June 15, 2017

"All 213 Beatles Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best."

I meant to link to this a while back. It's been up at New York Magazine since June 7th. Obviously, no one's going to agree with everything. For example, the author (the critic Bill Wyman), puts my favorite Beatles song below the midpoint:
110. “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” The Beatles (“The White Album”) (1968): Some people love this song. While the joke on gun fetishists is okay, I don’t get any other social comment in the track, and its provenance, just a collection of crap Lennon had lying around, shouldn’t have been encouraged. As I’ve mentioned, McCartney’s flaws, primarily an intermittent laziness (at least when it came to actual songwriting), would be much on display during this period. Here, Lennon’s are. For example, the line “Mother Superior jumped the gun,” besides not meaning anything, has the word gun in it, which confuses the meaning of the title.

70 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

The best Beatles track was "Silly Love Songs."

Suck it, Haters.

I am Laslo.

Known Unknown said...

Link to article anywhere?

PackerBronco said...

Worst (popular) Beatles Song: "Yesterday"

Rather than evoking the emotion of pity and empathy, it sounds like you're stuck in a bar with a buddy whose just spent the last hour whining about the breakup with his girl friend. You feel sympathy for the first 15 minutes but as the whining continues, you just want him to shut the **** up about her.

David said...

Huh?

Fen said...

My wife ruined it when she pointed out the ridiculous redundancy of "she loves you yeah yeah yeah"

Also, seafood. "It's mostly just underwater cockroaches"

Thank you so much, dear.

Unknown said...

Too many leftists think they are Maxwell and can swing that silver hammer.

-- Vance

Earnest Prole said...

The line “Mother Superior jumped the gun,” besides not meaning anything, has the word gun in it, which confuses the meaning of the title.

Don't fuck with the eagles till you learn how to fly.

D said...

Somewhere, a monk in a mountain temple is ranking all the songs of Vanilla Ice, from worst to best. When he finishes, the stars will go out one by one.

Ann Althouse said...

"Link to article anywhere?"

Is it really that hard to see?

Ann Althouse said...

Got to be a good link 'cause it's so hard to see...

Earnest Prole said...

Suck it, Haters.

Some people insist on filling the world with silly love songs, and what could possibly be wrong with that?

mockturtle said...

The link doesn't work for me---guess you have to subscribe.

rcocean said...

good that "hard days night" and "Penny lane" are highly rated.

Ann Althouse said...

The link is on "this" in the first sentence! You don't need a subscription.

themightypuck said...

In my dotage, I've realized I like the post Rubber Soul stuff way more than the pre Rubber Soul stuff. On the other hand, the only Star Wars movie I would ever want to watch again is the first one.

Ann Althouse said...

If you want to play the song, the second link, you have to be able to use Spotify.

Is it really so difficult.

Archilochus said...

For some it is so difficult. Mother Superior have mercy on them.

Virtually Unknown said...

I once lived in a house where the upstairs neighbor attacked a downstairs neighbor with a hammer to commit a robbery. Yes, these were our salad days and they let us rent without a security deposit. Anyway, the guy hid the hammer under the rug in the hallway and ran off. The police caught him when he ran by the front of the building with his hands covered in blood while they were investigating.,"red handed, so to speak." So Maxwell Silver Hammer got played a lot at parties at my place. Hey, the guy was already in prison, or the nuthouse, or wherever.

Alex said...

"Get Back" is a song about transexuals and Pakis.

Caroline Walker said...

Revolution no. 9. Extravagantly pointless.

Etienne said...

We watched a movie on NBC' Walt Disney, instead of The Beatles on CBS' Ed Sullivan.
Walt Disney had a movie called: The Three Lives of Thomasina.

It was In Living Color™ although we only had a Black and White TV.

Dave in Tucson said...

Some of the choices in this list are just indefensible to me.

