My favorite Beatles McCartney songs

“I didn’t know what I would find there”

Paul McCartney.May27Dublin0031

I linked to my favorite post-Beatles Paul McCartney songs on his 70th birthday. So I reckon I ought to post my favorite Beatles McCartney songs on his 80th birthday. When he hits 90, I don’t know WHAT I’ll do.

The list is roughly #11 to #1. Well, except for one thing. Also, comments are based on recollection because that’s what Beatles music is for me.

Helter Skelter – white album. The Who and other bands were considered loud, and this was a response. Paul usually plays this on tour in the latter third of his shows.

Get Back– A-side of a single; Hey Jude(album (US). A joyous song, whichever rendition.

I’m Down – B-side of Help! single, which only made it to #101 on the US pop charts. Yes, it’s surely McCartney’s remake of Long Tall Sally. The ABC-TV broadcast of the live performance at Shea Stadium in 1965 hooked me.

Getting Better – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I am fascinated by the STRUCTURE of this song. It’s verse and chorus, but the chorus gets increasingly longer each time out. I thought it was incredibly clever writing.

Back in the USSR – white album. The first song on the album with fun lyrics and Beach Boys harmonies

Lady Madonna – A-side of a single; Hey Jude album (US). Initially, I wasn’t positive this last Capitol single even was the Beatles.

Revolver and Rubber Soul rule

Eleanor Rigby – Revolver. A moving McCartney story song. But even without the lyrics, it’s a beautiful song, as the Anthology version shows.

For No One – Revolver. Simple yet devastating. Vocal, then horn solo, then vocal and horn. Stunningly effective.

You Won’t See Me – Rubber Soul. It is the Mal Evans sustained chord on the Hammond organ throughout the last verse, last chorus, and outro that gives this song a special buzz. At the same time, I have related to the notion of feeling invisible. On the US version of the album, this is followed by Think for Yourself (Harrison) and The Word (Lennon), and they go well together.

Drive My Car – Rubber Soul (UK), Yesterday and Today (US). Extraordinary chord structure. I’ve noted before that it was John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful, saying in a magazine that this was on Rubber Soul, which eventually led me to realize that the UK and US albums were not alike, even when they had the same name.

Got To Get You Into My Life – Revolver. When I was home alone, as the song got to the final chorus, I started slowly increasing the volume. The horns were so resplendent to my ears and down my spinal column that Ie practically wept for joy. Then it led into Tomorrow Never Knows, possibly my favorite pairing on any album.

One more thing, though. There are some great songs in the medley on Abbey Road. I’m particularly fond of Golden Slumbers. Happy 80th, Macca.

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“Daydream’ itself it was inspired by the Tamla beat.

beatles-revolverThe musically influential Beatles had their own sources of inspiration, both predecessors and peers. In reading Steve Turner’s “The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Write,” subtitled “the stories behind every song,” this becomes clear.

The members of the group were quite open about how a piece was transformed into their own creations. Sometimes when you know, you relisten to the Fab Four’s take, you say, “Oh, I hear that NOW,” almost never before that, which was their brilliance; they stole very well.

Sometimes they ripped off themselves.

Paperback Writer (snippet):

John called this ‘Son of ‘Day Tripper‘… The bass became the most prominent instrument on the track.

He suggests compare this to music of Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. From the Wikipedia: John Lennon demanding to know why the bass on a certain Wilson Pickett record far exceeded the bass on any Beatles records.

In the Midnight Hour – Wilson Pickett
Respect – Otis Redding

The backgrounds harmonies were inspired by the Beach Boys’ album Pet Sounds. The Beatles can be heard singing Frère Jacques.

I always felt the Pleasant Valley Sunday by the Monkees had the same story-song feel.

Taxman: (a cover here)

It has been suggested that the theme music to the TV series Batman may have been an influence.

Now that it’s pointed out, I sorta kinda hear it.

Here, There and Everywhere (demo):

Paul had been particularly taken by the shimmering quality of ‘God Only Knows‘ and wanted to write a number that captured the same mood.

