This just might be the biggest task ever; probably one that shouldn’t even be attempted. Here it goes; here is what I consider to be the Beatles’ best ever:
10. Happiness Is A Warm Gun –
While I adore the White Album in its entirety, there was too much good material to choose from. “Happiness Is A Warm Gun,” with its double entendre and boyish charm pretty much sums up much of the album. The lyrics, John’s delivery, and the wonderfully boyish refrain make me want to listen to it over and over again.
9. I Saw Her Standing There –
“I Saw Her Standing There” represents the Beatles transition from pop to rock. Their “yeah, yeah, yeah” days were numbered when creating lyrics like “she was just 17, if you know what I mean.” Again, the energy, as with most of the middle and later Beatles catalog, set it apart.
8. Strawberry Fields Forever –
Whenever I think about or listen to “Strawberry Fields Forever,” I always pair it with “Penny Lane.” They go together like peanut butter and jelly. In fact, they were released together as a single. Both offer a nostalgic look at their childhoods in Liverpool.
7. Penny Lane –
While “Strawberry Fields Forever” concentrates on a specific place from John Lennon’s childhood, Paul’s “Penny Lane” attempts to describe several businesses from their childhood Liverpool – a whole street as a matter of fact. Again, they go together extremely well.
6. I’m Only Sleeping –
The whole sentiment of this song just oozes laziness. They weren’t afraid to say what they really wanted: A little rest amongst all of the craziness of Beatlemania. Oh yeah, it has a wonderful tune and great lyrics too. One of the best off of “Revolver.”
5. Help!/Ticket to Ride – (Tie)
In my mind, these two go together as well. They are in the same style and both hail from the album and movie “Help!.” Both rock and have incredibly catchy lyrics. Oh, and did I mention the great music? It makes you understand how Beatlemania came to be.
4. We Can Work It Out –
The lyrics and the message of this particular song make it priceless. The original version is great, but Paul McCartney’s “Unplugged” version is something else. He even screws up the lyrics at first! I just wish that Yoko would take the lyrics to heart, but that’s another story.
3. Here Comes The Sun –
This song has ton of personal meaning for me; lots of memories of friends and places from my past. Again, it offers the total package: good music, good lyrics, and wonderful vocals.
2. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band –
If any one song could be said to have created the concept album, this would be it. Not only did the album begin with it, it includes a reprised, shortened version towards the end of the album. In fact, the first time I listened to the album end to end, the Pepper reprise blew me away. As a child of the ’80s, I almost instantly recognized the sound. A lot of ’80s music takes it cues from the Pepper reprise.
1. A Day In The Life –
There is simply no definition for this song. It ends one of the most groundbreaking albums in all of pop music, and arguably one of the best albums from a band in a league all of its own. It tells such a ridiculous story and conjures up such imagery, all while smoothly going from one musical piece to another. It is all stitched together in a perfect little package. The song writing technique was then used to create some of the Beatles most memorable songs, and later, Paul McCartney used it to great effect in Wings as well.
Surpassing them all would have to be “In My Life.” That particular song sums up the collective work that makes up the Beatles catalog. It is the beginning and the end of their work. It all started with love and friendship and it all ended, more or less, with love and friendship. From everything I’ve read and listened to over the years (keep in mind that I was born after John Lennon died), they loved each other as brothers. If someone completely unfamiliar with any of the Beatles music asked me where to begin (I don’t know how such a person could exist, but let’s pretend), I would have to say with “In My Life.” Then, I would give he or she this list, imperfect as it may be.