November 8, 2011

"A song so titanic that it basically changed the entire trajectory of pop music history."

"The opening is pure bliss and glee and stands as a complete change from the creeping blahness of the early 60s. Instead, we get a charge of guitars and a thump of drums and simple profession..."

List-a-Beefy finally reaches the end of the line, #1 on the list of 100 greatest #1 songs in the history of the Billboard top 100 list.

45 comments:

syd B. said...

Its hard to argue that the song had a monumental impact on music history, so from that point of view, I can't argue with the selection, however, if it were to be judged on musical song writing merits, NOPE!

Psychedelic George said...

"Praang!"

The opening chord of "A Hard Day's Night" is better than the entire "Hold Your Hand."

Scott M said...

I'm with Psych George on "Hard Day's" but there's simply no getting around the impact this song had.

traditionalguy said...

Breaking news: Herman Cain was overheard singing this song as "I want to hold your gland."

Paddy O said...

The 60s were dreamy!!

I wish I was a baby boomer so I could wallow in all the marvelousness of what happened when I was young. Because that's when stuff was the best! The best, Jerry!

Shanna said...

That song may be nostalgic to 60's folks but it's not all that great.

rcommal said...

"I Wanna Hold Your Hand"-- how quaint! We've come a long way since then, baby. *Snort.*

Ann Althouse said...

""I Wanna Hold Your Hand"-- how quaint!"

People said that at the time. Especially when the Rolling Stones came out with "Let's Spend the Night Together," which was way back in 1967.

Ann Althouse said...

"I wish I was a baby boomer so I could wallow in all the marvelousness of what happened when I was young. Because that's when stuff was the best!"

If you look at the whole list at the link, you'll see all the decades are very well covered. The bloggers there are fond of pop music generally, even stuff from the last 10 years, which I don't know at all. And they are not Baby Boomers, btw.

Clyde said...

Sure thing, rcommal. It's just a hop, skip and a jump from that to Liz Phair's "H.W.C." - NSFW! Explicit lyrics!

Clyde said...

And just because I like you guys, here's another bonus Liz Phair video, a cover of The Vapors' "Turning Japanese." If you knew that the title of the song was about masturbation, go to the head of the class!

Surfed said...

Went out, bought a guitar and learned a good bit of their catalouge. Funny that in the 1960's you you would go to dances and the bands would NEVER play Beatle songs. Stones, Dave Clark 5, Animals, Herman's Hermits, etc. were all in the set lists. Never the Beatles. They were revered and their music was held sacrosanct. To this day I can still play Norweigan Wood, Michelle, and any number of other Lennon/McCartney tunes. Badly.

Surfed said...

Shoot, I even know the opening chord to "A Hard Day's Night". Don't remember how to play the whole song, but I can still make that opening Rickenbacker 12 chord ring true.

Mike said...

I'd just turned 20. Rock 'n Roll was slowing down--sounding a bit tired etc.

Then along comes "I Want to Hold Your Hand". Simple, mindless and fun with a lot of energy in the guitars. Is it or was it Number 1 of all time? No way Jose. Was it fun? You betcha.

Allie's Apple said...

One of their worst songs, actually their early songs were all crap, the Beach Boys were far superior in their early music. Later, however the Beatles were magnificent and the Beach Boys lost traction after Good Vibrations.

bagoh20 said...

I was only 6, but I remember singing it endlessly to myself all day long. I didn't even know who the Beatles were, but the music was contagious to kids.

People generally think of those times as being repressive compared to today, but I don't remember it that way at all. Everyone was trying new things in the culture, art, technology, relationships. People smoked, drank and and related to each other more honestly than today, I think.

For example, my small hometown was about 98% white, but my family had Black family friends that we did things with like go camping and fishing, bowling, etc. The race thing never came up. My parents would call them "our colored friends". That we were different races just seemed unimportant. Nobody ever said anything negative about them or our relationship with them. Only about 5 Black kids in the 2000 student high school class, but one was elected homecoming queen.

People wanted to make a inclusive statement, and there seemed little disagreement about it. Then again all the Blacks there were middle class and law abiding. When I moved to a liberal big city, I learned about racism. It may have just been different in small towns.

My sister married a black guy back in the sixties. This was a little contentious at first, but smoothed over pretty quickly. He turned out to be an ass, and that had a lasting effect, I think, on us. Unfairly we attached some of that to other Blacks we met afterward. We were less trusting.

That's the problem with race. If members of your group are acting badly and you have a strong group identity, then you need to fix one or the other.

I liked The Beatles.

Shanna said...

Herman's Hermits

My mom went to a concert a few weeks ago with Herman's Hermits and the Lettermen. She had a blast and has been playing HH's in the car for weeks now.

I loved Henry the eighth as a kid.

David said...

I like the beat. I give it a 95!

EDH said...

Handclapping : I Want to Hold Your Hand:: Cowbell : Don't Fear the Reaper

Ann Althouse said...

"Is it or was it Number 1 of all time? No way Jose. Was it fun? You betcha."

Fun is the one thing that money can't buy.

It's a list of pop songs. Fun is a BFD.

bagoh20 said...

Isn't incredible how long Rock and Roll has lasted as a popular genre. It is the defining cultural element of the last 50 years. Will it ever be supplanted?

Bob_R said...

