A few Beatle-related personal factoids for you:

*I think I knew who Paul McCartney and John Lennon were individually before I knew who the Beatles were collectively. I remember first being cognizant of Paul around 1980, when “Coming Up” was a hit. I obviously found out who John was shortly after: first via “Double Fantasy” and then via his murder. It must have been a couple months later when I saw “Yellow Submarine” on TV and either put together the fact that John and Paul were in a group together (with two other guys) or someone mentioned it to me.

*I first really discovered The Beatles’ music back in 5th grade. Hmm, it might have been 6th. Nope, it was 5th. At any rate, I had a teacher named Mr. Duffy who was the coolest. He had the musical version of Trivial Pursuit and we used to play it in class. He even let me bring him a cassette and recorded “Rubber Soul” onto it. To this day, I have no clue how I was able to listen to it (my folks wouldn’t allow me to listen to music of my own in the house…another story for another therapist), but I was immediately enraptured.

*The first Beatles tape I bought was a compilation called “Rock & Roll Music”. Several of the songs that I mention below were on this compilation, as well as “Dizzy Miss Lizzie” and a couple of other songs I can’t remember.

*”Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to qualitative value of Beatles albums. In my opinion, #1=”Revolver”, #2=”Abbey Road” and #3=”Rubber Soul”.

*I’m not a huge fan of pre-“Rubber Soul” Beatles. I think most of their initial singles are sort of throwaway. I’d probably feel differently if I was actually around in the Sixties.

*I fancy myself to be more of a “John” type, but in actuality, I’m probably somewhere between “Paul” and “George”.

Here’s what I would fill my 79 minutes of Beatles disc with…(and I only mention the running time, because otherwise, some idiot is gonna be like “How come he has so many songs on one CD?”


1) “Two of Us” (from “Let it Be”, 1970)- Despite all the acrimony that had surrounded the band by the time “Let it Be” was recorded and released, this song radiates warmth and fraternal love. I can picture John and Paul sitting in a room,singing this song solely to one another. “You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out of here”? Pure poetry.

2) “Birthday” (from “The Beatles”, 1968)- Because it’s better than the traditional “Happy Birthday” song and is in a reasonably dead heat with Stevie’s “Happy Birthday”. I had this sung to me (and my MHW cohort GG) at a karaoke bar in Washington DC some years ago. Fun stuff.

3) “Drive My Car” (from “Rubber Soul”, 1965)- If my girlfriend decided that when she became rich and famous that I could be her driver, I think I’d be a bit insulted. Wouldn’t you?

4) “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La Da” (from “The Beatles”, 1968)- No one did “silly” like The Beatles. Paul probably wrote this song in five minutes, but the easygoing ska-esque groove and the joy of the femme background vocals turn this song into a classic-although I know there are a lot of Beatles fans out there who would beg to differ.

5) “Can’t Buy Me Love” (from “A Hard Day’s Night”, 1964)- I’m not a huge fan of “early” Beatles, but you can’t deny the tunefulness (and the message) behind this #1 smash (which led the charts during the week that The Beatles owned every position in the Top Five).

6) “Help!” (from “Help!”, 1965)- “Help!” remains the only one of the Beatles movies that I’ve actually seen as an adult,and my retention of it isn’t great, since when I saw it I was two days past major oral surgery and was trying to entertain two weekend houseguests. The thing that really sticks about the early stuff is the energy. This song is pretty damn caffeinated.

7) “We Can Work it Out” (single only, 1965)- More evidence of Paul McCartney as a master tunesmith. The middle portion (“life is very short…”) is a change of pace that somehow fits right in with the rest of the song. This, like most Beatles songs, has a couple of excellent cover versions. Stevie Wonder hit the Top 20 with it in 1970 and Chaka Khan opened her “What’cha Gonna Do For Me?” album with a version of this song.

8) “You Won’t See Me” (from “Rubber Soul”, 1965)- No, I’ve never heard Anne Murray’s version of this song (but I’ll YouTube it once I’m done with this article). I’m starting to sound like a broken record-the key here is that this song is so damn tuneful. The melody sticks itself in your head and doesn’t detach itself. Were those actual female background vocalists or was it just the fabs exercising their right to falsetto?

9) “Taxman” (from “Rubber Soul”, 1965)- You know, if I was rich and the government was taking 50% (or more) of my income, I’d probably be pissed too. This was one of George’s finest moments as a songwriter (and one of, if not his FIRST great moment as a songwriter). I love the fact that when you listen to this on headphones, the instruments come in on one channel while George’s vocal comes in on the other.

