Thursday, July 11, 2019


The premise of the film Yesterday is that the Beatles catalog is unknown to everyone except a young musician who takes the songs and re-creates them, of course making them famous once again. I'll leave the analysis of the film to the critics, they've beat it up enough already, but here's my thought: if I had the Beatles' catalog at my disposal, would there be songs that I would just let go, that I would allow to disappear into the ether? I know it's sacred territory to tread on, but just for a moment, think about which five songs you would leave out of the Beatles' canon. In the meantime these are mine.

There's so much discussion about whittling down The White Album to just a single desk. Although there are songs indeed that I would remove, in particular, "Don't Pass Me By," I've long defended songs like "Honey Pie" and "Why Don't We Do It in the Road." Indeed, Paul's "road song" is a poetic endeavor that utilizes repetition in a way that, well, doing it in the road utilizes repetition. It really is a case when linguistics, grammar and poetry all come together as one, like it or not. And "Honey Pie" is the kind of filler that the album needs to string one song to the next to give it continuity, even if it doesn't work well on its own. And yet it does work poetically, and it's one of those songs that if you get it stuck in your head, at least you know all the words

"Don't Pass Me By," on the other hand, is among my least favorite songs in the Beatles canon, and if it were just to disappear I'd feel fine. On Family Guy, Paul takes a song by Ringo and hangs it on the refrigerator, as if it were a drawing by a child. And childish it is, out of place on the LP at best. I skip it every time.

On that note, the most skipped song on any Beatles album is George Harrison's "Within You Without You" from Sgt. Pepper. But dismissing the track as a production masterpiece, as one of the pinnacle songs in the psychedelic era, is naïve at best. It's a beautiful song that brilliantly comingles east and west and if you're one of the skippers, you really need to meditate on this.

Now, as much as I've defended "Honey Pie" as an integral component of The White Album, if indeed filler, I find Phil Spector's butchering of the already diluted song "Dig It" to be filler and nothing more, I wouldn't even consider it a part of the Beatles' canon; it's just there like that parsley sprig on your plate at Denny's.

In my younger days, I would've been quick to dismiss McCartney's children songs like "Life Goes on" or even "Yellow Submarine," and yet as an adult, I sang these songs to my children. That, in turn, led to their finding "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" on their own and ultimately creating Beatle Fans. Still, I have to include "All Together Now" as drivel. I'm not saying it's not catchy, but so is the flu.

I won't include any of the cover songs like "Boys" or "Honey Don't" because the artists who originally created those songs would have still existed in the Yesterday universe, but the penultimate track on my list, and I don't think I'm alone in saying this, Revolution No. 9. It may hold a certain significance in terms of fiddling with tape loops in an avant-garde way - oh never mind it’s terrible. I'd probably find it interesting on a collection of outtakes, but it muddies The White Album at best, only is topped by only one song, and yes, at least this one's a song: "You Know My Name, Look Up the Number." Just more studio play, but here it sounds frustrated and emotionally drained, And despite some interesting production values, nothing can save this sinking ship of a song. I had a DJ friend who at the end of the night at a club in LA, the Seven Seas to be exact, who would play this track just to clear the room at 2am.

I pride myself on only reporting the positives in rock 'n' roll, and so to put a spin on this, I want you to imagine the perfect Beatles catalog, and honestly, taking out those five songs brings us that much closer.

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