Sunday, June 1, 2008

Beatles's Most Thrilling Moments on Vinyl

The Beatles were so uniformly excellent, both in general and during their songs, that it might seem a sort of incongruous category. But what I am looking for here are what might be called Free Bird/Stairway to Heaven-type highs, where the Beatles' music truly went to the their most amazing levels to move people and touch their emotions.

1. The End -- Abbey Road -- This is a forebearer of the 70's jam music to come and it works without being self-indulgent. First, Ringo blasts the skins for his longest drum solo and then the other three trade guitar solos as the Beatles finish their recording career together to the lyric:

"And, in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love, you make...."

Great, great stuff.

2. While My Guitar Gently Weeps -- The White Album -- George Harrison takes a spare, contemplative hymn and invites Eric Clapton to play lead guitar in an amazing performance all around. Harrison's melancholy vocal and lyric is lifted to a scintillating conclusion by Clapton's slide guitar:

"I look at you all and see the love there that's sleeping, while my guitar gently weeps...."

3. Hey Jude -- Single -- This was the Beatles' all time best seller in the U.S. Written by Paul for John's son, Julian, it reaches an amazing crescendo at the part where Paul hits, the "Better, Better, Better, HAAA..." lyric followed by the "na,na,na," fade-out chorus. This song still moves grown baby boomers to tears.

4. A Day in the Life -- SPLHCB -- This song really hits the mark during the psychedelic dream sequence, where the Beatles harmonize, on the "Ah, ah, ah note, followed by the orchestral hurricane of sound, which is deeply affecting. In my mind, somewhere, radiating out through the universe is the sound of the Beatles's harmony following the dream sequence making clear to the rest of the universe that there is indeed meaning to life.

5. I am the Walrus -- Magical Mystery Tour -- Perhaps a step down from the top four, all of which are essentially tied in my mind, I give this Lewis Carroll-influenced track a slight edge over some others I might have chosen such as Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby, Nowhere Man and Ticket to Ride.

This song has two great, great moments, one is the line, "Boy, you've been a naughty girl, you've let your knickers down" which most American listeners failed to understand, but even more so for the line, where the song really picks up its charge: "Expert, sexpert, choking smoker, don't you think the joker laughs at you; see how they smile like pigs in a sty, see how they snide; I'm crying...."

Amazing stuff, followed once again by the luck of the Beatles where Lennon turned on the radio at the end of the recording to put whatever he found on the song and a performance of Shakespeare was on the BBC, "Sit you down, father, rest you."


King Sharney said...

Yes - I love the beatles too. You've done a nice analysis.

Visit me and leave a comment and I'll arrange a special Beatles post.

King Shaney

Peter said...

Great overview - they're all favorites of mine as well.