Beatles Top 40: Songs to Listen to Here, There, and Everywhere

The Beatles have been playing in the background of my life for as long as I can remember. It’s feasible that I was brainwashed into loving the Beatles because as a child, I would listen to their music as I fell asleep. However, I have NEVER slept on the Beatles, as I feel some people have nowadays. Through this carefully contemplated list, I wish to share my love for this music and hopefully inspire the same in others. After all, “in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

The idea for the curation of a Beatles Top 40 struck me as my dad and I were driving down to San Diego from L.A. listening the Beatles Top 100 Countdown on SiriusXM Radio. As the hosts played through the list, we were surprised that it overlooked some of our favorite songs and overrated others (I’m looking at you, “Guitar Gently Weeps”). Soon after, we started to painstakingly create our own playlists. Deciding which beloved songs to leave out was much harder than anticipated; the task ended up taking months, but it was fulfilling to finally share and compare our selections with each other.

This list consists of my forty personal favorite Beatles songs. I only considered which songs I most liked listening to, regardless of popularity, reputation, and historical significance. Warning: If you, too, are passionate about the Beatles, you may be heated about some of my exclusions. Choosing just forty songs out of a catalogue of over two hundred was no small feat, and sadly, many bangers had to be left out. Without further ado, let’s count down:

 

40. “Girl”

Rubber Soul (1965)

I think the guitar has an interesting and unique sound in this song. Ringo on drums maintains a slow pace, which gives the song a relaxing vibe. I love when they take an audible breath after “girl” during the chorus, it’s soothing and makes the song more natural. I really like the vocal background on the bridge, and a fun fact is that the band is actually repeating the word, “t*t,” for a laugh.

 

39. “I’ve Just Seen a Face”

Help! (1965)

This was another late addition to the list and a song that I initially didn’t care for. Now, I really like how fast-paced it is and how they only tease the chorus one time at first. It makes it all the more satisfying when the chorus comes back around to repeat at the end.

 

38. “Cry Baby Cry”

The Beatles (“The White Album”) (1968)

This was the last song I added because it grew on me late. I like the sweet melody, and the short riff after each verse adds just enough rock to this more mellow song. What really cemented its place on this list was the thirty-second coda that comes in after a false ending to the song. I LOVE when songs have what seems like a new song at the end. The fadeout makes it seem like the world created by the song is dissipating, yet still exists when we’re not listening to it.

 

37. “What You’re Doing”

Beatles for Sale (1964)

The intro is awesome, starting with just the fun drum part, and the guitar riff throughout the song reminds me of summer. This is a playful love song from the Beatles’ earlier days that presents a witty message, characteristic of the band: “Would it be too much to ask of you what you’re doing to me?” Relatable. The bridge is great too, as many Beatles bridges are, and I love the drawn-out end of it and transition back into the chorus.

 

36. “All My Loving”

With the Beatles (1963)

This is another one of the few early Beatles songs I have on this list because I think it’s one of their best from that period. The fast guitar strumming gives off a really fun and uplifting sound. The lyrics speak of sending love to someone far away, ending with classic harmonies. “All My Loving” was the first song of the set the Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan show, which kick-started Beatlemania in the United States.

 

35. “The Night Before”

Help! (1965)

It happens to the best of us. What seems to be a good hookup can all too often devolve into avoiding eye contact in Dana. The Beatles prove this to be a universal situation, with begging lyrics: “When I held you near, you were so sincere, treat me like you did the night before.” That’s tough. This song starts strong with Paul McCartney almost yelling, and this frustrated energy carries on until it ends with a little guitar riff, a callback to the playful solo.

 

34. “Hello Goodbye”

Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

I originally didn’t include this song on my list but listening to it recently has presented redemption. What I wrote off as a childish song of opposites is actually a super positive song, that, despite being simple, never fails to make me feel good. This was enough to earn it a spot on this list, but it also includes one of my favorite musical elements: when a song seems to end, but returns with a coda.

