I’ve written a handful of posts on classical music since starting this blog. But for years before crossing over into that genre, I listened to popular music, and The Beatles were far and away my favorite group. While a few of their songs have been clear favorites for a long time, I’ve never really thought about listing the ten best Beatles songs – until now.
It didn’t take long to discover that picking only 10 would be extremely difficult. So rather than torture myself, I expanded the list to 20. Let’s face it. They didn’t have a lot of duds and there were endless classics. I could have probably made it a top 50.
My love of classical music was initially influenced to some extent by the use of classical arrangements on some of The Beatles’ records. So it shouldn’t be surprising that there will be more than a few songs in here that fall into that category.
Rating music is, of course, no less subjective than rating cheesesteaks.
20. I Saw Her Standing There This song probably captures The Beatles’ early period better than any other.
19. Let It Be It never gets old. I have a preference for the album version over the single.
18. It’s All Too Much This George song may be the least known from the 20. It features a wonderful arrangement and captures the feel of that period for the group beautifully.
17. Happiness Is a Warm Gun A tour de force from John with essentially three songs in one.
16. Tomorrow Never Knows This one really came out of left field at the time. John was such an innovator in this period.
15. Hey Jude The group’s biggest-selling song was a gem. The power of the brass and extended chorus at the end is something to behold.
14. Honey Pie Paul shows his ability to excel at writing seemingly any pop genre and doing so extremely well.
13. Dear Prudence Great melody and lyrics from John in this one.
12. Something George’s best song is one of the group’s – and pop music’s – all-time great love songs.
11. Girl Love the lyrics and the use of what has always sounded like Greek folk music to me.
10. Revolution 1 Some of the group’s best harmonies come on this track. It just has such a cool feel to it.
9. You Never Give Me Your Money This song is Paul’s tour de force. He uses three different voices and changes gears multiple times.
8. In My Life Such a classic. There have been some great covers of it over the years, but I prefer the original with that sped up piano solo from George Martin.
7. And I Love Her One of Paul’s gems. There is no classical arrangement, but it has that sort of feel nonetheless.
6. Strawberry Fields Forever This one was so unbelievably innovative. It was like it came out of nowhere at the time.
5. Yesterday The group’s first song with a classical arrangement; it’s the most recorded song in history.
4. She’s Leaving Home Here is one of Paul’s classic ballads with a beautiful arrangement and a nice vocal contribution from John.
3. I Am the Walrus Classical arrangements tended to be used differently on John’s and Paul’s songs during this period. Paul’s were arranged in a more purely classical way, while some of John’s, including this one and Strawberry Fields, blended classical and pop instrumental arrangements in ways that hadn’t been heard before these songs came down the pipe.
2. Eleanor Rigby What wonderful use of a small string section to go along with great lyrics and vocals.
1. A Day in the Life It must have been so mind-blowing to hear this for the first time. The orchestra makes a tremendous impact. And it’s great to have a song with contributions from both John and Paul on top.
2 thoughts on “20 Greatest Beatles Songs”
Based on your list it seems you prefer the more “mature” Beatles than the “yeah yeah yeah” sound of their British Invasion years. I like a lot of their early stuff, especially some of their covers like “Roll Over, Beethoven” and “Please Mr. Postman”.
I can never remember which version of “Let It Be” has the guitar solo in the bridge, but I believe it was Phil Spector who edited it out in favor of a more “cathedral” sound (bad move IMO). Incidentally, a couple of new remixes have been released in the past year or so.
Still, I’m a little disappointed you didn’t mention “Rocky Raccoon” or what’s quite possibly my very favorite: “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”.
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There were a few other White Album songs that I gave serious consideration to.