Yeah, I thought long and hard about it but I couldn’t eliminate any of these 11 songs. So this is actually The Top Eleven Songs by The Beatles. A quick thought on “Revolution”: did you remember seeing that underrated tribute to John Lennon where Stone Temple Pilots performed this song. They did a really good job.
10. Helter Skelter
The first punk rock tune? The beginning of heavy metal? Certainly these claims have been made about one of Charles Manson’s favorite songs. But only one thing is true: “Helter Skelter” is an anomaly. The Beatles never made a song remotely like it, that’s for sure. However, I think there’s a lot of factors that go into the creation of a genre, and it’s hard to pin something like that down to a single song. With that said, this tune seriously rocks. (Also, if you haven’t already, seek out the Danger Mouse mashup of Jay-z’s “99 Problems” and “Helter Skelter”. It’s better than the original Rick Rubin produced hit and that’s saying a lot.)
9. A Hard Day’s Night
I’m not one of those guys who will only be including stuff after ‘Rubber Soul’. Anyone who thinks that The Beatles didn’t start making “relevant” music until after this point is completely lost. I’ve left out some of the really early, super-pop gems like “She Loves Me” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” but that’s not because I don’t appreciate those tunes. This is a ‘Top Ten’ list and we’re talking about The Beatles. It’s not easy. My favorite part of “A Hard Day’s Night”: the “feeling you holding me tight, tight, yeah” part that leads back to the chorus. Killer.
8. Penny Lane
Perhaps the pinnacle of The Beatles’ career occurred when they released the double A-side single of “Penny Lane”/(No. 7 on this list) a few months before unleashing what many consider their ultimate masterpiece, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. The single epitomized what made the Beatles so great: the melodic sweetness of “Penny Lane” and the experimental beauty ofÃ¢Â?Â¦
7. Strawberry Fields Forever
Is this John Lennon’s greatest composition? A lot of people think so (“I Am the Walrus” gets some consideration as well). The great debate, of course, is who was better, McCartney or Lennon? I hate this question. It’s like the Manny Ramirez/David Ortiz debate. You can’t really take one out of the equation lest you want to considerably weaken the entire team.
Another “early” selection, there’s something about “Help!” that has always resonated with me. Is there a more desperate sounding pop song? It’s a song about growing up and realizing that you can’t get through life all by yourself. The Beatles were larger than life, but what made them legendary was their ability to write songs that people could relate to.
5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
The first of two George tunes, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” always had an apocalyptic vibe, in my head at least. George Harrison, without a doubt, still does not get the credit he deserves. This song sounds like a funeral dirge, sonically, until we get to the “I don’t know why” part: the perfect compliment to the evil riffing, maddeningly awesome chord progression and sick piano that opens this piece.
4. We Can Work It Out
Okay, this is my favorite song from the so-called “early” period. (NOTE: I hate differentiating like this, but it only seems fair because so many people separate The Beatles’ career into pre and post ‘Rubber Soul’ periods.) There’s only one other time when the Lennon/McCartney dynamic shines this bright on the same song (No. 2 on this list). I love the lyrics; love the melodyÃ¢Â?Â¦ it’s around this time on the list when all of these songs could make a Top Ten of All Time list, and not just a Beatles list.
The second George song on this list and perhaps the most beautiful love song in the Beatles catalogue is “Something”. Harrison had an uncanny ability to transform songs to another level by writing bridges that were more engaging than any other part of the tune (i.e., the “You’re asking me, will my love grow” part). I hate to plug solo stuff in the middle of a Beatles list, but if you’re a fan, check out George’s solo work if you haven’t already.
2. A Day in the Life
This composition routinely tops Best Beatles Songs lists, and that’s why I have it at No. 2. It’s basically a Lennon tune with a McCartney ditty sandwiched in the middle, not to overly simplify it or anything. The best compliment I can give this song, or any song for that matter, is that I never switch the channel when it comes on the radio (you remember radio right?)
1. In My Life
If there was a better song written in the 20th century than I haven’t heard it yet. In a few hundred years, people will look at the Beatles output and it will be this song that rises to the top. Hell, it already sounds older and more “classic” than most of their other stuff. It’s like they stole a traditional and added the simple perfection of that six-note guitar riff. It’s too good, my favorite Beatles song: “In My Life”.