Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Ten Favorite Songs From The Beatles: 50 Years In America

On February 9, 1964, the world of music saw a drastic turning point when The Beatles made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, attracting millions of fans. The group would continue to remain active in adapting to the times and creating a phenomenon until finally breaking up in 1970. Nevertheless, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr would become household names for fifty years and counting. Not only did these four men establish themselves as members of arguably (and in my mind) the greatest group that rock and roll has ever seen, but they did the same as solo figures. While John Lennon was shot to death in 1980 and George Harrison lost a battle to cancer in 2001, their legacies continue to live on and the careers of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr continue.

The Beatles not only fit in to their era, but also played a huge role in shaping it. The British Invasion consisted of several artists (The Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits, Eric Burdon & The Animals, The Fortunes, etc.), but The Beatles represent the rise of such a crucial era. The later sixties became one of psychedelia, inspired by rebellion and how resorting to substances such as marijuana and LSD became popular. Several hits from The Fab Four fed into the idea of going on trips, "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" are just a few examples. By the time the group was beginning to see strain, the songs were also inspired by peace and good value, as oppose to love and relationships in the fashion that several groups engaged (Between you{the reader}and I, I feel much of this was inspired by John Lennon marrying Yoko Ono, which many could rightfully argue led to the collapse of the group). No matter what kind of music they were presented with, The Beatles was always spectacular.

Like I have done on plenty of occasions, I will name my ten favorite hits from the Fab Four and include YouTube videos that you are welcome to listen to when you finish reading this post. Being the honest person I believe to be, this top ten in this particular order is not a list of consistency. My favorite songs change with my mood. One day, one particular song may seek my interest, while on the other day, another may do the same.

We shall begin...

#10: Paperback Writer (1966)- If you know me well enough, this selection should not come as a shock whatsoever. I'm a English major who wants to use my degree to become a writer. This song has my name written all over it and my interests as well. With Paul McCartney on lead vocals, the song features plenty of situations of a humble little writer trying to submit their work, hoping the subject would be interested. One piece is described as "dirty" (perhaps erotic), while another was "over a thousand pages, give or take a few." The Beatles rarely fail to deliver when it comes to coming up with something clever.

#9: A Day in the Life (1967)- Inspired by the multiple news headlines during the time (this was the Vietnam era and The Beatles were in the middle of their peace and love era), "A Day in the Life" is the hit that is often overlooked, but to hardcore Beatles fan is often declared their #1. If my friend, Ari, was compiling a list, I would put my wagers on the fact that this would be on the very top. Clocking in at just over five minutes, "A Day in the Life" features both Lennon and McCartney on lead, Lennon engaging in the more psychedelic vocals (such as the "I read the news today") segment, while McCartney actually sings about the day in the life of an ordinary civilian. The most mesmerizing part of the song, however, is the use of the orchestra to deliver intensity before ending on a powerful note.

#8: Come Together (1969)- The direction that this song is heading is one that would require longer hours of intense studying of the lyrics, but the beat of the song and the execution that Lennon gives as he performs it makes it one of those enjoyable songs nevertheless. Perhaps the ideas of tripping plus the situations involving each of the members could be brought into play, but when most of us listen to this song, we just think of the randomly bizarre lyrics, no matter what they're supposed to mean. "Shooting Coca-Cola" sticks out the most and actually brought forth a lawsuit for using a trademarked term. One may also argue the comparison of "Coca-Cola" to "cocaine."

#7: Eleanor Rigby (1966)- Written and sung by Paul McCartney, this song stands as a ballad for those who are lonely. We concentrate on the lonely title character who attends an empty church and listens to the sermons of the lonely Father McKenzie. By the time she dies, she is simply buried and left. This song stands as one of their greatest stories that they could come up with and the story was performed relatively well. It's always delightful to listen to it, regardless of how poignant the song really is.

#6: You're Gonna Lose That Girl (1965)- Now starts the light-hearted hits that made up the first portion of The Beatles career. In this song, led by Lennon, The Beatles show courage in telling a male subject that if they don't tend to their girlfriend, they are going to make the effort to sway them away from this subject and over to them. In essence, the song warns, "if you're not good to your partner, she'll be gone and happily going to me." In this day and age, such an encounter would be outrageous... even if it was quite outrageous back in 1965. Not only do I like the concept that you should treat your partner well, but the execution to this song accompanied by the music made for a pleasant combination. John Lennon was always spot on when it came to executing what he wanted to say through the song.

