By BETO HOYOS
America was introduced to The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show on Feb. 9, 1964. The music of The Beatles continues to inspire generations of fans and musicians alike. How many musicians from 1964 do you still love, and how many performers do you grow to love as the decades go by? Trying to pick the 10 favorite tracks from these rock gods certainly parallels attempting to choose your 10 favorite stars in the night sky, but here goes:
10. “Oh! Darling” (1969)
Written and performed by Paul McCartney, “Oh! Darling” was the fourth song on the Abbey Road album. McCartney would attempt to record this song several times before he was pleased. In the book “The Beatles Anthology,” McCartney said he felt that his voice was too clear at first. In a 1980 interview with Playboy Magazine, John Lennon said “Oh! Darling” was a song that he felt he could have sang better. “I always thought I could have done it better – it was more my style than his.”
9. “Get Back” (1969)
Of The Beatle’s vast catalog, “Get Back” has probably been remixed most. It was originally released as a single in April of 1969, but a slightly different mix became the closing track to the “Let It Be” album in 1970. The song starts off telling a story of a man named Jojo who leaves his home in Tucson, Arizona for some “California Grass”. It’s flattering to know the city we live in was immortalized in a song by The Beatles. It was the final song the Fab Four performed together at the famous rooftop performance on the Apple studio building in Savile, England right before they split.
8. “Don’t Let Me Down” (1969)
This song was written by John Lennon in the bands later years as an anguished love song which he dedicated to Yoko Ono. Lennon’s powerful vocals gradually escalate their way into screams and you really feel his plea to Ono to not let him down. Lennon’s vulnerability was expressed perfectly to Ono, which makes this track the most affecting love song Lennon penned. It was released as the B-side to the “Get Back” single, and multiple recordings of this song were made during the “Let It Be” sessions.
7. “Yesterday” (1965)
In a popularity contest this song stands alone. With more than 2200 cover versions, “Yesterday” is one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music. Broadcast Music Incorporated says that “Yesterday” was performed over seven million times in the 20th century alone, and appeared on the 1965 album “Help!” This was the first song I heard by The Beatles, although only Paul McCartney appears on the track accompanied by a string quartet. It took McCartney a while to complete the song and to find the right title. Prior to the title “Yesterday”, McCartney called this track “Scrambled Eggs”. Thank goodness he made the change.
6. “Hey Jude” (1968)
This song is rich with some of my favorite lyrics by The Beatles. “Hey Jude” was written by Paul McCartney to comfort John Lennon’s son, Julian, after the divorce between Lennon and his first wife Cynthia. Others, including Lennon, thought the song was an unconscious message to himself because of McCartney’s failing relationship at the time with Jane Asher. The single was released in August of 1968 as the first song to be released by Apple records. The song spent nine weeks at number one on the American charts.
5. “All My Loving” (1963)
Americans who tuned their sets to Ed Sullivan on Feb. 9, 1964 first heard The Beatles perform this song. “All My Loving” was released November 1963 on the album “With The Beatles”, but was never released as a single in The States, or the UK. But it quickly gained popularity when the track was later released in Canada where it reached number one on the charts. The simple innocence of the early British Invasion made songs like “All My Loving” so likeable, and fun. Music has evolved since the ’60s, but “All My Loving” has certainly withstood time’s test.
4. “Come Together” (1969)
This is a song that even if I unintentionally press play, there is no stopping it. It opens “Shoot me,” followed by those heavy bass riffs, and “Come Together” grabs hold and won’t let go. This was the opening track from the “Abbey Road” LP, and was released as a double A-sided single. It rose to number one in the US and climbed to number four in the UK. Jonathon Gould wrote in his 2008 book “Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America” that he thinks the song was “Lennon painting another sardonic self-portrait.”
3. “Strawberry Fields Forever” (1967)
This tune was my 2008 summer anthem. I listened to all The Beatles albums after their re-release for the duration of that entire summer. I was going through my anti-establishment phase, you know, growing out my hair and all that. Great memories. This psychedelic Beatles sound really intrigued me. The recording technology was evolving which was evident in albums like the “Magical Mystery Tour.” This track was originally released as a double A-sided single, along with “Penny Lane” in February of 1967 in both the US, and the other side of the pond. The sound The Beatles achieved on “Strawberry Fields” is a quintessential piece of music birthed from the psychedelic rock movement. The song would end up going on the “Magical Mystery Tour” album in November of 1967.
2. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1963)
Released on the 1964 album “Meet The Beatles”, this may be the Lads from Liverpool’s most infamous songs that earned the super-group their first American number one hit. This record can arguably claim responsibility for the beginning of the British Invasion. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” entered the Billboard Charts at the number 45 spot on Jan. 18, 1964, and by February it hit Number One, where it stayed for seven weeks straight. Many British-born bands rode the coattails of The Beatles explosive rise to stardom in America. And let’s face-it, this is always a fun song to listen to.
1. “A Day in the Life” (1967)
At the start of this song you immediately hear crowd applause, which quickly fades to dominating piano-keys, heavy guitar, drums and finally some maracas are thrown into the mix. From the time John Lennon begins his first verse the listener is magically whisked away to a different time and place. The lyrics and melody are beautiful, but “A Day in the Life” gracefully meanders in a complex composition. Paul McCartney and producer George Martin conducted a 40-piece orchestra during one the recordings. Lennon and McCartney both contributed to the track’s verses, which they worked on independently. Inspiration for Lennon’s opening verses was inspired by the death of Tara Browne, the heir to the Guinness family fortune, who was a personal friend of the two influential scribes. McCartney’s sonnets were a reminiscent harnessing of his days appearing lifetimes behind him.
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