The Beatles 20 to 1 (non singles)

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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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This is my idea for a 20 to 1. It is designed to look at The Beatles' 20 best songs they never released as singles. In order to save myself too much time deliberating over which 20 songs to include, I have not chosen any songs which were B sides, and I have not chosen any of The Beatles’ cover versions, as they always had a policy of only releasing original material on singles. Furthermore, I am looking only at songs which were not released as a single in Great Britain. Whilst America and Australia and several other countries released particular album tracks as additional Beatles singles, I am sticking with The Beatles’ British discography. I found it too difficult to arrange the songs in any particular ranking order, except the Top 3. It was so tricky whittling down all the tracks I had shortlisted to a mere 20.

Who knows whether all these songs would have been successful as singles, but it’s probably fair to say most artists would have loved to have these songs “just hanging around” in their catalogue.



20.
Oh Darling (1969, Abbey Road)

It is reported that Paul McCartney spent the best part of a week shouting and yelling in his house so his vocal chords could give the right sound and feel to the song.
This is one of McCartney’s songs John always had a fondness for. From his 1980 Playboy interview, Lennon stated, “That’s a great song of Paul’s that he didn’t sing too well. I always thought I could have sung it better. It was more my style than is. But he wrote it, so what the hell, he was going to sing it. If he had any sense, he would have let me sing it (Laughing).”

Listen to 10CC’s “Oh Donna” and you can hear some similarities.

 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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19.
Back in the USSR (1968, The Beatles)

A great rocker to open The White Album, this song imitates the sound of The Beach Boys, as it is said to be Mike Love who inspired McCartney to write the song when they were in India in 1968. Love made a comment to Paul “Wouldn’t it be fun to do a Soviet version of Back in the USA”, referring to Chuck Berry’s 1959 song. Paul acted on Love’s suggestion, and of course there’s the classic line “That Georgia’s always on my mind”. This is probably the first Beatles song wherein one of the group did not want to be part of the session, with Ringo walking out and Paul playing drums.

At the end, Paul ad libs a few lines as the song draws to a close. One suggestion by the Paul is Dead brigade was that you can hear John speaking, and that he states “Take this bass man. Paul won’t need it where he’s going.”


 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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18.
I Saw Her Standing There (1963, Please Please Me)

The first song on the first Beatles album begins with a “1, 2, 3, 4” count-in, and then sets off in to a great rocker which holds the attention all the way through. Somewhat coincidentally, the final song on the final Beatles album, the live version of Get Back on Let It Be, also starts playing after a “1, 2, 3, 4” count-in.

 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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17.
All My Loving (1963, With The Beatles)

Paul said of this song, “It was the first song I ever wrote where I had the words before the music.” Some classical students have claimed there’s a tune of Tchaikovsky’s buried within this song. What this song does feature is a wonderful lead break from George and John plays a frenetic rhythm guitar.
Here they are belting it out at Festival Hall in Melbourne.

 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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16.
Taxman (1966, Revolver)

Another great opening track, this song is well known for being the first Beatles song to mention living people. George Harrison sticks it to both Harold Wilson and Edward Heath in his protest about where his taxes are going after he discovered he was in the “super tax” bracket. Wilson had earlier approved the honours list that allowed The Beatles to receive their MBEs. The opening riff to this song can be clearly identified on Start, the 1980 song by The Jam. Not sure why this song was not included on the 1962-1966 album. There was plenty of room on the album and it would have been fitting to include two of George’s songs on there and thus give both 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 a total of 28 songs apiece.


 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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14.
Girl (1965, Rubber Soul)

I was considering booting this song out of my list and including Norwegian Wood, so I tried to work out which one belonged. Logically there’s no reason they both couldn’t be in such a list. Anyway, I went for the song with the tit-tit-tit refrain.

 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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13.
In My Life (1965, Rubber Soul)

John said this was the first song he wrote that was consciously about his life. The streets of Liverpool where John had grown up provided the inspiration for beginning the song, but the main emphasis was about his friends and lovers from the past and a sense of mourning for his youth. George Martin features on the piano solo, which he played back at double speed to create a baroque effect.


 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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12.
With a Little Help From My Friends (1967, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)

Ringo has stated that at first he was unsure about singing this song. He has claimed that in the original lyrics, after the opening line: “What would you think if I sang out of tune”, the next line asked something along the lines of “Would you throw rotten tomatoes at me?” Ringo told John and Paul he would not sing that line, and thus they were forced to change it. The song’s title was also changed from “Badfinger Boogie”.
Joe Cocker's version a year later received many plaudits.

 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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11.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (1967, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)

The song John has always refuted was about LSD. Ringo claims he has seen the drawing Julian brought home from school with which inspired John to write the lyrics. In fact there was a classmate of Julian’s named Lucy O’Donnell, as mentioned in the 1994 book A Hard Day’s Write. There is even a photo of her included, as well as the drawing itself. After Julian had explained the title of his artwork to his dad, the phrase stuck in John’s mind and the free flowing dreamlike lyrics fitted in perfectly with the psychedelia period.

 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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10.
Here Comes The Sun (1969, Abbey Road)

A qualifier for George’s finest song writing effort with The Beatles. George wrote this in Eric Clapton’s garden as an expression of delight at being able to get away from the mundane business meetings which were then taking up so much of The Beatles’ time. “It was such a great release for me simply being out in the sun. The song just came to me.”

