The Beatles’ 50 best songs

Roll up! The Fab Four's greatest songs chosen by famous fans

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White Album track, November 1968

LES McKEOWN: It reminds me of my teens and smoking hash for the first time. The atmosphere blends with the words to reflect exactly how I felt, and it still has the power to bring back the most distant memories.


RYAN ADAMS: The riff is like it’s 5am and I can’t shut my brain off. That happens a lot. I’m feeling mad and pissed off and freaked out and there’s all this shit going on and I can’t stop it.

MARK “LARD” RILEY: Claustrophobic, intense, troubled, frustrated, low on self-esteem, confused, insecure, infuriating- equals John Lennon. “I can’t sleep, I can’t stop my brain, you know it’s three weeks, I’m goin’ insane/You know I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little peace of mind.” Not likely to be covered by Hear’Say on their second, difficult album.

Abbey Road album medley track, September 1969

IAN McCULLOCH: It’s “Golden Slumbers” that I love. I saw Paul McCartney play at the King’s Dock 10 years ago, when he sang, (sings) “Once there was a way to get back homeward…” and it was the River Mersey behind, and I was like, tears. This fella, for all his thumbs aloft, he’s one of the greatest voices of all time. There’s hardly any lyrics. It’s just what there are are mega… brilliant song.

RICHARD LEISTER: I’ve always loved that, because on Paul’s Flowers In The Dirt tour that we did it together, it finished the concerts. I was always moved by it. It worked for me. It’s a great finish to Abbey Road and it was a great finish to his live act.


TOM McRAE: Paul goes from balladeer to rocker in 16 bars. It can bring me out of my worst moods- “Boy, you’re gonna carry that weighta long time…”

JAMES WALSH: “Golden Slumbers” is the Beatle’s song which has soundtracked great moments in my life. I can relate to the simplicity of the lyrics, and the opening chords could melt the steeliest of hearts.

EILEEN ROSE: I’ve always been taken by the concept of “home”. In a single word, it conveys safety and youth and innocence, and the point from which you start the rest of your life. You can never get back to it, to relive the sweetness of it, or change whatever may have gone wrong. “Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry, and I will sing a lullaby…” There’s a resignation to it. “Go to sleep and maybe you can dream…”- it’s like buying someone a drink. “I can’t fix it but I can commiserate”. I like how it goes into “Carry That Weight” and it gets majestic. I think “You’re gonna carry that weight” refers to the things that happen when you’re young that you probably take all your life to work out. And I imagine being a Beatle was a lot of weight to carry.


20 HELP!
Single, July 1965

GARY MOORE: I was about 10 or 11, and I was starting to play guitar. There’s a fantastic little riff that George Harrison did, just under the high bit in the chorus, and it took me weeks to figure it out. Then I saw them on TV, and he played it all wrong. When I met him, I said, “Do you remember when you played at the London Palladium and you screwed up that part?” A roadie had put his guitar strings through his Gretsch the wrong way. I waited for about 30 years to find out why he didn’t do it right.

FRANK ALLEN: The Searchers were on tour in the States at the time of its release and we were lounging around the pool at the Holiday Inn in Nashville when it came on the radio. The Zombies were there, and a couple of Beach Boys, who were part of that night’s concert. We all stood amazed at how they could come up with such mind blowing pop songs, which seemed to get better every time.

IAN McCULLOCH: “Help!” – what a song. He (Lennon) was obviously kinda going round the twist then.


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