Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Beatles' catalogue: worst to best

At JamesBio , an apparently indefatigable writer and Beatles fan going by the name "JBev" put together a list that ranks 185 of the Beatles songs from worst to best. He or she also included a write-up for each entry.

Here are some thoughts based on my not exhaustive look at the list:

- Even if "A Day in the Life" wouldn't automatically top my list, it's a hard selection to knock for the prime spot.

- "I Am the Walrus" is a wonderfully weird and hypnotic song, but it's far too high at number two.

- "She's Leaving Home" at three?

- I was glad to see at least a couple of pre-Rubber Soul songs in the top twenty ("Please Please Me," "If I Fell," etc.).

- "Two Of Us" stands tall, even at number thirty.

- "I'm So Tired" seems deserving of a better placement than between "Fixing A Hole" and "Let It Be" (in my book, another overpraised tune from Paul).

- It's a bit strange seeing "Don't Let Me Down" only one spot ahead of "P.S. I Love You."

- When making a list of this kind, I can imagine how difficult it would be to suppress the urge to elevate personal favorites over songs that you know are more artful, innovative, technically skilled, etc. This thought occurred to me when I came across "The Ballad of John and Yoko" at 101. It's a song that I cherish. And I prefer it to, say, "I'm Only Sleeping." But the latter is a conceptual masterpiece and would certainly merit a ranking above "Ballad." The potent feelings of fanhood that The Beatles inspire could easily complicate this process.

- I strongly disagree with "Run For Your Life's" unflattering placement at 138. And what crime did "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" commit to fall at 183, two spots from the very bottom?

I'm sure that any Beatles fan who made such a list would encounter a fair share of hostility and outrage for their selections. So it goes with opinions regarding the most successful and popular band in music history. Like many of the commenters on JamesBio , I found more to dislike than not about JBev's take on The Beatles' catalogue. But as an individual undertaking, it's quite impressive.

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