Song of the Day #3,329: ‘Penny Lane (Live)’ – Elvis Costello vs. The Beatles

Our second Final Four matchup is a battle of London lads: Elvis Costello vs. The Beatles.

A nice connection here, as Costello has been a die-hard Beatles fan since he was nine years old and 27 years later teamed up with Paul McCartney to write an excellent batch of songs that both men released on future albums.

Costello made it here by beating Carly Rae Jepsen, John Mayer and Michael Jackson in the first three rounds, then toppling the resilient Taylor Swift with 78% of the vote. The Beatles defeated Shakira, Ben Folds and Lyle Lovett before besting Randy Newman with 75% in Round Four. Quite a gauntlet.

This half of the Final Four is identical to the one I arrived at when running through these brackets solo. That means three of the final four artists in the community version match my own picks. Great minds think alike!

This is truly a matchup without a loser. I’ll be thrilled to see either contestant advance, and saddened to lose the other. Both are top five artists for me and have been for a very long time.

I’ve been a Beatles fan longer. Like a lot of young people, regardless of generation, I discovered the Fab Four in my teens and gobbled up their catalog until I knew it by heart. Once, during a lazy 9th grade summer, I typed out the lyrics to every one of their songs. By ear, on a typewriter.

It’s with the spirit of that 14-year-old kid that I’m voting for the incomparable Beatles today, even against one of the greatest singer-songwriters ever.

[Verse 1]
Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he’s had the pleasure to have known
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say hello

[Verse 2]
On the corner is a banker with a motorcar
The little children laugh at him behind his back
And the banker never wears a mac
In the pouring rain
Very strange

[Chorus]
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back

[Verse 3]
In Penny Lane there is a fireman with an hourglass
And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen
He likes to keep his fire engine clean
It’s a clean machine

[Chorus]
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
A four of fish and finger pies
In summer meanwhile back

[Verse 4]
Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And though she feels as if she’s in a play
She is anyway

[Verse 5]
Penny Lane the barber shaves another customer
We see the banker sitting waiting for a trim
Then the fireman rushes in
From the pouring rain
Very strange

[Chorus]
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back

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5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,329: ‘Penny Lane (Live)’ – Elvis Costello vs. The Beatles

  1. Dana says:

    I need to step back from the contest for a moment to note how wonderful it was to have Obama as our president for eight years for a million reasons, one of which was his appreciation for the arts and the way in which artists embraced him. I can’t imagine anyone other than Kid Rock or Ted Nugent playing for our current Embarassment-in-Chief. Sad!

    Anyway, back to the contest…of course I’ve been a fan of The Beatles since I was probably in diapers, but what you describe occurring for you as a teenager – becoming a fan as a teenager and gobbling up the records – was exactly what happened to me with Costello. The only other artist having that same impact on me also made the final four of this contest – Billy Joel.

    So for me, the vote goes to Costello, though I too will be happy to see either advance to the championship round.

  2. Amy says:

    As Daniel said a few rounds ago, it would have been special and unexpected to see a worthy but often under appreciated artist such as Lyle Lovett become the winner of Montauk Madness, as any generic poll might produce a result with Dylan or The Beatles as the winner.

    Still, now that foolish voters have ousted Lovett from the contest, there is nothing left to do but demonstrate why the Beatles often do end up with that crown.

    Yes, they influenced countless artists but not without continuing to make a powerful impression on those young people who came along long after they were first making their music, I watched both my brother and my daughter go through similarly obsessive Beatles phases decades (and then decades plus!) after that music had first been released.

    As Daniel also said in a post earlier in this contest, we don’t have the luxury of time having already passed to be able to “prove” that a Taylor Swift, say, will have a lasting appeal (though I’m willing to place bets that my future grandchildren will one day be singing along with her songs).

    With the Beatles, no such projection is necessary. We know that their music continues to resonate generation after generation. It is not to reward them for having stood the test of time but to recognize how meaningful their music had always been that I cast my vote for the inevitable winner of this here contest… the Beatles.

  3. Peg says:

    Beatles all the way!

  4. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    I don’t necessarily have a dog in this race anymore. Billy Joel is the closest artist still in this competition to my favorite artist, whereas I wouldn’t put the other 3 even in my top 10. That being said, as Amy said, I did make a comment a little whiles back saying I think the competition would be boring if The Beatles and Bob Dylan were the final 2. 2 that could be considered the favorite artist by anybody on the street. Perhaps, that means that their rightful place is in the top two. However, I will continue to do what’s in my power to make this competition reflect a more unique perspective. Therefore, in that vain I will vote for Elvis Costello. A truly under appreciated artist who is one of the best songwriters out there. He masterfully has worked his way through many genres throughout his prolific career, all the while only on few occasions receiving the audience to correspond with the quality. Here I will try in my small way to rectify that by voting for him.

  5. Peter says:

    Dana, thanks for stepping back! One day before the best inauguration ever, the best speech ever and the most visited inauguration ever I read about the problems that DT had to find musical support (Nugent, I was a fan, sorry, I was 15 years old…). My first thought was confirmed the other day: Toby Keith…
    Back to the contest. Beatles, Costello, Dylan, yadda yadda, I don’t care who wins, Lu and Tift won my heart many years ago, I am faithful😉

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