Monday, February 10, 2014

#736: Beatles 50/50

So how 'bout those four moptops from Liverpool? You think they'll ever catch on?
Last night while I was working, I was twiddling the radio dial back and forth and happened to stumble over a (I assume) syndicated special marking the Beatles' 50th anniversary of conquering America. The special was called "The Beatles: 50 for 50," and longtime Seattle rock station KJR was running it. I'm sure it must have appeared in your area, too, or will. Hope some of you out there caught it.
The countdown claimed to be playing the 50 "most important" Beatles songs ever, and Good Luck with that. The countdown wasn't based on sales, just on "significance," whatever that means in this context.
Whoever put the list together wasn't the most knowledgeable Beatles fan, since their pick for Most Important Beatles Song Ever was "Yesterday." Ha. Yeah, there's more versions of "Yesterday" out there by more artists than any other song ever, but Most Important Beatles Song? Nah.
My pick, "A Day in the Life," came in fourth. And "In My Life" was right up there in the Top 5 too, kind of a surprise.
But I don't think the placings mean all that much. What got me was the number of songs included on the list that you don't hear much on the radio -- and the number of mistakes the compilers made.
I was delighted to hear some of the Fabs' more off-the-wall stuff -- hearing "Rain" was what made me stop twiddling knobs and listen in 'til I could figure out what was going on. They also played "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "She Said She Said," and I thought maybe whoever put together this list might have had half a brain.
But then they ID'd "Please Please Me" as the Fabs' "debut single" -- before playing "Love Me Do" only a few minutes later....
They also claimed John "wrote the four Beatles' autobiographies" in "Come Together." First time I've ever heard that theory, and I listened closely to see if the lyrics actually support that idea. Clearly one of the verse-portraits there is John ... but it doesn't seem like there's quite enough detail there to solidly ID the others -- unless it's details you and I wouldn't know. I always thought John was just talking about himself, anyway. But whatever.
They played a few old favorites I hadn't heard in awhile -- "Helter Skelter;" "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End;" "I Am the Walrus," which is still just as much fun to sing along with as it ever was. And couldn't David Bowie do a great version of "Walrus"?
I was also impressed with how the songs gain in emotional power and impact when you string a bunch of them together in this kind of format. Even stuff I don't normally like that much -- "Let it Be," "The Long and Winding Road," "Strawberry Fields Forever" -- stuff that wore out for me a long time ago, still sounded better in a countdown format. Even tired old "Hey Jude" sounded pretty good. Even "The Ballad of John and Yoko." Still can't take "Get Back," though.
Was happy to hear the simple, joyful "Eight Days a Week" -- and "Ticket to Ride," "Twist and Shout," "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "A Hard Day's Night," "Back in the USSR," "Help!," all the ravers. "Eleanor Rigby" sounded great, too. I think "Yellow Submarine"'s pretty worn-out except for the silliness at the end. But oh man, "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" -- what a production!
But why didn't "Paperback Writer" place higher? Where's "Got to Get You into My Life"? "Everybody's Trying to be My Baby"? "There's a Place"? "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"? "I Saw Her Standing There"? "I'm Down" -- one of the best B-sides ever....
We all could go on for YEARS about what their best songs were. But how 'bout their WORST? Was it "Revolution 9"? Or "Mr. Moonlight"? "Wild Honey Pie"? Your pick?
Of course these are all Timeless Memories. Of course they Changed Our Lives. Goes without saying. This just in.
Great nostalgia, anyway....

1 comment:

R S Crabb said...

Picking the best Beatles song would be pretty hard to do for myself. Like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles albums all have great and special moments and none really fall under A minus, although Revolution 9 is different but how many really play that song? Not many. I'd go with Mr Moonlight or perhaps Hey Jude simply of the fact that it's been overplayed to death.

Even though Please Please Me the album is 50 years old it still maintains a charm that it still sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday which is why The Beatles continue to have lasting value. Lady Madonna, Paperback Writer, Get Back or Two Of Us, or I've Just Seen A Face, I think are my favorite Beatles songs but I know I'm leaving a few more out.