#109: Lady Madonna

The one constant in the Beatles’ early years was evolution: in 1962-3, they recorded electrifying pop songs that birthed the Beatlemania movement. They rode that wave in 1964 but upped the ante on their songwriting, raising the bar for all their contemporaries. By 1965, they wore their Bob Dylan influence on their sleeves on the folksy Help! and explored even more styles on the diverse Rubber SoulRevolver in 1966 took that sense of curiosity and experimentation to another level, and a year later their psychedelic work was unlike anything that had ever hit the mainstream before.

So for their first release of 1968, they pulled off their most unexpected move yet: Continue reading “#109: Lady Madonna”

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#109: Lady Madonna

#110: Mean Mr. Mustard

Another beneficiary of a prime spot in the Abbey Road medley, “Mean Mr. Mustard” is a lumbering and nonsensical but undeniably catchy ditty clocking in at just over a minute. Written in Rishikesh alongside many of the tracks that made up the White Album–check out the bizarre acoustic demo–“Mean Mr. Mustard” got a decidedly glossier treatment when it eventually showed up on vinyl. That didn’t stop John Lennon from Continue reading “#110: Mean Mr. Mustard”

#110: Mean Mr. Mustard

#111: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

In the last entry, I noted that “Got to Get You Into My Life” made an impressive jump on my ranking, but now we get to the exact opposite. Had I done this countdown 15 years ago, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” would have been a clear-cut top 50 entry. And let’s be clear; it’s a great song. But what was intriguing imagery to my younger self now seems like a bunch of random gibberish. I almost feel like I would prefer it as an instrumental. Maybe hang on to the Lennon/McCartney harmonies in the chorus, but I don’t know that I would miss the rocking horse people and newspaper taxis if they were excised.

The elephant in the room Continue reading “#111: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

#111: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

#112: Got to Get You Into My Life

This track made one of the bigger-than-expected jumps for me as I listened to the entire Beatles catalog to do this ranking. I realized there are a lot of elements of this song that I really like–there’s a smooth coolness to it that I never fully appreciated in the infancy of my Beatles fandom. Obviously, it’s still only coming in at #112 so it’s not as though I was like, “Holy crap, my entire life up to this point has been a meaningless lie. I can’t fathom why on earth I neglected to give ‘Got to Get You Into My Life’ the credit it deserves. What else have I been wrong about? Maybe Continue reading “#112: Got to Get You Into My Life”

#112: Got to Get You Into My Life

#113: Day Tripper

The Beatles aren’t exactly what I would consider to be a very riff-oriented band. That’s not a knock against them; they came up with some terrific ones during their tenure. But unlike, say, Led Zeppelin or Soundgarden, two other favorites of mine whose songs are usually defined by meaty, repetitive guitar lines, most Beatles tracks succeed as a result of the combined forces of John, Paul, George, and Ringo rather than any one individual element. “Day Tripper” might be the biggest exception to that rule.

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Normally I post a witty caption here, but I just got really bummed out imagining how amazing a Soundgarden cover of “Day Tripper” would have been. RIP, Chris Cornell.

 

Sure, the performance is top-notch on every level, from its chill bass to its Continue reading “#113: Day Tripper”

#113: Day Tripper

#114: Carry That Weight

As a self-professed music junkie, I must confess to having a mixed relationship with albums. While I love engaging in passionate debates about full-length records (shoutout to my podcast partner and loyal reader Eric Nyberg), the truth is…I rarely listen to albums in full. I would estimate that about 90% of the albums in my collection I’ve played from start to finish just one time. I’m all about individual songs. When I’m in the mood to hear a particular track, I’ll play it out of context. I’m not like those radio stations that always pair up playing Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions,” or Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” and “Living Loving Maid.” I’m my own man, and I don’t need society to tell me how to play my music.

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Telling me how to play my music is like telling Winnie the Pooh to put on some pants. It’s not going to happen.

 

But there is at least one brutally clear exception: Continue reading “#114: Carry That Weight”

#114: Carry That Weight

#115: Baby You’re a Rich Man

John Lennon famously hated the sound of his voice, and often insisted that producer George Martin lather it with effects or otherwise manipulate it. This was complete and utter malarkey of course. Listen to vocal tour de forces such as “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and solo gems like “Oh My Love” and “Isolation,” and it’s obvious that John possessed one of the greatest voices in rock history.

That said, Continue reading “#115: Baby You’re a Rich Man”

#115: Baby You’re a Rich Man