Monday, February 9, 2009

Ranking the Beatles my damn self: twelve Beatles Beatling

Not a lot of back-and-forth in the comments lately. Let's try to pick it up, people.

48. Twist and Shout (Please Please Me)

Another heroic performance vocally by John; you've likely heard that they cut this record in one day, and this was the last song recorded, after John's voice was shot. Thank God, huh?

47. You Won't See Me (Rubber Soul)

A favorite of mine, this would be higher if the production and playing weren't so choppy. Fun bassline to play along with.

46. Come Together (Abbey Road)

The hook that opens the song (and recurs) is just brilliant producing. You have to be a real student to know which sounds are in the mix, so well do they mesh together. Paul singing the low harmony in a song always puts a hop in my step too. Would've been higher with a more frenetic guitar solo, but I respect them if that's not what they were going for.

45. I'm Looking Through You (Rubber Soul)

Yeah, see, I think I probably like You Won't See Me better, but this is better mixed, if not better played. Once again, I've been unable to restrain myself for giving extra credit for an alternate take, in this case the Anthology cut that begins like it's going to be Magic Bus.

44. Happiness Is a Warm Gun (The Beatles)

So I've been fighting a nagging feeling for a while now that I'm paying more attention to how 'great' a song is when the original premise was how much I liked each song. I'm reconciling this by stating that I like ALL these songs, a lot. I mean, when you're comparing Happiness Is a Warm Gun with Norwegian Wood, you're going to need *something* to differentiate them. So in this case, let me say that, obviously, I love this song, but it's not entirely coherent. And that I bet by the end of the project, I'll be valuing likability over songcraft again.

43. Drive My Car (Rubber Soul)

Not the most complex song, but lots of fun. The harmony at the end of each verse is excellent and unexpected, and the riff is undeniable. It will have its way.

42. Here Comes the Sun (Abbey Road)

One of George's finest. Probably his best song, in my opinion, and I love the Moog experiment he performed on it.

41. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (Rubber Soul)

In case you were accusing me back around number 46 of not appreciating a tasteful and laid back piece of playing, I think this was maybe George's finest sitar work, despite how much better he surely must have gotten at it in subsequent years. I'm also going to nominate this for best lyrics in a Beatles song right now, just as a hypothesis; we'll see what ends up knocking it off as we move on.

40. Doctor Robert (Revolver)

Sorry, I just like to sing it. Not a big fan of the bridge, but I'll sing that too, just you watch.

39. With a Little Help from My Friends (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)

One of the best marriages of Paul's bass playing to a song; he's done better stuff, maybe, but it's unobtrusive here, and really fits in. Some cool theory going into the bridge, the way it hearkens back to the refrain.

38. Cry Baby Cry (The Beatles)

I don't know if I know enough to talk instructively about this song (though why should it be any different?). Lot of interesting things going on, from the arrangement to the piano part to the game you can play wondering how many minutes John spent on the lyrics. You know what song it kind of reminds me of, in a totally-the-opposite kind of way? I'm Only Sleeping. That song's tone and dynamics are constant. This song really builds nicely through its arrangement without relying solely on volume.

37. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away (Help!)

The precursor to Norwegian Wood, this has more feeling, doesn't it? Probably by design. Relatively simple, but no denying it works. You might notice that John is flat on one of his "Hey!"s, but if you've never done so, *you* try hitting them all.

* * *

Still a couple of surprises to come, including a couple of songs that probably aren't in your top 30.

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