 

33. “Do You Want to Know a Secret”

Please Please Me (1963)

The into to “Do You Want to Know a Secret” is so iconic; I love the simple sound of a single cord with the voice on top. I think this is also one of the best songs of the early period because not only is the descending guitar bouncy and fun, but lyrics are so tender. Spoiler alert: the secret is “I’m in love with you.” Aw.

 

32. “It’s Only Love”

Help! (1965)

This is yet another song about love, but honestly who can blame the Beatles because few other things in life yield such emotion. The words are relatable, as I have sometimes found myself asking John Lennon’s same question: “why should I feel the way I do?” Melodically, the song is great. Rhythmically, some of the shorter lines like “my oh my” and “butterflies” are really fun and add intrigue to an otherwise short and standard song. I also like the unexpected and witty sentiment that it’s “only” love because love a subject people are often too serious about.

 

31. “No Reply”

Beatles for Sale (1964)

Another relatable banger. This song is basically about being left on read years before the age of social media. The bridge of “No Reply” is one of my favorite Beatles bridges because I love the increase in energy and passion and the interesting rhythm. Also, in a classic Beatles move, this song ends with a cool and unexpected chord.

 

[Courtesy of skeeze - Pixabay]

 

30. “I’m Looking Through You”

Rubber Soul (1965)

“Why, tell me why, did you not treat me right? / Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight.” This poignant and relevant bridge is not the only great thing about this song. There is a really lively guitar part in between each verse, which varies the pace of the song and keeps it dynamic. I love the melody and the flow of the song, but I especially like the feisty message.

 

29. “Nowhere Man”

Rubber Soul (1965)

I really like how the intro to this song is just the vocals, and I like the harmonies throughout, especially in the last line. The lyrics speak of having no direction in life, which I think everyone experiences at one point or another. If you haven’t noticed by now, I love, love, love Rubber Soul because it acts as transition album between the early and later periods for the Beatles.

 

28. “Julia”

The Beatles (“The White Album”) (1968)

John Lennon’s mother, Julia, passed away when he was just seventeen. This is a beautiful love song in her memory, with gentle imagery and pretty guitar picking. My name is also Julia, so I couldn’t not include a song with the lyric, “so I sing a song of love for Julia.” Now, I just need to find someone to sing it to me.

 

27. “When I’m Sixty-Four”

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

This is one of the most tender songs I know. Paul McCartney wrote this when he was a just teenager, imagining love in old age. The lyrics detail different activities he and his wife might partake in as they grow old, and it’s just so sweet that it makes me cry sometimes, even if John once referred to it as “Paul’s granny sh*t.” Also, I would highly recommend watching Paul McCartney’s appearance Carpool Karaoke with James Corden. They visit Paul’s childhood home, where he and John wrote many of the Beatles’ early songs, and he, now older than sixty-four, plays this song live on the piano.

 

26. “And Your Bird Can Sing”

Revolver (1966)

This song was a major dark horse on my list, but the more I listened, the more I realized how great it was. I think it’s about someone taking their partner for granted by trying to have too much: “Tell me that you’ve got everything you want / and your bird can sing.” I love the funny lyrics, fun guitar solo, and harmonies. Overall, this slaps.

 

25. “If I Needed Someone”

Rubber Soul (1965)

I love this song especially because I’m a proponent of personal independence and self-reliance. The message is sweet: “If I needed someone to love / you’re the one that I’d be thinking of.” Again, it seems the Beatles never fail to create a fluid and satisfying melody, and I love the sunny guitar riff and harmonies.

 

24. “I’ll Follow the Sun”

Beatles for Sale (1964)

Though the lyrics describe love lost, I think the idea of “follow[ing] the sun” is so positive and I like how natural it feels. This song has a soft and relaxing vibe, and a great bridge.

