Top Ten Songs by the Beatles

Please Please Me

First released in January of 1963 as a follow up to their hit single Love Me Do, Please Please Me is widely considered to be the boys’ first #1 in the UK, although many argue that the highest spot it ever really reached was #2. John took inspiration for this song from Roy Orbison ballads and the original version of the song had John aiming for that glacial, dramatic, almost operatic Orbison sound. Producer George Martin heard potential in the song, and after suggesting to the boys that they make the song snappier and add the touch of John’s harmonica playing, he famously predicted: “Gentlemen, you’ve just recorded your first number one.”

I Want To Hold Your Hand

This was the first song by the Beatles to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart that ushered the British Invasion into the United States. This was singly the Beatles’ best-selling record of all time.

I Feel Fine

The opening riff of this song was famously the result of John’s experimentation with feedback, and the Beatles became the first group to record this effect on vinyl. It became their Christmas number one in 1964.

Yesterday

The most widely covered Beatles song famously came to Paul in a dream, and he ended up asking everyone around where they’d heard it before. Before he could properly pen the lyrics to the song, he played around with the title and called it “Scrambled Eggs”.

In My Life

John started out with the words to this song as a poem reminiscent of his childhood, with reference to his good friend Stuart Sutcliffe, an early member of the Beatles who died in 1962. The piano solo was done by George Martin, who actually played it at half the speed and subsequently sped it up in the mix to match the tempo of the rest of the song.

I Am the Walrus

This is one of the most famous songs from the Beatles’ experiments with drugs and psychedelia. It features intensive wordplay from John, including some words that reeled off of rhymes he used to recite as a child. He later on deliberately added a verse of nonsensical lyrics after receiving a letter from a pupil telling him how their teacher would make them analyze Beatles lyrics in class. Excerpts from King Lear can be sporadically heard in some parts of the song, and this was another ingenious event of fortuity. The play was being broadcast on the radio at the time, and was simply added into the final mix.

All You Need Is Love

This track was originally written for the BBC broadcast “Our World”, the first ever global satellite television linkup that was broadcast in over 26 countries and tuned into by some 350 million. It became one of the Beatles’ most lauded songs and its quintessential anthem for 1967’s Summer of Love, coming across strong with a simple message: “All you need is love”. In July 2005, a handwritten manuscript of the lyrics to the song, salvaged from the boys’ live broadcast in 1967, sold at an auction in London for $1 million.

A Day In The Life

This was released in the Sgt. Pepper album and is a classic example of avant-garde composition by the boys. The work is a juxtaposition of two separate songs by Paul and John, and Paul’s middle eight came in as a suggestion when John couldn’t quite work something out. An alarm clock was originally used to mark the end of song sections but was eventually retained in the final mix. Producer George Martin brought in a 40-piece orchestra to perform the distinct crescendo – -a huge wall of sound that rose up to a cacophonous explosion. At the end of the record was another of John’s pioneering tricks. A high-pitched sound audible only to dogs, as well as some incomprehensible snippets of Beatles chatter was infinitely looped, and it took an entire night to record this bit!

Hey Jude

Paul wrote this song for John’s little boy Julian, and originally called it ‘Hey Jules’. John recently left his first wife Cynthia and their son and Paul explained that he thought up the song as a way of telling him “‘Hey Jules’, which was Julian, ‘don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better. Hey, try and deal with this terrible thing.’ I knew it was not going to be easy for him. I always feel sorry for kids in divorce…”. It was later modified to “Hey Jude” because it was easier to pronounce. With nine weeks at number one, it went on to become the Beatles’ longest running chart-topper in America. Interestingly – -if you listen close enough – -you can hear John shout “fuckin ‘ell” after playing a wrong chord before the 3-minute mark. It was never taken out of the final edit.

Something

This is George’s seminal pop song off their last album Abbey Road and his only A-side and American chart-topper while with the Beatles. Originally inspired by James Taylor’s Something In The Way She Moves, George was later quoted to have thought of Ray Charles – -and not his wife Patti – -while writing the song. This is the second most-covered Beatles song after yesterday.

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