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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Music Throwback Saturday: Rubber Soul songs

The lyrics bear a surprising resemblance to Charles Lamb’s 18th century poem ‘The old Familiar Faces’

rubbersoulBack to Steve Turner’s “The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Write,” subtitled “the stories behind every song.” Who inspired the Beatles, who inspired so many others?

This time, we will note songs from the Rubber Soul UK album. It’s difficult to find the Beatles’ recordings, easier to find live versions.

Drive My Car:

The ‘beep beep beep beep yeah’ background vocal may have also have been a nod to ‘Beep Beep‘ by the Playmates (1958) …The bass line was patterned after Donald ‘Duck” Dunn’s playing on Otis Redding’s ‘Respect‘ (1965).

Beep Beep was one of the singles my dad owned. I played it regularly and, for a time, knew all the words.

You Won’t See Me

It was written as a two-note progression and Paul had the Motown sound in mind, particularly the melodic bass line of James Jamerson, the legendary studio musician. Ian MacDonald… suggests that the model… might have been ‘It’s the Same Old Song‘ by The Four Tops.

I was wondering why this is one of my favorite Beatles’ songs. It lives on a Motown bass line.


John suggested the “I love you’ in the middle section, inspired by Nina Simone’s ‘I Put A Spell On You‘, a hit in Britain during August 1965… Instrumentally, Paul was inspired by the finger-picking style of Chet Atkins as exemplified on ‘Trampoline’ (1961).

There were lots of girls named Michelle in this period. The name was in the Top 10 of girls’ names from 1966 to 1980, including four years at #2.

In My Life:

The lyrics bear a surprising resemblance to Charles Lamb’s 18th century poem ‘The old Familiar Faces’… “The tune, if I remember rightly, was inspired by the Miracles.” He was almost certainly referring to ‘You Really Got a Hold On Me‘.

The Beatles, of course, covered You Really Got a Hold On Me, but I never related it to In My Life at all.

If I Needed Someone:

The tune had been inspired by two Byrds tracks, ‘The Bells of Rhymey (August 1965) and ‘She Don’t Care About Time‘ (October 1965).

The Byrds were inspired by watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show in February 1964, as were countless musicians.

Run for Your Life:

John developed it from the line ‘I’d rather see you dead little girl than see you with another man’, which occurred towards the end of Elvis Presley’s 1955 Sun single ‘Baby, Let’s Play House‘. Arthur Gunter in turn had based his song on a 1951 hit by Eddy Arnold, ‘I Want To Play House with You‘.

John didn’t much like this song, and it’s among my least favorites as well.

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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.

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