If you are like me, when you see the list of top ten Beatles songs as chosen by Rolling Stone magazine, you will probably say, “Hey, what about ________?” Each person will no doubt fill in the blank with a song that is not on this list. While I believe all the songs on the list are wonderful, there are more than a few missing that I think merit being there.
Here is the list of the ten songs:
1. “A Day in the Life”
2. “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
3. “Strawberry Fields Forever”
5. “In My Life”
7. “Hey Jude”
8. “Let It Be”
9. “Come Together”
10. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
Interestingly, two songs written by George Harrison are here (numbers 6 and 10). As most Beatles fans know, whoever sang lead vocals on the Lennon-McCartney collaborations was the writer of the song. That means John gets four songs in there (numbers 2, 3, 5, and 9), while McCartney comes in with three (number 4, 7, and 8). The number one song “A Day in the Life” features lead vocals by both Lennon and McCartney, signifying that they did indeed work together on that one.
Of course, the list could be so much longer, but the point of a top ten in anything is to narrow the field to the best of the best. Some would argue that some really excellent songs are missing, and I couldn’t agree more. The group recorded more than two hundred songs, and this covered a period that while relatively short (1962-1969) really spanned the cultural change of the decade, adapting to – and sometimes influencing – the times and bringing fans that loved them along on their “Magical Mystery Tour” of music.
From that first song “Love Me Do” they recorded as a single to the last song “The End” that actually closed out the group’s life as a band with the apropos lyrics – “And in the end/the love you take/Is equal to the love you make” – they spanned the spectrum of pop and rock and roll, and so many fans have favorite songs that it is difficult to ever come down to what would be a list everyone would agree upon.
As I look at the list, it seems that the magazine tried to painstakingly take songs from each era of the band’s history. With “I Want to Hold Your Hand” covering the mop-top years, “A Day in the Life” capturing their creative peak, and “Let it Be” closing out the songbook as it were (“Let It Be” was released after “The End” which is arguably their final song as a band).
I still have problems with the list. How can you include “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and leave out “A Hard Day’s Night” and “She Loves You”? What about “All You Need Is Love” instead of “Yesterday”? Why is “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” there at the expense of “Get Back”?
Well, I could go on and on, and that is the whole point. It is probably impossible for any of us to ever come up with a top ten list of Beatles songs to please everyone; however, Rolling Stone has given us a somewhat definitive list that captures the essence of the Beatles over the course of their time as a band.
Sure, we can all squawk about what is left out, but perhaps we should just sit back, enjoy the music, and just “Let It Be.”
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