It's like Beatlemania all over again. Not that I was there to witness the original madness, but, y'know... Last week, the Fab Four's re-mastered catalogue -- each album at least 40 years old (!) -- moved 2.25 million CDs in an era when the compact disc is suppose to be dead. "Underlining their timeless appeal and unique status in music, The Beatles have broken multiple chart records around the world following the September 9, 2009 (9-9-09) CD release of their digitally re-mastered catalogue," reads the e-mail EMI issued Tuesday.
It seems anyone not busy buying a freshly minted Abbey Road or The Beatles stereo box set got their fix playing The Beatles: Rock Band. (Many, of course, did both.) To celebrate the big-ass checks soon to be cashed by Macca, Ringo, Yoko, Harrison's loved ones, and whoever has control of the Michael Jackson estate, here are the greatest Beatles songs of all time -- just in case you can ever purchase them individually on iTunes.
1. "Strawberry Fields Forever"
Recorded at the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sessions but released as a single February of 1967, John Lennon reminisces about a childhood place of sanctuary while offering a brilliantly stirring self-analysis. Credit McCartney with the mind-blowing Mellotron playing. Here's the rather melancholy promo clip filmed in January of '67.
2. "Helter Skelter"
A ravishing rocker from 1968's The Beatles (aka "The White Album") that's every bit as sexily heavy as anything Led Zeppelin would do the following year on its debut. This is Paul McCartney at his coolest, roaring over killer guitar crunch "You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer!" Great clip of Beatles purportedly recording the song.
3. "A Day in the Life"
"I read the news today, oh boy." Alas, those Lennon lines remain intensely relevant today -- just as this song culled from Sgt. Pepper remains stunningly compelling. Incidentally, the song also features lyrics/melody by McCartney, making it the greatest composition on which the two competing chums actually collaborated.
4. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
George Harrison's penned several masterpieces -- "Something," "Here Comes the Sun," "What is Life" -- but none sound as fresh and vibrant today as this "White Album" beauty featuring Eric Clapton on lead guitar. Here's Harrison performing it in '71 -- with Clapton -- at the Concert for Bangladesh.
Another Lennon anthem, the song first appeared as the B-side to McCartney's rather sappy (sorry) "Hey Jude" in summer of '68. Anyone remember the Nike ad from '87? Damn you MJ (sorry)!
6. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
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Whether the song is an ode to LSD or really about a painting by Julian, it's a psychedelic relic of the highest order. Be warned: this video will make you want to break out that microdot you've had stashed away since college.
7. "Tomorrow Never Knows"
"Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream," advises Lennon -- and the fantastically swirling music sets you free. The Beatles at their experimental, Avant-garde most awesome.
8. "You Never Give Me Your Money"
The medley opener on side two of Abbey Road finds McCartney delivering one of his most memorable melodies and warmest vocals. It's a sad song about regret but Macca makes it soothingly gorgeous. This treasure of a clip features the song at a much longer.
9. "Happiness is a Warm Gun"
Heroin has killed many magnificent artists. It has also inspired many marvelous works of art. Lou Reed has penned the two best songs about smack -- "Perfect Day" and "Heroin" -- but this one from the White Album ranks number three. John Lennon uses multiple time signatures and various music styles to slyly sing about his opioid problem. Connect the drug dots: Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" accompanies the swallowed-by-the-carpet-overdose scene in the 1996 film Trainspotting. The dealer's nickname? "Mother Superior." "Happiness is a Warm Gun" contains the line "Mother Superior jump (junk?) the gun."
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10. "I'm Looking Through You"
McCartney had an uncanny ability to take sad-sack subject matter like realizing a lover no longer loves you and goosing it with a sublimely sweet melody. From 1965's Rubber Soul, it includes such timeless lines as "You don't look different, but you have changed" and "love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight."