Let’s get one thing out of the way regarding “Twist and Shout”: if those opening moments don’t instantly instill a desire within you to hijack a German parade, I don’t think I want to know you.
And if hearing “Stuck in the Middle With You” doesn’t immediately compel you to cut off someone’s ear, we need to talk.
If memory serves me, my initial interest in seeing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was because of the Beatles connection, and it became my second favorite movie of all time and I recreated Ferris’s day off shortly after moving to Chicago, so I owe a lot to “Twist and Shout.” And to think, Continue reading “#81: Twist and Shout”
When I think of bands that entered the world of rock music with a fully-formed statement of sorts, an immediate and evident identity, there are quite a few that come to mind. Guns N’ Roses. Led Zeppelin. R.E.M. Rage Against the Machine. The Jimi Hendrix Experience. That’s not to say that these artists necessarily peaked with their debut albums, but in the less than three minutes it takes to listen to the first track on the first Led Zeppelin album, “Good Times Bad Times,” someone can understand the essence of Zep. Ditto for “Welcome to the Jungle” for Guns N’ Roses, etc.
The Archies, though, continue to mystify us all.
The Beatles wouldn’t make that list. Their first album is great, and features
Some people will forever be defined by a single mistake or a case of bad timing. Michael Cimino won a Best Director Oscar for his acclaimed second film, The Deer Hunter in 1978. His next movie, Heaven’s Gate, went down as a creative disaster and one of the biggest box office flops of all time, and studios decided to no longer risk playing Russian roulette with him. Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign has been reduced in our collective mind to “the Dean scream,” in which the flu-stricken candidate briefly channeled Axl Rose while rallying supporters after the Iowa caucus.
In Iowa, everyone can hear you scream.
Much like Dean, an unfortunately-timed sickness ensured that George Harrison would Continue reading “#89: Do You Want to Know a Secret”
How is it that a song titled “Misery” is one of the most musically joyful songs in the Beatles’ catalog? Clocking in at under two minutes, this delightful little ditty features John and Paul singing in unison the entire time, and was recorded during the marathon Please Please Me session in which John audibly really needs to blow his nose.
Nothing special, this one, but Continue reading “#95: Misery”
On the surface, this deceptively simple ballad is basically one cliche lyric after another. If you assembled the words to the complete discographies of 1950s teen idols and fed them into some algorithm for a computer to write a love song, “Ask Me Why” would be the output. There’s nothing here that Continue reading “#102: Ask Me Why”
This is such an absolutely corny, sappy song but I love it. It’s the sort of music that was hugely popular before the Beatles hit it big, so maybe it felt like a safe selection as the b-side for their first single. Either way, it’s far better than the a-side (“Love Me Do”) and is too charming to ignore. Inconsequential in the long run, maybe, but look, not every Beatles song was gonna change the world.
This is another one of those songs that exceeds the sum of its parts, with a checklist of endearing moments in its pros column. Its brisk opening. The simple percussion, which was actually provided by a session musician (having been deemed inadequate at the band’s EMI audition, Ringo was relegated to shaking a pair of maracas). The neat interjections when the “As I write this letter…” section is repeated from John (“ohhh!”), Paul (“you know I want you to”), and George (“yeah”)–incidentally, it wasn’t until I began doing this write-up that I realized Continue reading “#123: PS I Love You”
When I wrote about 1969’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” I lamented its lack of lyrical variation (try saying that three times fast), but the truth is, the Beatles had been thrifty with words from the start. “Love Me Do,” the band’s 1962 debut single, contains just 20 unique words. It’s one of those songs that is objectively pretty unexceptional on every level, but Continue reading “#182: Love Me Do”
This track often shows up on “worst Beatles songs” lists, and it’s admittedly a very curious choice for the band to cover. Originally performed by girl group The Shirelles, this ode to the less fair sex was a regular part of the group’s early setlists, allowing them to nail it in the studio in a single take. The decision to only alter certain lyrics results in Continue reading “#183: Boys”
The slaughter of Please Please Me covers continues. In order to properly describe “Chains,” the only thing I could really think to do was head to thesaurus.com and decide on my favorite synonym for “pleasant.” I am settling on “congenial.” Also, did you know that “bland” is synonymous with “pleasant”? I mean, I get it but I’ve never really thought of those words as amiable.
So…”Chains.” It’s hard to really get excited about this song. It’s not all that different from the Cookies’ original. It’s just another in the line of Continue reading “#205: Chains”
“Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la” may not be the most profound lyric of all time, but it can make for a heck of a hook. It’s safe to say that “Baby It’s You” does not suffer for lack of being catchy by any stretch, which is hardly a surprise considering it was composed by Burt Bacharach. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to come across a version Continue reading “#206: Baby It’s You”