#190: Don’t Bother Me

Listen to the hooks of each song on the first half of the Beatles’ second album and one sticks out like a sore thumb. Sandwiched between sunny choruses promising, “It won’t be long, yeah (yeah!), ’til I belong to you,” “All my loving, I will send to you,” and “There was love all around, but I never heard it singing…till there was you,” you’ll find the decidedly more rain-soaked, “Go away, leave me alone, don’t bother me.” Do I even need to tell you that it was written by George Harrison?

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What’s less obvious is that George also wrote The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

 

Considering it was the first song he ever composed, Continue reading “#190: Don’t Bother Me”

#190: Don’t Bother Me

#191: Her Majesty

The Beatles’ success was based on a lot of things, one of the most critical being a stubborn refusal to act predictably. So while most bands would fall victim to the poetry of concluding their final recorded album with a song called “The End,” the Beatles were too cool for that. Enter “Her Majesty,” the shortest song in their catalog, an unlisted surprise that pops up after several seconds of silence following “The End.” Granted, it was the result of Continue reading “#191: Her Majesty”

#191: Her Majesty

#192: Yer Blues

When future grunge greats Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley were just a year old, John Lennon was perfecting the art of writing depressingly straightforward lyrics about loneliness and wanting to die. I mean, this song literally starts with, “Yes I’m lonely, wanna die,” which doesn’t leave much open to interpretation. Some suggest the song was a parody of the emerging British blues scene, but Lennon says otherwise:

The funny thing about the [Maharishi’s] camp was that, although it was very beautiful and I was meditating about eight hours a day, I was writing the most miserable songs on earth. In “Yer Blues,” when I wrote, “I’m so lonely I want to die,” I’m not kidding. That’s how I felt.

As a…well, I hesitate to use the word “diehard” fan of 90s alternative rock, I definitely think it’s possible Continue reading “#192: Yer Blues”

#192: Yer Blues

#193: The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

Lyrically, “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” is so weirdly entertaining that I can’t help but love it–and it’s based on a true story, which makes it even better. Musically, it has so little to offer that it genuinely feels like the one song in the Beatles’ canon that literally anyone could have written. The chorus is essentially a children’s singalong, and John Lennon put less effort into creating smooth transitions than Steven Wright.

Inspired by a curious companion during the Beatles’ 1968 stay in Rishikesh, India, many of the details related in the song Continue reading “#193: The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”

#193: The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

#194: Love You To

When people say that Revolver is the best album of all time, there’s a good chance they’re conveniently overlooking “Love You To,” George Harrison’s first full-fledged dive into exploring Indian music. (He took baby steps with a rudimentary sitar part on “Norwegian Wood” a year earlier.) The most interesting thing about “Love You To” is the realization that Continue reading “#194: Love You To”

#194: Love You To

#195: Dig It

Trimmed down to 50 seconds from a jam that lasted more than 12 minutes, “Dig It” is the perfect encapsulation of the sessions that eventually produced the Let it Be album: a rambling, “we’ll figure it out as we go” shrug set to music that ultimately finds some purpose. For “Dig It,” it’s transitioning into the glorious title track on said album. The sessions culminated in the Beatles’ famous final live performance on the Apple rooftop. But in both cases, it took a lot of Continue reading “#195: Dig It”

#195: Dig It

#196: Birthday

This is one of the earliest Beatles deep cuts I ever heard–my fourth-grade teacher played it every time a student in our class celebrated his or her birthday. I wasn’t very impressed by it then (although it was a passable three-minute diversion from actually doing work), and not much has changed in the ensuing years. It’s a rare Beatles song to emerge from a jam session, which gives it a distinct sense of urgency and an appropriate party vibe, but it’s a pretty underwhelming way to kick off the second half of The White Album.

As with a lot of songs that fall into this range on the countdown, there’s one strong element to “Birthday,” and that is Paul McCartney’s vigorous lead vocal. Beyond that, you’re stuck with Continue reading “#196: Birthday”

#196: Birthday