Top 15 Beatles Songs
The Beatles are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music. They are a cultural icon, and an inspiration to thousands of musicians who followed in their footsteps. This is a list of their 15 greatest songs.
15. Nowhere Man
This is a timeless classic that can still bring a chill to anyone. There is something about the harmonies on this song that was missing from most of the other British bands of the period. As great as the Rolling Stones were, they would never be able to honestly match the songwriting skill of Lennon and McCartney. When you combine that with the booth work of George Martin, musical magic happens.
14. With A Little Help From My Friends
This is a very strange song for The Beatles. It has a fine basic melody but a very boring chorus. Ringo’s vocals sheer bread and butter while the other band members go into stylish high notes on the backing track. It’s Ringo’s heartful vocal performance that make this big (yes, he can actually sing). And don’t forget to listen to his brilliant drum breaks too.
13. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
It is said that this was written because John’s son drew a picture of a cartoon named Lucy. I guess we’ll never really know, but the results of this song were outstanding. Many think that Lucy is a bit too strange even for The Beatles (right…listen to Revolution 9) but I enjoy every little weird thing about it.
12. We Can Work It Out
It’s easy to forget amid the shower of psychedelia that what The Beatles really did best were perfect, three minute pop songs. We Can Work It Out is short but sweet, but it’s compositionally exceptional too. That time change for “fussing and fighting,” that transforms the song into a brief waltz is an unexpected and sophisticated switch that alters the entire context of the tune.
11. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
This was George’s first use of the sitar and Ravi Shankar cringed in jealousy. The sitar doubling the guitar works great with the song and the riff is very memorable. John wrote this one about an affair he had with a very peculiar woman, and he provides some great vocal work. In the end, Norwegian Wood is just a cool laid-back tune with amazing lyrics; it’s great poetry set to great music.
10. Day Tripper
Otis Redding inspired song; this one’s about sex and drugs, simple as that. The Beatles were producing great riffs at this time and this was certainly one of them. Unfortunately, this song is marred by dropouts in two places to cover up vocal errors. Still, the vocals in the chorus are fantastic (in my opinion, one of the best by Lennon).
9. Come Together
The Beatles do swamp music, and it turns out great. Yet I just don’t know why I love this. The lyrics are total nonsense and composition isn’t so great either, but it’s just so damn good. Perhaps it’s just the intro. I mean how did they do that weird ch-ch-ch noise? The song also features some great drum beats by Ringo, and a nice guitar solo by George.
8. Hey Jude
Yes, it has been a little overplayed, but there is a reason for that. The song, supposedly written as a ‘keep your chin up’ song for Julian Lennon after the break-up of his parents, contains some of McCartney’s best lyrics. The line “The movement you need is on your shoulder” was almost removed when McCartney thought people might think he was talking about a parrot, but Lennon insisted the lyrics be left in. Lennon felt it was one of the best songs Paul ever wrote and I thoroughly agree.
7. Revolution 1
Whether they’re rocking it or doo-wopping it, Lennon’s message is always crystal clear – anything for change except violence. It was during this period that Lennon was undergoing a revolution of his own. He was discovering that he enjoyed jamming with others outside the Beatles. This was the inevitable beginning of the end. Brian Epstein was dead and so were, in John’s mind, the Beatles. In less than two years, his thoughts would prove to be true.
6. Baby You’re A Rich Man
From the rumbling, accelerating-decelerating bassline upwards through Lennon’s falsetto questioning in the verses. “Baby You’re a Rich Man” isn’t The Beatles’ most renowned, popular, fun, or unusual song, but I love it. The arrangement features an array of instruments but still maintains a slight simplicity, reliant on the bass guitar and occasional abnormal stabbing hooks.
5. Eleanor Rigby
Beautifully written, beautifully sung, and especially beautiful instrumentals. This is one of those songs that just grew on me the more I heard. I originally was not a big fan of this particular song, but it has now become a favorite after listening to it more and realizing just how interesting this song really is. It was such a different feel for The Beatles, but in my opinion, it came out great.
4. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
This is probably the most analyzed Beatles song of all time. Deciphering the meaning can be a bit tough since there are so many different opinions about what it is that John is really talking about. Sometimes the tempo changes too quickly and there are minor flaws throughout the song, but this is a great tune besides those little things. But no one cares about those things anyway. It’s a great song, and that’s all you need to know. From the nonsensical lyrics about lizards and hobnail boots to the somber guitar solo, this is one of the most solid Beatles songs.
3. Strawberry Fields Forever
Another song that is a bit experimental but the end results are amazing. George Martin’s arrangement is full of brilliant effects. The vocal distortion and sad lyrics are great, but I also really like George’s little guitar bits here and there. This is another depressing yet uplifting song that never gets old.
2. A Day In The Life
There is so much accomplished in just this one little song (instrumentals, lyrics, vocals) that it still amazes me every time I listen to. The way John starts out slowly and Paul falls in (moving into a more upbeat rhythm), and both bringing their own lyrics from previous songs to combine it into this one song makes this piece just outstanding. A strange fact though: in the end there’s a super high note which only dogs can hear.
1. Let It Be
What a great hymn! This is such an absolutely perfect rock ballad. Touchy melody, fine chorus, somehow roughly sophisticated arrangement, and slightly weird and religious lyrics about “Mother Mary”. Is she Mother Mary Magdalene from The Bible or Paul’s mother (whose name is Mary too)? This is such a great song that even today, over 30 years after it was released; it can still lift anyone’s spirits. A great song with a great message: just let it be!