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New commenter Tasmin writes:
“I was curious on your take on lists? Specifically, Top 100 Beatles songs? The Beatles Channel has been playing a special this weekend, where listeners voted for their top 100 songs — here are the top 5:
1) A Day in the Life
2) In My Life
3) Hey Jude
4) Abbey Road Medley, from Sun King through The End
5) While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
In general, I’m not much for lists — they give undue weight to what can only be stochastic opinion. I for sure don’t think lists represent the best or greatest of anything. And (if I might be so bold), one of the points of Dullblog ‘way back when was to begin applying a different kind of thinking to the topic, something a bit more interesting than the Rolling Stone Top X of All Time.
What they are best at is representing a level of sentimental attachment among the (I say this lovingly) lumpen fandom. In the 70s, “Hey Jude” was perennially at the top of K-SHE’s “Beatles Weekend” or whatever they called it back then. The idea that a song as bizarre and un-pop as “A Day in the Life” would be #1, or “In My Life” (dig that rockin’ fake harpsichord, Madame) would be #2 was incomprehensible. Both were considered fine entries in the Beatles’ catalog, but they weren’t anything near their best songs. “Hey Jude,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Help!” — these were the biggies. In the UK, “She Loves You” was always on the list, because that was when the Beatles first grabbed and squeezed the British heart.
It was only after Lennon’s murder that both “Life” songs rocketed to the top… for a lot of reasons, none of them having to do with the music. “In My Life” suddenly reached heights of irony and depths of melancholy; and since Lennon was the martyred genius of the group, his magnum opus had to be the group’s best song, right?
As the years have passed, we have not missed Lennon less (can you imagine what he’d say about Trump?), McCartney continues to commit the unforgivable (in pop culture) sin of living happily ever after, and the average age of Beatles fans has grown steady older; and so the revised lists remain much as they were in 1981. (George does better, now that he’s dead, too.) Of course Rolling Stone ranked “A Day In The Life” the Beatles’ best. Not to be outdone, MOJO Magazine, which I genuinely like, lost its freakin’ mind and named “In My Life” the best song of all time in 2000.
All that having been said, I think lists are harmless fun — a phrase I seem to be using a lot lately. So here are mine, as of this moment:
- Tomorrow Never Knows
- The Medley (from “Golden Slumbers” onward)
- Getting Better
- You Can’t Do That
- While My Guitar Gently Weeps
And yours? Put ’em in the comments.
I always loved the guitar sound of ‘I should have known better’ and than the train cage imagery of the band in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and U have this immortal song in my memories.
The well-praised ‘A Day In The Life’ maybe the current fascination for a lot of dedicated followers of Beatles’ fashion. Who would grab a guitar and play this song to himself, his/her loved one or friends, and let’s be serious for a second, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ is a better song and musically more experimental surprising and can be covered by good rockbands. I remember Phil Collins’ version of ‘Face Value’ and Phil Manzanera’s 801 Live performance of the song, with Brian Eno’s vocals, which sound better than John’s, or go to the Las Vegas show ‘LOVE’ and here how ‘Within You and Without You’ are combined with ‘TNK’ – just amazing, and then there is the performance of TNK by my own little rock band who makes a wild and violent version out of it, using Ringo’s driving drum pattern as the motor of the song. Of course the way John wrote this slower than mid tempo typical lazy John Lennon song, shows he was not nearly the rocker, his dedicated follower the his holiness proclaimed he was.
I always found ‘For No One’ the strange foreign beauty I would like to fall in love with. I know the pain involved in such a love, thus I prefer ‘Eleanor Rigby’, not because Klein told the world John wrote it, which he didn’t. Passion in the songs or performance in The Beatles canon are for me represented in ‘Julia’, which made me cry then, and still can today, but even more so ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ with a brilliant vocal that John almost equals in ‘Mother’ on his first real solo-album.
