Well, Rolling Stone came out with their “Top 10 Beatles Songs” in this month’s issue. I don’t have anything against the list, because it’s hard to go wrong with the boys from Liverpool. Rolling Stone listed these as the best cuts: 1. “A Day in the Life”; 2. “I Want to Hold Your Hand”; 3. “Strawberry Fields Forever”; 4. “Yesterday”; 5. “In My Life”; 6. “Something”; 7. “Hey Jude”; 8. “Let It Be”; 9. “Come Together”; and at No 10. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. People love to quibble over lists. Frankly, I’ll change my mind as soon as I post this one. Some people pick the songs that are most popular. Others choose songs that are the most inventive, or those with moving lyrics, or an inspiring melody. There’s no right or wrong answer with a Beatles Top 10 list. I decided to give it a shot, starting with my No. 10, “I’m Only Sleeping”, from off the “Revolver” album. — David D. Robbins Jr.
NO. 10: The Beatles “I’m Only Sleeping”
Memorable lyric: “Please don’t wake me / No, don’t shake me / Leave me where I am / I’m only sleeping.”
Of note: Music doesn’t get much prettier. How about Lennon’s gorgeous vocal melody atop those backings “ooohs”? Lovely.
NO. 9: The Beatles “Within You Without You”
Memorable lyric: “We were talking about the space between us all.”
Of note: Hey, it’s not just about John and Paul. George could craft a song too. I like this better than “My Guitar Gently Weeps”.
NO. 8: The Beatles “Blackbird”
Memorable lyric: “Blackbird singing in the dead of night / Take these broken wings and learn to fly.”
Of note: Seems so simple. But Paul’s vocals here are so crystalline, set to a metronome beat.
NO. 7: The Beatles “Come Together”
Memorable lyric: “He got monkey finger / He shoot Coca-Cola.”
Of note: Strange lyrics and one of the most memorable opening grooves in their entire catalog. Rolling Stone is right about this one.
NO. 6: The Beatles “Nowhere Man”
Memorable lyric: “He’s a real nowhere man / Sitting in his nowhere land / Making all his nowhere plans, for nobody.”
Of note: A lyrical monster. Fun, witty — and with a real message.
NO. 5: The Beatles “I’m So Tired”
Memorable lyric: “I’m so tired / I’m feelin’ so upset / Though I’m so tired / I’ll have another cigarette.”
Of note: Probably not on most Beatles fans’ Top 10 lists, but its mood is pure anesthetic.
NO. 4: The Beatles “Fixing a Hole”
Memorable lyric: “I’m fixing a hole, where the rain get in / And stops my mind from wandering, where it will go.”
Of note: A clever bit of lyricism about losing one’s mind, under the veneer of fixing a leaky roof.
NO. 3: The Beatles “Dear Prudence”
Memorable lyric: “The sun is up / The sky is blue / It’s beautiful, and so are you.”
Of note: Seems to encapsulate an era. The end of a peaceful 60s, and the ushering in of a confused and bizarre 70s.
NO. 2: The Beatles “Happiness is a Warm Gun”
Memorable lyric: “Lying with his eyes / While his hands are busy working overtime.”
Of note: Doesn’t get more odd than this morbidity set to doo-wop. What a creation.
NO. 1: The Beatles “A Day In the Life”
Memorable lyric: “He blew his mind out in a car / He didn’t notice that the lights had changed.”
Of note: Another era marker. Devastatingly bleak.