Thursday, September 16, 2010

"The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs" (Pt. 1)

Despite my misgivings about the Top 10, I read Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Beatles songs, and found much to like. There's such a wealth of information in it that most Fab fans are likely to encounter something they didn't know. Plus, the quality of writing put forth by Rolling Stone is exceptionally high; the scribes who worked on this project know these songs. A pleasure to read, overall (though it did elicit some puzzlement at times, but that's not surprising). As I read, I even took notes. You'll see a chunk of them below; the rest I'll probably compile in a post for later today.

- "All I've Got to Do" is criminally high (or low?) at #97. I'd like to see it in the 50s or 60s.

- Though Paul's relationship with her ultimately proved too burdensome, Jane Asher was the muse behind a handful of classic songs. And even her parents' house played an important role in The Beatles' career, serving as a fruitful spot for song-writing.

- In the blurb for "I'm So Tired" (#83), there's mention made of John longing for Yoko while he was in India and wishing that he had invited her with despite his wife Cynthia also being on the trip. I always chuckle over this story. It's a frank reminder that the spell of a woman can lead men to entertain impossibly stupid ideas.

- I like the mental image of Brian Wilson shedding tears as Paul played "She's Leaving Home" (#82) for him. That's such a Brian Wilson thing to do.

- I find it interesting that John took "Child of Nature," a song inspired by the Maharishi's teachings, and turned it into the confessional "Jealous Guy."

- I also like that both Paul and George have referred to "Because" (#77) as their favorite track on Abbey Road. By my lights, there isn't a more hypnotic song in The Beatles' catalogue.

- What a zesty description of "Yellow Submarine" (#74): "the gateway drug that turns little children into Beatles fans." Truth be told, I found the song a bit irritating when I was a youngster, but the point stands.

- One of John's worst tendencies was playing the victim. Observe his remark in the section about "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey" (#73): "We took 'H' (heroin) because of what the Beatles and their pals were doing to us." Come on, John - don't pass the buck so shamelessly.

- "Part of me suspects I'm a loser, and the other part of me thinks I'm God Almighty." These words capture the fraught and confused person that John was better than most could. You might even say they penetrate to his core.

- In terms of John's psyche and emotional make-up, it's also quite revealing that "Julia" (#69) is about both his mother and Yoko. With fair reason, John was plagued by mommy issues, and it's clear that he used Yoko as a maternal surrogate to some degree.

- I didn't know that Mick Jagger might have provided back-up vocals on "Baby, You're a Rich Man" (#68).

- "Girl" at #62? Puh-leeze.

- Staying on the subject of "Girl," it's another song that allows us to glimpse John's complex nature. Just consider this: the "girl" in the song makes a sport out of mistreating him, and yet he claimed she was the one he had been searching for his whole life.

- Another lovely scene: in a show of brotherly support, John, Paul, and George gathered around a nervous Ringo as he laid down the vocal for "With a Little Help from My Friends" (#61)

- Finally, I like "If I Needed Someone" (#51), but I can't brook the notion that it's superior to "It Won't Be Long" (#53), "Two of Us" (#54), "Taxman" (#55), "I'm Only Sleeping" (#57) "I've Just Seen a Face" (#58), etc.

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