 

23. “And I Love Her”

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

This song is beautiful in its slower pace and lovely harmonies. I like the title line because it seems like an afterthought of something that’s usually serious, with the “and” before “I love her.” One of my favorite parts is that the guitar solo is in no rush and matches the verse melody. The bongos as percussion are such an interesting choice that works well in this more chill song and provides individuality.

 

22. “Come Together”

Abbey Road (1969)

Somehow, I didn’t have this on my list at first because I thought it was overrated, but I now realize the hype is real. I love how bluesy the riff is, and the guitar and drums coming in for just a taste of chorus with “come together, right now / over me” is awesome. The seemingly random lyrics by John are genius and make the song so interesting. While the guitar solo is simple, I think it rightly juxtaposes the crazy lyrics with its minimalism. A not-so-fun fact is that throughout the song, John is muffling, “shoot me,” and those words partially inspired his assassin.

 

21. “I Will”

The Beatles (“The White Album”) (1968)

This is yet another tender love song from Paul, but I will never tire of them. In only one minute and forty-five seconds, this song accomplishes so much. I love the acoustic sound, and the lyrics are sweet: “Will I wait a lonely lifetime? / If you want me to, I will.” I mean, come on.

 

[Courtesy of Jestoni Dadis - Unsplash]

 

20. “If I Fell”

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

My favorite part about this song is how effortlessly it flows from each section to the next. I love that the intro features a different melody than the rest of the song, and that in the verses, they sometimes hit a higher, unexpected note that proves to fit perfectly. They harmonize, “if I give my love to you / I must be sure / from the very start / that you would love me more than her,” which I think is a common desire.

 

19. “A Day in the Life”

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

John and Paul are a legendary duo who wrote many Beatles songs together, and this is the most demonstrative of their individual styles. John’s part is more observational and melancholy, while Paul interjects with a contrastingly happy and bouncy section. I love the rolling drum parts between some of the later lines in the verses. “I’d love to turn you on,” is an unexpected and now iconic lyric that leads into an incredible crescendo. Each instrument plays its own scale with no regard for the other players, which was hard for the band to explain to the classically-trained orchestra. Paul’s part feels like another world and the juxtaposition is so interesting. Then, the John’s dreamy melody creeps back in with characteristic sound, reminiscent of “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The last crescendo is as engaging as the first; it’s tension builds up so that the culminating note is all the more satisfying. This final chord is strong as it resonates and fades. My dad said that when John Lennon died, each station on the radio played this note for around a minute as a tribute, and I imagine it was moving.

 

18. “Mother Nature’s Son”

The Beatles (“The White Album”) (1968)

This song is so pretty, and I found it continually rising through my list. Paul’s voice sounds beautiful, and I love the soft vibes of this song. It’s nice that the title line comes back to end with a slightly different melody.

 

17. “I’m So Tired”

The Beatles (“The White Album”) (1968)

First, what a relatable title. Sometimes, if I hear someone say, “I’m so tired,” (which is a pretty common occurrence in college), this song gets stuck in my head, so I hope this now happens to you too. This dynamic song features a personal performance from John, and I like how real it feels. John begs, “I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little peace of mind,” which is followed by a quiet moment. In such a short song, I love that it goes through a number of diverse sections.

 

16. “Oh! Darling”

Abbey Road (1969)

My favorite part of this song is the raw vocals, which feature Paul at times practically screaming and pleading to be loved back. The choruses carry such frantic energy, and it’s so cool when the music drops out at the end of some of them. I also really like the drum part that comes in after the verses. Catch me jamming to this song in my car around Waterville.

 

15. “Hey Jude”

Single (1968)

Paul wrote this song for and about John and Cynthia Lennon’s son, Jude, to attempt to comfort the child through his parents’ separation. The message of this song is so uplifting and earnest that it’s a feel-good song for any listener. Who doesn’t love a singalong? If I’m being perfectly honest, I could do without the four minutes of “na, na, na, hey Jude,” but I’ll look past it because the rest of the song is that good.

