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“Dolby’s Top 50 Beatles Songs”

Wow, I never thought I’d live to see the day where I had to defend the Beatles and Bob Dylan, but such is the current state of affairs where simply having an unorthodox opinion is seen (by the haver, that is) as an accomplishment in and of itself. And so I bring you the ridiculous ideas that the Beatles were a “boy band,” or that Bob Dylan was either overly idealistic or just not that good (I’m not counting Bukowski’s Dylan shade-throwing… I just consider him a psychopath albeit an endearing one). Anyway, we are pointedly talking about Elliott Smith’s very favorite band of all time here, and for me personally I just have this memory of walking into the bike shop to this just misanthropic clerk, scowling but affable when I’d bring up the topic of his background music, which was these four blokes from Liverpool. As I’ve mentioned in other spots on this blog, Paul McCartney even wrote songs for Badfinger (as in, like, their BEST songs, to be specific), some of which he was credited for, some of which, in my opinion, he was not. Similarly, Bob Dylan would write certain numbers and just bequeath them to The Band for the latter’s disposal, a topic on which he was hilariously brief and nonchalant, typically, in interviews.
What I hope is before us now us an authoritative celebration of popular music as we know it — something which unifies people under a canopy of sympathy and contentedness, and best of all, irreversibly becomes a tradition in our worlds which is embraced and internalized, something urbane to replace the tired old slavery to the illusion of ownership.

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50 “Tomorrow Never Knows”
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Yes, I am in that awkward age group which is more into its parents’ music than its own, and regarding the Beatles this affinity manifest itself in high school in confluence with any number of illegal hallucinogenic or semi-hallucinogenic substances, so that in tandem with this song’s de facto “trippy” quality veritably raved about by my friends every da** day, I have a hard time leveling my own claim about it, other than that it’s on a great album, it rocks out with some nasty sitar and I’ve never skipped over it.
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49 “Long, Long, Long”
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This is sort of “where the Beatles sidewalk ends,” so to speak: it’s hard to imagine digging too much deeper into their catalogue for a hidden gem, and what a hidden gem this is. It starts with a kinda torpid verse or two, along these lines, before exploding into an undeniably memorable middle-eight section, which would definitely go on to rain proverbial Skittles into the baskets of many, many twee-poppers to come, down the road.
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48 “Flying”
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This here number falls surely into the category of motions that are mentally summoned by music itself, without the help of any lyrics (as the song is instrumental): the rhythm section’s canvas-strokes are smooth and languid, not choppy or bombastic like the way you might have with running, or hockey skating, for that matter (“Sabre Dance”, et. al.)
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47 “Your Mother Should Know”
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Keeping it on the same album (Magical Mystery Tour) the way I sometimes have a tendency to do with these lists, I’ll point now to a song so poppy and regular that in a way it’s a wonder that it wasn’t more commercially popular. Well, it did come on an album along with “Hello, Goodbye,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “I am the Walrus” and “All You Need is Love.”
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46 “Savoy Truffle”
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I of course made the obvious comment about “Flying” that it seems to without lyrics convey impeccably the actual feeling of flying… and in a way the same sort of thing is happening here with “Savoy Truffle” — all the sweet, sticky chord changes and sounds constructing the whole thing like one big ginger bread house. “Savoy Truffle” makes a great ebullient album precursor to “Cry Baby Cry.”
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45 “Glass Onion”
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The White Album, just like the Beatles at large, is a very heterogenous beast, likely to spur a dizzying multitude of opinions from expressed parties at any given time. For instance, I have one friend who randomly names “I’m So Tired” as his favorite song on the Beatles’ 1968 bloated musical blowfish, whereas I LITERALLY go before any others for the rocking gleefulness of “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da.” Still, it’s arguable that to an extent “Glass Onion” is the song (excepting “Revolution 9”) which would have been most unfit on any album OTHER THAN The White Album — psychedelic but textural and full of the type of disjointed, Cubist lyrics which aptly bespeak the band’s newfound influence at this time, Frank Zappa.
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44 “In My Life”
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I just did a review of a horrendous band, Dignan Porch, saying that whereas melody alone is typically enough to warrant musical quality, aside from things like technical skill and emotional integrity, in other words, “In My Life” has a way of proudly illustrating how melody can work in tandem with inherent inspiration to form the composite art of SONGWRITING. “The sage enters every situation full of anxiety,” speaks one old Eastern proverb, “and so is always successful.” Christ, McCartney must have been a basket case before this one. Cheerz.