#213 Good Day Sunshine - while not their best song, this is a nice little sing-along pop song. There are many more much worthier candidates for last place

#153 Mr. Moonlight absolute worst of their cover songs, should be much lower
#136 Why Don't We Do it in the Road? - embarrassing, juvenile lyrics
#112 You Know My Name (Look Up the Number) - this should've been in the bottom 10, how is it in the top half?
#98 Flying - easily the most forgettable track ever to appear on a Beatles album.
#88 Run For Your Life - the lyrics of this song basically make it a death threat
#87 Yer Blues - a song about a millionaire pop star's ennui. Save it.
#13 Money - one of their more forgettable covers, how on Earth does this rank so high?

People love these in-order rankings when it comes to music, but they're just so ridiculous. Nobody's gonna agree with it. I suppose that's why they published it - clickbait.

Fernandinande said...

Interesting, but he has them in the wrong order.

Known Unknown said...

"Is it really that hard to see?"

Yes it was. But now I see it. The blue/black type on my screen is apparently very similar. It's much more evident in the show original post version on the comments rather than on the main blog.

mockturtle said...

As rock groups go, the Fab Four were never a favorite of mine. But I liked Ticket to Ride and Day Tripper about the best. A Little Help From My Friends was good, too, but I always associate it with Joe Cocker.

Known Unknown said...

I also found most of the songs I wanted to revisit on YouTube rather than Spotify, which I had a subscription too but then didn't use enough to justify it.

Known Unknown said...

I'm a Stones guy anyways.

Known Unknown said...

Since I missed the link, I went to nymag.com and found it. I also found this.

Alex said...

I always loved The Fab 4, but moved on to newer music in the last 15 years or so.

I'd recommend Tangerine Dream Zeit.

Fen said...

I look around me and I see it isn't so

Francisco D said...

Tax man

"Five for you, nineteen for me ... because I'm the tax man ...

It's a leftist wet dream. Hopefully, Inga and the usual progressives will chime in soon, in support of their dream.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

Crosby, Stills & Nash and CCR both had far more talent than did the Beatles.

madAsHell said...

Bill Wyman????

Henry said...

Does Bill Wyman have kids? Some of his worst Beatles songs are the best songs to sing with kids. Whimsy is perfect for kids.

(185. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite; 169. Mother Nature's Son; 166. Rocky Racoon

185. "The result is a decent novelty song that provides ammunition for those, like me, who contend that, track for (novelty) track, the song quality on Sgt. Pepper doesn’t live up its reputation."
169. "The lyrics are among McCartney’s worst."
166. "If you’re looking for the point at which Paul McCartney began to give whimsy a bad name, it is precisely here.")

That's wonderful reading. Wyman is a kick.

Graham Powell said...

I recently read that "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" was the best song on the White Album, according to Paul McCartney! Doesn't really sound like something he'd go for, does it?

(Incidentally both Paul and Ringo are out on tour and I'm going to get to see each of them live this year.)

Fernandinande said...

madAsHell said...
Bill Wyman????


Not the real Bill Wyman.

dwick said...

This guy writes like his brain needs an enema.

That 'weird setup with a revolving speaker that is then recorded' for Harrison's 'Here Comes The Sun' he gushes on about was first employed 2 to 3 years before on Tomorrow Never Knows... it's the whole inspiration for the name of the 'Revolver' album for crying out loud.

Rick Turley said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said...

"Got to be a good link 'cause it's so hard to see..."

I see what you did there. Excellent.

victoria said...

Since the first time i heard it, back in 1965,my favorite is "In My Life". Nothing any singer or TV show can do to that song changes my opinion. Second favorite, "While my guitar gently weeps."

I don't even care where both those songs are ranked.

Vicki From Pasadena

Browndog said...

I owned every Beatles album but one (not released in the U.S.) before I graduated high school- 1980.

The Beatles best song is "I want to hold your hand."

The worst song is on the White Album, too many to choose from.

Christy said...

Reading the list and commentary I suddenly realized why I stopped listening to lyrics before I was ever a teen. Fifty years later, try as I might, I can never follow the words to even favorite songs for more than a couple of lines. So much of the Beatles was happy nonsense. No need to listen carefully.

