When it comes to The Beatles, even the most powerful superlatives simply aren’t enough to do them justice. The Fab Four didn’t just change music as we know it, they changed the entire world, having an unparalleled impact on popular culture that can still be felt today. From the light and breeze rock and roll classics of their early years to the deeper psychedelic and hard rock tunes that came later on, their catalog is unmatched, with The Beatles being the best-selling band in all of history. Everyone has their own personal favorite Beatles song, but here are five of the very best.
Written by Paul McCartney and featured on The Beatles 1965 album, Help!, Yesterday made it to number one in the American charts and really exhibited McCartney at his absolute best. The seemingly simple yet emotionally charged lyrics capture the grim reality of a bad break-up perfectly, as the singer simply wishes to turn back time and enjoy all the happiness, freedom, and hope he felt before “his troubles” suddenly arrived.
The song, like so many Beatles classics, has been covered on countless occasions, with more than 2,200 known covers, and has been voted the greatest pop song ever written.
I Want to Hold Your Hand
Written by the prolific and inimitable duo of Lennon and McCartney, I Want to Hold Your Hand was released and recorded in 1963. It was the group’s first-ever number 1 hit in the United States, effectively triggering the start of ‘Beatlemania’ and beginning the ‘British Invasion’ of the American music industry. The song stayed at number 1 on the Hot 100 for seven weeks, before being dislodged by another Beatles song (She Loves You).
It was the Beatles’ biggest selling single worldwide, with more than 12 million copies sold. Catchy and upbeat, it’s a timeless classic that still holds up today.
Another beautiful ballad penned by Paul McCartney, Hey Jude was released as a non-album single in 1968. It was the band’s first release under the Apple label and instantly topped charts all over the world. It sold more than 8 million copies in total and frequently ranks among the greatest songs ever recorded.
Interestingly, it was originally titled ‘Hey Jules’ and written by McCartney for John Lennon’s son, Julian, in the wake of Lennon’s separation from Julian’s mother. The lyrics try and make the most of a tough time, and the song has touched and inspired millions over the years.
Strawberry Fields Forever
Written by John Lennon and released as a double A-side single alongside Penny Lane in 1967, Strawberry Fields Forever was written in Spain while Lennon appeared in British black comedy movie, How I Won the War. The name of the track comes from a Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool, Lennon’s hometown.
He would later state that it was his proudest achievement while being a part of The Beatles, and the song was one of the band’s first forays in the psychedelic genre. The accompanying music video, which featured a lot of innovative techniques like stop motion animation and reverses effects, was similarly inspired.
A Day in the Life
Mostly written by Lennon, but with some contributions from McCartney, A Day in the Life stands out as unquestionably one of the most complex, memorable, and moving Beatles songs ever recorded. An iconic art-rock piece featuring orchestral glissandos and newspaper-inspired lyrics, this five and a half minute track served as a fitting finale to what is widely considered the band’s best album: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for A Day in the Life sold at auction for $1.2 million back in 2010 and the song has been covered by the likes of Jeff Beck and even the London Symphony Orchestra.