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43 “Sexy Sadie”
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Allowing for a curious combination of artistic seriousness and thematic vagary (like I don’t REALLY know what this song is about, plus it’s unlikely that any of the Beatles would be experiencing REAL heartbreak of any sort at this point in their careers or lives), we do have here what is definitely a catchy melody which nobody else can claim as truly theirs. What else we have… well, that’s anybody’s guess.
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42 “Because”/“You Never Give Me Your Money”/“Sun King”/“Mean Mr. Mustard”/“Polythene Pam”/“She Came in through the Bathroom Window”/“Golden Slumbers”/“Carry That Weight”/“The End”/“Her Majesty”
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“Sun King” is the segment of the epic Abbey Road side-B medley that seems to get lost in the shuffle, but hoists the flag as probably my favorite of the bunch, a song very similar in both mood and subject matter to The White Album’s “Mother Nature’s Son,” in fact, another favorite. Is that eight little mini-songs together and it’s really not awkward? Really? Really. What is awkward, however, is trying to climb through a bathroom window.
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41 “Don’t Let Me down”
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This is absolutely one of those iconic, supremely recognizable Beatles odes here, but perhaps equally compelling is the story behind it, how it was left off of the original Phil Spector-produced running of Let it Be (to of course surface on the early-‘00s-released Let it Be… Naked), possibly for political reasons. It does appear, after all, to be about Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s girlfriend to whom many ascribe the atrocity of “breaking up the Beatles” (keep in mind “Two of Us” is a love song but was written by McCartney and never met with any controversy, at least of which I know).
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40 “And Your Bird Can Sing”
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I remember this topped the Rolling Stone list among Revolver as the “essential track”: I wouldn’t go that far, but it is a jaunty enough little tune not to be skipped-over, and true to form features some cerebral lyrics from Lennon about what goes around coming around, the type of thing that would eventually materialize as his own brand of “instant karma.”
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39 “Something”
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This is around the time, well, this is PAST the time, when it became hard to tell if vocal overdubs were actual harmonies or just the songwriter’s (in this case George Harrison) own part melted over itself like eight times, the way they did with Lennon’s in “Strawberry Fields Forever.” “Something” happens to be a way better song anyway, more focused and more inspired, and my personal favorite part is the key change, which even handsomely finds a shift in the lyrical topic matter too.
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38 “Rocky Raccoon”
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Showing some serious versatility here, Paul McCartney segues into a bizarre tale of a man who goes by the name of “rocky raccoon,” falls victim to lovelorn bloodlust, nearly dies and then chances back upon religion. What’s interesting here is the religion (in the form of “Gideon’s bible”) keeps literally popping up in the main character’s life, like a change in the weather or a foot cramp. What’s more interesting is that the song had a da** fine melody.
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37 “Blue Jay Way”
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No, that’s not a key change in there. But it is a tempo change AND a meter change, which will make all us simpletons long for the good ol’, guileless days of simple KEY alterations. Just kidding… great song here, and pretty little known, off not so much an underrated album in Magical Mystery Tour as a misunderstood one. But then, most things with “Fool on the Hill” would be misunderstood, I suppose.
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36 “Two of Us”
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Just tonight I was listening to Yo La Tengo’s album May I Sing with Me, which like I WANT to be a really good album overall, since it has two of my favorites “Upside-Down” and “Swing for Life,” but I mean no human being would listen to that nine-minute psycho-fest “Mushroom Cloud of Hiss.” That’s just all there is to it. And all of Yo La Tengo’s successful statements are anthemic. There’s nothing anthemic about the Let it Be opener: it’s got the kind of impossible subtlety and fragility only the Beatles could have mastered, a prowess probably very similar to what Bukowski was talking about when he said that Bach “made so few spiritual mistakes.”
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35 “For No One”
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There are some songs in the world I like, there are some that I hate, and there are some that… he**, I don’t know HOW to feel about ’em. “For No One” is sort of like that song that guys vouch for compulsively, for fear of actually becoming the subject of it. It makes an impression. Nobody would deny that. Is it sadistic? He**, it’s probably not even real. It exists as a metaphysical, artistic paradigm of a man’s fear, crawling up the walls day and night, like doubt, weaving into our psyches, like the very reason we took this life.
