All The Beatles songs on the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine published its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It’s one of the most widely read stories in the magazine's history, viewed hundreds of millions of times on their site. But a lot has changed since 2004; back then iPod was relatively new, and Billie Eilish was three years old. So they’ve decided to give the list a total reboot. To create the new version of the RS 500 a poll of more than 250 artists, musicians, and producers was performed. They each sent in a ranked list of their top 50 songs. Here's how songs from The Beatles were included in the results. Do you agree with the list? Let us know your opinion below!
447 - Help (was 29th in 2004)
In the RS top 500 of 2021 Help! made it to the 447th position. It however was the second best Beatles song in 2004 and made the biggest decline amongst the Beatles songs included on the chart.
“Most people think it’s just a fast rock & roll song,” Lennon said. “Subconsciously, I was crying out for help. I didn’t realize it at the time; I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie.” Overwhelmed by Beatlemania, Lennon was eating “like a pig,” drinking too much, and “smoking marijuana for breakfast” — only 24 years old, he was already expressing nostalgia for his lost youth. “I don’t like the recording that much,” Lennon would later tell Rolling Stone. “We did it too fast, to try and be commercial.”
280 - Penny Lane (was 456th in 2004)
After a big gap - needless to say to our happiness - Penny Lane made a big leap compared to 2004 and landed 280th but still not even halfway on the list.
After Lennon composed “Strawberry Fields Forever,” McCartney wrote his own snappy memoir. Penny Lane was a Liverpool bus stop where Lennon and McCartney often met. “The song was generated by a kind of ‘I can do just as well as you can, John,’ because we’d just recorded ‘Strawberry Fields,'” said George Martin. “It was such a knockout, I think Paul went back to perfect his idea.” There was collaboration amid the competition, too: “John came over and helped me with the third verse, as was often the case,” McCartney said. “We were writing recently faded memories from eight or 10 years before.”
243 - Eleanor Rigby (was 138th in 2004)
Eleanor Rigby merely made it to the first half of the new list however it was at a strong place on the 2004's list it made a significant decline 17 years later
“Eleanor Rigby” was one of the Beatles’ most radical shifts, both musically and emotionally. McCartney was still just 23 when he wrote this empathetic portrait of old age. He fumbled with the story until he hit on the image “picks up the rice in a church where a wedding has been.” As he said, “So this became a song about lonely people.” None of the Beatles play on it — George Martin conducted an eight-man classical-string section. “Father McKenzie” was originally “Father McCartney”; Lennon and McCartney flipped through a phone book until they found the name they wanted.Vote your favorite Beatles songs!
135 - She Loves You (was 64th in 2004)
Lennon and McCartney began writing this song in a tour van, and George Harrison dreamed up the harmonies, which George Martin found “corny.” The band overruled Martin on the harmonies, but they took his suggestion to kick off the song with the jubilant chorus. When McCartney’s father heard the song, he said, “Son, there are enough Americanisms around. Couldn’t you sing, ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ just for once?” McCartney responded, “You don’t understand, Dad. It wouldn’t work.”
121 - Let It Be (was 20th in 2004)
Inspired by the church-born soul of Aretha Franklin, an anxious Paul McCartney started writing “Let It Be” in 1968 and unveiled a skeletal version to the other Beatles during the disastrous Let It Be rehearsals in January 1969. John Lennon was brutally dismissive, mistaking McCartney’s secular humanism for self-righteous piety. Yet the Beatles put special labor into the song, getting the consummate take on January 31st — the day after their last live performance, on the roof of their Apple offices in London. Released four months later, “Let It Be” effectively became an elegy for the band that had defined the Sixties.
110 - Something (was 278th in 2004)
In 1968, James Tay, a new signee to the Beatles’ Apple Records, recorded “Something in the Way She Moves,” the title of which inspired George Harrison to write “Something” near the end of the White Album sessions (one place-holder lyric: “Something in the way she moves/Attracts me like a cauliflower”). It was too late to squeeze it onto the disc, so he gave it to Joe Cocker. The Beatles cut a new version the next year with a string section, Harrison’s only A-side single with the Beatles, which quickly became a standard recorded by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Ray Charles.
98 - In My Life (was 23rd in 2004)
“‘In My Life’ was, I think, my first real, major piece of work,” John Lennon said. “Up until then it had all been glib and throwaway.” The ballad reflects the serious turn the Beatles took with Rubber Soul, but it specifically arose from a journalist’s challenge: Why don’t you write songs about your life? The original lyrics put Lennon on a bus in Liverpool, “and it was the most boring sort of ‘What I Did on My Holidays Bus Trip’ song,” he said. So Lennon rewrote the lyrics, changing the song into a gorgeous reminiscence about his life before the Beatles. The distinctive “harpsichord” solo near the song’s end is actually an electric piano played by George Martin and sped up on tape.