Hard to argue with the impact of the song - their first #1 in the USA - but the reason the Beatles had staying power is that the songs kept getting better. She Loves You gets my vote for the quintessential early 60's pop song.

Bonus observation: It seems obvious to me that I Saw Her Standing There (US B side) was written to be "easy" for a bassist to sing while playing a pretty busy boogie bass line. Most of Paul's best bass playing is on songs by John or George.

EDH said...

Watch Paul miss the lipsync when he says "you'll let me be your man" when he should say "you'll let me hold your hand" @ 01:04 in the video.

Beside Lennon's lead vocal, tells me it was John's song.

Kit said...

It's a list of pop songs. Fun is a BFD.

I think that's why I expected to hear screaming when I started up the song. :)

Paddy O said...

@althouse, that's what they were actually thinking!

edutcher said...

Sorry, guys, whether anybody likes it or not, the song that changed the postwar world was, "Heartbreak Hotel"; it launched Elvis' career and Rock 'n' Roll at the same time.

Not my fave, either, but...

Surfed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Surfed said...

First Ed Sullivan show. The Beatles had gone into the Control Room during rehersals and asked the engineers to keep the volume up on the instruments. That was a big no-no to go in the CBS control room and make "suggestions". As a result the CBS engineers in an apparent reprisal dropped John's vocals completely from the "I Want to Hold Your Hand" mix when they did the song live that night. You Tube it up and listen. No John.

Astro said...

I remember being blown away by this song when it came out. Sure, looking back the words were simple and naive, but the world wasn't so jaded as it is today; the words didn't seem so naive at the time.

The revolutionary aspect was that it was rock but it was such a different sound from the stuff that had been on the charts for quite some time before it. Someone had found a new sound and like many kids my age I was yelling, "What?? Play that again!"

I completely agree that this song was the beginning of a huge change in pop music.

Suburbanbanshee said...

There's clapping on it.

I never heard the clapping before.

Apparently my parents' 1970's AM radio speakers were worse than I thought.

Craig said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3xpmfJp0Xc&ob=av2e

The Zutons, a Liverpudlian band like the Beatles, recorded this tune at Abbey Road, the studio created by the Beatles. It wasn't known beyond Liverpool until Amy Winehouse sang it at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday party. It didn't really become famous until Bruno Mars performed it at a memorial as a tribute to Amy Winehouse.

Chuck66 said...

To really understand what the Beatles did in early 1964, look at the top 40 chart from the week before the Beatle songs first showed up. It was closer to Bing Crosby than 60s guitar rock.

Or look at the top artists of 1963. Very mellow vocalists.

Chuck66 said...

Shanna, by co-incidence I pulled out my Herman Hermits CD a couple of nights ago and played it through twice. Peter Noone was actually a very talented writer. And he was incredibly young when he started recording.

Shanna said...

Shanna, by co-incidence I pulled out my Herman Hermits CD a couple of nights ago and played it through twice.

They had a few songs that were lovely. I enjoy Mrs. Brown you’ve got a lovely daughter and I think what’s so fun about it is the inflection. The words are very clipped.

Peter Noone was actually a very talented writer. And he was incredibly young when he started recording.

And dreamy according to my mother, but lord his teeth were huge!

For the most part though, I prefer Cream, but that’s later 60’s.

PatCA said...

I still remember the first time I heard it. Amazing!

Chip S. said...

If you look at the whole list at the link, you'll see all the decades are very well covered.

This defense against the charge of Boomer narcissism is actually evidence in support of the charge. "All the decades" of Boomer existence are covered, but none before. The world of popular music apparently began in the mid-1950s.

Yes, this is partly b/c the Billboard Top 100 was instituted in the mid '50s, but there were other Billboard charts for quite a while before that.

The worst boomer presumption is to babble on about the grand social significance of their pop faves. You want social/historical significance? Listen to Kitty Kallen sing about her orgasms with her returning soldier in 1945's "It's Been a Long, Long Time".

Reading through those postwar Billboard charts really helps put the subsequent rock'n'roll revolution in context. The music of the late '40s and early '50s seems to have largely served to sedate people exhausted by war.

Sigivald said...

Paul McCartney had a band before Wings?

Methadras said...

traditionalguy said...

Breaking news: Herman Cain was overheard singing this song as "I want to hold your venus mons."


Fixed for truthiness

RonF said...

I was in 7th grade when that came out. Even now I remember that it was a bright line through popular music. Pop music can be divided up into two eras - before "I want to hold your hand" and after it.

Kevin said...

This list-a-beefy site gave me the System Security malware. Maybe it is only if you go back through the list like I did, I went back to about #15 when BAM. So, be careful of that.

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

I like the Glee version of that song.

Alex said...

Meh. I'll take "Plug in Baby" by Muse from 2001. Way more inventive and interesting.

Alex said...

What about "Fake Plastic Trees" by Radiohead?

Russ said...

"If you look at the whole list at the link, you'll see all the decades are very well covered. The bloggers there are fond of pop music generally, even stuff from the last 10 years, which I don't know at all."
PARTICULARLY THE LAST 10 YEARS.

Look at the top 20. BLEH!

Gary Rosen said...

People who thinkg the Beatles came out of nowhere or that there was "nothing" happening just before them ignore the fact that they and the other Brit invasion groups were heavily influenced by early '60s Motown,R&B and girl groups (along with the '50s influences, Presley/Berry/Holly/Everlys).