Christmas and the Holidays always make me think of The Beatles, and recently tasked myself to sit down and actually formulate a playlist ranking my favorite Beatles songs now 40 years after first being exposed to them. Not their most famous or well-regarded mind you, but the ones which take my inner Beatles Geek to the land of Looking Glass Ties. I decided ten favorite Beatles songs was too few, twenty-five too many, struggled mightily but kept it to twenty with a bonus track added just to mess with people’s heads. And had some fun with this post linking up other related oddities to make your visit worth bookmarking for future playback reference.
Yeah I know ... Everybody hates Paul 👍 But this is actually quite moving, and is believed to have sparked the "Paul Is Dead" thing in 1969, which I love. So I love this song, and Paul. Worry not ;]
*My list both starts and ends with #20 because that one is sort of in a league of its own in terms of being revolutionary, visionary and influential. Deserves special propz -- The Beatles invented King Crimson with it, or any other experimental “art rock” approach rife with studio gimcrackery you care to name. An example thereof is supplied at the end. But my all-time #1 Beatles song must remain my all-time #1 Beatles song, a necessary relative constant which has remained unchanged since the age of 14 or 15 (re: when I first heard it over headphones while stoned) and by which all of the others in their catalogue have been evaluated. Not gonna budge on it even knowing what I know now about #20, and feel the workaround used is an acceptable compromise which won't upset the delicate balance of the Cosmos.
Missing is “A Day In The Life”, which my philosophy suggests is best heard in context of the entire “Sgt. Pepper’s” album: The function of this list is casual "just toss it on the earbuds & walk to the store" type listening. Also missing is “Strawberry Fields Forever” which upon reflection was substituted with “Penny Lane”, opting for Paul’s more subversive and less stridently obvious psychedelia, though the "Strawberry Fields" video (film, really) is my favorite of them all. Whether one likes to face up to it or not the point of "Strawberry Fields" is celebrating the acid, where "Penny Lane" is more open to interpretation (though I don't get the horses). I also have specific recollections of it playing on the radio in the car with my mom as a kid and being impressed by the piccolo trumpet ... Truth be told I actually dismissed The Beatles as AM radio pop music as a 13 year old Album Oriented Rock idiot simply because of association with it being "Mom Music". Now I comprehend that she was simply ahead of her time, or at least mine, as your mother should know.
... Mom never dropped any acid.
Also absent are the big pre-“Help!” Beatlemania pop songs, nothing wrong with them. I've just always preferred the middle-period psychedelic Beatles with odd instrumentation + Mellotron effects, and right from the start -- "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was my favorite Beatles song for the first couple years of listening even without knowing the acronym thing, or being capable of understanding what it meant. I was too young, and it slips off the Twenty list due to "Pepper" overexposure from years of working in record stores. “What’s The New Mary Jane” should likely be on the list too but I’ve only just come around to its weedy charms, where the choices on my Twenty list have pretty much been the Beatle go-to’s since puberty. That they have stuck with me for 40 years is impressive stuff. Other bands may fall in or out of favor but there will always be the elemental genius of The Beatles to come back to. Only other band I would say that about are The Sex Pistols and I mean it.
If pressed to choose my favorite Beatles album would be “Magical Mystery Tour" if allowed (not really an album, see) or "Revolver" if debating with a purist. As for my least favorite there’s no need to ponder: I despise everything about “Let It Be”, naked / dressed, period end of sentence, fuck that noise. Will take any of their pop music era collections set to a slideshow of ex-girlfriends over that bummer slog and regard the film as unwatchable. Especially the "rooftop concert", which I've always found embarrassing both in terms of concept and execution. The cops were right to shut them down. And at least make sure your guitars are in tune first guys, unless giving me a spilled bongwater seed-popping headache just by hearing it was the purpose. Hell, I even hate "I Me Mine" ;[
Updated: I like "Blue Jay Way" more, content switched.
Which took work, as of the Four I was always a “George Man” while growing up, idolizing Harrison’s aura of quiet mystery & dark spiritual introspection. George's comparatively offbeat songs were always the high points of listening to Beatles albums in the same way Roger Taylor's songs were my favorites on the Queen albums. They were different and so was I. But have come to see the genius of Ringo Starr as a growed up human being, and would single Ringo out as the only one of the four who maintained his sense of fun right up to the end. Which probably came during “The White Album” ... Once Ringo got sick of it they were doomed no matter who’s agenda better fit the need to announce a break-up. He only came back to finish up what they’d collectively started out of love for playing music with them. Whenever Ringo gets to sing it’s also an event, though none of his cuts made my favorite twenty because they’re not. And that’s showbiz.
So, My Favorite Twenty Beatles Songs in Descending Order of Preference:
*20) Tomorrow Never Knows
6) Hey Bulldog
8) Glass Onion
11) Paperback Writer
12) Lovely Rita
13) I’m Down
(Yeah I know it's a cover. They did a lot of them early on and this is the only one I ever gave a damn about.)
15) Blue Jay Way
16) Penny Lane
17) Day Tripper
*20) Tomorrow Never Knows
Cover version by art-punk supergroup 801, with Brian Eno on vox + devices.
21) Cheese & Onions (The Rutles)
What use is great art if you can't take the stuffing out of it when in the mood.
And speaking of messing with people's heads ...