I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to do this… but I’m going to try. We really should not even try to do this because I’m sure this is the kind of thing that gets leaked to the press right when you’re about to hit the big time. You know, when you’re going though your fifteen minutes of fame that’s when something like this comes out. “Back in April of 2006, Mr. Otter attempted to put together his 12 favorite Beatle songs…” and then laughter would ensue and I’d feel like a TV character from any sitcom made over the last thirty years besides Mork from Mork and Mindy. But why not, it’s Friday, it’s April (I’ll just use the T.S. Eliot excuse), and we’re waiting to leave for the “Nats” game… so here we go. Our all time, very best, I will not debate this, you’re wrong; I’m right top 12 Beatle Songs. Not to quote Marvie Gaye, but let’s get it on…
I’m a Loser
It's Only Love
Everybody's Got Something To Hide Expect For me and my Monkey
I Am the Walrus
I Need You
I'll Cry Instead
I’ll admit this is a nice little list right here, but none of them are cracking the top 12. They’re all flawed at some level compared to the other 12 songs on this list… I’m a Loser is too depressing and John doesn’t seem to believe what he’s singing, It’s Only Love loses it’s ‘flair’ when you realize it isn’t Paul singing, Blackbird doesn’t seem to go anywhere for some reason, EGSTHEFM&MM is too chaotic in the end, I am the Walrus leaves you empty at some point, I Need You doesn’t try hard enough, and I’ll Cry Instead… we’ll it’s too early Beatles for it to be great. Of course, the songs that really got ‘shafted’ are I’ve Just Seen a Face and You’ve got to Hide Your Love Away but you know what… it’s not about what we all think it’s about me so there.
12) And Your Bird Can Sing – This song works because of the bass line, its very unBeatle like, almost Motownish in fact. Listen for it if you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s reaching for places the Beatles never go in terms of bass lines. Anyway, yeah then there is George’s fun little guitar work and the perfectly harmonized, “You tell me that you’ve heard every sound there is” part. John hated this song for the record. It’s a weak inclusion if you ask me… but I always come back to that harmonized “You tell me that you’ve heard every sound there is” part and I just love it.
11) She Loves You – I’m fully aware that this is sort of a cheesy inclusions, but 1) you’ve got to have one of those early Beatle songs because the hook in those songs are out of this world. Divine like in many ways. We could argue what song has a better hook, “I want to Hold Your Hand” or “She Loves You” until Kingdom come, but “She Loves You” gets the not because the four do a much better job playing their instruments than in “Hand”. For instance, who doesn’t love George’s guitar work in this song? Just fantastic. I’m not a huge fan of the chorus, but then John breaks into “With a love like that” with its simple da/da/da start and stop… just a fantastic song one so many different levels. The fact that the lyrics in this song are so bad that even I can’t over look them, goes to show how well written this song is.
10) Wait – I’ll be honest; even I am surprised this cracked the top 12, but here it is. I just couldn’t cut it. Maybe its George’s guitar work again, simple yet effective, especially in the chorus… then again I’m a sucker for the tambourine. Or maybe it’s the fact the song just sort of starts… and ends. There’s not a real intro or outro. And then there’s the bridge where John hands off to Paul and he nails it by keeping it simple (this would be the last time we’d see Paul just do what he should do instead of trying to do too much and nearly ruining a countless number of Beatle songs and eventually giving us crap like “Let It Be”, “The Long and Winding Road” and “Oh! Darling”)
9) In My Life – Yeah, this song isn’t too cutting edge, nor does it feature the hooks and/or rifts that you’d expect. Musically, it’s a straight forward, if not simple, song. But the lyrics do sort of cut to the bone don’t they? If Paul had written this would it even crack the top 100? Doesn’t this song seem more important and powerful because John did it and not Paul? I don’t know. It’s on the list… I’m moving on.