#5- I Feel Fine (1964)- Here's a favorite feel-good song of mine from The Beatles, executed by the direct vocals of John Lennon. As it was recorded during the early days of their career, the song has to do with the subject's happiness about the girl he's in a relationship with. Nothing could go better! The song sends off so many positive vibes that we can't help but long to be in such a position. This song always succeeds at delivering happy waves through the air, even if it's only rolling for two and a half minutes.

#4: Twist & Shout (1964)- While the song was sung previously by groups such as The Isley Brothers and earliest by the Top Notes, The Beatles gave the most memorable performance of this song and in my mind the best (though at one point, I would argue The Isley Brothers did better, but this is a great song nevertheless). Out of all of the covers The Beatles performed, which are not notable as they were with a handful of acts during that time (such as Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels and Johnny Rivers later on), "Twist & Shout" will go down as being their most memorable. This song was originally recorded during the end of an exhausting session and while John Lennon's voice was worn out, he belted this one out. Even if the song started with "Well, Shake It Up Baby" instead of just "Shake It Up Baby" like it did with The Isley Brothers, it made the song authentically Beatles.

#3: Here Comes the Sun (1969)- George Harrison is my favorite Beatle. He and I share a lot with regard to being initially quiet, but when given the opportunity, we can come up with some decent material. As for this song, it's beyond decent. It's extraordinary and peaceful to the point it warps you elsewhere. By this point in time, The Beatles were fracturing to the point they would actually record separately. Harrison actually left at one point in time before finally breaking apart for good. Through this song, you get a vibe that nothing bad is happening at all. It's so easygoing and carries a message that says, "another day has come, but it's another day you're up and breathing." It's quite a way to look at life. When listening to this song, I always think about a bright sun in a red sky. While it represents a sunrise, the red sky holds better fortune when it's present during a sunset. The red sky is just the way I view the song and that's what quenches my desire for the song even more. Random fact: John Lennon was not present for this song, as he had been injured in a car crash beforehand.

#2: Something (1969)- When he was given the opportunity to incorporate his singing and songwriting talent, George Harrison was the Beatles that made the most powerful statement, even if he spent his Beatles tenure as "the shy one." With "Something," Harrison delivered one of the powerful, somewhat sentimental performances for the group. The concept was a relatively simple one: an attraction for a girl that turns into something mesmerizing, the "something" being the unknown reason as to why the subject has such an attraction for the girl. What a clever way to just tell somebody that you adore them. When the song kicks it up a notch, it adds a great, necessary sense of intensity that makes the song even more enjoyable. Harrison was only warming up with his songwriting, as he would go on to have the first solo hit after the band broke up (with "My Sweet Lord").

#1: Hey Jude (1968)- If you asked me to come up with my favorite Beatles song or the song that I felt defined the group about ten years ago (if not sooner), this song would have not even cracked the top ten. After years of continuously listening to the group and their many hits, I realized that this is more than just a song, it's one of the greatest anthems. It represents what it means to end a show on a powerful note and in a fashion that could get anybody that's viewing involved. Led by Paul McCartney, the inspiration for this song is John Lennon's young son, Julian, who was dealing with the divorce between Lennon and Cynthia Powell. Lennon eventually married Yoko Ono with whom he had one son, Sean. The two stayed together until Lennon was shot and killed. When taking the inspiration into account, this song is easily viewed as being about motivation. Of course, a young boy like Julian wouldn't be ready to go looking for girls JUST yet, but the song is meant to be something that anybody could relate. Half of the song comes off as an anthem ("nah, nah, nah, nah... Hey Jude!), but hey, if this was meant to motivate someone, then The Beatles did a heck of a job!

It's quite incredible how it has been fifty years since The Beatles led the driving force of the British Invasion and not only changed music forever, but remained a presence to the world of music. They withheld the test of time in a way that very few could engage. The Beatles not only continue to hold onto the fans they created many years ago, but they continue to garner new fans everyday. These are my top ten and while I'm sure every list is bound to be different, I'm sure everyone could agree about the legacy they have left on music.

All of these videos are owned by those who uploaded them, while the music and lyrics are owned by the record labels, producers, songwriters, and members of the group.

1 comment:

  1. Great list Caps. There will be a special on CBS tonight.