The beauty of ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ is not only the tenderness in the Paul’s voice, the gorgeous melody, but definitely the honest revelation in his definitely not third-person song-story. Later on he showed in the long-lasting relationship with Linda how he meant it, deeply… ‘Here There and Everywhere’ and ‘Don’t let Me Down’ Arte the ultimate very personal love songs by Paul and John in the Beatles canon. The beauty of ‘Here There and Everywhere’ is surpassed by the positive beauty of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ which I heard on New Year’s Eve of 1969 on an utterly brilliant sounding sound system – it got deep inside me and has never left me, and what a grace, to see on Spotify it is the most listened to song from the Beatles, by far.
here’s my Top 5, if the list becomes more than five songs, just imagine some songs cannot be separated and are a medley – really it’s only in your head:
Don’t Let Me Down
Here Comes the Sun
Tomorrow Never Knows
All My Loving
Long Tall Sally
Thanks for your imput Michael! I figured you weren’t a fan of that kind of list, based on reading your blogs. Also, the topics and tone of the blogs here, are more scholarly and thoughtful than many other Beatles sites.
So thanks again for replying!
I would be interested in the median age of those who responded to the survey. I know it
was on Facebook, which I am not a member of. I have nephews in their 20’s who love
The Beatles, as do a lot of younger people.
Would they rate Helter Skelter higher than I would? Do those of us in our 50’s like the older songs ( All my Loving, She Loves You, etc) better? It would be interesting to know.
One of the neat things about the program was, it was hosted by Peter Asher. Peter was a member of Peter and Gordon, who had a big hit with ‘A World Without Love’ written by Paul and John. He was also the brother of Jane Asher, Paul’s girlfriend for most of the 60’s. Anyway, he had an interesting perspective on the songs, and stories about some of them. (I’m sure you all know who Peter is).
I love ‘A Day in the Life’. It has always been one of my favorite songs. I love Johns haunting vocals, the orchestral build up, Paul’s middle eight, and the piano crescendo at the end. I would have voted it #1 as well.
I say this as someone who loved the song prior to Johns death. Although I agree with you Michael, I do think ‘In My Life’ has more meaning for people since his passing.
Here’s my pics:
1) A Day in the Life
2) Hey Jude
3) Here There and Everywhere
4) Norwegian Wood
5) While my Guitar Gently Weeps
Regarding your comment about harmless fun, I think we need it more than ever since
Trump was elected!
Ok I have to add All My Loving, Hard Days Night!!! It’s too hard to pick just 5!!
1. strawberry fields forever
2. you can’t do that
3.. yer blues
4.. i want you (she’s so heavy)
5. within you , without you
6. helter skelter
Yes, You Can’t Do That is a great B-side song that could easily have been an A-side!
I’ve always been fond of “Walrus” and “Strawberry Fields” but lately I’m appreciating the earlier stuff more and more. Songs like “I’ll Get You” (Paul has been doing a great version lately in concert) and “Not A Second Time” and “P.S. I Love You”
Hey just wanted to add that this blogs namesake, ‘Hey Bulldog’ made it to #13.
It’s been on rotation a lot lately. Plus the barking! Haha!!
Stevie Riks is a guy who does imitations of all four Beatles (he does the old man Paul voice), as well as George Martin.
Thanks for posting, that was great! George H was a little too happy though! Ha!
Wow it was hard to come up with five but these are the top five songs that I never skip over. Sexy Sadie
Happiness is a Warm Gun
You’re Going to Lose that Girl
I know you only asked for five but I have to add some honorable mentions!
Rain, Tomorrow Never Knows, I’m So Tired, I’m Only Sleeping, Sergeant Pepper, Sergeant Pepper Reprise, Fixing a Hole, Lovely Rita and Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. I know that’s 14 but I just couldn’t do five, I’m sorry!
Forgot the mention Not a Second Time, All I’ve Got to Do, It Won’t Be Long, I’m Looking Through You, Polyethylene Pam, and Mean Mr. Mustard. Ok that makes 20. No top five for me. Not when it comes to the Beatles. Never!
I agree Linda! It was hard for me to pick just 5. There are just too many damn good songs! I picked songs that have been favorites since the beginning of my fandom. In fact I left one out, Ticket To Ride!
This thread inspired me to make a Beatles favorites playlist on my phone. Don’t know why I never did before. Also I forgot to add I Am the Walrus, I’ll Be Back and I Feel Fine. There are four others from the Beatles For Sale album too, plus Let it Be and I’ve Got a Feeling but I’ll stop now before I end up hijacking this thread!
