EIGHINGER: Crafting a list of top songs by the Beatles? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah

Posted: Feb. 8, 2014 10:05 pm Updated: May. 3, 2014 10:14 pm

What were you doing 50 years ago tonight?

If you are old enough to remember, I would guess quite a few were parked in front of an old black-and-white television, probably with your parents watching "The Ed Sullivan Show."

That was the night -- Feb. 9, 1964 -- that changed the world of popular culture in so many ways. The Beatles' first American television performance is considered one of the key moments for the generation that labels itself the baby boomers.

We have devoted quite a bit of space in today's Herald-Whig to this moment in U.S. history, and deservedly so. No band before or since has influenced so many for so long as the Beatles.

The band's political stances and other cultural influences aside, its music has passed all tests of time. Most Beatle songs remain as vibrant as they were a half-century ago. I would wager most people worldwide -- regardless of background, race or religion -- who when hearing the names "John, Paul, George and Ringo" would not blurt out "The Beatles!"

Conversations about the band with Quincy radio personality Dennis Oliver and local Beatles fan Bruce Felsman for the story on page one in today's edition were interesting. We talked about other notable bands at the time, familiar names like the Dave Clark Five, the Kinks, the Animals and -- of course -- the Rolling Stones.

Dennis and I had a rather poignant laugh when breaking down the Stones and the Beatles. The consensus was that despite the greatness and longevity of Mick, Ronnie, Keith and Charlie, the Stones would always be No. 2 to the Beatles.

One of my theories regarding the greatness of the Beatles is how difficult it would be to put together a top 10 list of their best songs. Something of that nature would simply have to be a matter of personal preference.

Arguing the merits of Beatles songs would be like trying to determine who was "better" -- Michael Jordan or LeBron James. There is no incorrect answer.

Here are my 10 favorites from the Fab Four:

1. "Twist and Shout": Not only my favorite Beatles song ever, one of my favorite songs period. The "screaming" efforts from the boys are the stuff of rock ín' roll legend.

2. "Yesterday": Originally, the song was about the breakup of a relationship, but later became synonymous with the breakup of the group itself. "Yesterday" has been covered by other artists more than 2,200 times.

3. "I Want to Hold Your Hand": My favorite of the early Beatles songs. How can you not sing along with this?

4. "The Long and Winding Road": The lyrics and the sound itself on this classic demonstrated how far ahead and superior the Beatles were to the rest of pop music.

5. "I'll Follow the Sun": This song was overshadowed by many of the group's monster hits, but its stripped-down simplicity makes it a good fit for any listening occasion.

6. "We Can Work It Out": This was one of the first hits from what some describe as the band's transitional years, from the "I Want to Hold Your Hand" era to the complexity of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

7. "She Loves You": Yeah, yeah, yeah.

8. "Hello, Goodbye": One of my favorite beginnings to a Beatles song. "You say yes, I say no, You say stop, and I say go, go, go."

9. Day Tripper: She was a day tripper, one way ticket, yeah. I still don't know what a day tripper is.

10. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da: I always feel good after hearing this song.

Looking over this list of songs, the first thought that comes to mind is, "Has it really been 50 years?"

Yeah, yeah, yeah.


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