Man, I don’t know if anyone was ever on a more consistent creative high than John Lennon in 1964.
He chiefly wrote 10 out of 13 tracks on the A Hard Day’s Night album, and he likely considered the simple, stolen harmonica-laden “I Should Have Known Better” an afterthought. “It doesn’t mean a damn thing,” he told Playboy in 1980.
Had it been written a year earlier, it likely would have appeared as the A-side to the band’s third or fourth single, but “I Should Have Known Better” still got a lot of attention as the B-side to “A Hard Day’s Night” and a feature spot in the film of the same name.
When pressed to name my top five Beatles albums, the list is fairly standard, minus the absence of the overrated Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. At the top is the White Album, perhaps for sheer volume more than pound-for-pound quality. The next three, in order, are Abbey Road, Revolver, and Rubber Soul. These four constitute perhaps the band’s most experimental, risk-taking works, so naturally rounding out the top five is A Hard Day’s Night, in all its “if Beatlemania ain’t broke, don’t fix it” glory.
For their third album, the Beatles were in no mood to rewrite the rulebook that had led to such incredible international success. But in between the release of predecessor With the Beatles and recording its follow-up, something happened: Continue reading “#78: Any Time at All”→
America fell in love with the Beatles via the purest of requests in December 1963: “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” But just six months later, they made it clear that that was no longer enough to satisfy their insatiable lust.
Man, this track was such a surprise to me when I first heard it for so many reasons. It was the closing song on the Beatles’ third album, and given that the first two concluded with “Twist and Shout” and “Money,” I was all set for another intense rocker to wrap up A Hard Day’s Night.
Much like with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” my reason for ranking “You Can’t Do That” so low is a bit unfair. Simply put, it reminds me too much of a similar and superior song released that same year. Had “Magical Mystery Tour” and “I Call Your Name” gone unrecorded, “Sgt. Pepper” and “You Can’t Do That” would almost definitely be a lot higher. But this list is about my favorite Beatles songs, not like those purportedly objective “best” lists, since that’s been done to death, and my list is objectively better than any of those.
It’s hard to imagine any band ever working harder than the Beatles did during the first half of 1964. When they weren’t playing concerts, they were recording; when they weren’t recording, they were filming their movie debut, A Hard Day’s Night. Beyond that, Continue reading “#185: When I Get Home”→
Ladies and gentlemen, we have hit a landmark with this one. “Tell Me Why” is the first original Beatles composition on the countdown that was not tossed off and given to Ringo like a bag of moldy tangerines. In his later years, John Lennon was notorious for denouncing many of his Beatles songs as throwaways, but he was spot-on in this case. “They needed another upbeat song [for the movie A Hard Day’s Night] and I just knocked it off,” he remarked in 1980.