In no particular order, and the list will probably be different tomorrow…
Tomorrow Never Knows
Ticket to Ride
Here Comes the Sun
I Want to Hold Your Hand
These are the best, as chosen by Science.
1. A Day in the Life
2. Eleanor Rigby
4. Let It Be (my favorite Beatle song)
5. Hey Jude (my second-favorite Beatle song)
6. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
7. I Am the Walrus
8. Can’t Buy Me Love
10. I Should Have Known Better
11. Dear Prudence
12. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
13. She Loves You
I’ve been crazy about The Beatles since I first heard She Loves You in 1964. When Sgt. Pepper came out, A Day In The Life was a little bit frightening, but I came to absolutely love and appreciate the lyrics, the music, and the orchestration. So that’s been my #1 for a very long time.
1. A Day In The Life
2. Abbey Road Medley, side two
3. You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) (I love the quirkiness and humor of this one, and the music ain’t bad either!)
4. Not A Second Time
5. Oh! Darling
This and I think any best of Beatles list for real fans changes from week to week, even from day to day. It’s like choosing your favorite child – kind of impossible. But I’d stick with #1 and #2 at least as my personal faves.
I love “You Know My Name…”. It is so fun and crazy! It reminds me of Paul and John in the early days, their comedy bits on stage, intermixed with the music. I am reading Tune In right now, so those days are in my mind.
The song makes me think of the great chemistry between John and Paul!
Way, way too hard to come up with a top five for the Beatles. They have so many great songs that even the ones I think I’ll skip sound brilliant when they come on.
You stated above that “What they are best at is representing a level of sentimental attachment among the (I say this lovingly) lumpen fandom” regarding lists. I agree with that, but people who voted on this specific list are subscribers to The Beatles Channel. Meaning, they are obviously serious Beatles fans. The survey was conducted for a specific set of people, not just random people on the street, who may or may not know the Beatles catalogue. The people who participated in this are paying to listen to the channel.
My point is, I think this list is interesting because it’s by serious Beatle fans. Yes, it’s still for fun, and not scientific, but more intriguing to me, because if reflects what people like me are thinking.
Oh wow–hard to limit to just 5, and of course the list changes all the time… Here’s my current 5:
Across the Universe
A Day in the Life
Strawberry Fields Forever
A top 10 would be a little easier, but not much. By the way , I’m glad that the top 5 from last weekend were listed, as I kept missing that part of the show. Looking at my list, it appears that I’m a big John fan girl, but that isn’t really true–some of George and Paul’s songs just barely missed the cut.
the big Jahn fan girl part in you puts in focus ‘This Boy’ which is such a wonderful piece of harmony singing The Beatles were very good at, the soft Lennon side, that I cherish. There are more: Yes It Is and Because from Abbey Road. I forgot these for my Top 5, or maybe they are just to simple sentimental beautiful singing. The Beatles were so very very good at. Thx for reminding me of these little ditties.
I’m in my late 30s, so I can’t pretend to know what the teens/early 20s are into, but Beatles fandom seems to be a perennial spring.
There was a surprisingly large amount of Beatles kids in my high school in the 1990s, and then there was another jump in the first part of the millennium with the Rock Band game.
Now I’m seeing a lot of Beatles fan art and fanfiction, and I’m imagining many if not most visitors and contributors to those sites are high school and college age.
I think you are right about younger kids being into the Beatles. A good friend of mines son just started college, and loves the Beatles. He is also into vinyl, and just bought a turntable. My nephew is also in college and collects vinyl and has a nice turntable. He loves the Beatles and music from the 60’s. He has told me that his generation has crappy music, and that my generation (I’m 53) had the best music.
I think 20 somethings and up are discovering the Beatles and loving them. As Beatle fans know, their music is
timeless. Great music lives forever!! John, Paul, George and Ringo live on!
I’ve probably said this before but my kids, ages 21 and 25 also love the Beatles as do all of their friends. Good music is timeless. They hear it too.
Many decades ago I heard Elton John say in an interview he timed the long fade out of his song “Ticking” to match the long fade out of “A Day In The Life”.