D.D. Driver said...

Counterpoint: Rocky Raccoon is *awesome*. And I never thought it was about a literal raccoon. I thought "Raccoon" was his last name.

richardsson said...

Can't say that I was much of a Beatles fan back then, but I suppose it was mostly because those records WERE PLAYED TO DEATH by the radio stations, especially in L.A. in 64-66. I never bought any of the 45's when they were out. In the late 80's, I happened by a record store that was clearing out their LP's to make way for the CD's, and I bought the whole collection for pennies on the dollar. In this list, I don't see much difference between the worst and the best. I like them a lot better now than I did then, but I'm not hearing the same song 5 times in an hour.

Yancey Ward said...

It is a terrible list at the top 10 or so. Of the songs listed in the top 10, I would have rank only "Penny Lane" and "A Day in the Life". I would have had "Eleanor Rigby" and "Rain" in the second 10.

My favorite Beatles songs have long been "Something" and "Come Together" along with "Here Comes the Sun", but this almost surely the result of my mother owning and playing the 8-track copy of Abbey Road in the car for at least a couple of years when I was around 4 or 5 years old. She also had a copy of Let It Be, but I think she played it less often, but it also imprinted on me the songs "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road". All of these are songs that whenever I hear them take me back to those times in a very intense way.

Jay Elink said...

My two sons, now 25 and 29, know everything about the Beatles.

We as parents didn't push ANY music on them.

Their friends know lots about 60's/70's music as well. Including Mo-town, r&b and the rest.

So..How can it be, if the Fab Four were so over-rated, that so many young people today look admiringly on the past?

Name any other 60's group, including the Stones, who could generate this much controversy about the relative merits of their music---the opposite of controversy being....zzzzzzzzz.

Anyone want to tell us who--outside the generation when it appeared--- listens to Sinatra, or The Big Bands?

So OK, if you want to say the Beatles and ALL old music is ephemeral and therefore sucks : make your case.

Tell us what you like, and why IT survives your scathing criticisms of the Moderns.

Yancey Ward said...

The thing about the Beatles that still astonishes me is that their entire evolution basically ran in a 7 year period- not even two terms of a presidency. I have always had trouble wrapping my head around that.

readering said...

I listen to Sinatra and the big bands.


But I also think there's the Beatles and then there's everyone else in rock.

Mark said...

Guy's definitely NOT a Paul fan.

readering said...

For a great In My Life cover, listen to Bette Middler.

virgil xenophon said...

I always loved She Came In Through The Bathroom Window . The lyric "she could steal but she could not rob" knocked me out.

FleetUSA said...

Happiness is a warm gun made me think immediately of my cock when I first heard it. Guns were so out of the news then.

Will Cate said...

All this White Album talk reminds me of the great (comedy) album by Firesign Theatre: "How Can You Be In Two Places At Once, When You're Not Anywhere At All," which satirizes the Beatles throughout (and that album in particular): Rocky Rococo, "everyone knew her as Nancy," "I'm so tired," "koo-koo-ka-choo" (yeah, that last one doesn't fit the pattern, but you get the idea)

RB Glennie said...

That's all I need to know to ignore this list - `Happiness is a Warm Gun' is one of the great Lennon/Beatle songs - `a soap impression of wife which he ate and donated to the National Trust...'

Paco Wové said...

Revolution no. 9
Throwaway noise. Clichéd from the womb.

Curious George said...

"Graham Powell said...
(Incidentally both Paul and Ringo are out on tour and I'm going to get to see each of them live this year."

Well, maybe.

BN said...

"my favorite Beatles song"

Good choice. The perfesser doesn't miss much either.

BN said...

Btw, I read a long time ago that "the National Trust" was British slang for "toilet." Makes sense.

M Jordan said...

I disagreed with a lot of the guy's rankings but enjoyed reading his logic. "ADay in the Life" is a great song but not their best. "Come Together" is. Great lyrics but it's the music that makes this song number one.

Static Ping said...