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34 “Michelle”
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Boy, in writing about a song this hallowed and traditional I sure wish I could use the copout ploy that Paul McCartney did, of speaking in a bunch of French gibberish! Just kidding… hey I love this song even though my Mom used to sing it to me when I was a little kid.
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33 “She Said She Said”
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The press has a way of falsely signifying all of these lyrical masquerades as if John Lennon is some saint or angel-on-Earth or something (and there’s that talentless a**hole from the Eels who calls him a wife beater, on the other end of the spectrum)… I like to just examine things musically and note the ever-present funky-sounding Revolver guitar and the mystifying way the band has of obliterating your sense of just when exactly a musical phrase is going to END. It could be anywhere, within this tropical miasma of melody.
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32 “Get back”
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At some point in mainstream rock music, the general strategy switched from the “psychedelic” over to the territory of “classic rock.” “Get back,” the last song on the last Beatles album, could be seen as marking the exact point where the Beatles did this, hence perhaps marking their demise, especially given that annoying “prairie beat” Ringo Starr is showcasing here. All this, just when I think I can finally sit back and enjoy some head-knocking grooves to soothe the soul… eh, there’s always 38 Special.
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31 “Yellow Submarine”
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THIS SONG, I decided, is the exact Beatles song which encompasses the particular Beatles-tinged element Battles’ (yes, different band) statement of punching-psychedelia that is “Atlas” — note the zig-zagging but gleeful melodic patterns, as a case in point. Highly recommended as well is the cartoon Beatles film of the same name.
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30 “Piggies”
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I’ve made a somewhat curious point a couple times on this blog that rock and roll, at its core, in fact IS sadness. Along these lines, I don’t think there are many phonier musical acts on the planet than Rage against the Machine (not that they can’t be ENTERTAININGLY phony, provided considerable anger on the part of the listener of course), but just like “Sympathy for the Devil,” which like “Piggies” was released in late 1968 following Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, this White Album mediator in a sense does more LAMENTING than PROTESTING. All of these songs, in a sense, are background music, and all of these songs have a power which hinges on an optimistic, selective or delusional mindset in the part of the listener. It’s good, then, that while George was so scathing, he was also so metaphorical.
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29 “Drive My Car”
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“Drive My Car” opens Rubber Soul in style, there’s no doubt: that signature funky Beatles groove now made both more musically robust and more purposeful compared with the album before, Help!, then to see them unpack a downright STANKY guitar sound for an unassuming but fitting George solo. This is one fun album, with a sense of humor never sharper than on its leadoff.
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28 “A Day in the Life”
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You can tell easily that this song is important by reading the Wikipedia page for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band because over and over they use these mystical qualifiers like “art rock,” “avant-garde” and “psychedelia,” when actually it consists from front to back of mostly regular songs (he** “She’s Leaving Home” is almost obstinately back-a**wards, stylistically speaking), the sonic expeditions coming at the end of the LP. This particular cut, too, unlike most of the album, and the “Sergeant Pepper” idea, is actually the work of John Lennon.
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27 “Within You Without You”
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Ok I know I do this every list, but this here is the point where all these songs are just so dizzyingly good that they tend to pile up on each other, and it inevitably amounts to more four-minute tokens of aural starseed than you’d originally foreseen. “Within You Without You” is the epitomal manifestation in music of doing more with less and grafting a powerful, emotionally LOUD statement with soft, soft sound histrionics. You know it’s textural, too, when even though all you remember from the start is that knotty percussion sound, the first thing you hear when you turn it on is still that incessant, epidemic sitar.
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26 “Come Together”
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This song taught me, when I was at a young age, irreversibly, that life at its core is goofy. Aerosmith could not cover it well, in my opinion, but Gary Clark, Jr. does a blistering rendition, marking one of the many instances of black artists covering this white band (a refreshing transpiration for us honkies, you gotta admit).
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25 “Baby, You’re a Rich Man”
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Somewhat like “Fixing a Hole,” this penultimate Magical Mystery Tour slab seemed to just emanate out of the woodwork as a song that would act as most bands’ finest hour to date, but for the Beatles was just another unassuming album track, in representing such territory also being almost more quintessentially BEATLES, in its own right, than is even possible. The droll lack of anger fermented with the stark pedagogical directness is all there.
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24 “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love away”
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Just another great Beatles song here… one thing notable I guess would be the Liz Phair song outro on “Fantasize” from her underrated album whitechocolatespaceegg where she keeps repeating these words, not in the song’s melody.