10) “Something” (from “Abbey Road”, 1969)- Well, let’s see, it’s a beautiful love song that was inspired by one of my favorite songs (“Something in the Way She Moves”) by one of my favorite artists (James Taylor). I think George might have gotten the better of ol’ JT this time around.

11) “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” (from “Help”, 1965)- Because every little kid loves a song where the word “hey!” is screamed just before the chorus. One great thing about The Beatles’ music is that it has an appeal for ages 8-80 without pandering to anyone. It’s not a quality a lot of artists have. Another song with an excellent cover version. Thank you, Eddie Vedder.

12) “Don’t Let Me Down”(with Billy Preston, B-side of “Get Back”, 1969)- The Fabs at their most soulful, with an anguished vocal from John, some fantastic harmonies and some smooth organ from your second favorite gap-toothed brother (right behind the person writing this column…right?)

13) “Come Together” (from “Abbey Road”, 1969)- You’re probably expecting me to say something about Michael Jackson’s cover version, right? Well, this is probably one time The King of Pop should have left well enough alone. John nails the ominous shuffle of this song so well that no one (not even Aerosmith) could ever do this song justice.

14) “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight” (from “Abbey Road, 1969)-From tender ballad to borderline football chant back to tender ballad, it’s still my favorite part of “Abbey Road”.

15) “Blackbird”- (from “Abbey Road”, 1969)The epitome of simplicity. The definition of “pretty”. No one did ’em like Paul.

16) “Eleanor Rigby”- (from “Revolver”, 1966) “aughhhhh look at all the lonely people!”. After this song, it wasn’t farfetched to think Macca might have a career as a classical composer. Oh, wait, didn’t he write an oratorio? Never mind…string quartet aside, this is certainly one of the more striking Beatles songs from a lyrical standpoint.

17) “Here Comes the Sun” (from “Abbey Road”, 1969)- This song reminds me of two of my closest friends (who happen to be related) who picked up guitars one Sunday afternoon and reinforced the fact that this is one of the most singularly beautiful songs ever recorded. Harrison was a little hippy-dippy, yeah, but you could tell he meant every word of it.

18) “Get Back” (with Billy Preston, from “Let it Be”, 1970)- Unlike his fairly unobtrusive performance on “Don’t Let Me Down”, Billy Preston’s organ is front and center on this song, which also features some cool chugging guitar.

19) “Hey Bulldog” (from “Yellow Submarine, 1969)- More goofy fun from The Beatles, with a nasty piano riff providing the ear candy here.

20) “Helter Skelter” (from “The Beatles”, 1968)- The Beatles do metal!! Rawr!! Loud guitars!! Screaming!! “I’ve got blisters on me fingahs!!” (clang)

21) “Got to Get You Into My Life” (from “Revolver”, 1966)- The Fabs pull a horn section on board for one of their brightest sounding songs (which lent itself perfectly to an Earth, Wind & Fire cover a decade later). This was the Beatles’ nod to soul music, and remains one of their sunniest songs.

22) “Revolution 1” (from “The Beatles”, 1968)- I’m obviously not old enough to relate to the politics of the Sixties, but the contrast of John’s optimistic lyrics and his snotty, almost snarling delivery probably provides a realistic snapshot of the general mood amongst young folks during that time. Right?

23) “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (from “Abbey Road”, 1969)- It’s all about the guitars of Harrison and Clapton here. I’d heard rumors over the past couple of years about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame performance where Prince delivered a face-melting solo on this song, but never saw it until I was checking out the Wikipedia entry for this song. Joined by Tom Petty and George’s son Dhani, Holy Mother of God, this is awesome. Hang around for the beginning of Prince’s solo at about the 2:30 mark. I’m fucking gobsmacked by this.


24) “A Day in the Life” (from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, 1967): We here at Musichelpweb do not condone the intake of illegal drugs, but have you ever listened to this song while stoned? Stone sober, it’s a trip, but man, take a couple of puffs, throw this song on and you will leave your body. Just saying.

25) “Hello Goodbye” (from “Magical Mystery Tour”, 1967)- Ha! Faked you guys out! You thought “A Day in the Life” was the end, didn’t ya? Well, “Hello Goodbye” is another one of the Beatles’ most upbeat songs, with simple lyrics (actually, bordering on infantile) and a melody that you just can’t shake.

26) “The End” (from “Abbey Road”, 1969)- “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”. Truer words were never spoken or sung.

…Sounds like a good way to end this to me. What did I miss?