by Ed Yourdon
Saying that you like the Beatles says virtually nothing about you. Saying you’re obsessed with the Beatles says a little more. I have liked the Beatles enough to border on obsession, but I realize that, while all of their stuff is good, some of it is better than others. Here is my bottom 5 list of good songs by the Beatles.
5) “When I Get Home” — A Hard Day’s Night
This song features a lot of Beatles signature moves of the sort that made people scream at concerts: the wham-bang opening with the chorus, huge falsetto harmonies, jangling guitar riffage… But it all falls a bit flat without a good hook. This song is the annoying shadow of the Beatles, taking all of their daring and willingness to surprise and jar, but without much of their melodic inspiration to flesh it out.
4) “Glass Onion” — The Beatles
This song has a great angular guitar part, but is very bitter. It purports to be a sorta sequel to ‘I Am The Walrus’, which is the song that was responsible for kicking off my obsessive period with the Beatles. It replaces that songs fun, psychadelic bounce with something very acerbic and jaded, though.
3) “Lovely Rita” — Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
This song, in contrast, is incredibly bouncy. I like it, but the bounce doesn’t seem to have as much direction as other bouncy songs like ‘Obla Di’ or ‘Good Day, Sunshine’.
2) “All Together Now” — Yellow Submarine
This song is the closest thing the Beatles wrote to a bad song. It sounds like this took McCartney all of 17 seconds to write. The most sinister aspect is that its melody is the titan of all earworms, and is very difficult to get out of your head. Also, it’s a very ironic song in a way that seems a bit unfriendly, like McCartney set out to write a sing-along that no one would feel like singing along to. For that reason, though, it’s pretty clever and I can’t say it’s a bad song.
1) “Run For Your Life” — Rubber Soul
OK, I know, this song is a good song, ‘edgy’. It’s like about jealousy, and darkness, and killing someone, and that’s really daring for a pop band. Still, it’s hard for me to explain why I have trouble with this song. You can see what they were going for: a catchy, breezy Beatles tune that is completely out of line with the sinister and desperate lyrics. Something about the chirpy way they sing it, though, just doesn’t fully scan. Like, most notably, the plucky elongated ‘duh’ at the end of the word ‘end’ doesn’t sound like a sociopath savoring the idea of his next victims suffering, or like some Othello venting angst. It sounds like a clever idea from the boys who wrote ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand.’ In this context, though, it seems a bit off. Still, it’s an unsettling, arresting song, and further proof that, even with their lesser known material, the Beatles were incapable of writing a bad song.
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