#98: Fixing a Hole

For a guy who maintains a very consistent and particular public persona, Paul McCartney surprisingly often lets his freak flag fly on record. Truth be told, they typically end up becoming some of my favorite songs of his, which probably says more about me than it does about Paul’s willingness to get weird. We all love “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Band on the Run,” but my McCartney collection would be incomplete without oddball gems like “Temporary Secretary,” “Monkberry Moon Delight,” and “Morse Moose and the Grey Goose.”

Maybe the earliest evidence of Paul’s musical wild side is 1967’s “Fixing a Hole,” an eerie slice of psychedelia with lyrics that sound especially deep and thought-provoking at first but it turns out that, once again, Paul is just singing about Continue reading “#98: Fixing a Hole”

#98: Fixing a Hole

#111: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

In the last entry, I noted that “Got to Get You Into My Life” made an impressive jump on my ranking, but now we get to the exact opposite. Had I done this countdown 15 years ago, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” would have been a clear-cut top 50 entry. And let’s be clear; it’s a great song. But what was intriguing imagery to my younger self now seems like a bunch of random gibberish. I almost feel like I would prefer it as an instrumental. Maybe hang on to the Lennon/McCartney harmonies in the chorus, but I don’t know that I would miss the rocking horse people and newspaper taxis if they were excised.

The elephant in the room Continue reading “#111: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

#111: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

#115: Baby You’re a Rich Man

John Lennon famously hated the sound of his voice, and often insisted that producer George Martin lather it with effects or otherwise manipulate it. This was complete and utter malarkey of course. Listen to vocal tour de forces such as “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and solo gems like “Oh My Love” and “Isolation,” and it’s obvious that John possessed one of the greatest voices in rock history.

That said, Continue reading “#115: Baby You’re a Rich Man”

#115: Baby You’re a Rich Man

#119: Magical Mystery Tour

1967 was inevitably going to be a make-or-break year for the Beatles. In fact, before they released the outstanding “Strawberry Fields Forever”/”Penny Lane” single, everything seemed to be stacked against them. Their decision to quit touring in August of 1966 was a risky move, especially because that fall they didn’t release a new single (let alone a new album) for the first time in their career. On top of that, Continue reading “#119: Magical Mystery Tour”

#119: Magical Mystery Tour

#120: With a Little Help From My Friends

  • Paul McCartney kicking him out after he asked Paul to delay the release of his first solo album so it wouldn’t compete with Let it Be
  • George Harrison professing his love for Maureen Starkey and proceeding to have an affair with her
  • John and Paul having him open a song with the query, “What would you think if I sang out of tune?”

These may be the three cruelest things Ringo Starr’s bandmates did to him, in ascending order. Of course, the drummer took it all like a champ, and he eventually Continue reading “#120: With a Little Help From My Friends”

#120: With a Little Help From My Friends

#131: Blue Jay Way

Undoubtedly one of the most ominous-sounding recordings ever released by the Beatles, it’s hard to believe that “Blue Jay Way” was inspired by such a mundane event of George Harrison waiting for a friend to arrive at his house. Or, I mean, it would be hard to believe if the lyrics weren’t so literal. I have mixed feelings on songs like this; on the one hand it’s kind of a neat diversion to hear an artist steer away from being poetic and just describe something so matter-of-factly. On the other, one of the best things about any work of art is its inherent ability to be interpreted and judged based on the encompassing and unique life experiences of everyone in its audience. When there’s not a whole lot left to the imagination, it isn’t as much fun.

But fun is not the aim of “Blue Jay Way” in any aspect. From its haunting organ fade-in to the monotonous thump of the drum that underscores the first verse to the swirling psychedelic instruments that fly in and out, it’s a pretty trippy four minutes. If you really want to get transcendent though, check Continue reading “#131: Blue Jay Way”

#131: Blue Jay Way