The Beatles: a name that is familiar across generations. I have been a fan since I was young, when I heard their music playing through the walls of my childhood home.
My mother grew up on their music, and she thought it would only be right to give her children the same treat. I listened to every album under the group’s name, and followed each of their solo careers.
At least one piece of Beatles history reaches a significant milestone every year. This year, for example, is the 50th anniversary of the movie “Yellow Submarine,” so I thought I would share my top five Beatles’ songs.
This selection will focus on the group, rather than their solo careers, and will take into consideration the popularity of the song on top of how much I enjoy listening to it. So here goes our trip from Sgt. Pepperland to the U.S.S.R.
5. “Come Together”
Written by lead singer John Lennon and released in 1969 as the opening track of the popular album, Abbey Road, this is the perfect song to start the list.
If you have never listened to a Beatles song, which raises a different set of questions, this song will act as an important example of what The Beatles were about.
The song has a political meaning, but I will focus on the melody.
Opening with a drum beat and bass riff, you are transported into the end of the 1960s Beatles scene. The song brings forth the rhythm of a classic beat mixed with Lennon's smooth vocals.
The song increases tempo almost halfway through with the addition of George Harrison on guitar, and it makes it memorable. This song led to several covers by bands like Aerosmith and Ike & Tina Turner.
When I listen to it, the opening pulls me in and John sings his way into my ears and heart.
The song reached the top of the charts in the United States and peaked at No. 4 in the United Kingdom.
4. “A Day in the Life”
Credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, this song was released as the final track on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, a magnificent album that experimented with instrumentation and lyrics.
The song opens with a softly strummed guitar and quiet piano melody before jumping into the first verse.
Each verse focuses on current events at the time, starting with Lennon singing, “I read the news today, oh boy.” This gives some insight as to the storytelling that goes on in this song.
With the continuation of the smooth guitar and piano, it seems to be a mellow song. You can hear several drums in the background before the song takes a turn and goes into its orchestral verse.
This is the best part of the tune. It changes its tempo, getting much quicker before another orchestral section; then, it returns to the original beat. It is almost magical.
This is why the song is great — it takes you on a lyrical journey as well as an instrumental one.
It was ranked the 28th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine and, in another list, the magazine ranked it as the greatest Beatles song.
This song exemplifies their experimentation in the late 60s, one of the many highlights in their career.
Released in December 1965 on their album Rubber Soul, this classic is a love ballad sung in French. Yes, the ever-so-talented group stepped up their game and gave their fans a romantic song in the language of love.
Sung by Paul McCartney, it floats in your ear and makes non-French speakers sing the lyrics the best they can.
The song won many accolades, including landing number one on charts across the world and a Grammy in 1967.
The song is a slow one, but for a love ballad this is perfect. On this track you get the sound of a soft guitar mixed with background vocals from all members. It starts in English and transitions to French as smoothly as the record spins.
One of the shorter songs produced by the group, this classic reminds us that, in the end, The Beatles are a boy band that aims to please.
The ballad transports you to a café overlooking the Eiffel Tower and makes you fall in love. That is why it is number three; it reminds us of the beauty of love.
2. “Yellow Submarine”
This 1966 classic was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon and later adapted into a film. If you haven’t seen it, you need to, more than once. The song, sung by drummer Ringo Starr, takes us on a colorful journey in, you guessed it, a yellow submarine.
The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became the most successful Beatles song to feature Starr as lead vocalist.
It is considered their "most beloved kiddie song," according to Rolling Stone in their 2011 edition of their 100 best Beatles songs. The article also goes on to describe "Yellow Submarine" as a "gateway drug" that turns kids into Beatles fans.
It is one of my all-time favorites due to the, pardon the pun, colorful language throughout. The beat is simple and the guitar strums move your feet to the beat.
There are beautiful wave sounds on top of the chorus, comprised of vocals, horns and other big band instruments. The song is like a children’s book come to life.
When I hear the song, I see the lyrics played out; you can see them boarding the submarine, and you can visualize the dock. This song is one that most people know and can sing along to.
Altogether, “Yellow Submarine” will fill you with joy as it transports you to your childhood.
These songs didn’t make it onto the top 5 list but you should listen to them anyways: “Nowhere Man” (1965), “Please Please Me” (1963), “All My Loving” (1963), “Day Tripper” (1965), “Hey Jude” (1968) and “Help!” (1965).
1. “Let It Be”
Released on the 12th and final studio album of the same name, this song is a wonderful way to remember the end of The Beatles, some of the greatest musicians the world has ever known. It was released on May 8th, 1970, almost a month after the group’s break-up.
Like most of the band's previous releases, it was a number-one album in many countries.
Although this song was produced after they were broken up, they all came together to claim their identity as The Beatles, then and forever more.
The song is carried beautifully by the piano and continues with even more amazing lyrics. It is a well-known song that has made its way into our hearts and still brings us to tears, as it functions as a farewell from the group.
Though the song has many interpretations, it tells us to simply “let it be.” My personal opinion is that the song was meant to reference their career and directed to their fans, though this opinion is up for discussion.
This song wraps up their career, and this list, as it will always be my favorite.
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