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23 “Mother Nature’s Son”
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I’m 34 now. The thought has just dawned on me. I’m too old. I’m just too fu**ing old to be living. To be riding a bike. To be looking at a cat taking in the sun on a couch. To be doing fu**ing anything. There’s just no way around it. There’s just no replacement for smoking weed in your car at 18 and listening to this song after you graduate high school. There’s just no other way to fu**ing do it.
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22 “I Feel Fine”
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This is easily probably one of my favorite tunes on the album 1 (which refreshingly doesn’t necessarily jibe with my favorite-Beatles-songs genus itself, at large), 1 being an “album” which came out around when I graduated h.s. which simply encapsulates “virtually” [1] all the songs that reached number one on the billboards in the United Kingdom OR the United States. One thing you’ll observe is the moderation on the typical power-of-two measure-phrasing you get with the repetitions of the title in the verses, as well as the beautiful background vocals, another lost art in pop.
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21 “Dear Prudence”
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Here is sort of where the Beatles took it one step FURTHER than trippy psychedelia, with a song here so delicate and careful, yet lyrically distinct and full of that epitomal John Lennon throatiness, that the whole thing is carried by a phantom kinetic energy, anyway. Many have tried to cover this song, including the Grateful Dead whom I happen to like, but personally I think it’s uncoverable.
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20 “With a Little Help from My Friends”
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The Beatles taught us all how to live, over and over again. “With a Little Help from My Friends,” which as we know was covered by Woodstock denizen Joe Cocker conducive of The Wonder Years theme music, illustrates that point where they stop just embodying catchy music, the way a foolish song like “Yellow Submarine” might, and open doors into this whole world of behavioral idealism, one which, even if it is cheesy, is still a beacon nonetheless and something for which every band should strive.
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19 “Cry Baby Cry”
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Musique Concrete is defined by Wikipedia as music where “sound entities can often be obscured or appear unconnected to their source cause.” In other words, it’s a technique which very much jibes with the digital age in being essentially a recording of recordings, and so in “Cry Baby Cry” we have what is probably George Martin’s handiwork — weaving together a broader instrumentation that could probably even fit in Abbey Road Studios. And of course, the thing theoretically threatens to devolve into “identity crisis” territory, at least on paper, so it’s reassuring, nay, jilting to da** near the point of the spasmodic, when the obtuse synth gives way to “I am the Walrus”-piano, then a staccatoed piano on top of that, and of course, blues guitar straight out of the “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” a cubist-lyrical epic playing as a hint of a swan song having no true beginning.
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18 “Run for Your Life”
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This song should definitely be a reminder that art isn’t moral — or at least, satire can actually BE fu**ing satire (wow, Imagine that, for Christ’s sake). Rubber Soul is a great, bouncy (see what I did there) album which of course I cannot FULLY speak on, having been born in 1983, but let’s just say it wouldn’t be the same without its bookends, each of which is probably superior to the Revolver fare in those exact slots.
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17 “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
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It’s safe to say that the term “trolling” is about as lame as the actual act of “trolling” (like personally if I make fun of somebody it’s going to be fu**ing intense… I’m not gonna be like a little three-foot guy with purple hair). Nonetheless, here we have, possibly, a case of trolling which is actually cool? Of course, it doesn’t REALLY matter that this album-opener came out in the months immediately following the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and MLK. It’s a great, romping rock and roll song, from whatever vantage point. The Beatles had always been funny, whether they were “crawl(ing) off to sleep in the bath” or glad to be back in the Arctic comforts of the world’s foremost communist power of the time.
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16 “Love You to”
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Bet… you… have no idea what the fu** this song is! This hazy, sitar-addled number appealed buoyantly to my weed-informed high school self (yup, those were the days, before all this employment drug test crap).
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15 “The Word”
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If you’re young enough and you hear this song, you might think it’s actually God coming to you through the speakers. It’s a chorus so good that the verse is actually awkward, though it doesn’t always come across as so. And it should be — it’s humility, finally emanating forth, in the bask of the act being performed. “The Word” appears on Rubber Soul, arguably the Beatles’ first great album, from 1965.
