#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

#113: Day Tripper

The Beatles aren’t exactly what I would consider to be a very riff-oriented band. That’s not a knock against them; they came up with some terrific ones during their tenure. But unlike, say, Led Zeppelin or Soundgarden, two other favorites of mine whose songs are usually defined by meaty, repetitive guitar lines, most Beatles tracks succeed as a result of the combined forces of John, Paul, George, and Ringo rather than any one individual element. “Day Tripper” might be the biggest exception to that rule.

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Normally I post a witty caption here, but I just got really bummed out imagining how amazing a Soundgarden cover of “Day Tripper” would have been. RIP, Chris Cornell.

 

Sure, the performance is top-notch on every level, from its chill bass to its Continue reading “#113: Day Tripper”

#113: Day Tripper

#118: Thank You Girl

I’m probably ranking this higher than I should, but what the heck, it’s a catchy song. Originally planned as the Beatles’ third single, “Thank You Girl” was relegated to the b-side once Lennon and McCartney came up with “From Me to You.” A wise choice, but “Thank You Girl” deserves more love. It’s slightly–just slightly but Continue reading “#118: Thank You Girl”

#118: Thank You Girl

#125: Don’t Let Me Down

As I browsed my completely and unarguably definitive ranking of Beatles songs, I have to say I did a double-take when I saw “Don’t Let Me Down” positioned at #125. Like, what’s there not to love? John and Paul give it their all vocally, with some great late-period harmonies; Ringo is practically attacking the drums; and George’s sultry guitar intro sets the stage perfectly for this carnal bluesy ballad. Top that all off with the smooth keyboard stylings of Billy Preston, and it seems like a ridiculously low placement.

Alas, when I listened back I realized the part that throws it off for me. It’s the Continue reading “#125: Don’t Let Me Down”

#125: Don’t Let Me Down

#126: Long Tall Sally

The year is 1956, and your pre-teen child won’t shut up about this newfangled rock ‘n’ roll fad. “Bah, music hasn’t been any good since Glenn Miller mysteriously disappeared 12 years ago,” you tell him as you wipe the ketchup off your chin from an equally newfangled McDonald’s hamburger. Nonetheless, in a desperate attempt to be seen as the ‘cool parent,’ you decide to treat your child to some of this noisy garbage. You inspect the record store shelves and find Continue reading “#126: Long Tall Sally”

#126: Long Tall Sally