This is a little off topic, but I read this article this morning and thought you guys would like to read it.
It’s regarding Paul’s reputation, and how journalists have come around to respecting him, and his contributions to The Beatles. Good news!
Wow, Tasmin, interesting article, this is indeed worth a separate thread. Currently I am writing an essay on ‘The Beatles and the Historians’ an utterly brilliant book by Erin Torkelson Weber who deals with this issue of a changing Beatles-story, a changing perspective on the history and dynamics in the group, though six decades now. Including the big discussion-points about the Beatles. The article you refer to deals with that too.
By the way I think appreciation of Paul today is nothing new, this is the case over the last decade or so. Actually the current wave of publicity is because he is visiting the East Coast, and people jump the bandwagon of publicity and that’s nice, but it is also nothing more than that. It is not as if something is happening in America, or just the East Coast, the same is happening in the whole wide world…
What I find disturbing in the article is the complete distortion of the meaning of what people have said about Paul’s craftsmanship and creativity. Take for example this passage:
” “I’m in awe of McCartney,” Dylan told Rolling Stone in 2007. “He’s about the only one that I’m in awe of. He can do it all. And he’s never let up. He’s got the gift for melody, he’s got the gift for rhythm, he can play any instrument. … He’s just so damn effortless. I just wish he’d quit.” Such sentiments were not so common a generation ago…”
Among critics and musicians the appreciation expressed by Dylan was already quite common, the problem is that the conversation still circles around old themes. There is nothing current about this topic but it its historically relevant, and if we keep on talking and writing about the same old cliches it says a lot about the fans, and the way we see them, but is completely unrelated to the reality of the band, or Paul McCartney today. Because fans have been coming in droves, for almost three decades now. The depreciation of McCartney by a little elite of folks like Cohn, Wenger, Hilburn and Norman to just name a few is utterly silly and shameful for them, cause not even just in hindsight it shows their proper journalistic craft suffered from religious fandom, and for guys like Hilburn and Wenner it still does today.
Check out the following publication and you will see, this is almost an old discussion…
Schenk, Joshua (2010). Two of Us – Two Is the Magic Number. Published in Slate: September 24th 2010. Accessed July 2017: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/creative_pairs/features/2010/two_of_us/inside_the_lennonmccartney_connection_part_3.html
Anyway, what a great link you provided… I will have a lot of fun reading, rereading and analysing it. And I hope you will order ‘The Beatles and The Historians’ by Erin Torkelson Weber as soon as the money flow allows you to do so, it is completely worth it. For a start you may wanna check out her blog too: https://beatlebioreview.wordpress.com
I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I am not as much of a scholar as some of you, so I loved your insights. I was in my 20’s in the 80’s, probably Paul’s worst decade. He got hammered by the critics, rightly so in some instances. However, full disclosure, I did like Say Say Say!!! Ha!!
I watched that video on MTV over and over!!
So, I was happy to read the article and discover Dylan’s feelings, which I didn’t know. And Max Weinbergs!
I have noticed Paul has been getting better reviews by the critics the last decade or so, as you said.
What I am hoping is, the new crop of Beatles fans won’t follow the old narrative of “John is this, Paul is that”. Lewisohns books, and other legitimate books, will hopefully become the “bibles” of Beatles history.
Look how time, as the article states, has changed perceptions of Paul vs John. It is now becoming Paul AND John! Thank God! Maybe those “themes” will change.
I have read Schenks article, and really enjoyed it. I will also order ‘The Beatles and the Historians’, so thanks for that!! It sounds great!
And good luck on your essay!
You liked the comment from Dylan? Well here is the complete passage as I have it on my computer:
“Lennon, to this day, it’s hard to find a singer better than Lennon was, or than McCartney was and still is. I’m in awe of McCartney. He’s about the only one that I’m in awe of. He can do it all. And he’s never let up. He’s got the gift for melody, he’s got the gift for rhythm, he can play any instrument. He can scream and shout as good as anyone, and he can sing a ballad as good as anyone. And his melodies are effortless, that’s what you have to be in awe of…. he’s just so damn effortless. I just wish he’d quit (laughs). Everything that comes out of his mouth is just framed in melody.”
