‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey,’ a John Lennon track from Side Three of 1968’s “White Album,” is distinctive for boasting the band’s longest-ever song title and not much else. But it does rock, and the instrumentation is spot on (listen to Paul’s wicked bass line).
I’ve mostly stuck to themes on these Beatles weekends, picking two songs from the same album, two songs by George Harrison, two sides of the same single, etc. This week I’m eschewing a thematic connection and just highlighting two great songs.
‘Blackbird’ has always been one of my favorite Beatles songs. I remember first becoming aware of it during the summer after my junior year in high school.
Ben Folds once said that every band in the world formed by taking some piece of what The Beatles did and turning it into their own thing. According to his theory, The Beatles are the superset from which all popular music is derived.
It’s a good theory and one that’s easy to support when you listen to just about any modern pop or rock band. I’ve read a lot of praise of Radiohead recently, about how their output in the 00’s revolutionized popular music… but is there really anything on Kid A that doesn’t sound a little bit like ‘Tomorrow Never Knows,’ ‘A Day in the Life’ or ‘Revolution 9?’ Give me a break.
I suppose, given the long tail of the World Wide Web, that’s the case with pretty much any song by any artist. I could probably post an obscure B-side by a band that put out one poorly-received album in the 90s and find somebody who wants it played at his funeral.
But when it comes to The Beatles, I can understand it. Just about every one of their songs is worthy of being somebody’s favorite.
One of the greatest things about the Beatles catalog is how deep it is. Awhile back I wrote about my theory that it take three great songs to make a great album. Well, in the case of The Beatles, just about every song on each of their albums is great. Even (sometimes especially) the ones casual fans have never even heard of.
I can think of exactly one track in a discography of more than 200 songs that I actually skip: ‘Revolution 9.’ And that’s not even a real song. The rest run the gamut from ‘the best songs ever written’ to ‘pretty good’ with 95% at ‘great’ or better. Not many artists can claim that sort of consistency, and no other band rivals the number of ‘best songs ever written’ — not even close.
The second disc of The White Album is definitely the weak one. The inclusion of the horrible ‘Revolution 9’ alone keeps this one out of my CD player. ‘Honey Pie,’ ‘Yer Blues’ and ‘Good Night’ only drag it down more.
But it does have its moments. ‘Birthday’ is an enjoyable rocker, and ‘Helter Skelter’ is one of the most crazily unexpected successes in their catalog. ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ and ‘Revolution 1’ are also more than worthy.
But my favorite track on this disc is Lennon’s ‘Sexy Sadie.’
The one and only George Harrison tune in my Beatles series, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ is also one of my all-time favorite songs by the band. It’s very different in style and feel than most Beatles songs, which is part of its charm.
The Beatles (or The White Album, as it’s popularly known) is ironically titled… the first album named after the band itself showcases the group at its most splintered. While past Beatles efforts were very much a collaborative effort, much of this album wasn’t even recorded with the full band present.