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”
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”
We live in a world where practically every song released can be classified as a single–any individual track can easily be cued up on Spotify or YouTube, or downloaded on iTunes. Physical media lovers like myself still mourn the loss of CD singles with their myriad of rare and otherwise unavailable b-sides, but by far the most iconic single format was the 7″ 45 RPM vinyl with a big ol’ hole in the center and one song on each side. The Beatles, as one might expect, gave the world some pretty excellent combinations–“Day Tripper” and “We Can Work it Out,” “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane,” and my personal pick for the greatest single of all time, “Hey Jude” and “Revolution.” But one of the more unintentionally awesome couplings was pairing “Help!” with “I’m Down”–two songs that, while both centered around going through a rough patch, couldn’t be more vastly different (which is exactly why they work so well together).
“I’m Down” is a really cool transitional track–it sounds like an early With the Beatles-era kind of song, but you can hear the leap in skill and songwriting that took place between 1963 and 1965. But all it takes is one listen to realize Continue reading “#141: I’m Down”
The earliest days of this blog produced a great rivalry that kept readers on the edge of their seats, biting their nails, pulling out their hair, and losing their lunches. I’m referring of course to the Great Carl Perkins vs. Larry Williams War of 2016, which historians consider Continue reading “#150: Bad Boy”
Nothing can ruin a good song faster than bad lyrics. That’s a fact. For all the claims that it’s all about the music, or that a certain vocalist could sing the phone book and it would still be compelling, one lame lyric will Continue reading “#157: She’s a Woman”
If I weren’t such a sucker for harmonies, this boring funeral march would likely land in the bottom ten. Yes it would. John Lennon apparently asked himself, “Hey, remember that great b-side I wrote a few years ago, ‘This Boy’? What if I wrote that song again, but made it terrible this time?” Then he probably Continue reading “#170: Yes It Is”
The best thing I can say about “Matchbox” is that it’s short, clocking in at just under two minutes. Somehow, though, this Carl Perkins cover still manages to outstay its welcome. Listen to the first 30 seconds and you pretty much have the gist of the whole thing.
Also an accurate description of every song Sting has released after The Police.
Apparently “Matchbox” was recorded Continue reading “#208: Matchbox”
Larry Williams may not be a household name like Chuck Berry or Little Richard, but his influence on the Beatles, especially John Lennon, cannot be understated. The group tackled three Williams compositions on record, which ties him with Carl Perkins as the most frequently covered songwriter in their core discography. (Berry likely holds the title if you expand the territory to include BBC recordings and early concert repertoire.)
So if you’re keeping track Continue reading “#210: Slow Down”