The Beach Boys/Beatles competition, of course, is legendary. This is a nice song, but score one for the Beach Boys.

Good Day Sunshine:

The specific song that inspired it was ‘‘Daydream’, the Lovin’ Spoonful’s first British hit. “Daydream’ itself it was inspired by the Tamla beat on songs such as ‘Where Did Our Love Go‘ and ‘Baby Love‘ that the Lovin’ Spoonful heard while touring America with the Supremes.

That John Sebastian of the Spoonful didn’t realize the theft shows how adept the Beatles were in blending different sources.

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R is for Rubber Soul and Revolver

The GOOD news is that, from this point, the albums released in UK were the same in the US, starting with Sgt. Pepper.


My two favorite Beatles albums came out in successive years, and are successive albums, at least in the United Kingdom and the rest of civilised world. In North America, the record executives managed to squeeze out another album in between.

George Harrison once said, “I don’t see too much difference between Revolver and Rubber Soul. To me, they could be Volume One and Volume Two.” Paul McCartney has also blended the albums together in interviews. Here are the listings; there are also links to every song.

The title Rubber Soul is a variation on the term plastic soul, a term referring to white musicians singing soul music. Paul McCartney, in a studio conversation recorded in June 1965 after recording a take of “I’m Down”, the B-side of the single “Help!”, said “Plastic soul, man. Plastic soul.”

The italicized songs are those from the second half of the UK Help! album that show up on the US RS album. The songs marked in red were removed from the UK versions and put on the US-only album, Yesterday…and Today.

Side one
1 UK Drive My Car
1 US I’ve Just Seen a Face
2 UK & US Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
3 UK & US You Won’t See Me
4 UK Nowhere Man
5 UK, 4 US Think for Yourself
6 UK, 5 US The Word
7 UK, 6 US Michelle

Side two
1 UK What Goes On
1 US It’s Only Love
2 UK & US Girl
3 UK & US I’m Looking Through You
4 UK & US In My Life
5 UK & US Wait
6 UK If I Needed Someone
7 UK, 6 US Run for Your Life

Or listen to the full UK album here or here.

At least they added a Lennon and a McCartney song (It’s Only Love, I’ve Just Seen a Face) as they dropped songs by John (Nowhere Man), Paul (Drive My Car), George (If I Needed Someone), and Ringo (What Goes On).

The cover illustration for Revolver was created by bassist and artist Klaus Voormann, an old Beatles’ friend from their days at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany. Voorman played on albums for each of the Beatles on their solo albums, save for Paul.

When it came to Revolver, the music, it was quite the lopsided edit:

Side one

1 UK & US Taxman
2 UK & US Eleanor Rigby
3 UK I’m Only Sleeping
4 UK, 3 US Love You To
5 UK, 4 US Here, There and Everywhere
6 UK, 5 US Yellow Submarine
7 UK, 6 US She Said She Said

Side two

1 UK & US Good Day Sunshine
2 UK And Your Bird Can Sing
3 UK, 2 US For No One
4 UK Doctor Robert
5 UK, 3 US I Want to Tell You
6 UK, 4 US Got to Get You into My Life
7 UK, 5 US Tomorrow Never Knows

Or hear the full UK album here or here.

John’s only represented twice on the US version, because three of his songs on the UK version also were dropped. Robert Rodriguez, who wrote a 2012 book on Revolver explains: “Capitol needed three more songs to flesh out Yesterday and Today, and he had the most songs finished by then.” George had three songs (Taxman, Love You To, I Want To Tell You) on both versions of Revolver.

The GOOD news is that, from this point, the albums released in the UK were the same in the US, starting with Sgt. Pepper. Not incidentally, on the Rolling Stone magazine list of the 500 greatest albums, Sgt. Pepper was #1, with Revolver at #3 and Rubber Soul at #5. I tend to disagree. While Sgt. Pepper was clearly a breakthrough album, it sounds more dated, of its time, to me, than either Revolver or Rubber Soul.

