There’s very little middle ground when it comes to rock drummers–they’re either highly regarded (Nirvana’s Dave Grohl, Led Zeppelin’s John “Bonzo” Bonham, Rush’s Neil Peart) or unjustly ridiculed (pretty much every other drummer on the planet). The running joke is that it’s every band’s worst fear when their happy-go-lucky drummer, once so content to pound on the tom-toms however he was instructed to and occasionally perform a drum solo during a concert when the rest of the group needed a bathroom break, writes a song for the next album.
Ringo Starr–or rather, Richard Starkey–has just two individual writing credits to his name with the Beatles. That’s a grand total of 0.94% of the band’s 60s output, but hey, he has a perfect batting average because they’re both good songs. If nothing else, the osmosis of being surrounded by three top-notch writers was enough to help Ringo concoct some really catchy melodies, and apparently “Don’t Pass Me By” was a #1 hit in Denmark in 1969 so he’s got that goin’ for him, which is nice.
It’s a jaunty little country number, perfect for a hoedown, four words that I never ever thought I would write in my life but I’m learning a lot about myself doing this ranking. The hoedown comes to a screeching halt (seven words I write on a daily basis) with the casual revelation in the final verse: “You were in a car crash and you lost your hair.” Hold up, where did that come from? And this person is still on their way to Ringo’s house? Go to the emergency room! I guess it’s too hard to come up with a rhyme for “hospital.”
Regardless, it’s a fun song, hair loss notwithstanding. Well done, Ringo. Now get back behind the drum kit where you belong.