#135: You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me

There are few things in this life more pointless than the cover song that merely replicates the original. I’m not universally discrediting them–I love 10,000 Maniacs’ carbon copy of Patti Smith’s “Because the Night,” and Stone Temple Pilots’ faithful rendition of “Revolution” (by some band) is also quite awesome. But there’s a risk/reward equation in reworking a beloved song and sure, sometimes it doesn’t pay off–would anyone take the Carpenters’ bizarre takes on “Ticket to Ride” and “Help!” over some band’s originals?–sometimes you end up with Continue reading “#135: You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”

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#135: You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me

#136: Why Don’t We Do it in the Road?

Time for me to be a hypocrite. I ranked “I Wanna Be Your Man” the worst original Beatles song largely due to its lousy, basic 18-word vocabulary. “Why Don’t We Do it in the Road?” clocks in at just 17 unique words, yet here it is, nearly 75 slots higher. I mean, obviously there are plenty of legitimate reasons for that which I’ll get into, but I’ll admit, that’s a pretty wide jump. You’re probably thinking, Continue reading “#136: Why Don’t We Do it in the Road?”

#136: Why Don’t We Do it in the Road?

#137: Drive My Car

Kicking off Rubber Soul into high gear, “Drive My Car” steered the Beatles onto a road they’d never gone down before, and I’m already sick of these car puns so let’s forget this intro ever happened.

In the first half of the sixties, the Beach Boys seemed to corner the market on automobile tracks, from “409” to “Little Deuce Coupe” to “Driving Aimlessly Because Continue reading “#137: Drive My Car”

#137: Drive My Car

#138: The Night Before

This has got to be one of the most unjustly overlooked Beatles songs ever. I realize by putting it at #138, I’m probably not doing anything to curb its underrated status, but man, give it a listen and tell me that this is not a damn good song on every level. Really. There’s a palpable excitement from the opening roll of the bass and drums to the twinkle of a guitar riff that punctuates everything.

I really don’t know where to start with the praise. How about Continue reading “#138: The Night Before”

#138: The Night Before

#139: Don’t Pass Me By

There’s very little middle ground when it comes to rock drummers–they’re either highly regarded (Nirvana’s Dave Grohl, Led Zeppelin’s John “Bonzo” Bonham, Rush’s Neil Peart) or unjustly ridiculed (pretty much every other drummer on the planet). The running joke is that it’s every band’s worst fear when their happy-go-lucky drummer, once so content to pound on the tom-toms however he was instructed to and occasionally perform a drum solo during a concert when the rest of the group needed a bathroom break, writes a song for the next album.

Ringo Starr–or rather, Richard Starkey–has just two individual writing credits to his name with the Beatles. That’s a grand total of Continue reading “#139: Don’t Pass Me By”

#139: Don’t Pass Me By

#140: Free as a Bird

“There won’t be a Beatles reunion as long as John Lennon remains dead.” – George Harrison, 1989

I wasn’t sure whether or not to include “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” on this ranking, because they’re definitely not typical Beatles songs. They were released 25+ years after every other song on the countdown, were both omitted from the 2009 remaster series, and present the curious conundrum George Harrison references above, in that John Lennon–who I think most would agree was a pretty key member of the band–didn’t show up for any of the recording sessions under the oh-so-convenient excuse of being dead for 15 years.

But ultimately, they were released under the banner “The Beatles,” and more importantly, Continue reading “#140: Free as a Bird”

#140: Free as a Bird

#141: I’m Down

We live in a world where practically every song released can be classified as a single–any individual track can easily be cued up on Spotify or YouTube, or downloaded on iTunes. Physical media lovers like myself still mourn the loss of CD singles with their myriad of rare and otherwise unavailable b-sides, but by far the most iconic single format was the 7″ 45 RPM vinyl with a big ol’ hole in the center and one song on each side. The Beatles, as one might expect, gave the world some pretty excellent combinations–“Day Tripper” and “We Can Work it Out,” “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane,” and my personal pick for the greatest single of all time, “Hey Jude” and “Revolution.” But one of the more unintentionally awesome couplings was pairing “Help!” with “I’m Down”–two songs that, while both centered around going through a rough patch, couldn’t be more vastly different (which is exactly why they work so well together).

“I’m Down” is a really cool transitional track–it sounds like an early With the Beatles-era kind of song, but you can hear the leap in skill and songwriting that took place between 1963 and 1965. But all it takes is one listen to realize Continue reading “#141: I’m Down”

#141: I’m Down