In my life I’ve loved them all

Well, maybe not so much “Only a Northern Song.” But I’d really have to rack my brain to come up with ten favorite Beatles tracks, and Steven Roemerman, who actually did do that, probably didn’t have too easy a time with it either:

On my first pass through the collection I came up with 20 songs, which I easily whittled down to 15. I then listened to each song, if I felt compelled to skip it I’d move it to the bottom of the list. I was able to get the list down to 12 and I thought about giving those last to songs honorable mention, but that seemed like a cop-out so I went through the list one more time and pared it down.

There are 785 songs on my MP3 Walkman. The Beatles are responsible for 23 of them. And rather than pare down that list to a Top Ten, I’m just going to list all the ones I thought enough of to copy over to the OMGAudio folder (dates are for UK release):

“Love Me Do” (1962)
“She Loves You” (1963)
“I Saw Her Standing There” (1963)
“Twist and Shout” (1963)
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1964)
“Can’t Buy Me Love” (1964)
“A Hard Day’s Night” (1964)
“I’m Happy Just to Dance with You” (1964)
“I Feel Fine” (1965)
“Eight Days a Week” (1965)
“Ticket to Ride” (1965)
“Help!” (1965)
“We Can Work It Out” (1966)
“Day Tripper” (1966)
“Strawberry Fields Forever” (1967)
“Penny Lane” (1967)
“I Am the Walrus” (1967)
“Lady Madonna” (1968)
“Hey Jude” (1968)
“Get Back” (1969)
“Come Together” (1969)
“Let It Be” (1970)
“The Long and Winding Road” (1970)

In the case of “Get Back” and “Let It Be,” these are the single versions, rather than the versions from the Let It Be LP.

The reader will notice a definite bias toward 45s; in fact, all these tracks came out in the US as singles, even “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You,” which was the B-side of “I’ll Cry Instead” (Capitol 5234) and charted in its own right at #95. In part, this reflects the Beatles’ own practice of recording the singles and the albums as separate entities, a practice which was pretty much thwarted in the States, and which became moot after the White Album, which produced no singles until “Helter Skelter” (!), issued for some reason as the B-side of “Got to Get You Into My Life” in 1975.

Still, I could easily have included two dozen more, including some cherished non-singles like “What You’re Doing” and “Drive My Car.”

(For comparison purposes: There are 51 Beatles recordings on my iTunes install, counting the entire “You Never Give Me Your Money,” etc. medley from Abbey Road as one. Total number of tracks: 4,864.)





12 comments

  1. McGehee »

    2 September 2009 · 3:38 pm

    I don’t know how many nominees I’d end up with for my favorite Beatles tunes, but the one I remember hearing most on the radio at about the time I was really starting to notice who was doing all those songs, was “Get Back.” I still like that one.

    There was a while in 1981-82, I think, where Beatles tunes got a lot of play — as Big Music reacted to the sudden impossibility of the band ever getting back together (a certain Monty Python-related joke simply isn’t funny in this context) — but since then it seems only a certain relatively few of their works were ever heard from again.

    Anything I can distinctly remember having heard since the mid-1980s would be less likely to make my nominee list.

  2. Jeff Brokaw »

    2 September 2009 · 4:00 pm

    I was watching that Beatles documentary on VH-1 (or whatever) the other day, with my young sons, and a couple of times an image of the Top Ten hits that the Beatles were competing with back in 1962-64 would appear.

    Pret-ty weak tea. No wonder all those teeny-bopper girls were screaming until they passed out.

    I tried to explain to my boys how revolutionary the Beatles music was. I’m not sure that’s even possible using mere words. The 10-y.o. has been playing guitar for about 9 months and has learned to play a few Beatles riffs already, including Twist and Shout. He can sorta-kinda play that wicked fast intro to Octopus’ Garden.

    It’s pretty cool for an old Dad to hear. :)

  3. Donna B. »

    2 September 2009 · 4:34 pm

    I abhor “We Can Work It Out”. That song makes my teeth hurt. I’d substitute “When I’m 64” or “With a Little Help From My Friends”.

    And “Yellow Submarine”.

  4. CGHill »

    2 September 2009 · 4:46 pm

    Then again, Stevie Wonder got a hit out of “We Can Work It Out,” but inasmuch as he was approaching 21 and about to renegotiate his contract with Motown, I have to figure he took the words — McCartney’s verses and Lennon’s bridge — very seriously indeed.

  5. Jeffro »

    2 September 2009 · 4:50 pm

    “Got to Get You Into My Life” would be one I’d add, even if it really was about Mary Jane, as it were.

  6. Dick Stanley »

    2 September 2009 · 11:05 pm

    Isn’t everything about Mary Jane, to some?

  7. unimpressed »

    3 September 2009 · 3:25 am

    13516 (42.5 days) in iTunes as of this moment. I may have a half-dozen Beatles tunes and those are in a Top 500 Rock Songs list. The vast majority of my collection is of full albums. I figure if there’s one good song on the album, there’s probably another that received no/little air time.

  8. canadienne »

    5 September 2009 · 3:59 pm

    I was going to say this makes me nostalgic, but nostalgia implies an affection for the past, and it’s never that simple, is it? The Beatles were the soundtrack for my adolescence, all the good and bad things about growing up and going to college. I can tell exactly where I was the first time I heard a couple of those songs. I have quite a few of them on my iPod.

  9. CGHill »

    5 September 2009 · 4:28 pm

    There’s exactly one song of theirs that is, to me, indelibly connected to a time and place, and that’s “Hey Jude,” which takes me back to between Spring and Cannon streets on the west side of the Charleston (SC) peninsula, before they turn into the Savannah Highway (US 17). There was, and still is, a Hardee’s there, at 209 Spring Street, and while pulling out of their parking lot, I heard that song for the first time. In fact, given the traffic in that area, we had almost enough time to hear the whole thing. What perplexes me is that I can’t recall who was driving that day. (Wasn’t me; I wasn’t quite 15 yet.)

  10. canadienne »

    6 September 2009 · 1:29 am

    Was it the song or the circumstances that made that stick in your mind? For me it’s a certain combination of both, in most cases.

  11. CGHill »

    6 September 2009 · 10:10 am

    I remember almost all the songs from that era, but very few of them are associated with a place or with an incident. Some records actually evoke memories of where I bought them. (The Gants’ cover of Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner” is one such.) Two songs connect me to Charleston Air Force Base: the Sir Douglas Quintet’s “She’s About a Mover,” which I used to play a lot on the jukebox at the Base’s little burger stand, and Lesley Gore’s “That’s the Way Boys Are,” which brings up moments on my bicycle, exploring the area. (I had a portable Sony radio which I managed to attach to the handlebars.)

    Why those particular memories have hung around for decades, I couldn’t tell you; but somehow they have.

  12. CGHill »

    6 September 2009 · 6:35 pm

    Oh, and Entertainment Weekly has put up a list of the 50 best Beatles songs — and the five worst. (It’s in the magazine; as of now, it’s not on EW.com.)

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