The Beatles’ 50 best songs

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

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Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album track, June 1967

GOLDIE: That’s a real favourite because I was camping in Derbyshire- gas camper, fucking cold, freezing my nuts- and I listened to it on an eight-track recorder. At first I hated everything that was slightly white-rock-oriented. I was just into things like ska, but I discovered that album. I was singing it all the way home at the end of that holiday.


GARY NUMAN: I always thought it was about drugs. It made me, as a small boy, feel quite adventurous just listening to it.


Help! Album track, August 1965

RICHARD LESTER: All during the shooting of Help! , Paul was writing it under the title of “Scrambled Eggs”. At one point, I got so annoyed with him sitting at the piano he had onstage, I said, “If you don’t finish that song or forget it, I’m going to have them take the piano off the stage, ‘cos I can’t stand any more of it.”

JAMES WALSH: “Yesterday” is perhaps the greatest dream a man has ever had. I’ve always tried to maintain the philosophy of this song because I believe McCartney shows the humanistic side of love perfectly.


GOLDIE: I’ve always been a ballad freak. Obviously. It’s music, man. It’s a really poignant piece of ballad. What’s around it makes it such a good track. The way it was on that LP, surrounded by all this stuff- fuck!


Single, July 1967

BILLY BRAGG: It’s one of the all-time great songs, whether you look at it as a Beatles song or a political song or a song about hope. I think it’s the most universal pop song that has ever struck a chord with me. My son was six when he started watching Yellow Submarine, and he totally understood “All You Need Is Love”. That, to me, is the essence of a great song, if a six year old and a 60 year old can get it. Like all great political songs, it has a universality, like “Blowing In The Wind”, or “We Shall Overcome”. It never says what we shall overcome, but all the same, these are universal songs.

KEN LOACH: It was a bit disingenuous, but you kind of recognise a good heart. We were all working at a time when you did feel a lot of things were possible: there was a sense of optimism. I think our group enjoyed the fact that these four kids from Liverpool were turning the world upside down.

PAMELA DES BARRES: It’s startlingly profoundly simple in its eloquence. It’s like a prayer/mantra to me, and it has been from the moment I heard it. As it ends, when the Fab Four began to chant “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah”, it’s a sweet ache, a longing reminder of when it was all sparkling new and undreamed. I heard this song play at Los Angeles love-ins, frolicking half-naked in the sunlight, when all you really, truly needed was love.


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