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14 “Across the Universe”
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Ok. I’ll admit it. These “Dolby’s” lists are fu**in’ stupid. And here’s why: “Across the Universe” is like a totally different band from the blokes’ early stuff. Actually, Wikipedia’s got Lennon credited with the lead vocals on both this and “The Word” (props to them for not just listing the “songwriting” accolades, which if the ode was penned by one of the two main guys are always just “Lennon/McCartney”), but God da** if it doesn’t seem like there’s been some spiritual transformation here, and indeed, there is no awkwardness on the stately, gorgeous “Across the Universe.” Fiona Apple does a notable cover version for the 1998 film Pleasantville.
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13 “Let it Be”
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For this song, I had planned on orchestrating some big magnanimous comparison thing between the versions on Let it Be, Let it Be… Naked and 1, but then I started listening to it, the first, original album title track. You can’t analyze this music — it’s beyond us, and to even imagine somebody using a more stylish reference to a Christian divinity in a rock and roll song is unthinkable. I’ve heard it sung in a black church one time.
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12 “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da”
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Hey, the Beatles could rock, too. Sure, they had to call in Eric Clapton in order to do it, but it could get done. This is like that track on disc one of the White Album that sort of evens everything out — it’s sort of marginally less weird than all the other crap on this album, which is to say still pretty loony, but there’s an understated machismo about the purebred groove here the band lays down, which doesn’t need a guitar solo or excessive repetition to rest on. Late-
80s/early-‘90s sit com Life Goes on used it as theme music, some really awful-sounding amateur vocalists stepping in to… kinda get it done.
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11 “The Ballad of John and Yoko”
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And boy, was he right! There are obviously a lot of esoteric things going on with this song, with speculation as to why it wouldn’t have been put on an album in ’69, how this ties in to the delay of the Let it Be material (which was written before the Abbey Road stuff despite the later release date), but at the end of the day it’s just another good rock and roll song that could have been by The Troggs, really. Call it a sort of b-side to “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” but a little more serious, and a little more John-pertinent. It’s the song that broke up the Beatles.
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10 “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”
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As far as I can think of, and this is why I definitively name Rubber Soul as the first great Beatles album, I can’t trace this sense of humor to anything on Help! — the request to sit with no chair around, the crawling off to sleep in the bath, the strange dogmatizing of this seemingly unimportant “Norwegian wood” with which they’re lighting their fire. The Beatles could really often be pretty funny, much like the Grateful Dead (my favorite might be their answer to whether Ringo was the best drummer in the world, of “He’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles). The whole thing is so natural, archetypal and strangely jibing with their simple pop perfection that it’s easy to forget the awesome sitar part here unleashed by George. Ahem, no sitar on Help!
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9 “Hello, Goodbye”
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Here again, this song tends to slightly fade into the background of our psyches, because being featured on 1 it would never really be what you’d call a “dark horse” pick. One friend marveled before this track that “the Beatles have so many different styles.” I guess, but what stood out for me is that it’s just another benchmark of perfect melody and manifold backing vocals. And is this like the “trippy” Beatles radio hit? Like a response to “Good Vibrations”? Again, I just keep coming back to the melody.
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8 “I am the Walrus”
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In my “Cry Baby Cry” blurb I mention that it has “I am the Walrus” piano — that impossibly thick, chugging-type pub sound, but upon another listen to this album what stands out is that good God these are STRINGS opening the song, and they sound cool! Strings NEVER sound cool. They even have an inherently psychedelic identity to them, the way George Martin somehow stretched them out and made them fuzzy and rough (I seriously doubt this song needed a remaster… Magical Mystery Tour has always been the band’s masterpiece from a production standpoint). And then the lyrical imagery is a favorite of mine too, all the poker-faced cops, the ennui of everyday life.
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7 “Here Comes the Sun”
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Even though to my knowledge there’s never been a REALLY great cover of this song done (probably because of all the moxie with which the band originally pulls it off, of course) [2], “Here Comes the Sun” is an incredible Beatles song because it’s just so PLIABLE. It’s like, how to listen to our “Here Comes the Sun” today? There are so many ways. It’s one of those songs that people will just bust into in everyday life, when they see the sun coming out, and also happens to be a favorite of plebeian acoustic-guitar wankers trying to impress girls. With this much outside commentary floating around this iconic musical creation we all know and love, I won’t even express any of my own sentiment on it. I’ll leave that to you.
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6 “Blackbird”
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Really, Dionne Farris’ cover of this song is so ripe and full of feeling that it’s hard for me to discuss it at all without said version in the foreground. It’s a bluesy, slide-guitar rendition, perhaps one of the best songs of the whole 1990s decade, in which she captures every bit of that urgency, that intensity of life down to the minutest details within certain moments, as it applies to all creation, even animals. “Blackbird” is one of two great number-11 tracks on the White Album, along with disc two’s “Cry Baby Cry.”
