I’ve already forgotten why, but a few days ago, I started listening to every Beatles song, in order of its final recording date (I have about a dozen to go). That gave me the idea for this week’s Music Friday: one song from each of the twelve albums, plus one from Magical Mystery Tour and one from Past Masters. These are my favorites of those albums (at least as of the time I wrote this).
“There’s a Place” (Please Please Me). “Twist and Shout” would be the obvious choice, and a great one. But the thing I love best about the early Beatles is the harmonies, and they are lovely here.
“Money (That’s What I Want)” (With the Beatles). Not sure what I like more, John’s wrenching vocal, or the demented backup singing by Paul and George.
“Tell Me Why” (A Hard Day’s Night). A happier version of the above … John’s lead vocal and the backup harmonies win the day again. This is my favorite Beatles album.
“I’m a Loser” (Beatles for Sale). A pattern is developing here: John sings lead, backup harmonies are great. (Yes, John is my favorite Beatle.)
“Help!” (Help!). Yep, another John song. These last two songs in particular show how John’s lyrics were often more emotionally distressed than the music that accompanied them.
“I’m Down” (Past Masters). The flip-side of the “Help!” single, and only available in that format for many years. I owned that 45, because “I’m Down” is my favorite Paul song. In my mind, this roughly marks the end of the rock and roll Beatles, as opposed to the more arty Beatles. The split is largely bogus, of course, but it has always bothered me that so many people assume the best Beatles are later Beatles.
“In My Life” (Rubber Soul). This is why it’s silly to say one Beatles period was better than another. This is more “adult” than “I’m Down”, and it’s certainly more introspective. It’s also beautiful.
“And Your Bird Can Sing” (Revolver). I’ve always thought Revolver was overrated, but there’s no quibbling with this one, and the dual guitars of George and Paul. I have no idea what the lyrics are about.
“A Day in the Life” (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). Again, why piss and moan about how this doesn’t “rock” the way “There’s a Place” does. It’s a remarkable recording.
“It’s All Too Much” (Yellow Submarine). Yes, George gets a song here, too. I wish I’d managed to work a Ringo song in, as well.
“I Am the Walrus” (Magical Mystery Tour). I’ve always thought John sounded angry for such nonsensical lyrics.
“Yer Blues” (The Beatles). I never understood why people would think this was a parody. John doesn’t sound like he’s joking.
“I’ve Got a Feeling” (Let It Be). Great Paul vocals, and even though it’s a bunch of songs squished into one, it sounds right. They sound like they could play together forever.
Side Two medley (Abbey Road). What a way to go out.