Beckerman, did not verify the original article, bad journalism that is, he abused a quote by Dylan in a discussion about McCartney, somewhat vs Lennon, whereas the real statement by Dylan seems to include both of them and give Macca additional musical praise.
Your wish: ‘What I am hoping is, the new crop of Beatles fans won’t follow the old narrative of “John is this, Paul is that”.’ is so true. Most of the Beatles fans are still doing that ‘John is this and Paul is that’ shuffle, they are still living that dream – those magic circles, it seems they are forever tied to this early seventies narrative. Tasmin get The Beatles and the Historians’ and it is likely you will never talk the same about the Fab Four, and all these books.
[…] commenter Rob raved over it in this comment, I was reminded that I’ve been meaning to hip you all to something for a while. Longtime […]
Hey Michael, here are my top five.
1. Strawberry Fields Forever – If I could only listen to one Beatle song, SFF is the one. It has it all and therefore by itself can sustain my soul. It is colored in every shading of emotion and psyche. It intellectually excites me, too. I was 14 years old when SSF was released. Along with the promo film, this song made me self-declare that rules no longer applied to me. From that moment on, I have always done exactly what seemed right to my inner compass (be true to thine self!) I was most lucky to find a well-paying career that valued my permanent ‘out of box’ vision which goes back to my age 14 declaration. I deeply and personally understand the contemplation and indecision of John’s tender and at times quite sad lyrics. They speak to a conflicted duality in his soul. Yes and No, Hot and Cold, Confidence and Indecision (“…but it all works out”.) Strawberry Fields Forever is the trip of a lifetime (or of many lifetimes) set to music. It is the first among many masterworks from the Beatles. I hope to hear this music as I leave this life someday. This piece is consistent with my own personal spiritual cosmology.
TIE: 2a. I Am the Walrus – This is such a massive shot of pure sub-consciously derived surrealism. It is so beautifully nutty, and delightfully crazy. No one will ever create anything that even remotely resembles this. It stands as a unique creation within the pantheon of music history. The background singers are the cherry on this musical crazy cake. Have any of them even spoken of this recording session? This piece is also consistent with my personal spiritual cosmology (“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”) It is all very Buddhist.
TIE: 2b. Tomorrow Never Knows – Talk about a piece of music that swung open the doors leading to the infinite multiverse! Like George’s All Things Must Pass, John derived this song from the book Psychedelic Prayers by Dr. Timothy Leary (I was reading this at age 14.) I remember listening to this the first time I took LSD in 1968. This music still thrills me half a century later.
TIE 4a. You Never Give Me Your Money – This song is one that has played repeatedly in my soul over the years. I deeply understand the sense of bitter resignation to ones fates in Paul’s lyrics. This song is his manifesto. Paul quits the Beatles in this song and launches Wings (this is virtually the first Wings song.) I have more times that I care to remember had to “step on the gas and wipe that tear away.” Musically, this song is beautiful and interesting; with textures and changes that forever captivate my musical imagination. I never tire of it. This is a hidden Beatles crown jewel of a song.
4b. Getting Better – I tend to be a naturally smiley type of person on the outside, with a dark gallows humor underside. This song perfectly captures this duality. Chipper “It’s getting better all the time” with an apprehensive “It can’t get no worse” tacked on just to keep things real. Musically, this song kicks ass. It is powerful, exciting, and highly inventive in its arrangement. The outtakes of this song that appeared this year with the Sgt Pepper release only increased my love of the song. The Beatles as a band absolutely COOK on this one. This is another song that I never tire of hearing. Psychotic mass murdered Joseph Stalin in the horrific 1930’s USSR used to address his captive nation during which he said that things were “Getting Better.” At the time, Stalin was presiding over his psychosis induced gruesome state extermination of 20+ millions of his fellow citizens. Thank god that Trump is merely a run of the mill sociopath. Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovitch (I like his music as much as I like the Beatles) reportedly raised his glass during very private gatherings to this toast, “Here’s to things NOT getting better!” This story also reminds me of the song and its dark “It can’t get no worse” underside.
Other songs I never tire of
I Want to Hold Your Hand – The more I hear this, the more dazzled I am at its sheer brilliance.
