Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ranking the Beatles my damn self V: one for the thumb

I highly recommend this exercise for every avid Beatles fan. Not the blogging; I certainly wouldn't steal the first guy's idea so blatantly if I thought more than two people were watching. No, just the ranking. It's very fun to see both the sliding scale -- the way you can go from a song you'd never think to listen to purposely up 20 songs to one you listen to a lot but don't love without even noticing the jump -- and the gradations: Starting with this song, I never skip, or this song marks the beginning of where I start having emotional attachments for songs.

150. Piggies (The Beatles)

Be honest; were you waiting for it? Were you thinking Man, he likes Piggies better than Eleanor Rigby? (Answer: yes.) This song has some charm for me, but doesn't cry to be heard more than a couple times a year. What's funny is how many better songs he was working on, and even demo-ing for the band, at the same time. Instead of this, we could have had half of All Things Must Pass, or even Sour Milk Sea, which I like a lot.

149. I Me Mine (Let It Be)

Has its moments, but too whiney. Why you gotta be such a downer, man?

148. In My Life (Rubber Soul)

Probably you saw this coming too. It's a good song, no doubt, but it must be composed around some scale that doesn't do much for me. It should be obvious by now, too, that I am not factoring lyrics in very much for this countdown. I like a nice pair of lyrics, and they can definitely add a lot to a song that's also otherwise strong, like Strawberry Fields Forever. But to the people who say the lyrics make this a good song, I say no, the song isn't good enough to be helped that much by the lyrics, which I don't think are so groundbreaking anyway.

147. Dig It (Let It Be)

I guess for some of these, I need to start justifying why I've ranked them this high, rather than so low. I'm kind of a sucker for late-period stuff where the guys, especially John, seem to be having fun. Hell, I'd put Los Paranoias higher than In My Life.

146. Oh! Darling (Abbey Road)

Could have used one less run through the bridge and verse. The Beatles were who taught me you don't need three verses. I wish they had followed their own example here.

145. Maggie Mae (Let It Be)

*Sigh.* Yes, higher than In My Life. See the notes for Dig It.

144. I'll Cry Instead (A Hard Day's Night)

There are a lot of songs like this on this album; they're so similar in tone, it's remarkable I didn't rank them all next to each other. This is one of the weaker of the bunch, but still eminently listenable.

143. Dig a Pony (Let It Be)

Very strong vocal performance here. Did John play the solo? I'm not good with that stuff. A nice George solo would have lifted this even higher.

142. Maxwell's Silver Hammer (Abbey Road)

OK, so between you and me, I kind of like this song. But the backstory of how many takes of it Paul forced the band through drains something from it for me. Also, this isn't so involved a song. Why were so many takes desired? I don't think I've heard them; were they significantly different, like the ones for Lady Madonna and Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da?

141. Slow Down (Past Masters, vol. I)

I'm serious; before 1964 or '65, all I really require is John singing like his scrotum was on fire or something. I'm simple like that.

140. Her Majesty (Abbey Road)

Silly, but admittedly catchy.

139. Little Child (With the Beatles)

Seriously, I'd like to talk to George Martin about this. What were they doing to his voice, beyond double-tracking it? And could they still do it to mine?

138. When I Get Home (A Hard Day's Night)

Early Beatle funk, and if I knew more theory, I could tell you what John was doing with the melody that was so effective. I also enjoy the last three track titles on this record: When I Get Home, You Can't Do That, and I'll Be Back -- all kind of menacing, even if only the middle one follows through on the threat, lyrically.

137. Till There Was You (With the Beatles)

Surprisingly fun to sing. I would never skip this.

136. Honey Pie (The Beatles)

On the one hand, harmless. On the other, catchy. This is maybe my saturation point for Paul's hokier stuff. I think this is how other people feel about ALL his stuff.

* * *

We'll pass another marcation tomorrow, as we take on more of the great middle.

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