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Paste magazine releases weekly column of Beatles’ overlooked gems.

I imagine that Paste Magazine will be adding to this list, but everyone ahs their favorite non-radio friendly Beatle songs.  The first ones that come to my mind are: Hey Bulldog, Girl, and Bluejay Way

The Paste list is a nice little start to kick things off though. 

  • What are your favorite overlooked Beatle songs?  We’d love to know yours.  Please let us know in the comments below.

Here’s what we’ve read.

Today’s list begins a series that will recur every Friday for the next few weeks, in which I’ll highlight my favorite lesser-known Beatles tracks. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr wrote and recorded such consistently amazing songs that, even if you ignore all their #1 hits and everything on their famous Red and Blue best-of compilations (which I’ll be doing for these more obscure Beatles lists), there are still dozens and dozens of amazing songs, some of which you might’ve missed along the way-even if The Beatles are the biggest, most influential band in rock history.

As you get familiar with these songs, I think some of them might even surpass your old, more-overplayed favorites.

Cry For A Shadow
Never mind that it has no words, this jinglin’ and janglin’ Lennon/McCartney surf instrumental-originally released on 1963 EP My Bonnie-is one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard. I first discovered it when I bought a cassette copy of The Beatles Anthology while I was in high school, and proceeded to play it non-stop for about a week.

Act Naturally
This fun cover of Bakersfield country legend Buck Owens-sung pretty darn solidly by Ringo Starr-first appeared on the soundtrack to The Beatles 1965 film Help! I’ll go out on a limb here and say that Help! is even better than more lauded Beatles flick A Hard Day’s Night. I love the stoned shenanigans, muted colors and wide-open cinematography of Help!, and the music is way better, too. (After seeing a few of these lists, you’ll notice that I have a soft-spot for the more folk-rocky trinity of “middle period” Beatles albums: Beatles For Sale, Help! and Rubber Soul.)

I’ve Just Seen a Face
This gorgeous, unadorned acoustic number-also from the Help! soundtrack-is my all-time favorite Beatles song. It genuinely captures the kind of happiness you can know only after experiencing deep longing and sadness. Every time I listen to it, the purity of Paul McCartney’s vocal and the simple poetry of his lyrics wash over me, transporting me to a romanticized time nearly two decades before I was born; a more innocent time, when life was as wholesome, uncluttered and satisfying as the 12-string-guitar plucks George Harrison scatters atop all those Beatles-pretty chords. Of course, I know this time never really existed (watching a few episodes of Mad Men will cure you pretty damn quickly of any naivete about the early ’60s). Still, that place of innocence does exist, if only inside of McCartney’s song. I remember being baffled when I learned that he’d written the tune when he was just 16. How could a 16-year-old write something so affecting, so perfect, so… optimistic? The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

I’m Only Sleeping
From the chime of the opening strum, this song perfectly embodies its subject matter; I don’t think there’s a better example of a piece of music sounding and feeling exactly like what it’s about. It’s as if you could take the lyrics away and just have John Lennon lazily mumble indecipherable phrases in the same cadence and pitch, and everyone would still get the transmission, straight through their third eye.

This song was originally released as the B-side to 1966 single “Paperback Writer.” Both were recorded during the Revolver sessions but left off the album. The two tracks, taken together, are all the proof you’ll ever need of Paul McCartney’s mind-boggling bass chops and distinct, if erratic, style. “Rain” also features some of Ringo Starr’s most inventive drumming, a purposefully draggy feel, ringing guitars, classic three-part Beatles harmonies and a chorus so monumental it seems to sharply bend the space-time continuum (an interesting contrast, considering Lennon’s admission that the song was merely about how people are always bitching about the weather). You can almost feel the lysergic acid dripping off of this one, especially with the trippy backward vocals during the last verse. “Rain” is one of the first tracks to ever use this now-common technique. And many consider the short film below-which The Beatles debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show-to be the very first music video, planting the seeds for the MTV generation.

Source: Paste magazine


9 Responses

  1. Rain is definitely one of my favorites. I also like the songs Dr. Robert, and Sexy Sady as part of this list. Knowing the meaning behind these songs makes them much more interesting, but I don’t know if the average listener would appreciate them.

  2. PASTE needs to work on their research before posting something like this. A lot of their song facts are way off.

  3. At first, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to “Revolver” because, being young at the time, I couldn’t deal with “my boys” changing! Now “Revolver” is my favorite album! In addition to “I’m Only Sleeping”, I also love “And Your Bird Can Sing”. That needs to be included on this list. Thanks for allowing me to post.

  4. If you’re a hardcore fan and collector such as I am, then there are no “overlooked gems” 😉

    Beatle Bob
    (Bootleg reviewer on Bootlegzone, 910, Beatleglist, etc)

  5. Three great Beatle songs you never hear on the radio:

    -Fixing A Hole
    -No Reply
    -Ask Me Why

    IMHO, of course.

    BTW, make sure you add some John to your day today.

  6. My favourite one is “Happiness is a Warm Gun”. That’s a great song of John’s and I’ve never heard that on the radio. Maybe it is because Hungarian radio stations only play the biggest hits of the Fab Four but I don’t think that this is the only reason why I never hear it. It is so special that the mass (who only go for what is new and “fashionable” to listen to) would not really like it. Anyway, “Happiness is a Warm Gun” is my choice:)!

  7. I agree with Andy. Lots of errors (and that’s getting commoner than ever). For a start, Cry For A Shadow is a Harrison/Lennon song.


  8. A bit way out to mention “My Bonnie” maybe, but when I discovered The Beatles through my brother’s record collection as a young boy in the mid-seventies, “The Beatles featuring Tony Sheridan” and the blue album “1967-70” was the two Beatles albums he had in his collection. I didn’t know anything about them and both albums had The Beatles written on the album covers. So I just listened to the both of them, liked what I heard, and only found out later that the 1961Hamburg-recordings wasn’t really a proper Beatles-recording. And the funny thing is, looking back at it, the driving 50’s inspired beat and Tony Sheridan’s Elvis-kind of voice appealed strongly to me at that time, as a 8/9 year old, and some of the songs I liked even more than some of the more far out psychedelic songs on the blue album.
    And therefore I have to mention one more song from those sessions, “Ain’t She Sweet”, a catchy rocker featuring a young and raw John Lennon on vocals.
    So to me, the lineup and the recorded songs of John, Paul, George, Pete Best and Tony Sheridan can be mentioned as overlooked gems. Those songs had an impact on me becoming a Beatles fan. : )

  9. -Hey Bulldog
    -Baby’s In Black
    -I’ll Follow The Sun
    -For No One
    -Here, There, And Everywhere
    -No Reply
    -I’m So Tired
    -Sexy Sadie

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