A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
Before our celebration, I took an informal survey of favorite Beatles songs and the reasons behind them, which led to some very personal and touching stories. Surprisingly, each person chose a different song, showing that The Beatles have something for everyone. Readers, feel free to add yours in the comments section!
Bookfox Hilary(UK):I’m going a little off-piste with my choice of a favourite Beatles track. It’s just that, when Bookfox Jackie suggested this piece for Beatles week, a particular track lodged in my head, and gave me one of the most serious cases of earworm that I’ve had for a very long time. Trouble is, it’s not a Lennon-MacCartney number, but a cover. But it’s a brilliant track, and one that I thought was terrific from the moment I first heard it when I was 12. The track is “Money (That’s What I Want)” – can you imagine a worse sentiment for an impressionable pre-teenager than that? No wonder at the time the Beatles were thought to be hacking at the roots of civilised society. However, I managed to grow up to adulthood without becoming a total money-grubbing spendthrift, so I think the impression it made on me was more to do with the music than the actual meaning of the lyrics. And maybe my 12-year-old critical faculties were rather better developed than the naysayers wanted to believe.
“Money (That’s What I Want)” was the last track on the 1963 album With The Beatles. I only have to see that stunning black and white album cover to be reminded how wildly new and exciting The Beatles seemed at the time. Money, a 1960 hit single, was covered early and often, the Beatles being one of the first, and still about the best – though The Flying Lizards’ version runs them close…
It has one of the greatest ever hooks in the piano riff, a driving rhythm, and a very early exposure to John Lennon’s voice in full blues-y rasp-y flow. It just sets my pulses racing and always has. It’s musically complex, assured and clever. By contrast, the Rolling Stones’ version from a year later, though it’s a lot less slick and more raw, doesn’t come close to channelling the same energy. IMVHO.
So, I’m not ashamed of my choice – I’ll leave it to others to extol their original creations. Even though Lennon and MacCartney formed one of the finest song-writing teams of all time, I want to pay tribute to the Beatles’ brilliant way with a cover, taking a quality track and finding even more to say about it. (But, I do love The Flying Lizards too – they make me laugh.)
There was some amusing anecdotes.
Linda(US): I would have to say “A Hard Day’s Night” evokes many memories. It raised a lot of excitement about the Beatles’ first film, which provided more of a chance to see them besides the group just doing a couple of songs on the Ed Sullivan Show. I remember waiting for two hours sitting on the curb with my friend Nancy for our local movie theater’s box office to open on the first day the film opened. We were so excited to get tickets. It was pandemonium in the theater when the film started! Lots of girls screaming and sighing! I was fortunate enough to see the Beatles in concert a couple of years later when they came to Busch Stadium in St. Louis. My parents drove me and a friend to the Beatles concert, then went to see a movie six blocks away. They said that they could still hear all of the screaming inside the theater!
Elaine(US):The first time I heard the Beatles sing, “Penny Lane,” was over the radio in my kitchen. I first thought they were singing, “Pen, Elaine.” I guess I was a bit egotistical back then.
Sue (Canada): As unbelievable as it may seem, I as a 3 year old sat in my little wooden rocker in front a black and white TV….and like millions of others watched the Beatles on stage on the Ed Sullivan show. This memory is as vivid as any I could have as an adult. I remember the long hair, the British accents and one song in particular. “She Loves You”. As I watched I just couldn’t understand why all those girls were screaming. After that show that night…..I repeatedly sang “She loves you ya ya ya, she loves you ya ya ya, (that was the only part of the song I could remember I guess) so much that several times I was politely asked to stop (sometimes not so politely). Now, ask me about anything else that happened when I was 3 and I could not tell you. I guess those 4 boys from Liverpool made and impression on me at an early age. To this day I hear that song “She Loves You” and chuckle.
Appropriately for the era, a lot of songs are about connections to loved ones, family and friends.
Maxine(UK) was the most poignant: “My favourite Beatles song is “The Long And Winding Road”. It really sums up how are felt and still do
feel about losing my parents …just thinking about this song makes me well up…or teary. The words…..” Don’t leave me here …lead me to your door…” “
Diane(US)”In My Life” is especially meaningful to me. We chose it to be our wedding song almost 33 years ago. The song seemed to speak to both of us way back then, and I still get chills when I listen to it today.
Rick(Canada): “Hey Jude” was the first song my girlfriend and I danced to. Two and a half years later we had it as our wedding song. 30 years this July I plan on dancing with her again to Hey Jude . Beatles songs never get old , they will live forever !
“Anytime At All” by The Beatles holds a special meaning to me. Back when I was VERY young, and had my very first boyfriend, that was “our” song. Even after breaking up, him getting married and having kids, it’s still “our” song, but now we have our “motto”: ‘we span the decades’. We’ve known each other through the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, but have since lost touch. I miss the guy, and unfortunately, he’s NOT the facebook type. I’ve tried to reach his sister, but have had no luck so far.
Bookfox Sam (UK): “For No-One” The beauty of this track lies entirely in that last note. Or rather in its absence. For No-one is the only track that I’ve encountered in popular music that ends on such an interrupted cadence, on a note that feels like there has to be more to come next. It demonstrates for me as clearly as the syncopated rhythms on Strawberry Fields Forever, the genuinely ground-breaking approach The Beatles had to the creation of their songs. They still feel unique and ambitious nearly 50 years later.
“For No-One” isn’t actually my favourite track, but it is the one I kept coming back to in my thinking. I’d have loved to write about how I played Here, There and Everywhere at my wedding, or that In My Life is one of the only non-Bob Dylan songs that I can listen to repeatedly and keep finding something new. Or that my favourite Beatles era is their jazzy joyful album tracks on Revolver and Rubber Soul because they convey joy better than almost any other band I’ve known. But I think I’ll leave it there. Because for no-one excites me intellectually – and that is something few popular music groups ever have
Lisa(Canada) summed up what a lot of us felt: I started my teenage years just as the Beatles were breaking up, but their songs carried me through. From sad to happy, all my moods were met as I went through the roller coaster ride on my way to becoming an adult. To pick just one of their songs and call it my favorite…….well, I just can’t do it. Hearing their songs for the first time and capturing those moments way back then was an experience in itself. Hearing those songs now, takes me back to so many memories. I’m glad that I was a part of that age even though it was at the tail end of their career together. Those my age got to see each of them continue on with their individual careers and still enjoy their songs as a group. Their songs and their stories as a band will go on forever.