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Subject: Most Popular Beatles Songs - Results

Written By: Stuart McArthur on 12/10/04 at 6:35 am

So here are the results, which I found a bit interesting
(didn’t expect Come Together to be so high, although it was in my top 3
and I was surprised at the high placings of I am the Walrus, and Helter Skelter)

and I’d be very interested in anyone else’s reactions – surprised or not?  at what?

There is some legitimacy to the poll in that I didn’t push it, so only those who genuinely love the Beatles would have put in the effort

and re potential points of order:

all Revolution #1 and #9 votes went under Revolution
(yes, I know they’re different, but essentially they're just different arrangements)

there were heaps of 1-vote songs as you’d expect – and too long (and often too esoteric) a list to put up

any other points of order, please post…



Final votes
13  Let It Be

11  Hey Jude
11  Come Together

10  A Day in the Life
10  I Am the Walrus

9    Yesterday

8    Back in the USSR
8    Eleanor Rigby
8    Helter Skelter

7    Help!
7    Something
7    Strawberry Fields Forever

6    In My Life
6    While My Guitar Gently Weeps

5    Get Back
5    Got to Get You into My Life
5    I Saw Her Standing There
5    Love Me Do
5    Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
5    Paperback Writer
5    She Loves You
5    Yellow Submarine

4    Blackbird
4    Here Comes the Sun
4    Here, There and Everywhere
4    I Want to Hold Your Hand
4    Taxman
4    You've Got to Hide Your Love Away

3    Can't Buy Me Love
3    Hard Day's Night, a
3    Lady Madonna
3    Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
3    Oh! Darling
3    Revolution
3    She's Leaving Home

2    Ballad Of John And Yoko, the
2    Carry that Weight
2    Day Tripper
2    Don't Let Me Down
2    Drive My Car
2    Eight Days a Week
2    Happiness Is a Warm Gun
2    I Feel Fine
2    I'm Looking Through You
2    Maxwell's Silver Hammer
2    Michelle
2    Norwegian Wood
2    Penny Lane
2    Please Please Me
2    Ticket to Ride
2    Till There Was You
2    Twist and Shout
2    Two of Us
2    You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)


Subject: Re: Most Popular Beatles Songs - Results

Written By: ChuckyG on 12/10/04 at 2:25 pm

everything with 6 or more votes is from the last few albums (except Help!).  Proving once again the Blue album era is superior to the Red album era. 

(wait, Red, Blue, I didn't mean to make this about politics!  just kidding)

Subject: Re: Most Popular Beatles Songs - Results

Written By: Rick D on 12/10/04 at 5:45 pm

I know you were joking, Chuck, but there is a subtle odd progression in the Beatles Music. While their short seven years of recording transformed the whole industry, and it follows that the later songs are better because they improved, the output of John Lennon is actually in reverse. Paul and George kept improving as songwriters, as did George Martin as an arranger, so that they peaked around 68-69.
    John however was amazingly creative in his earlier works, peaking around 1964, where he was responsible for most of the "Hard Days Night" album. His music got more bizarre for a while, then decreased in innovation and complexity. His earlier singing was confident and brilliant, later tentative and awash with echo. Where earlier songs contained sweeping melody, later he was reduced to "Three Blind Mice" type tunes. The "Plastic Ono Band" album has almost no production, no color, and his insecurities overtook him. "Come Together" had lines from an old Chuck Berry song that John was later sued for.
This observation takes nothing away from the fact I am a huge fan, and just last night performed "Watching the Wheels". But musically it is a re-write of "Imagine". Compare both to "I Should Have Known Better"

Subject: Re: The Only Thread That Matters

Written By: Stuart McArthur on 12/10/04 at 7:30 pm


I know you were joking, Chuck, but there is a subtle odd progression in the Beatles Music. While their short seven years of recording transformed the whole industry, and it follows that the later songs are better because they improved, the output of John Lennon is actually in reverse. Paul and George kept improving as songwriters, as did George Martin as an arranger, so that they peaked around 68-69.
    John however was amazingly creative in his earlier works, peaking around 1964, where he was responsible for most of the "Hard Days Night" album. His music got more bizarre for a while, then decreased in innovation and complexity. His earlier singing was confident and brilliant, later tentative and awash with echo. Where earlier songs contained sweeping melody, later he was reduced to "Three Blind Mice" type tunes. The "Plastic Ono Band" album has almost no production, no color, and his insecurities overtook him. "Come Together" had lines from an old Chuck Berry song that John was later sued for.
This observation takes nothing away from the fact I am a huge fan, and just last night performed "Watching the Wheels". But musically it is a re-write of "Imagine". Compare both to "I Should Have Known Better"


wow, Rick - I'll give you "Imagine" - that is a very over-rated song, but I reckon he stayed consistent up until the early seventies.

