The Beatles are a special band. They are in any GOAT conversation if not the clear best of all time. For me, I started listening in college and became obsessed with just about every album one at a time over the span of a few years. I used them throughout many different times of my life and they always seemed to help describe emotions as any great music does.
Once I finished listening to all of their music many times I tried coming up with a top 10 list. The spectrum of music they produced makes this incredibly difficult. They have a song for just about every genre of music and every human emotion. So instead I tried capturing a little bit of all of their music and fit it into one album as if I was introducing them to someone who has never heard of The Beatles.
I tried to avoid putting just my top 12 on here or their top hits while having some fun with the order of it.
Crack a beer, spark one up, or just listen:
Link to playlist on Spotify.
Link to playlist on Youtube.
#1: You Never Give Me Your Money (Abbey Road, 1969)
The start of Beatles albums were typically some of the albums biggest hitters (Come Together, Help!, Hard Day's Night) and definitely were all tone setters for how the album was going to work (Sgt Peppers, Magic Mystery Tour). As this one leads off the legendary medley on the back side of Abbey road, it made too much sense as an opener. Love the overall progression that makes it feel like 3 different songs in one. Awesome guitar build-up starting around the 2 minute mark. "Out of college money spent see no future pay no rent" Relatable for many millennials to this day #2: All My Loving (With the Beatles, 1963)
This song is one of the better representations of the early years. Poppy, catchy, background melody, this one has it all. While there are many other early days songs I think are very underrated and I may rank higher, this one is still a jam that helped established their fame in the early 60s. #3: Norwegian Wood (Rubber Soul, 1966)
I'd imagine this one turned some heads at its release. I picked this to represent their transition from early love song days (and even Drive my Car on the same album) into experimenting different instruments (Harrison sitar) and first time with drugs (this is the "weed album"). It kicked off their next era in my opinion and showed the crazy side John had with the ending lyrics, referencing burning down a girls house.. Wonder if the teenage girls still were dreaming of him after those words. #4: Dear Prudence (White Album, 1968)
One of my personal favorite songs. Has an incredible bassline and background vocals to go with this gem from Lennon. It has an overall peaceful and uplifting feeling to it. If you ever feel overwhelmed about something, put this song on and take a deep breath. I promise it will make you feel refreshed.
Fun fact for this song: Ringo was not in this song at all as he had temporarily quit the band while this and Back to the USSR were recorded. Glad they were able to get him back for a few more albums. We would have never had Octopus Garden.
#5: A Day in The Life (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)
This is a creative masterpiece that caps off the Sgt Pepper Album and the experimenting stage of this list. It goes in so many different directions and could probably be two separate songs which is why I'm using it to represent Sgt Pepper and really the entire psychedelic phase they went through. The Beatles had a way of telling random stories that felt relatable to everyone, and this song is full of them. If this list was only 1 song, this would probably be my choice. #6: While my Guitar Gently Weeps (White Album, 1968)
have to give George some love on this list. While John and Paul are the most well-known from their contributions, George Harrison had some absolute elite material. With this one, Something, Here Comes the Sun - It's no surprise he had such a successful solo career. This song to me represents being down about something (someone) but just accepting it and continuing to move on. "I look at the world, and I notice it's turning While my guitar gently weeps With every mistake, we must surely be learning" p.s. shoutout Eric Clapton absolutely shredding the guitar on this one. Apparently John and Paul weren't taking this song serious while recording their other songs, so George brought Clapton to the studio one day which got everyone else to dial in. #7: If I Fell (A Hard Day's Night, 1964)
This song takes the slot on the album as the "falling for a girl" song which almost all of their early albums had. It's for when you think that someone is right for you but you're questioning putting it all out there, knowing that she might leave you with the pain that you've felt before. It hints at the last girl you've loved as the lyrics keep mentioning how she hurt you but also that there are still mutual feelings so there's some potential conflict there. As simple as this song is as a falling in love song, there's a lot of emotion in it. "I would love to love you And that she will cry When she learns we are two" #8: For No One (Revolver, 1966)
A true heartbreak song, these lyrics are gut wrenching if you're going through a breakup where someone leaves you. It's about being with someone you thought was the one you'd be with forever only to have her leave and fall out of love with you with no hopes of it returning. For a song that is only two minutes, it can hit deep and is in my opinion the best/most real breakup song that is sure to get your emotions going if you can relate to it at all. I could pick really any lyric verse to hit the feelings: "You want her, you need her And yet you don't believe her when she says her love is dead You think she needs you" #9: I'm Looking Through You (Rubber Soul, 1966)
A follow up to the gut wrencher, this is the GOAT "I'm over you" song. I absolutely love all the lyrics for that scenario, even if it's a but cocky or even rude at parts. Perfectly painted in the context of the 'Rubber Soul' album, this song truly has the vibe of moving on from someone and finally seeing through any bullshit. "You don't look different, but you have changed I'm looking through you, you're not the same" #10: She's Leaving Home (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)
The later Beatles albums had a lot of songs with a specific story about someone or something that they didn't experience themselves but a lot of average people could relate to. This always stood out as one of my favorite from that category. It's told from the viewpoint of parents who had their daughter pack up and leave without understanding the reason why and being devastated by it. Leaves a lonely, eerie feeling that works on the Sgt Pep album. "She…we never thought of ourselves Is leaving…never a thought for ourselves Home…we struggled hard all our lives to get by" #11: Two of Us (Let It Be, 1970)
After the emotions of the last few songs, I picked this one as my favorite mood-booster. This is a song that to me is about good memories with someone - could be a good friend or lover - and still looking forward to the future with them. The first time I heard this song I just imagined myself on a road trip and being excited about what's ahead. And for that it will always be a go-to when I'm on a long drive. From their last studio album together with tensions high between Paul/John, this song might be about the two of them knowing the end is near but appreciating all of the good times together (that's my opinion, they never said anything about that). "You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead" #12: In My Life (Rubber Soul, 1966)
If you said this was the Beatles best song I wouldn't disagree with you. As good as it is on its' own, when listened to in the context of the Rubber Soul album it is even better. While the rest of the album is an emotional roller-coaster, this song has the perfect peace of mind and feeling of reflection. To me this is about thinking about your future self and looking back on life and being grateful for the memories and people. It almost seems too mature to be written by someone in their 20s and serves as the perfect closer for this album. "There are places I'll remember All my life, though some have changed Some forever, not for better Some have gone and some remain"