Helter Skelter – I have personally listed to this 1000’s of times. It never gets old.
Hey Jude – No song better represents the lofty peek of the best liberal instincts of the 1960’s. This song will never grow old. Never.
I Want You (She’s So Heavy) – Like 4a, this is John’s final Beatles musical manifesto. The ending gives you the sense of infinity. It goes on and on until the end of time and space.
Magical Mystery Tour, Ticket to Ride, Within You Without You, Yer Blues, Good Morning Good Morning, When I Get Home, Tax Man, Rain, etc, etc, etc.
This is the kind of comment that makes me love this blog. Thanks, Ben!
Great comment. Oh You Never Give Me Your Money! Another favorite. *sigh* It’s easier to make a top five LEAST favorite Beatles songs. That would be easier.
And here are the results from SiriusXM http://blog.siriusxm.com/2017/09/07/the-top-100-beatles-songs-according-to-siriusxm-listeners/ :
15. NORWEGIAN WOOD
14. I AM THE WALRUS
13. HEY BULLDOG
11. ELEANOR RIGBY
9. LET IT BE
7. STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER
6. HERE COMES THE SUN
5. WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS
4. ABBEY ROAD MEDLEY (SUN KING THROUGH THE END)
3. HEY JUDE
2. IN MY LIFE
1. A DAY IN THE LIFE
Thanks for posting this Rob! I actually wrote
down the whole 100 while I was listening. I’m glad they posted it.
Did you have any thoughts about the list? Personally, I was surprised Within You Without You was higher than Lady Madonna and You Can’t Do That. I’ve never been a fan of that song. I always skipped it when I listened to Sgt. Pepper. Maybe it’s like Michael said, George does better since he passed away.
One interesting thing I’ve learned since listening to the channel, is how many people have In My Life played at their weddings, and
want it played at their funerals. It does hold
a lot of meaning for people.
‘Within You Without You’ is probably very popular because in the Giles Martin Re-mix it sounds gorgeous, and aas outtake it is a real piece which has been created by George much more than most fans could have conceived so far. Of course experts knew this. The song has been performed live this anniversary year in various places. I have experienced it here in Holland. It made me long for the piece ‘Arpan’, which Ravi Shankar wrote for the Concert for George after he died.
Lady Madonna is a nice swinging piece of music, but it isn’t even rock ‘n roll or rock music.
I am quite surprised by In My Life, I love the melody, I love the memories… at weddings and funerals… OMG poor Beatles… Of course the songs don’t hold any meaning, fans and listeners project meaning on to art and in this case Beatles’ music.
That’s cool you’re in Holland! Hello from America! We’re a little screwed up right now, but most of us are good, decent people, I promise!!
I have been thinking of getting the new Re-mix of Pepper. I have heard it’s fantastic. Maybe I’ll have a new appreciation for the song.
That’s interesting you said Lady Madonna isn’t rock and roll, when clearly Within You Without You isn’t either. Of course many Beatles songs cannot be catagorized.
How on Earth nobody picks Nowhere Man?
Last year at this time, this article came out, with the top 5 songs of the Beatles, voted on by listeners of The Beatles Channel on Sirius XM.
They did it again this year, and interestingly, the top 5 songs are the same, except 2 switched positions.
1. A Day in the Life
2. In My Life
3. Hey Jude
4. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
5. Abbey Road Medley
Last year, the Medley was # 4, and Guitar was #5.
I didn’t get to vote last year, but did this year. Guess those top 5 are pretty solid!
1. A Day in the Life
2. Tomorrow never Knows
3. Strawberry Fields
4. Penny Lane
BTW I saw (from a distance) Paul McCartney in Brisbane late last year on Dec 9. He played ‘Being for the benefit of Mr Kite’ as though it were his own song but didn’t mention John. Not in in the script…Didn’t like all the nationalistic flag waving at the end. Not very Beatlesque.
Hey Jude I simply can’t listen to any more. I know it’s a great song. I’ve just heard it too many times. It’s like filling a glass, and then the glass is full and water spills all over the table and floor.
Other songs I can’t listen to all the way through anymore:
In My Life
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
I’ll leave them to a newer generation to listen to until they too grow tired of them.