A half century ago, they came, they saw, they conquered

downloadFebruary 10, 2014 – Yesterday commemorated the Beatles’ 50th anniversary on “The Ed Sullivan” show (Feb. 9, 1964), when 73 million viewers watched the group’s first appearance in America. 

I don’t remember the actual performance – I was only four at the time – but I’ve seen clips and it frequently comes up in family discussions because my sister cried in front of the television like many young girls of that generation.

As a fan, I felt compelled to create a top ten list of my favorite Beatle songs. The boys have a huge musical library to select from with over 200 songs, so it’s not an easy task. That is an amazing amount considering they recorded together for about seven years.

10. Black Bird
From the record known as the “White Album”, and released in 1968, McCartney said he wrote this song while in Scotland as a reaction to racial tensions escalating in the United States. It is acoustic perfection, and it is one of the most covered Beatles’ songs other than “In My Life” and “Yesterday”. I’m particularly fond of Carly Simon’s rendition.

9. Dear Prudence
Here’s another track from the “White Album”. I adore the imagery portrayed and haunting lyrics from Lennon in this song. He wrote it for Prudence Farrow, Mia’s sister, who was with the Beatles when they went to India to meet the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

8. Eleanor Rigby
Released in 1966 on the “Yellow Submarine” soundtrack, Eleanor Rigby was a song I didn’t appreciate until a few years ago. The lyrics tell a sad story about “all the lonely people”, but musically it is spectacular, using a classic string ensemble of four violins, two cellos, and two violas. Credited to Lennon and McCartney like all Beatle song, it is mainly a McCartney composition, but Lennon claimed he wrote a “good half of it.”

7. Fixing a Hole
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band”, which many say is the Beatles’ finest recording, had a wonderful array of songs, including “Fixing a Hole”. McCartney says many of the lyrics were inspired fans that hung around his home day and night and drove him a crazy. Lennon and Harrison do a great job with background vocals on the recording.

6. Lovely Rita
The best song off Sgt. Pepper in my opinion, “Lovely Rita” is a simple story about a female meter maid. Legend has it that the song stems from McCartney receiving a parking ticket outside of Abbey Road Studios one day, and instead of anger, he expressed his feeling in song. The song features killer harmonies by Lennon in the middle that give me chills every time I hear it.

5. If I Fell
An early love song that appeared on the 1964 soundtrack “A Hard Day’s Night”, this was Lennon’s first attempt at a proper ballad, and “shows that I wrote sentimental love songs back then,” he said in a 1980 interview. It’s a pretty song with wonderful sounds, especially the lower harmonies provided by Lennon.

4. In My Life
1965’s “Rubber Soul” gave us this sentimental walk down memory lane from Lennon. Written mainly by Lennon, and about his childhood, the Lennon-McCartney duo disagreed again, as McCartney claims he is entirely responsible for the melody. Whoever wrote it, it is simply beautiful, and holds the honor of the Beatles’ most covered song.

3. Julia
Another gem from the “White Album”, Lennon wrote the song during the Beatles’ visit to India in 1968. It is a tribute to his mother, who was hit by a car and killed when he was 17. While McCartney recorded a few songs on his own without the benefit of the band, “Julia” is the only written, played and sung by a solo Lennon. He used a “finger-picking” guitar style taught to him by Donovan on the track, who was also with the Beatles in India.

2. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
Lennon said Bob Dylan inspired him when he recorded this song from the “Help” soundtrack, released in 1965. He wrote the song at home in what he refers to as “his Dylan period” after the producers decided they needed one more song for the movie. The song also features tambourine and maracas courtesy of Ringo.

1. If I Needed Someone
Love, love, love this song from “Rubber Soul”. It’s the only song from Harrison that makes the list, although he is my favorite Beatle, and by far my favorite solo artist of all four Beatles. Harrison said the song was heavily influenced by the Byrds, yet it was another group, the Hollies, that had a hit with it simultaneously as it was released by the Beatles.

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3 thoughts on “A half century ago, they came, they saw, they conquered

  1. George is also my fav, it is tough to pick favorites but While My Guitar Gently Weeps is right
    up there. Perhaps Taxman might be among your sentimental favorites.

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