduction, themes are introduced but not
fulfilled, the stage is filled, but the story is left to tell. Next is Sun King to dial down the

tension, to provide a buffer before the rambunctious energy of the next three tracks. Its by far
the weakest song of the medley, though it is not terrible by any stretch and does serve its purpose
Mean Mr. Mustard had been floating around since 1968 and was drafted into service here, and
John decided his sister really ought to be named Pam, adding just another touch of continuity.
These two songs just build and build, Mustard being drive by that fuzz guitar and Pam by
Ringos powerful drumming and the interplay between the rhythm and lead guitars. She Came
in Through was recorded in a single take with Polythene Pam, and, as such, they share
essentially the same backing track. However, where Pam was a fragment of a song, this is the
complete package. In fact, it hardly makes sense to consider Mustard and Pam as anything
but the set-up for this song. Together, they form a movement of the medley and build towards the
first climax.
If they had ended at this point, it would have been perfectly adequate. Still, it finishes rather
abruptly, suggesting that we are meant to read this ending as a false climax. Many of the loose
ends have been tied up, but the final chapter is still to come.
That is provided by the second half of the medley (which, as I mentioned, would be my #3 song
all on its own). We return, as the medley began, with the soft strains of the piano. Golden
Slumbers carries the feel of a lullaby, but quickly expands, blossoming into Carry That
Weight a song which I cant help but associating with Hey Jude (dont carry the world upon
your shoulders boy, youre gonna carry that weight a long time). The long progression of the
medley is given clarity by the inclusion of a reprise from the very beginning (I never give you
my pillow, I only send you my invitation).
And it ends, of course, with The End as each of the players is given his chance to come out,
take a bow, and play for us one last time. The tension grows and grows with each new guitar riff
until it can go no further, the storm lifts, and out of the chaos and the madness emerges a single,
clear note on the piano. And we have emerged on the far side, the far side of life, of death, of
love and pain, of all that we have ever known. Here, the only thing left to say is and in the end
the love you take is equal to the love you make. John later described this as one of Pauls best, a
cosmic line, and so it is.
This is the conclusion to their final album, and it is a fitting end. Soon after, John would declare
the dream is over but he was wrong. The dream is still alive in every who has a copy of Abbey
Road, who can listen to the conclusion to the greatest album by the greatest band in historya
band splitting apart at the seams, but who held it together long enough to create their
masterpiece, and to give us all one last goodbye.
Thanks to everyone whos been reading and commenting. Ill return tomorrow to your regularly
scheduled programming of more recent stuff, but its been a lot of fun getting the chance to go
through all of these songs.
If I have any more Beatles-related thoughts, I may post them tomorrow, but as for now, its a
beautiful day, so Im going for a bike ride.