A few days ago Gene McCaffrey posted a list of his top 10 favorite Beatles’ songs. In the next few days each of the other contributors to Rock Remnants will be posting theirs. Here’s mine.
Please Please Me
When the Beatles first arrived in the US, radio seemed to be playing only 3 songs — I Want to Hold Your Hand, She Loves You and Please Please Me. Please Please Me is my favorite of the Big 3 that introduced me to The Beatles and changed my life. Really.
There’s A Place
It’s all about the vocal harmony. Man, these guys could sing! (And not just John and Paul — George could hold his own too.) The harmonies they created are beautiful and There’s A Place is a wonderful example.
What You’re Doing
A terrific rocker with a cool arrangement that demonstrated the band’s continual development. The drum intro, the chanted first word on each line of the verse, the syncopated rhythm guitar — all perfect for the song. Oh yeah, don’t forget the honky tonk piano behind George’s guitar solo.
This song kicks butt. Again, they got me at the intro. I love the way The Beatles were using tambourine during this period of their recording history. The 16th notes lead to a rattlesnake shake that is emphasized by a perfectly placed drum roll and cymbal splash. I makes you want to get up and move.
Run For Your Life
John famously had a mean streak and this is him at his worst. “I’d rather see you dead little girl, than to be with another man…” More tambourine and harmony, but add in acoustic guitar and a country flavored solo.
For No One
Paul wrote a trio of songs that were in a very similar style both lyrically and musically — Eleanor Rigby, She’s Leaving Home and For No One. For No One is the most beautiful. Each tells a story accompanied by an arrangement with classical influences. In For No One this is accomplished with a French horn solo that is repeated later in the song as a counter melody to Paul’s vocal. It’s beautiful.
With A Little Help From My Friends
Paul spent hours and hours alone in the studio working on his bass parts to the Sgt Pepper’s set. It shows on this song. It’s a great song that Joe Cocker interpreted superbly, but it’s on my list for Paul’s clever bass part.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
This is George at his finest. It’s such a beautifully written song. Most people point out Clapton’s guitar playing as the anchor to the song and it is terrific. But there’s a demo version where George plays it (essentially) solo — just voice and guitar. If you listen to that, you hear just how well the song stands on its own. (And there’s an extra verse not heard on the White Album version too.)
Here Comes the Sun
It’s the perfect pop song. What more needs to be said to defend a choice like this.
I’ve Got a Feeling
As everyone now knows, the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team didn’t really exist. Aside from some very early songs (The One After 909) and a few where one wrote the verses and the other contributed a chorus or bridge (We Can Work It Out, A Day In the Life), the boys wrote songs independently. I’ve Got a Feeling is another example of a true collaboration — the combination of three unfinished songs.
And that’s how I choose to end my list.