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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ranking Beatles songs (a non-law post)

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's come two lists ranking all the Beatles songs: From Bill Wyman in New York Magazine and from Charles Curtis in USA Today. Both put A Day in the Life at the top. Otherwise, they are all over the map in interesting ways (that may say more about making lists than about the Beatles).

After the jump, I list each author's Top 20; in parens is where the other author placed that song. Draw your own conclusions and decide which list you prefer.


20) Hey Jude (4)

19) Lovely Rita (78)

18) Ticket to Ride (19)

17) Nowhere Man (36)

16) Here Comes the Sun (9)

15) Let It Be (10)

14) Money (That's What I Want) (unranked)

13) Something (3)

12) Tomorrow Never Knows (7)

11) She Said, She Said (44)

10) Rain (75)

9) Eleanor Rigby (12)

8) Norwegian Wood (11)

7) Here, There, and Everywhere (54)

6) Dear Prudence (50)

5) Please Please Me (28)

4) She Loves You (60)

3) Penny Lane (23)

2) Strawberry Fields Forever (22)

1) A Day in the Life (1)



20) The End (mid-20s. Wyman ranks Abbey Road medley at 22-29, songs listed in order)

19) Ticket to Ride (18)

18) I Want to Hold Your Hand (49)

17) I Saw Her Standing There (21)

16) Blackbird (31)

15) A Hard Day's Night (41)

14) Can’t Buy Me Love (55)

13) While My Guitar Gently Weeps (32)

12) Eleanor Rigby (9)

11) Norwegian Wood (8)

10) Let It Be (15)

9) Here Comes the Sun (16)

8) Help! (36)

7) Tomorrow  Never Knows(12)

6) Yesterday (39)

5) Revolution (56)

4) Hey, Jude (20)

3) Something (13)

2) In My Life (42)

1) A Day in the Life (1)

They agree on nine songs, but there is huge variance within that agreement, other than Day in the Life. No other song makes both Top-10s, although Rigby and Norwegian are close (9/8 for Wyman, justt outside it for Curtis at 12/11). Four of Wyman's Top-5 did not make Curtis' Top-20, while three of Curtis's Top-5 did not make Wyman's Top-20 (Hey Jude, which Wyman had at 20).

And just to show that they do not agree on the lower end, here is each one's bottom five:


Good Day Sunshine

Dig It

Little Child

Tell Me What You See

Dig A Pony


You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)

Good Night


Blue Jay Way

Octopus's Garden

For broad disagreement, Wyman had She's Leaving Home at 204 (10th-worst); Curtis had it at 61.

One other bit of Beatles trivia: The most recent Hit Parade Podcast explores the story of the week in April 1964 when the Beatles held the entire Billboard Top-5, a tale of how many people in the music industry whiffed on the Beatles. Worth a listen.

Okay, now back to SCOTUS and non-impeachment.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on June 10, 2017 at 06:41 AM in Culture, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


Across the universe? Anyone?

Posted by: Anon | Jun 12, 2017 7:30:37 PM

Tomorrow Never Knows also makes one Top 10 and nearly makes the other. It's in or around my Top 10 too.

In my opinion, almost any list of favorite Beatles songs is defensible. One person may prefer the early days of Beatlemania; another may groove to more experimental stuff later on; and yet another could list every song from Rubber Soul and Revolver.

I'd put Octopus's Garden and Revolution No. 9 somewhere in the top half, maybe top third, of all Beatles songs. But I can see why some people would rank them near the bottom. Meanwhile, I've never really liked Something, even though apparently most people do.

For me, I Am The Walrus and Helter Skelter are clear choices for the Top 20. But to each his or her own.

Maybe law schools could use Top 20 lists of Beatles songs as an example of how people can hold valid but differing opinions or perceptions...

Posted by: Scott Frey | Jun 12, 2017 6:47:58 PM

I would also rank No.1-7 in a similar order..Nice post

Posted by: Essay writer | Jun 11, 2017 3:16:30 AM

These belong in the "worst" list:

Glass Onion
Revolution No. 9
Bungalow Bill

What do these all have in common? (1) Yeah, George Martin was right: they should have released it as one good album rather than a double with a lot of garbage; (2) After Sgt. Pepper (which featured what I agree is the Beatles' greatest track, A Day in the Life) Lennon's output quality went downhill pretty fast. Thanks Yoko.

Posted by: Edward Cantu | Jun 10, 2017 11:23:30 PM

I don't like the Beatles very much, for a mix of musical and personal/idiosyncratic reasons, but I am a little taken aback by the inclusion of Good Day Sunshine, a perfectly good song which I'd take over just about anything McCartney's done since 1970, or Octopus's Garden, a very endearing song, on anyone's bottom five. I can understand Blue Jay Way, but it is rather catchy in spite of (or really, probably because of) its demented droning awfulness; were I to pick a Harrison song for my bottom five, it would probably be Piggies. And placing She's Leaving Home at tenth worst seems nuts. I suppose Wyman finds it mawkish and doesn't like sentimentality (Edit: yeah, he explains his choices and that's exactly what he thinks), which may also explain his slotting In My Life at 42 rather than somewhere much higher. If I were looking for a cloying McCartney song to round out the bottom of my list, I think I would opt for Mother Nature's Son, though it's extremely self-assured and almost majestic in what it's trying to do.

Posted by: Asher Steinberg | Jun 10, 2017 1:12:07 PM

I would put "You Like Me Too Much" (written by George Harrison) from the Help! album on this list.

Posted by: Scott Maravilla | Jun 10, 2017 8:35:59 AM

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