#106: Real Love

The idea of “beyond the grave” duets has an inherent creepiness factor, and somehow, even though “Real Love” is a much better song than “Free as a Bird,” it feels decidedly more unsettling. I’d chalk this up mostly to the hollowness of John Lennon’s lead vocals, filtered from a piano demo and carrying an (intentional?) almost ghostly effect amidst the added production from the surviving Beatles. However, I’m not going to take for granted one last opportunity to hear Paul harmonize with John, even artificially. George’s guitar work is also a wonderful addition.

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Not only did Yoko wisely opt not to contribute, but kudos to her for not trying to snag additional royalties by taking a credit for playing “wind” or whatever.

 

After “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” you’d be forgiven for assuming that a third ‘reunion’ single would accompany Anthology 3, but apparently the remaining trio couldn’t agree on a Lennon demo to tackle. Rumor has it the leading contender was Continue reading “#106: Real Love”

#106: Real Love

#107: Old Brown Shoe

By far the most puzzling inclusion on the Red and Blue albums–seriously, how did this George Harrison-penned b-side make it onto a Beatles best-of?–“Old Brown Shoe” is an all-around enigma. When George was coming into his own as a writer with masterpieces like “Here Comes the Sun” and “Isn’t It a Pity,” he composed this oddball track, even recording a demo on the same day as “Something” and “All Things Must Pass.” And yet, as readers of this countdown know, I have an inherent bias towards George tracks, and so “Old Brown Shoe” has long been one of my random favorites.

This song is full of such bizarre non sequiturs that I don’t really see any issues with these lines. Practically every lyric seems Continue reading “#107: Old Brown Shoe”

#107: Old Brown Shoe

#109: Lady Madonna

The one constant in the Beatles’ early years was evolution: in 1962-3, they recorded electrifying pop songs that birthed the Beatlemania movement. They rode that wave in 1964 but upped the ante on their songwriting, raising the bar for all their contemporaries. By 1965, they wore their Bob Dylan influence on their sleeves on the folksy Help! and explored even more styles on the diverse Rubber SoulRevolver in 1966 took that sense of curiosity and experimentation to another level, and a year later their psychedelic work was unlike anything that had ever hit the mainstream before.

So for their first release of 1968, they pulled off their most unexpected move yet: Continue reading “#109: Lady Madonna”

#109: Lady Madonna

#110: Mean Mr. Mustard

Another beneficiary of a prime spot in the Abbey Road medley, “Mean Mr. Mustard” is a lumbering and nonsensical but undeniably catchy ditty clocking in at just over a minute. Written in Rishikesh alongside many of the tracks that made up the White Album–check out the bizarre acoustic demo–“Mean Mr. Mustard” got a decidedly glossier treatment when it eventually showed up on vinyl. That didn’t stop John Lennon from Continue reading “#110: Mean Mr. Mustard”

#110: Mean Mr. Mustard

#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