This is certainly not one of David Letterman's top ten list, not even close. But since today is the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles first US broadcast appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, which is now the same stage where that show is recorded each day, we figured why not try out. Enjoy the musical journey, which at times may appear to get just a bit loud and bumpy.
Ticket to Ride * John Lennon and Paul McCartney have disputed the authorship of this chart-topping, spine-tingling hit from 1965's Help! Lennon maintained that McCartney's contribution was essentially Ringo Starr's propulsive drum part, a key element in the production, which prefigures a heavier, more muscular rock sound.
Whatever is is, the musical bridge is brilliant: The Beatles pick up the pace, and their sounds become groovy as it reflects the nervous desperation lurking beneath that soaring melody and majestic arrangement. This was the very first Beatles song that ran over three minutes long.
I Want to Hold Your Hand * There are few things as blissful, or as hard to pull off, as a happy pop song. The Beatles are responsible for a number of them. In 1963 I Want to Hold Your Hand, he Beatles first No.1 hit in the USA. They wanted to hold our hands, but wound up stealing our hearts.
Fittingly, the song that allowed The Beatles to conquer American hearts was a joint effort between Lennon and McCartney, who wrote it sitting together in the basement of McCartney's then-girlfriend Jane Asher. I Want to Hold Your Hand's joyful simplicity is deceptive; there are tricky chord shifts and syncopated rhythms. But the try listening to it without feeling good.
A Day in the Life * If The Beatles split up after the 1967 release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, this final tune would've been the ideal final song to an amazing career. Instead, John Lennon and Paul McCartney's intuition and invention showed four musicians and their studio colleagues pushing the envelope and showing thei creative juices were still flowing.
The apocalyptic meltdown which concludes Sgt. Pepper's psychedelic trip starts through Lennon's eyes and voice. He adapted the creepy opening scenarios from real-life incidents. McCartney conceived the middle section that interrupts the disturbing dream and introduces classical elements and preparing the listener for the buildup that ends with the very longest piano chord in recorded history.
Penny Lane * McCartney wrote it in memory to Liverpool, their hometown neighborhood where John Lennon and he grew up. There is certainly a childlike innocence to this No. 1 hit from 1967's Magical Mystery Tour. Behind his breezy vocal, you can hear McCartney multitasking on several instruments. On the piano alone, he played three separate parts.
After hearing a British chamber orchestra broadcast of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, McCartney arranged for a classical musician who performed in the orchestra, to play the whimsical piccolo trumpet solo.
Hey Jude * The Beatles lengthiest No. 1 hit. The song enjoyed nine weeks as #1 on the hit parade back in 1968. After Lennon split with his first wife, Cynthia, Paul McCartney was inspired by thoughts of the couple's young son, Julian. The song was conceived as Hey Jules and later renamed.
Granted, the resulting plea to "take a sad song and make it better" seems more like advice to a lovesick friend. It has been speculated that the increasingly strained relationships in McCartney's band also could have been a factor.
Strawberry Fields Forever * Recorded early in the Sgt. Pepper sessions, Strawberry Fields Forever instead wound up a 1967 single, on the opposite side of Penny Lane and later on Magical Mystery Tour. Strawberry Fields also connects to Lennon and McCartney's youth, this time from a fantasy. "Strawberry Fields is just anywhere you want to go," Lennon said in 1968, but there is now a place called Strawberry Fields in NYC's Central Park.
And what a glorious, freaky destination in the psychedelia that The Beatles were popularizing. Little wonder those rumors came along that the song announced McCartney's death; Lennon was the one who died first. He was shot down just feet away from Strawberry Fields.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps * George Harrison crafted several Beatles favorites, but this 1968 classic, featured on The Beatles White Album. Inspired by Harrison's increasing interest in Eastern philosophy, Guitar has a gentle, piano-dominated intro. As the arrangement acquires steam, a slight tension creeps into the vocals, highlighting the lyrics' mix of frustrated idealism and knowing sadness.
George Harrison famously recruited Eric Clapton to contribute the keening, doleful solo that embodies the song's title. Later, he wound up marrying the other person's wife.
The Fool on the Hill * 1967's The Fool on the Hill is as evocative a character study as Eleanor Rigby, though the character here is drawn with a lighter hand and heart. McCartney, the main writer, has said he was inspired by a Yogi, and the lyrics finally convey more admiration than pity. But the melody, which is one of McCartney's most sublime has a gentle quality that's reinforced by the bittersweet arrangement, with its flourishes of flute and penny whistle.
Little wonder that The Fool on the Hill, featured on Magical Mystery Tour and in the film has been covered by artists ranging from Sergio Mendez to Aretha Franklin to Bjork.
Girl * Is there a great pop song more melancholy? A sort of bluer companion piece to Norwegian Wood. Girl was also written chiefly by Lennon and included on Rubber Soul as well the haunting ballad explores a dilemma that has plagued many young men since time began. But in addressing the problem of women, where you can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em John Lennon manages to seem at once more profound and less self-pitying than most.
Lennon apparently still had some learning to do, though. In an interview shortly before he was murdered, he referenced Girl in describing Woman, an equally awestruck song on his 1980 album, Double Fantasy. "This is the grown-up version of Girl," Lennon said.
Abbey Road medley * Released in the fall of 1969, Abbey Road was the last album recorded by The Beatles, and it climaxes with a 16-minute series of short songs blended by McCartney and producer George Martin. Veering in mood from anguished to impish, from frantic to exultant, it's a final, furious rush of creative energy and irresistible melodrama.
The medley segues from McCartney's You Never Give Me Your Money a nod to the group's music business woes to Lennon's dreamy Sun King and quirky Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, Golden Slumbers and Carry That Weight are vintage McCartney, rocking hard and sweetly. " And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make." WoW You say you want to hear more?
Sorry about that chief, but once we get started it's difficult to stop... Here's a few short samples of some more of our favorites:
Too short you say? We say OK, then listen to it this way...
We were left wondering why Paul and Ringo did not ask George and John's sons to join them on stage during CBS TV's 50th Anniversary Beatles Special.
The Beatles' 50 Biggest Billboard Hits http://www.billboard.com/articles/list/5893869/the-beatles-top-50-songs…