I Have A Beatles Dilemma. How About You?
today at 8:41 am
Ask me what I think about the Beatles and I will give the standard answer of my generation. They are the greatest band that ever lived, they revolutionized music, they mean the world to me. OK boomer, now ask me which of their songs I would put on my all-time, continuos loop, soundtrack of my life music stream.
And that’s where the dilemma lies. From the harmonies of I Want to Hold Your Hand, through the opening chord of A Hard Days Night to the final yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah of The Long and Winding Road, I like a lot of Beatle songs, but I don’t love any of them. Sort of like my relationship to Superdawg french fries. I like them but I don’t love them.
It’s not the same with the other artists that are constantly playing on my radio in the lab or the Pandora station in my headphones at the fitness center. If I’ve got favorite bands, I’ve got favorite songs to go with them.
U2? The bang-bang-bang opening of the Joshua Tree album–Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and With or Without You introduced me to the band more than 30 years ago and have been my favorites ever since.
With Steely Dan, my favorite songs come from the end of their career, or at least the end of their career’s first chapter (I ignored the second chapter.) Aja, the title track of their 6th album, is sublimely mellow and mind-expanding and the same album’s Deacon Blue makes a wistful cry out to mid-life crises.
When Fleetwood Mac changed their personnel and music style in the mid-70’s they probably lost a few thousand fans but gained a few million more. It was that flip that led to Go Your Own Way, the best power-pop song of all time. And I love the more pensive Over My Head just as much. Easy to add to my jukebox of greats.
What Eagles songs are on that Love Those Songs jukebox? Give me the original Hotel California and then follow it up with the Hell Freezes Over version of…Hotel California. Sometimes you feel like acoustic, sometimes you don’t.
The longings of youth. Has anyone made them seem more desperate than Bruce Springsteen in Thunder Road or made them sound more fun than in the Boss’s Rosalita?
While Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is my top-ranked album, I prefer not to think about individual songs from it — everything blends so seamlessly together. On the other hand, Wish You Were Here, the title cut and final track from the Floyd’s 1975 album stands alone as the perfect paean to loss of love, loss of a bandmate, loss of sanity. And the guitar solos in Comfortably Numb make me feel…comfortable.
But back to the Beatles. I am ok with the silly love songs, I enjoy the goofiness of Yellow Submarine and Octopuses Garden, and I can play air guitar to The End. But where is the song I could listen to over and over and over again? Where is their Hotel California? If Rocky Racoon put a gun to my head and made me choose one song, today it would be While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Tomorrow it would probably be something else. Like but never love.
And that is my dilemma with the Beatles.
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