8) Cry Baby Cry – No Beatle song builds on itself better than Cry Baby Cry. Starts off with just John and a guitar, then comes the piano, suddenly there are drums, a bass line, more instruments, a second guitar, back ground vocals… and all the while John is weaving these instruments and sounds in and out, here and there, following the simple four line verse, into the chorus, back to verse telling the story of a royal court recalled from his youth. In many ways this song should work so well, but the story is intriguing. I’ll never forgive or understand the Paul reprise of I Will thrown in at the end, but whatever. We’ll live with it. And by the way, how many times have other bands attempted to write this song?
7) For No One – Paul at his most mellow! And he does such a fantastic job with this song (if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m not a big fan of Paul’s over-the-top arrangements and singing), this is a really sad song and he lets the song not only tell the story but just be what it is. A sad song about a relationship that should have worked, but didn’t, and he’s not sure why. He lets his voice tell the story, and you can feel his pain. And the French Horn… just a touch of genius. It adds to the loneliness of the song, a single French Horn somewhere in the distance. I also like the simple, but necessary bass line/notes that hold everything together. This is an underrated song and the fact that it came from Paul makes it all the more interesting.
6) Two of Us – Paul and John have never sounded so good together. The song is so mature too… it’s amazing how in eight years they went from Love me do to Two of Us. What a great love song. Just sounds like two lovers not only deep in love, but also having fun being in love. Oh wait that was Paul and Lina were… but don’t you get the feel it’s more about John and Paul in the end?
5) I’m Happy Just to Dance With You – I’m not sure when I realized the absolute genius of this song. I’m not kidding, little Georgie Harrison, the Scouser just singing his heart out in a near perfect song. Of course, it’s written by Lennon, but Harrison sings the song perfectly. The hook in this song is just killer… and we all sort of hope that love is like this and isn’t it sort of like this? And of course this song isn’t necessarily about love (more like songwriting itself), but hey it’s what’s the kids want.
4) I Will – The greatest ditty of all time. It’s such a sweet song, such a lovely love song… I’m sounding like a girl or something… but who doesn’t love the “do do do dodo” human bass that Paul puts down for this one?… just puts this song on a level that is so fantastic. And honestly, the lyrics aren’t that bad. I’m not kidding. Paul at his finest?
3) A Day In A Life – Where to start? The fact that this might be one of John’s finest moments as a lyricist? That the image of “how many holes it takes to fill the Royal Albert Hall” is one of those great images in all of music. And it also replays in your head over and over again whenever you’re even near the Royal Albert Hall in London? Was the guy from the House of Lords? And what exactly is the point of the ‘bridge’ where Paul actually describes a “Day in a Life”? Is there some sort of connection to Ulysses in the song? Is the song a dream? How unbelievablely awesome are the chords in this song? Hasn’t every band with any ambition tried to write this song all over again? Isn’t it almost unbelievable to hear the Who, Radiohead, and Wilco all in one song?
2) I Don't Want to Spoil the Party – Simply put the most underrated Beatles song out there. Not only is the rift in this song out of this world, but the chorus is pretty much on the same level. And of course if you went back and looked really hard, you could say, this is the first case were John was trying something else, saying something more than what he was saying… or at least I like to believe that. That he was exploring his ability and also what he was saying. I’m not so sure this song is as cut and dry as it appears to be. I don’t think John was completely talking about ‘heart break’ in this song. I think the key is in the title, he’s trying to come to grips with his new found fame. It’s a theme that all four would have to face over time, but John obviously faced it first. We’d get bits and pieces of this for a few years, and then they’d really throw it at us on Revolver. But here, on this record, we see John starting to question and realize his fame and existence. But let’s face it, it’s about that rift and chorus.
1) Something – The greatest love song of all time. It’s so unassuming… something, there is just ‘something’ about her. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s something. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what love is? It’s something that we can’t really describe and we can list all these things trying to explain what that something is… but we can never fully describe it. It’s just something. But the song also throws a little Sonnet 116 in there… George is unsure about his love at the same time. He just doesn’t know. But the easy bass line, beautiful strings, and aspiring chords make this song probably as close to perfection as we’ll get.