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

Beatles Island Songs, 3-1

He’s utterly transfixed by the backwards tape, the chanting.

Before discussing my final three picks, I decided to rank the albums by adding up the ordinal values, then dividing by the number of tracks on the album; the lower the number, the better. I know this is particularly unfair to Abbey Road since those brief tracks didn’t make the cut, but the suite would have fared far better, and the album still did quite well. And comparing ordinals, with no other weights, is bad math. Whatever.

These are the British albums, so these are the British release dates:

# Title Release date

1 Please Please Me 1963, March 22 -137/125.86 (14)
2 With the Beatles 1963, November 22 – 126 (14)
3 A Hard Day’s Night 1964, July 10 – 62.54 (13)
4 Beatles for Sale 1964, December 4 – 136.29 (14)
5 Help! 1965, August 6 – 86.64 (14)
6 Rubber Soul 1965, December 3 – 87.64 (14)
7 Revolver 1966, August 5 – 59.57 (14)
9 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 1967, June 1 – 92.54(13)
17 Magical Mystery Tour 1976, November 18 – 96.91 (11)
10 The Beatles 1968, November 22 – 123.5 (30)
11 Yellow Submarine 1969, January 17 – 141 (4)
12 Abbey Road 1969, September 26 – 118.47 (17)
13 Let It Be 170.33/155 (12)
28 The Beatles Past Masters, Volume One 1988, March 7 – 107.89 (18)
29 The Beatles Past Masters, Volume Two 1988, March 7 – 96.13/88.6 (15)

My affection for Revolver is well known to me, but A Hard Day’s Night did amazingly well. I prefer Rubber Soul to Help! as an album, but I was feeling burned out at the time over some of the better tracks on RS (In My Life, Norwegian Wood, Michelle). And unsurprisingly, Let It Be did poorly.

Notes: Magical Mystery Tour was released in the US in 1967, but it wasn’t considered as part of the canon in the UK until nine years later.
Wow: With the Beatles, the album that spawned many of the songs from the US Meet the Beatles was released on the day of the John F. Kennedy assassination. The sociological implications…
The albums with two numbers involved me substituting a different version of the same song; all the second versions ended up at end of the list.
Album #8 is A Collection of the Beatles Oldies (But Goldies), 1966, December 10, which essentially served the same function as Past Masters 1 did years later.

The rules of engagement


3 Help! from Help! A little after 09/09/09, my daughter and I watched the movie Help!, her for the first time, me for the first time since watching a quadruple feature of A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Yellow Submarine and the ever depressing Let It Be in the early 1970s. Help!, which I also saw when it first came out in 1965, was less good than I remembered it. But I fell in love with the music all over again. This specific song my daughter knows all the lyrics to, without either encouragement or prompting from me. Moreover, I connect with the notion of Lennon actually making the song a cry for help, overwhelmed by making records and movies, touring, et al. Also, if one were on an island, needing help seems quite appropriate.
2 Got To Get You Into My Life from Revolver. Imagine, if you will, a teenage boy home alone in the late 1960s playing a great album. This McCartney song comes on, and he’s enjoying it well enough. But as it gets to the final chorus, he starts slowly increasing the volume, making the horn so resplendent in his ears and down his spinal column that he practically weeps for joy.
1 Tomorrow Never Knows from Revolver. So the stereo is pretty loud when the last song, by Lennon, comes on, and he’s utterly transfixed by the backward tape, the chanting. Totally mesmerizing. Ultimately, the bass/drum section could be applied to any number of Beatles songs. Try singing A Hard Day’s Night or any number of other songs to it; it works. I realized this when I heard the LOVE album, and the mashup of Within You Without You with Tomorrow Never Knows really elevated my appreciation of the former, and in doing so, stoked my appreciation for the latter. Heck, it even goes with Jingle Bells. Some background on one of the most audacious recordings the Beatles would ever attempt.

Well, that was fun. Or something.


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