Posted by Kayla Tooma on 06/13 at 10:31 AM
What’s the first Beatles song that comes to mind? “Hey Jude”? “Let it Be”? “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”? It seems like the majority of The Beatles’ work is often overshadowed by their songs that get far more radio attention. By granting overwhelming attention to only a handful of songs, perhaps some have become disenchanted and even bored by The Beatles. However I would like to present to you a list of songs that are just as good, if not better, but don’t receive the same wide-spread appreciation and treatment as their more well known counterparts. I tried to pick one to two songs per major album so as to provide some kind of variety. Also, if you’re one of those who find themselves burnt out on the same Beatles songs, hopefully this will provide some breaths of fresh air.
“Till There Was You” – With The Beatles (1963)
Although it is a cover of Meredith Wilson’s 1957 song from the musical The Music Man, it’s worthy of being on the list. Paul takes the reigns and serenades us with gentle, sincere vocals. George on guitar is just lovely (as always), smooth, and sexy— a recipe for a great slow song dance. Also, rather than tradition drums, the recording features bongos to add to the sensual, soft nature of the song.
“I’ll Follow the Sun” – Beatles for Sale (1964)
This is a gorgeous song by Paul McCartney in 1964. The music is calming, sorrowful yet hopeful, and beautiful. It tells the story of a break up with a man who is unappreciated and is leaving, “one day you’ll look/to see that I have gone…one day you’ll know/I was the one.” Although mournful, the song offers some hope repeating “but tomorrow may rain so/I’ll follow the sun.” The narrator can foresee bad weather in their relationship, and although it is difficult for him, he decides to leave before the storminess. The music is lovely and kind of reminds me of that of Elton John’s “Daniel.”
“Girl” – Rubber Soul (1965)
Although probably one of the most well known on this list, I don’t think this song gets nearly enough credit as it should. Heavily influenced by Mediterranean music, “Girl” tells the story of an irresistible girl who drives a man mad. Of course, knowing John Lennon, it likely has double meanings. He’s mentioned that the song alludes to Christianity and the desire to be granted into Heaven but being unable to find salvation. I also think it can also be about substances, not just because of the long breaths John takes that sound like drags of a cigarette, but also the inability to quit something that brings both pain and pleasure.
“I’m Only Sleeping” – Revolver (1966)
The song marks the beginning of the band’s turn into psychedelic rock. Lennon sings as if he is separated from society who is running about and is “lying there starring at the ceiling/waiting for a sleepy feeling.” It also begins to incorporate sounds like manipulated guitar recordings that eventually will become more frequent in their music as they dive deeper into psychedelic and experimental sounds later on.
“For No One” – Revolver (1966)
One of my personal favorite Beatles songs of all time, “For No One” brings us to another one of Paul’s bittersweet love songs. He sings about a breakup that came too soon for the narrator. “And in her eyes you see nothing/no sign of love behind the tears/cried for no one/a love that should have lasted years.” His lover no longer needs him and has lost all her love for him, but he is still in love with her and even in denial about her moving on. The song is also an example of how the band was influenced by Baroque music with the implementation of a clavichord. Switching between major and minor keys, the song’s music itself reflects the internal struggle of the narrator. The song also features a short French horn solo.
“Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” – Sgt. Pepper’s (1967)
It was difficult to pick one song from perhaps their most iconic, influential album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I was conflicted between “Mr. Kite” and “She’s Leaving Home,” but ultimately chose the circus inspired song written by John Lennon. The song’s lyrics were actually ripped from a circus advertisement poster from the Victorian era, which can seem obvious from John’s unexcited tone that sounds similar to him simply reading. The song incorporates a few different types of organs, harmonica, tape loops of various sounds played backwards and forwards, a glockenspiel (which is similar to a xylophone), and many more fun, interesting instruments. It is a strange, fun song filled with carnival images and sounds.
“Hey Bulldog” – Yellow Submarine (1968)
This song is straight up rock and one of, if not the most, aggressive of The Beatles’ songs. It also exhibits a lot of playfulness, especially towards the end that features Paul and John screaming and barking. It is obvious these guys had fun while recording the track and it is really contagious and intoxicating. George’s guitar solo is nothing short of awesome.
“Happiness is a Warm Gun” – The White Album (1968)
Along with “Girl”, “Happiness is a Warm Gun” is probably the other most known song on this list. But similarly, I don’t believe it receives the treatment it deserves. The song is downright amazing. It’s super sexual with lyrics like “when I hold you in my arms/and I feel my finger on your trigger.” He described a man “the man in the crowd with the multicolored mirrors on his hard nail boots” used to look up girls’ skirts. The song gives us little vignettes of different people and their sexual frustrations then returns to the speaker of the song. It also alludes to heroin use (“I need a fix ‘cause I’m going down”). It builds a lot of musical tension and resolves itself towards the end, much like the firing of a gun (and other things).
“I Will” – The White Album (1968)
“I Will” is just yet another example of how McCartney’s talent for love songs is untouchable. Although one of their latter songs, it is somewhat reminiscent of their earlier, doo-wop sounds. Similar to “Till There Was You,” rather than using drums, they decide to use the softer bongos to add to the sweetness of the song. Pumped with hope, the song ponders about finding the perfect person and being in love with someone who you have not even met yet. “Who knows how long I’ve loved you/you know I love you still/Will I wait a lonely lifetime?/If you want me to I will.”
“Real Love” – Anthology 2 (1996)
Although originally recorded in 1979 and 1980 by John Lennon and was left unfinished when he died, the remaining three Beatles reworked the song and released it as a Beatle song that would become the opening track to the Beatles Anthology 2. The song is mature, hopeful, slightly frightened, and dreamy announcing to the world “it’s real love/yes, it’s real” after having acknowledged “thought I’d been in love before/but in my heart I wanted more/seems like all I really was doing/was waiting for you.”
Author: Kayla Tooma
Bio: Kayla Tooma is a senior majoring in English at Penn State. She hails from the great island of Long Island, NY. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing piano, reading medieval literature, watching unhealthy amounts of space documentaries, and making some kind of lame pun. Her favorite genres include a variety of rock, pop, indie, and metal. Some of her favorite artists include My Chemical Romance, Lana Del Rey, Queen, MIKA, No Doubt, Lady Gaga, HIM, The Smiths, The Jane Austen Argument, The Beatles, Beirut, The Dresden Dolls, and The White Stripes. She also has a sweet spot for pop goddesses like Cher, Madonna, and Britney Spears.
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