On Wednesday, we talked about the first half of my favorite twenty songs by the Beatles. Today we get into my top ten. Without further ado, here we go.
10. Helter Skelter, The Beatles
Basically the heaviest song the band ever recorded, “Helter Skelter” finds it's spot at number ten on the countdown. The in your face style was something the band rarely did, but man oh man I wish we had seen more often. It's said that the band did this as good ole' fuck you to the Who, and was an attempt to prove they could make something so rough and inaccessible. I'd say they succeeded admirably. Seeing this live is especially heavy. Paul employs amazing players these days, and they're able to evoke the exact emotion needed for this truly classic song. It's unfortunate that a song from a mostly peaceful, loving band will always be tied into the tragedy involving a piece of shit mass murderer(The Manson Families encounter with Sharon Tate and her friends), but this is the ultimate case of you can't control who loves your music.
9. Here Comes the Sun, Abbey Road
This song will always have a very special place in my heart. This one however, is in tune with me forever because of it's importance to the best day of my life. That day is my wedding day. My wife, my mother, and father in law shared our dance to this totally immaculate song. The chord progression here is quite serendipitous, and really brings out warm loving feelings. Lennon's voice and the accompanying background vocals also do their job to near perfect precision. Another great example of non-linear storytelling, I feel like this song is the story of a relationship waking up again to find love where anger and resentment has been for a long time.
8. Get Back, Let it Be
The guitar opening and the underlining bass here are really what draws you into the bad ass mid tempo song. Not that it's a bad thing, but the song has already felt to me like an underground type track. Not in the way that it's bad, but the production and and warming sound make it feel like it was literally made by a band underground. You could even think the term “Get Back” is about a band trying to retain their former greatness, which the Beatles had to do because they never lost it.
7. Hey Jude, Released as a Single
This song is remarkably well known, and to be honest, it should be. Sadly, one of the bands best songs for me has always been intertwined with the incredibly shitty things Lennon did in his life. The song to me has always been the bands apology and good luck to Julian Lennon for having such a shitty father figure. When it comes down to brass tacks though, the lyrics, harmonies, and piano playing are just fucking unreal. It's a testament to the power of music that this song is still sung at high volumes all over the world by many different nationalities and people from varying walks of life. I mean the “na na na na” chant is emotional enough, but with the rest of the song it's propelled to another level.
6. Something, Abbey Road
The story told by Paul at Bonnaroo about this song is enough to leave even a bitter man crying. Essentially this was written on George's Ukulele and when he died, the instrument was mailed to Paul. McCartney then proceeded to play the track with George's instrument. Needless to say, it was very emotional and beautiful. The song though is on another wave length entirely. It's one of their best slow burning songs, and it's one of my all time favorite by the band. It's the perfect and most realistic love song for my money. It's not all perfect, but love isn't a perfect, sound thing. When Lennon bellows “I don't know, I don't know” over and over again, you feel the pain and sadness of lose. The guitar solo is amazing too. Quite simply, it's a love song that doesn't sugar coat the variety of emotions you go through when in that state.
5. A Day in the Life, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club
Many consider this their crown jewel, but while it's perfect song, it stops here at number 5. Anyway, the combination of what seems to me to be two songs is brilliant, and really delivers. You get the happiness of knowing you overcame huge adversity, but then you're brought down to the bottom again by the ominous orchestral elements. Seriously, it's so tight and jarring in that passage between Lennon's section and McCartney's you can cut the tension with a knife, but let's be honest, they knew what they were doing
And then Paul's turn comes. You feel the busy pace of being late and rushing out of the house, because we've all been there and know how horrible it is. Then after a brief relaxing smoke you delve back into John's last passage, and you're guided to the end of a perfect song on a great album by the floaty voice of Lennon explaining how he'd love to “turn you on.”
4. Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, The End, Abbey Road.
I'm well aware that there are technically more than three parts to this medley, but since these are three tracks played together the one time I've seen a Beatle live I'm using these. “Golden Slumbers” is an effective soothing song, and it's only made better with the honesty that seems ever present in McCartney's voice. It's a wonderful lullaby, and it perfectly starts the multi-tiered song. The song part, “Carry That Weight” has the momentum to move a mountain, and thematically, it does so with ease. The horns are excellent, and the rehashed lyrics add a nice touch to making this a perfect track. Yet again, seeing this live and singing along with eight thousand was profound and something I will never forget. “The End” finds us and is even more kick ass then the previous song, and rockets this song to levels never before realized. The constant drum pace by Starr is balls to the walls awesome, and all in all, every member overplays their hand to exceptionally high standards. The song has few lyrics, but they count for everything. If you aren't aware of the final lyrics of this song, search them out, because it's one of the most perfect sentences ever in music.
3. Eleanor Rigby, Revolver
You might be surprised to see this as number three, but this has been a song dear to my heart since I heard it. The song is the best example of storytelling they ever did. The listener often wonders if the main character is a sympathetic person or not. I still can't decide, even after twenty years of listening. It's an incredibly sad song, but the tale is worth telling. The thought of being “being buried along with her name” resonates with everyone. I often wonder what It would be like to be the only person at a funeral, and obviously it's very dark and dreary. Having said that, it's one of my favorite songs, and its in at number three of my all time favorites by the band.
2. Yesterday, Help!
To this day a song that brings tears to my eyes. It's an uncompromising view of the world, and ultimately that's what makes it more personal and honest. People often feel overwhelmed, neglected, and not good enough. It's the human condition. The guitars add a level of thoughtfulness to the track and in the end it makes more of an impact than if the song had been performed by a full band. Yet again, the slight orchestral part makes a world of difference. You feel the pain of the main character, and you want to help him. But you can't. People make mistakes, and they must figure it out for themselves. The conclusion though, to me at least, is that mistakes are made, and before you can move on and pick up the pieces you have to come to terms with the consequences and resolve to either fix it or move on.
1. Let it Be, Let it Be
My grandmother hated rock music. Hated it. But for some reason anytime I played this for her, she loved it, and would happily sit in the car as it played. That's one of the most prevalent memories I have regarding this song. Like I said at the start of this countdown, everyone has their own favorites from this band, but for my soul, there is no better track ever recorded by this band than “Let It Be.” it's a song about remembrance, understanding,and accepting the things you can't change. The Bonnaroo McCartney show was life changing enough, but hearing thousands of people sing this song, and with the memory of my grandmother fresh in my head, it really did constitute an out of body experience It's the most perfect song among a multitude of perfect songs, and on this day, and most days, it's the best Beatles song I ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Thank you for reading, and listening. See you next week.
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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