89 - Hey Jude (was 8th in 2004)
Hey Jude, probably the most famous Beatles song was the best placed one in 2004 on the RS 500
The Beatles’ biggest U.S. single — nine weeks at Number One — was also their longest, at seven minutes and 11 seconds. During the recording sessions, producer George Martin objected to the length, claiming DJs would not play the song. “They will if it’s us,” John Lennon shot back. Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” in June 1968, singing to himself on his way to visit Lennon’s soon-to-be-ex-wife, Cynthia, and their son, Julian. The opening lines were, McCartney once said, “a hopeful message for Julian: ‘Come on, man, your parents got divorced. I know you’re not happy, but you’ll be OK.'” McCartney changed “Jules” to “Jude” — a name inspired by Jud from the musical Oklahoma!
72 - Yesterday (was 13th in 2004)
Paul McCartney’s greatest ballad holds a Guinness World Record as the most recorded song of all time; seven years after its release, there were 1,186 versions by artists as varied as Frank Sinatra, Otis Redding, and Willie Nelson. McCartney auditioned the song for George Martin, with the working title “Scrambled Eggs,” in a hotel room in Paris in January 1964 — before the Beatles had even landed in America — but would not record it for another year and a half. “We were a little embarrassed about it,” McCartney confessed. “We were a rock & roll band.” A Number One single in America, “Yesterday” was, in his own words, “the most complete song I have ever written.”
24 - A Day In The Life (was 28th in 2004)
“A Day in the Life” was one of the last true Lennon-McCartney collaborations: John Lennon wrote the opening and closing sections, and Paul McCartney contributed the “Woke up/Fell out of bed” middle. For the climax, they hired 40 musicians, dressed them in tuxedos and funny hats, and told them they had 15 bars to ascend from the lowest note on their instruments to the highest. “Listen to those trumpets — they’re freaking out,” McCartney said. The final piano chord concluded Sgt. Pepper and made rock’s possibilities seem infinite.
15 - I Wanna Hold Your Hand (was 16th in 2004)
In 17 years with time passing I Wanna Hold Your Hand still was able to gain a place
In 1963, the Beatles gave themselves an ultimatum: “We’re not going to America till we’ve got a Number One record,” Paul McCartney declared. So he and John Lennon went to the home of the parents of Jane Asher, McCartney’s girlfriend, where — “one on one, eyeball to eyeball,” as Lennon later put it — they wrote “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” an irresistibly erotic come-on framed as a chaste, bashful request. The lightning-bolt energy of their collaboration ran through the band’s performance. Rush-released in America the day after Christmas, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” hit Number One in the states on February 1st, 1964. When the bandmates got the news in Paris, during a three-week stand there, they partied all night.
7 - Strawberry Fields Forever (was 76th in 2004)
This is the best ranking song of The Beatles on the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine (2021)
John Lennon was one of the world’s most visible people in 1966 — but he wrote his most exquisitely lonely song with “Strawberry Fields Forever.” It opened up a whole new psychedelic era for the Beatles, changing the way pop music was heard and made.
But it began with Lennon alone on a Spanish beach, with an acoustic guitar, writing a song about his painful childhood memories. Strawberry Field was the name of a Liverpool orphanage where he used to play — and hide from the world — as a boy. “I have visions of Strawberry Fields,” he told Rolling Stone in 1968. “Because Strawberry Fields is anywhere you want to go.” Lennon bared himself so vulnerably in this song that he was nervous about playing it for the other Beatles. There was a moment of silence — until Paul McCartney said, “That is absolutely brilliant.” They turned it into a groundbreaking sonic collage, thanks to George Martin’s studio wizardry.
It was the first song cut at the Sgt. Pepper sessions, though it got left off the album so it could come out as a February 1967 single, with McCartney’s “Penny Lane” on the flip side. “Strawberry Fields” is a song full of raw pain — yet the Beatles made it feel like an irresistible invitation.
Honorable mentions that were included in the 2004 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list but not in 2021
Rain (was 469th)
Ticket To Ride (was 394th)
All You Need Is Love (was 370th)
With a Little Help From My Friends (was 311th)
Can't Buy Me Love (was 295th)
Come Together (was 205th)
Please Please Me (was 186th)
A Hard Day's Night (was 154th)
I Saw Her Standing There (was 140th)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (was 136th)
Norwegian Wood (was 83rd)
Click here to view the entire RS 500 of 2021 list
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