What are your favourite Beatle songs? Below is a list (in chronological order) of what I believe to be the best. I sincerely hope my choices spark conversation and controversy. No doubt many will disagree with my choices and that is fine. I appreciate my choices are mostly by McCartney but it is important to state that this is not a slight on Lennon’s, Harrison’s, or Starr’s writing ability, it is simply my personal opinion. Anyway, less prattle and on with the list.
- I Saw Here Standing There (Please, Please Me, 1963)
The opening “1, 2, 3, 4!” introduced The Beatles’ to the world. Having heard their entire back catalogue, it’s almost as if McCartney is saying “Are you ready for what’s to come? Here we go!”. I love rock ‘n’ roll, and that is what this song is…pure energy. Energy that saw The Beatles win over crowds throughout England, Hamburg, and latterly the U.S., with a little help from Little Richard’s “Woooooooo”.
- All My Loving (With The Beatles, 1963)
This bittersweet number is, in my opinion, the stand out track of the album. As someone who has travelled and been away from a loved one, I guess it resonates with me. I especially love the harmonies on the last verse. An early introduction to the songwriting ability of McCartney.
- I Should Have Known Better (A Hard Day’s Night, 1964)
Sometimes it’s difficult to explain why one likes a song so much. I like the harmonica and I like the melody. The words are simple and uncomplicated. All I can tell you is that I never skip this song when I am listening to it on my phone.
- I’ll Cry Instead (A Hard Day’s Night, 1964)
Another Lennon composition but this one has a country and western feel. According to Cynthia Lennon, this song was allegedly written about Lennon’s disillusionment with Beatlemania, and the adoration of millions of his fans (Lennon 2006).
- Drive My Car (Rubber Soul, 1965)
Rubber Soul marked a change in musical direction for the Beatles. The opening track of which was “Drive My Car”. According to McCartney, “Drive My Car” was euphemism for sex (Miles 1997).
- We Can Work It Out (Single Release, 1965)
It is argued that this song was written about McCartney’s relationship with actress Jane Asher. Lennon added the middle eight, to which Harrison suggested the tempo change to a ¾ German waltz (Miles 1997). We have all been in relationships that have gone through rough patches, and this song no doubt speaks to many who have been in a similar situation. In particular, I love the desperateness of the lyrics and the collaborative vocals of the middle eight.
- When I’m Sixty-Four (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)
Written when McCartney was 16 (Miles 1997), this music hall type number feels to me as if it wouldn’t be out of place being sung in pubs in the east end of London. It is no doubt played at every birthday party when an individual reaches 64. If I live that long I’ll certainly listen to it on my birthday.
- Back In The USSR (The White Album, 1968)
This Beach Boys parody (Goodman 1984), is a real rocker. Harrison performs some impressive led guitar licks too.
- One After 909 (Let It Be, 1970)
A Lennon composition originally written during The Beatles’ early years, but for whatever reason wasn’t incorporated into an album, or finished, until the Let It Be album. An early version is found on The Beatles Anthology 1. Once again it’s The Beatles rock ‘n’ roll at its best.
- Get Back (Let It Be, 1970)
With the addition of Billy Preston on organ, I love Starr’s drumming on this track. It feels like the song is a galloping horse, stopping briefly twice to look for direction and to see where to go next before continuing into the distance.
What are your favourite Beatle tracks?
Goodman, J. (December 1984) “Playboy Interview with Paul McCartney”. Playboy. Playboy Press.
Lennon, C. (2006). John. Hodder & Stoughton.
Miles, B. (1997) Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt & Company.