The Sunday Dozen: The Beatles

Writing a Beatles Dozen is an act of insanity. I originally planned to do two dozens tracking the red and blue compilation albums. Then a little voice in my head said, if you could do dozens for The Who, The Kinks, and The Stones, you can do it for the Fab Four. Instead of telling the little voice in my head to STFU, I went along with it. Madness, I tell ya. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The Beatles were my first musical love. Like millions of my peers, I saw them on The Ed Sullivan Show and fell hard. Watching them with my parents was weird. My mom liked them, my dad hated their hair. I asked for Meet The Beatles for Christmas and got it. My dad still hated their hair. No, no, no.

The Beatles recorded so many great songs that I could easily do a second list with entirely different tunes. The last cuts were Paperback Writer, Strawberry Fields Forever, and Nowhere Man. I hope the ghost of John Lennon doesn’t haunt me as a result. I’d hate to have an angry spirit pour Brandy Alexander down my throat or make me listen to a Yoko Ono album. No, no, no.

Not only were The Beatles my first musical love, their sound formed my taste in rock music. I love harmony vocals, well-constructed songs, and weird lyrics as a result of my own personal Beatlemania. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The songs are listed in chronological order and reflect my taste on the day that I picked them. If your favorite Beatles tunes are missing, so are some of mine. I told you it was madness to do this. It’s amazing how much great music they recorded in such a short time.

I do cheat a bit with the number 12 slot. It’s the Best Of George with three songs. What’s a bit of harmless cheating among friends?

This is madness.

This is The Beatles Dozen.

I’m particularly fond of songs from A Hard Day’s Night. I saw the movie on the big screen and was gobsmacked that the teenage girls in the theatre screamed like the ones in the movie. I halfway expected to be chased by them after the screening. Why they’d chase a 7-year-old is beyond me.

Can’t Buy Me Love leads off The Beatles Dozen because it was released as a single before the movie or album. It’s one of my favorite early Beatles tunes. Macca rocks.

A Hard Day’s Night is one of John Lennon’s best songs. The lyrics are to die for, as is Lennon’s lead vocal. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Another day, another movie theme song. It’s the perfect song on those days when you feel out of sorts and need some Help. We all need a helping hand sometimes.

I’m Looking Through You is one of my more eccentric selections. It’s one of many tracks on Rubber Soul that reflects the influence of Bob Dylan and The Byrds  on their Liverpudllian peers. What’s not to love about folk rock Macca style?

When my father saw the album cover he said, “They still need a haircut.”

I’m Looking Through You has been my favorite song on Rubber Soul since I first bought it. That goes for the UK version as well. I’m among those who was pleased that the British albums were released in the US in the Eighties. They reflect the band’s artistic intention, not Capitol Records’ whims. I dig whimsy but not whims.

John Lennon was 25 when he wrote In My Life. It’s a remarkably mature song, especially given Lennon’s immaturity and impulsiveness in real life. It has one of his loveliest melodies and most memorable lyrics. It moves me to this very day.

Revolver is one of the Fab Four’s finest records. The songs work together best as a collective. BTW, the new remix is a revelation. It sounds much better than past attempts. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I flipped a coin and it landed on She Said She Said. It might have been Here There and Everywhere if I hadn’t featured it on an edition of the Friday Cocktail Hour.

I don’t like Sgt. Pepper as much as many Beatles fans, but it ends with a bang. A Day In The Life is mostly John, but Paul contributes a swell bridge that breaks the tension before the orchestral crescendo that ends the song.

I Am The Walrus is one of the band’s best proto-prog songs. I dig the surreal lyrics and the strings. It’s one of George Martin’s triumphs as a producer.

Penny Lane is a drop-dead beautiful ode to Liverpool. Any time someone rags on Macca, I say: “But he wrote Penny Lane.” It doesn’t always silence the detractors, but it should. It’s in my ears and eyes, after all.

Rocky Raccoon is my oddball choice for this list. It sounds like we’re on the set of an eccentric Western movie; more Howard Hawks than John Ford. Macca’s ragtime piano is also a treat as he tells the tale of Rocky who came to “shoot off the legs of his rival.” And some think only John wrote dark lyrics.

Come Together is another song featuring Lennon’s surrealistic lyrics. One thing for certain: Toe jam football is to be avoided even shunned.

I mentioned the Harrison cheat. Here it is.

I’ve long thought George’s contributions to the Fab Four were underrated. It’s not easy being the third best singer songwriter in a band with Lennon and McCartney. The Peter Jackson documentary Get Back gave us a better idea of how mean Paul and John could be to George. No wonder he was ready to go solo.

We begin our mini-George Fest with the Byrdsy If I Needed Someone:

Another song from Revolver, featuring one of George’s best guitar riffs, I Want To Tell You:

Here Comes The Sun was one of the band’s biggest late period hits. It’s a flat-out gorgeous song with simple but evocative lyrics: “Sun, sun, sun, here it comes.”

That concludes The Beatles Dozen. If you’re literal minded, it could be called The Fab Four Fourteen.

It’s lagniappe time. We begin with the German language versions of I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Make that ja, ja, ja.

My favorite Ringo tune isn’t a Beatle original but this swell cover of a Buck Owens song:

Finally, since I used the Fab Four nickname several times, here’s George Harrison looking back at his Beatle days with a little help from his friend, Jeff Lynne:

That’s it for this week. I seem not to have gone bat shit crazy. Yay, Team Sane.

We’ll be back with a Beatles Covers Dozen next week.

The last word goes to the Cartoon Beatles:

3 thoughts on “The Sunday Dozen: The Beatles

    1. Great choices! I do have to point out that it’s George Martin playing the honky-tonk piano in Rocky Racoon, not Macca.

  1. Oh well nobody’s perfect. I got the genre right: ragtime all the way.

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