Thursday, August 26, 2010

The best of the best?

Rolling Stone is currently offering a peak at its list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs. Go here for the teaser, which reveals songs 1-10. The full list is the centerpiece of a recently released Special Collectors Edition issue.

As you'll see, Rolling Stone's top ten doesn't break from orthodoxy or do anything but confirm that the magazine is part of the received wisdom. Predictably, "A Day in the Life" sits atop the list, and both "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "In My Life" are close by. For the record, these are selections which I fully back. But why is it that every entry from the top ten has to be such a familiar, time-honored, greatest-hits kind of song? Is there really no room for even a touch of unconventional thinking, like replacing "Let It Be" with "Two of Us" or "Come Together" with "Girl?" Even just one deviation in the top ten would make a huge difference. But maybe that's asking too much. Maybe songs like "Yesterday" and "Something" consistently outrank "I'm Only Sleeping" and "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" simply because they're better. Maybe songs we so often find at the top have earned the right to be there. Or maybe, just maybe, elite opinion regarding The Beatles' greatest songs has calcified to the point where the matter is essentially settled law and revisionist considerations are rarely countenanced. It's obvious where I stand.

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