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5 “We Can Work it out”
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Ok, at SOME point I had to get back to basics. Direct, crisp pop songs are what put the Beatles on the map, and sure this song is simple and radio-able, but a couple things in particular set it apart and make it quintessentially the work of our favorite blokes — one, the entirely impossible-to-pin-down phrasing sense, which seems to toggle almost sadistically between a six-bar format and a four-bar (for when the title is repeated), and then, of course, the undeniably charismatic knack their lyrics have for just entirely shirking the romantic, and grafting these odes that can unite people in any times, work or play. And so work becomes play, if we’re lucky enough.
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4 “Hey Jude”
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Something I didn’t know about this song until recently is that it’s in fact very late-era: issued in 1968, though like “The Ballad of John and Yoko” not appearing on any of their long-players at all, also, like “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” very light and full of a certain jollity, and so less fitting in with the often tense, calamity-commenting themes on their full albums such as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the White Album. Green Day does an entirely regrettable cover for their live shows. I once sang this song at karaoke with a friend and, I kid you not, actually picked up chicks as a direct result. But I could never cash in on hookups earned from karaoke. I’d never be able to live with myself.
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3 “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
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I’m an albums guy, despite the fact that I make these foolish lists, so in the back of my mind is always an element of context, with a lil’ expedition like this. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” works in tandem with the strange and intimidating “Happiness is a Warm Gun” on the White Album, forming a sort of tag-team of crushing, unforgettable melancholy, although refreshingly with the Beatles such a thing can take every bit the shape of outward human sympathy (“I don’t know how you were inverted / No one alerted you”) as personal pathos. There’s a legend that it’s based on a Lorca poem. There’s a legend that they brought in Eric Clapton for the solo [3]. He**, there’s a legend that Paul died too. The main thing to remember is that George wrote it and sang it, and then we listened like a gajillion times.
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2 “Nowhere Man”
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I have NO IDEA why I like this song so much. I just do.
It’s not complex. There’s no Eric Clapton in it. There’s no sitar. No annoying dude in Birkenstocks has ever played it on an acoustic guitar on the front steps of a dorm, at least not to me. It’s just a perfect song, for a general sort of reason. And it’s not even like I think it’s ABOUT ME. That’s not it, really.
Look, I’ll point to its inclusion in Yellow Submarine. Yellow Submarine is a cartoon piece of cinema based directly on the Beatles, utilizing the Beatles’ actual music throughout, unaltered, notably to include the other wise unreleased gem of “Hey Bulldog.” On nowhere in the film’s soundtrack is “Nowhere Man” included. Nevertheless, this is the exact terminology they apply to one of the film’s fictional characters, a sort of jealous, spiny young ginger-bread-cookie-looking bloke who can’t seem to find his way in life, has lost his mojo, so to speak. I think it’s poignant that the Beatles took this long to make such a statement cinematically, also that they’d choose to search three years back in their own catalogue in order to potentiate such a cinematic statement, ex post facto.
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1 “Penny Lane”
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With “Penny Lane,” an innovative single included on the Magical Mystery Tour album which is not so much great as a whole as featuring of a couple outer-reaching songs, the Beatles came full circle in a sense, with a little anthem that was gentle and cajoling enough to basically play in a dentist’s office, but also appealing from a critic’s standpoint, what with its key change leading into the chorus, the recorder solo lodged in an unorthodox portion (where the second half of the verse would normally go), and the directionless, almost stream-of-consciousness lyrics which imply the complexity and intensity of everyday life (even beneath “suburban skies, for that matter”), and the will to shed obsession, or fixation, so as more to live in the moment. “Penny Lane” is an actual district in Liverpool, which per story is whereabouts John’s mother was raised.
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[1] According to Wikipedia “the album features virtually every number one single the band achieved in the United Kingdom and the United States from 1962 to 1970.”
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[2] It also takes a brisk pace, whereas every single great cover of a Beatles song I’ve noticed, from Phish’s “Cry Baby Cry” to Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends” to (my favorite) Dionne Farris’ “Blackbird,” is slowed down from the original.
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[3] Amusingly, Wikipedia lists Clapton in personnel as “lead guitar (uncredited).” What a villainous guitar solo!

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