Funk’s Top 10 Favourite Songs by ‘The Beatles’
Today marks two anniversaries – it as been 32 years since the death of John Winston Lennon, founding member of the The Beatles, easily the greatest musical group in history. It is also 32 years since G-Funk, founder of the House of Geekery, came into the world. Now you may not consider these two events to be of high importance (I guess The Beatles can’t be to everyone’s taste) but it’s the perfect excuse to tackle what I’ve always considered an impossible task…narrowing down the 275 recorded songs by The Beatles to the ten best.
This is going to mean some very difficult omissions. If your favourite song didn’t make the cut then it’s not because I don’t like it…I just have a stronger connection with these ten.
#10 – Hey Bulldog
Something of an under-rated tune, it was recorded off the back of ‘Lady Madonna’ and used to supplement the soundtrack to Yellow Submarine. The sequence animated for the movie was eventually cut (available on the DVD version) and the song was never heavily associated with the film. Even then it’s a great, heavy hitting tune blending a playful vocal style with surprisingly bitter lyrics.
#9 – You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
Whilst Help didn’t have the impact of A Hard Day’s Night in cinemas it’s still packed with memorable moments. When they arrive at their homes in London and some bystanders comment about them retaining their normality we discover that they’re homes are…not normal. This tune, described by Lennon as his ‘Dylan phase’ and was the first time he did not double-track his vocals, showing a growing confidence with his singing. It was also the first Beatle’s song to be completely recorded with acoustic instruments.
#8 – Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Very possibly the song that got me into The Beatles as a child. The unusual melody is perfectly complemented by the surreal imagery created by the lyrics. And nobody really believes that this song is about anything but tripping balls.
#7 – Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
John Lennon has stated that this song was written about having an affair without letting his wife know that what he was writing about. Focusing on the images that came to mind rather than the literal meaning lead to him creating a more introspective song that would set the tone for the second era of Beatles music. Harrison’s sitar work also lends the song a unique feel, separating it out from the rest of the album ‘Rubber Soul’.
#6 – I Am the Walrus
When John Lennon heard that British school children had been studying Beatles lyrics in order to find their hidden meaning and themes he decided to troll the hell out of them. ‘I Am the Walrus’ is well known for it’s nonsensical lyrics and downright bizzare imagery – heaven help any poor student who had to try and interpret them. Following the death of Brian Epstein this madness was the key to picking Lennon’s spirits back up.
#5 – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
George Harrison always found himself shunned to the kids table at the metaphorical dinner party that was The Beatles. Whilst Lennon and McCartney did record a few of his songs they never took him or his song writing very seriously. After putting together ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ Harrison was dismayed when the rest of the group wouldn’t take the recording seriously resulting in a range of different versions with heavy playing, backwards guitars but not the sound Harrison wanted. Eventually he convinced Eric Clapton to play guitar on the track and the guest in the studio got the other band members in line. The end result left Lennon and McCartney taking future contributions from Harrison more seriously.
#4 – Helter Skelter
Although ‘Helter Skelter’ holds a dark meaning for many American’s after Charles Manson’s followers left it scrawled in blood at the site of a murder, but for The Beatles and most other British people it’s a seaside ride and far more innocent. Until you find out that The Beatles were tripping balls during the recording. One of their heavier tracks it’s a quickly paced and blood pumping track. The recording was so intense that when Ringo Starr yelled out ‘I’ve got blisters on my fingers’ he wasn’t joking.
#3 – A Hard Day’s Night
This song has so much associated awesome. Opening with the most famous guitar in the history of rock music, is also opened the most iconic movie in the history of rock music. The entire scene that accompanies it is film-making brilliance and the song complements it perfectly. At this point in their recording career The Beatles were finding their rhythm and turning out a steady stream of great songs. Between their hectic lifestyle and and recording schedule they were run into the ground and they channeled that feeling into this great track.
#2 – Eleanor Rigby
Although stories about the writing process and the original of the name differ from person to person, all of The Beatles did make some contribution to the lyrics after Paul McCartney laid out the melody and theme of loneliness. Strangely enough The Beatles themselves didn’t record any instruments on the track. McCartney, Lennon and Harrison recorded the vocals and harmonies before engineer Geoff Emerick suggested bringing in string quartets. McCartney resisted at first, but appreciated the final result enough to use it.
#1 – Come Together
This song is the essence of cool distilled into audio form. Just listen to it.