Come Together is one of my faves, Plastic Ono Band I still play a lot, and "Instant Karma" is a classic.  Now I think more, perhaps you have a point, as his Abbey Road output didn't match Paul's, but Paul was at his very peak then (Maxwell's S.H. notwithstanding)

and I also take your point that some of John's early stuff (c. Hard D.N.) within the context of their learning curve was genius

Subject: Re: Most Popular Beatles Songs - Results

Written By: Rick D on 12/10/04 at 8:28 pm

John himself said that "Instant Karma" had the same chords as "All You Need is Love" (Sort of) "Woman" was an update of "Girl". His last album was full of musical tricks he'd overused for years. I'm not putting down any one song, I love' em. But as a musician, both his writing, singing and production standars show a strange "backward" trend. Listen to the timing of "Good Morning, Good Morning". It's in 10/8. His earlier stuff had diminished chords, odd endings and shifts, lyrical twists, and great singing. His later songs played it much more safe, and his voice somehow "thinned out". His recording of "Stand By Me" is painful to hear, it sounds so strained. But even the earlier crappy 12-bar-blues, "Leave My Kitten Alone" has a kickass vocal. I would like to think that if he had lived, he would have come to terms with his insecurities, mellowed and returned to do some fine things. Plus he would have kept Paul on his toes.

Subject: Re: Most Popular Beatles Songs - Results

Written By: philbo on 12/10/04 at 8:56 pm


So here are the results, which I found a bit interesting
(didn’t expect Come Together to be so high, although it was in my top 3
and I was surprised at the high placings of I am the Walrus, and Helter Skelter)

I think that "I am the Walrus" and "Helter Skelter" stand out because they're so different to almost everything else around - I've always liked both of them, one for the sheer lyrical absurdity and the other probably a precursor to my liking of heavy metal.

Lyrically, John was far and away the strongest of the Beatles authors, but I don't think he ever had the musical talent of George and Paul - that's one reason why (IMO) Lennon/McCartney was stronger as a duo than either in their solo careers: between them they could turn out a cracking song, whereas apart they were largely mediocre (with the occasional flash of brilliance).


"Woman" was an update of "Girl".

I remember reading an article where that was mentioned: I seem to remember thinking it was somehow appropriate...

btw, Rick - apropos nothing much, but did you spot my Lehrer's A Christmas Carol parody?  I think it was posted in a spot where you weren't around so much, but I have to admit to thinking of you when I wrote it...

Subject: Re: The Only Thread That Matters

Written By: Stuart McArthur on 12/10/04 at 9:40 pm


everything with 6 or more votes is from the last few albums (except Help!). 



I reckon over half the one-votes (not shown) were from the White Album - which is also interesting - an album of eclectic and diverse appeal


I think that "I am the Walrus" and "Helter Skelter" stand out because they're so different to almost everything else around - I've always liked both of them, one for the sheer lyrical absurdity and the other probably a precursor to my liking of heavy metal.

Lyrically, John was far and away the strongest of the Beatles authors, but I don't think he ever had the musical talent of George and Paul - that's one reason why (IMO) Lennon/McCartney was stronger as a duo than either in their solo careers: between them they could turn out a cracking song, whereas apart they were largely mediocre (with the occasional flash of brilliance).


I agree with all this Phil - Helter Skelter had some real energy (that build-up intro...)


Subject: Re: Most Popular Beatles Songs - Results

Written By: Rick D on 12/10/04 at 11:01 pm

"Helter Skelter" was written by Paul as a response to Pete Townsend bragging that the Who had just done one of the "heaviest" rock songs ever. I don't remember if he said which, but I suspect it was "I Can See For Miles". Just like he responded to the Beach Boys with "Back In the USSR" he went and told the group to "dirty" up this ditty.

"I Am the Walrus" boasts of one of the strangest chord patterns in any song. At the end, it just decends in major chords A-G-F-E-D-C-B...etc, which is something no other songwriter would do. Martin compensates by making the strings go up in steps, even when it clashes. Listen to the end and you'll hear it.

Subject: Beatles Songs

Written By: Stuart McArthur on 12/11/04 at 12:06 am


Martin compensates by making the strings go up in steps, even when it clashes. Listen to the end and you'll hear it.



Yes - of course that's another reason for both the popularity skewing towards the latter tracks, and for L and M's inability to match solo what they achieved as a double-act - George Martin - really they were a triple-act (or a 2.5-act :))

Subject: Beatles Songs

Written By: Stuart McArthur on 12/11/04 at 12:13 am



ALSO - just noticed - look at the song-writing break-up of the top 14:

Lennon:          6
MacCartney:    6
Harrison:          2

which exactly reflects the ratio most would see as balancing the three of them  (output-wise at least - All Things Must Pass showed that George had drawers full of gems that weren't able to see the light of day)

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