I believe I previously mentioned that there are probably a dozen or so contenders for the best Beatles song. I did not consider "A Day in the Life" to be in that set. It's a good song and probably a Top 50, but not #1. Actually, I'm not sure if any of the Top 10 here would be in my Top 10, though probably a couple of them are. The omission of "Hey Jude" is baffling, unless he is literally trying to take a sad song and make it better. I can respect that.

"Revolution 9" gave me a headache the first time I listened to it, which was also the last time I listened to it, and it is more or less considered a punch line now. #114 #114 #114 #114 (If he wanted to be clever, he should have made it #117.)

William said...

I glanced through the list. I was shocked by joe many Beatle songs I have absolutely no recollection of,and some of them were on albums that I owned and listened to repeatedly........Lists such as this are by their very nature subjective. If you survived a Manson massacre, you would probably rank Helter Skelter very far down on your list of favorite Beatle songs. Similarly if your girlfriend was named Michelle and you went on to marry her, your opinion of this song might vary according to how amicable the divorce was.

William said...

Off topic: I wonder how much cd's and Spotify have changed our taste in music. In the days of lp's, when an album song which was a clunker came on, you didn't skip over it. Sometimes with repeated listening you grew to like them. This is particularly true of Dylan. Many of his songs are not especially appealing upon first listening, but, after repeated exposure, songs like Desolation Row can become addictive.....This is less true of the Beatles. Their clunkers remain clunkers, but their most attractive songs don't diminish over time,

TwoAndAHalfCents said...

Click bait, but satisfying click bait. I'd have moved Helter Skelter up to top 10, but I was only a fetus when the Beatles broke up, so my view may be skewed.

Christopher said...

As I’ve mentioned, McCartney’s flaws, primarily an intermittent laziness (at least when it came to actual songwriting), would be much on display during this period. Here, Lennon’s are. For example, the line “Mother Superior jumped the gun,” besides not meaning anything, has the word gun in it, which confuses the meaning of the title.

Some of you are familiar with the story about a wretched empty phrase in Hey Jude:

So let it out and let it in, hey Jude, begin
You're waiting for someone to perform with
And don't you know that it's just you, hey Jude, you'll do
The movement you need is on your shoulder

You can torture some meaning out of it but ouch.

McCartney told Lennon it was just a placeholder, but Lennon insisted it was the best line of the song, so McCartney left it in. At this point I wonder if it was sabotage.

PackerBronco said...

Any list that puts "She's Leaving Home" at #204 can't be all bad.

Quaestor said...

When Quaestor was a wee chap he found Beatles songs to be most entertaining when played at 78 rpm.

Bill Peschel said...

Maybe the point here is not that this guy ranked the Beatles' songs, but that we can use them as a jumping off point for our own opinions which, taken in aggregate, tells us something about our times, the Beatles, where we are as a people, and insights into what is enduring about art.

So there are people here seriously debating whether "A Day in the Life" deserves to be in the top ten, people who'd rather talk about their personal relationship to the music, people who talk about Paul's approach to songwriting (including his faults), and some who have problems finding the link.

And those of us who take a meta approach to the discussion, talking about why we're talking about this in the first place.

Forget that last sentence. Only an idiot would do that.

RICHARD WHITNEY said...

Always thought 'Happiness is a Warm Gun' primarily sexual. I mean 'bang, bang, shoot, shoot'?
Really!

Zach said...

Lists like this remind me that bands are like baseball players. You have to weigh the home runs higher than the strikeouts.

Zach said...

Yoko Ono didn’t break up the Beatles. They broke up for a lot of reasons. But one big cause was John Lennon’s dickish moves. Case in point: Showing up to “The White Album” sessions with new girlfriend Ono, who stayed there for the duration. Outsiders had never been allowed in Beatles recording sessions, and Ono — ten years older, supposed to be a substantive artist in her own right and a pioneering feminist figure — sat silently by Lennon’s side, even following him to the bathroom. Then Lennon started using heroin. Fun times, fun times.

This is an excellent point.