In recent months, I’ve found myself declaring a couple of times that one song or another was officially among my all-time favorites.
That got me interested, during these pandemic times, in creating a definitive playlist of my favorite songs. This is an exercise fraught with peril and subject to repeated second-guessing, but that’s also what makes it fun.
Narrowing such a list to ten songs proved impossible, so I kept at it until I had close to 30, then pared back to 25, which feels like a good number.
In 1967, as many as 700 million people worldwide watched Our World, the first ever live international satellite broadcast. The show featured segments by 14 different countries, presenting scenes of their choice (Japan showed the construction of the Tokyo subway system, while Canada showed a rancher herding cattle).
The United Kingdom won the night by offering up The Beatles, at the height of their popularity, debuting a new song. John Lennon wrote ‘All You Need Is Love’ for the occasion, deliberately penning a tune so simple that anybody in the world could easily sing along.
‘Thank You Girl’ was released as the B-side to The Beatles’ ‘From Me To You’ in the United Kingdom and ‘Do You Want To Know a Secret’ in the United States. Originally intended as a single but later relegated to also-ran status, it’s a great example of the band’s earliest pop phase.
I’m always amazed that within four years of lightweight fare like this, the band had released Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, three albums that changed the face of popular music forever.
This is a wacky coincidence. I spun the dial on the old Random iTunes Generator just minutes after finishing a 90-minute podcast on the real story behind Yoko Ono’s role in The Beatles’ breakup, and lo and behold, I’m served up ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko.’
The podcast, called You’re Wrong About, features journalists Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes digging into topics that have been widely misunderstood. That includes serious issues like sex trafficking and murder rates, and lighter fare such as, well, Yoko’s role in The Beatles’ breakup.
Another of my favorite musical movie moments from 2019 came in the opening sequence of writer/director Taikia Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit.
After getting a pep talk from his imaginary friend, a childlike version of Adolf Hitler played by Waititi himself, young Nazi Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) takes to the streets, enthusiastically heiling everyone he sees. Then the opening credits run over scenes of Germany in the throes of Nazi fervor set to The Beatles’ German-language version of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand.’