favorite beatles songs
  • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 09, 2009

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Picking your favorite Beatles song is like picking your favorite child out of a thousand children. Impossible! But we're going to try anyway.

The world went into brief hypnosis/shock this weekend, with the imminent release of The Beatles entire catalogue digitally remastered and bundled as one box set. This week, the same day as the box sets worldwide release, we celebrate the ridiculous amount of rejuvenated Beatle-mania with our own staff picks of favorite Beatle tunes. Sifting through the extensive library of tunes crafted by one of rock n' rolls most influential bands is a scary thought, especially when trying to rate them on some sort sort of quality scale. 'Top 5' felt a bit stuffy for an act spanning decades of musical innovation, much less a band so near and dear to so many. So, without further adieu, the Baeble editorial staff fondly recall their top Beatles tracks:

1. "Eleanor Rigby" (Revolver)




With it's thematic loneliness and musings on death, "Rigby" was one of the first to be a darker Beatles tune. The song was mostly penned by McCartney. It continued the spiral of the Beatles from pop princes to kings of psychadelic confusion, topping charts despite it's ambiguity. The recording was very unconventional, featuring an orchestral arrangement by George Martin, and none of the Beatles playing instruments (George and John provided backup harmonies while Paul sang). Still the melody is sticky and haunting, not to mention Paul's cryptic and captivating lyrics. "Rigby," as well as the album it was a part of, marks a shift in the Beatles interests, one that would culminate in their transformation into an experimental studio group. -joe puglisi

2. "A Day In The Life" (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)



Pack your bags ladies and gentlemen. Sgt. Pepper's stunning finale is an epic pairing of two independently authored compositions that take the listener on a strange, yet wonderful trip, guided by none other than John and Paul. The first is a balladeering beauty of a verse; Lennon's endearing recollection of some sad news, rumored to be inspired by the death of close friend and heir to the Guinness fortune, Tara Browne. Browne died at the age of 21 in a traffic accident. McCartney's contribution, on the other hand, is something else entirely. A jumpy bit of percolating, Beatles' pop, Paul penned his piece about a common worker forced by the monotony of a routine day to flee into the ether of his mind. Pairing the two pieces together would require both a 24 bar bridge and a 40 piece orchestra, swishing and swirling with a heady, psychedelic classicism. "A Day in the Life" would all end in one magnificent crescendo; a final E-Major chord held for over forty seconds. In fact, Sgt. Pepper's final chord is so loud, listeners can pick up on the rustle of studio papers and the squeaking of a chair as it rings true. The result of all this is a song that's stunningly complex at its' core (no wonder it took 34 hours to track), yet light, vivid, and absolutely wondrous at its' surface. A classic amongst classics if ever there was one. - David Pitz




3. "I've Just Seen A Face" (Help!)




"I've Just Seen a Face" has always been one of those McCartney gems that is often overlooked (it has the unfortunate position of preceding the most recorded song of all time, "Yesterday", on the 1965 album Help!). The song opens with a few bars of pleasant finger picking then swings into an up tempo shuffle about that post-love-at-first-sight moment with a giddy manic flutter. The folksy melody and quick firing lyrics keep "I've Just Seen a Face" fresh and timeless. Not to mention McCartney has cited it as one of his favorite Beatles' songs. -Amelia Trask


4. "Carry That Weight" (Revolver)




During a holiday in Liverpool, Paul McCartney was flipping through an old piano exercise book and stumbled onto a lullaby by Thomas Dekker entitled "Cradle Song". Since he was unable to read music at the time, McCartney penned his own version and called it "Golden Slumbers". The track is the emotional climax of the famous Abbey Road medley and the lyrics are especially poignant considering it was recorded during The Beatles' turbulent last year together with Lennon and McCartney recording separately. The song opens with a gentle piano, strings, and bass line like a lullaby but transitions beautifully to a powerful drum introduction and McCartney's graveled wails then bleeds into the epic "Carry That Weight". - Amelia Trask



5. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (I Want To Hold Your Hand/I Saw Her Standing There [Single])




Lauded by many as the "face" that launced a thousand (British) ships to invade America, Paul and John hit one out of the park with this first concentrated attempt to jump the pond. Although producer George Martin said otherwise, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" seemed to be written specifically to capture a disinterested American market. Technical aspects aside, the single captured an incredible surge of attention for the four, and helped build the bridge that would lead them to mainstream success in America. Like many of their early tunes, it's not overtly complicated lyrically or melodically, but has an incredulous balance of catchy, predictable, spontaneous, and epic. The phrase "I Want To Hold Your Hand" will forever be referential in the collective conscious, and not just in America. - joe puglisi

LAST MINUTE ENTRY: Least Favorite Beatles Song: Rock Band: The Beatles




OK, so it isn't a song. But we're particularly peeved about this creepy concept of playing through the entire Beatles catalog/livelihood while watching computer simulations of the fab four. The creators spent some serious time capturing the facial and behavioral nuances of each Beatle, and now you can purchase this fantasy of rock instead of buying your own guitar and trying to write your own White Album. This is obviously to save the children from themselves trying to become drug addled rock legends, or to let older generations live out long standing dreams of being a Beatle. Either way, it's generating some critics.

Jack White, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman are among the musicians to bad-mouth the ever-popular series of music games (Rock Band and Guitar Hero, claiming the genre to be robbing America's youth of the option of actually learning how to play real music. The companies behind these games have fought back with statistics about the games actually increasing the likelihood of a child subsequently purchasing their own guitar, especially when Rock Band is sold in Guitar Center or near musical instruments in an electronics store (USA Today).

We're not totally prepared to offer scientific evidence either way, but our guts are saying that there is something inherently wrong with one of the worlds most influential bands, the boys from Liverpool who've inspired arguably millions to listen to and create music the last half of the century are now simulated robots, neatly packaged into the musical anti-christ and being sold for cash, supposedly heralding the end of creativity. Sounds meta, like a David Lynch movie or something. Or Beatles vs. Mecha-Beatles.

Then again, people were saying this about recorded music decades ago. The claim was that the record would replace collecting sheet music (which before phonorecords and MP3s was how you 'imported' new songs into your home), and instead of always learning a favorite tune on piano or guitar, you'd just collect the audio, and never engage with the music itself. All these years later, and the proliferation of the record seems to be doing just fine for inspiring bigger and better songs, not to mention learning a favorite tune. Remember what Bryan Wilson said about Rubber Soul? That it inspired him to write Pet Sounds?

Be that as it may, Rock Band: The Beatles is NOT the same as the creation of the record, or the MP3, or player pianos (OK, it's kind of close to a player piano). Besides, it just might be the worst thing to happen to music since the Beatles broke up. But that is just our opinion. -joe puglisi


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