 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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9.
If I Fell (1964, A Hard Day’s Night)

The high harmony line in this song tested Paul’s voice, which can be heard to crack briefly on the mix released on the stereo album. Personally I feel this is the best that John and Paul sounded singing in harmony. John saw this song as his first proper ballad, though in the A Hard Day’s Night movie, John is forced to start singing the song to Ringo in order to cheer him up, due to the decision not to give The Beatles any love interests in the movie. If you watch at the 1:40 mark of the clip you can see George lean on one of the amps and knock it slightly. With a smirk, he looks around for a reaction but nobody else seems to have noticed.

 
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Teen Wolf

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I get the usefulness and apparent necessity of employing blanket rules to a list like this, my only problem is I can't think of Eight Days a Week as anything BUT a single.

In My Life (1965, Rubber Soul)
Eternally competes with She's Leaving Home as my favourite Beatles song, gun to my head I'd pick In My Life because I like Ringo too much. Or maybe I'd pick Yer Blues. Not sure what that says about me, but it certainly highlights the range of John Lennon and this band which is a great (the greatest?) characteristic they possess.

Oh Darling (1969, Abbey Road)
Does anybody else involuntarily sing this to themselves about ten times a match when watching the West Coast Eagles play?
 

worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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8.
Tomorrow Never Knows (1966, Revolver)

John stated that he was inspired by The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and that the title came from another of Ringo’s throwaway lines, ala A Hard Day’s Night. “I gave it a throwaway title because I was a bit self-conscious about the lyrics, so I took another Ringoism to sort of take the edge off the heavy philosophical lyrics.”
The original title was The Void and the actual sound of the piece consists of 16 tape loops made by each of the Beatles fading in and out. John wanted the song to sound like a chorus of Tibetan monks chanting on a mountain top.

 

worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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7.
You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (1965, Help!)

An obviously Dylan influenced song. John stated, “That’s me in my Dylan period. I am like a chameleon, influenced by whatever is going on. If Elvis can do it, I can do it. If The Everly Brothers can do it, me and Paul can. Same with Dylan.”

 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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6.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (1968, The Beatles)

From “A Hard Day’s Write”: George was reading the “I Ching”, the Chinese book of changes, and decided to apply its principles of chance to his song writing. At his parents’ Lancashire home, he picked a novel off the shelf with the intention of writing a song based on the first words that he came across. The words were ‘gently weeps’ and so George began to write.”

The White Album release features Eric Clapton on lead guitar, whilst an acoustic version was also recorded. I have put a clip of this version in here as the clip gives due focus to George.

 

worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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5.
The Long and Winding Road (1970, Let It Be)

I prefer the Let It Be movie version of this song compared to the Let It Be album. I feel Phil Spector went a bit overboard with all the strings and orchestral arrangement. McCartney disliked the way Spector had added “too much Mantovani” to his simple ballad. The lyrical imagery was inspired by High Park, Paul’s farm in Scotland, which was regularly exposed to high winds and rain. John felt Paul might have been inspired by Bridge Over Troubled Water.

 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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4.
Michelle (1965, Rubber Soul)

The Beatles won only four Grammy awards while they were together and this ballad won Song of the Year. In France this song went to number 1, and the French verse has become a mondegreen, often misheard as "Sunday monkey won't play piano song.”

1965 must have been a good year for bass solos, with Paul taking charge here, and there’s also John Entwistle’s effort on My Generation. I struggled hard to find a decent version of Michelle online, but all Beatles fans know how good the original sounds anyway. When I typed “Michelle The Beatles” into Google, this clip came up. I don’t know whether the singer is being serious or whether they are attempting a bizarre troll by deliberately putting out a terrible version of this classic. It has more dislikes than likes, but if you can tolerate even half the song, you may get a few laughs.



EDIT: here now is also the original version

 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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For whatever reason, these remaining three songs seem to blend into a specific order in my brain. So this is my third best non single:

3.
Yesterday (1965, Help!)

The most covered song in history; it was covered 1186 times within the first eight years after its release. Perhaps the most famous non single ever? Or is it Stairway to Heaven? Whatever the case may be, this was the first Beatles song to feature just one group member playing. Well known for coming to Paul in a dream and for having the working title Scrambled Eggs. Even if Paul had stopped writing songs at this point in his life, he probably still would have remained a wealthy man.

 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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2.
Nowhere Man (1965, Rubber Soul)

Was this John singing about John? All he would offer in his Playboy interview was: “Me. It just came, the complete melody and the words, after six hours of trying to write a song. [Singing] “Making all his nowhere plans for nobody…”

This song works well as a clip when you watch it in the Yellow Submarine movie. The Beatles begin singing the song after meeting Jeremey and deciding he is somewhat lost, the character being voiced by Dick Emery.


 
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worbod

Norm Smith Medallist
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1.
A Day in the Life (1967, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)

Probably no surprise to many Beatles fans that I ranked this at number one. There are many who consider it the band’s best track ever, which I feel is fitting as it contains lyrical and vocal contributions from both John and Paul. Certainly this song is grand competition for their greatest single of Strawberry Fields Forever/ Penny Lane, recorded during the same sessions. The “I’d love to turn you on” lyric, a sly marijuana reference, was quite risqué at the time. In fact, the song received a broadcasting ban for a while. But this was an era where songs such as “Let’s Spend the Night Together” (Rolling Stones), “Plastic Man” (The Kinks) and “Pinball Wizard” (The Who) also made the censors convulse.

John Lennon certainly received fair inspiration for the Sgt Pepper album by reading or by looking at artwork. Newspaper headlines inspired his lyrics for this song, a painting by Julian inspired Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and a circus poster gave him motivation for Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite. And his vocals in between Paul’s middle eight and the final verse are quite haunting. Watch the clip and you will see the Beatles liaising with Donavan, Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger, Keith Richard and Mike Nesmith.

 

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