 

14. “For No One”

Revolver (1966)

This is a breakup song full of beautiful yet painful imagery, “and in her eyes, you see nothing / no sign of love behind the tears.” It features a French horn solo, and my favorite part is when this horn plays over the verse at the end, unifying some of the song’s elements. I also like how it doesn’t end on a resolving note, leaving the song somewhat open.

 

13. “Blackbird”

The Beatles (“The White Album”) (1968)

My dad would always play this song on guitar throughout my childhood, so it was also one of the first songs I learned guitar, and it holds a special place in my heart. The picking is so pretty, and I love when it pauses and goes into a break similar to the intro. Interestingly, the lyrics are inspired by the American Civil Rights movement.

 

12. “The Long and Winding Road”

Let It Be (1970)

The longing and sadness described through Paul’s smooth singing is not only beautiful in sound, but also in message. “Don’t keep me waiting here / lead me to your door,” is a heartbreaking metaphor of lost love that rarely fails to bring a tear to my eye. Check out the anthology version—it does not include the orchestral accompaniment, and I think the stripped sound is more natural and allows the emotion to be more real.

 

11. “Don’t Let Me Down”

Single (1969)

“Don’t Let Me Down,” is such a simple, yet meaningful message that I think many identify with, which is partly what makes this song so great. The music as well as the vocal performance is dynamic while maintain a natural and heartfelt sound. This was one of the songs the Beatles played at their unannounced last public concert on the rooftop of Apple Corps in London. Colby Dance Company performed a dance to this song Spring 2018!

 

[Courtesy of Mike - Pexels]

 

10. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”

Abbey Road (1969)

I almost can’t believe this is a Beatles song. It is more than seven minutes long with a meandering outro. In comparison to some of the tunes of their earlier days, this doesn’t sound like the same band. What I like most about this song is the musical journey it takes. The droning guitar is so resonating, and the slow waltz timing captures the listener. Then, the song makes the surprising transition into a standard time section with bongos and a melodic guitar solo that somehow totally works with the heavy parts of the song. I love that before the outro, there is a single cymbal hit with the simple lyrics, “she’s so,” and then the song explodes into a relentless outro that with a descending riff that is repetitive, yet never boring. Static noise intensifies and begins to wash out the outro music, feeling like the world created by the song is drowning away, like a dream-world closing. Instead of completely fading out, the song ends abruptly, which is a jarring choice to transport the viewer back to reality. It’s awesome.

 

9. “Happiness is a Warm Gun”

The Beatles (“The White Album”) (1968)

The dynamics of this song are unmatched in most Beatles songs. This is another of John’s personal soul-baring tracks that features his seemingly unfiltered thoughts. This almost lazy-sounding guitar solo before the second verse is so good it almost hurts. Mood change! The “Mother Superior jumped the gun” part is counted in 9/8 then 10/8 which adds intrigue, and is a little disorienting. Another mood change! The harmonic “happiness is a warm gun” choral part brings back order to the song, then gives way to John’s almost raw yelling in a message to his lover. It’s so cool that so much is packed into this less than three-minute song.

 

8. “Strawberry Fields Forever”

Single (1967)

“Loving is easy with eyes closed / misunderstanding all you see.” This is just one example of John’s beautiful, introspective lyrics in this song. Strawberry Fields was actually a children’s home in Liverpool that John would visit sometimes, and this song reflects on his youth. The slow vocals add to the relaxed and almost psychedelic vibe, and I really like the horns in the verse. This is another Beatles song which feels like it exists in its own reality, dissolved by the outro.

 

7. “Dear Prudence”

The Beatles (“The White Album”) (1968)

I love the descending guitar intro to “Dear Prudence.” Two guitar notes carry on throughout the song, which is simple, but its repetition feels comforting. The lyrics are somewhat childish, with mentions of “daisy chain[s]” and requests for Prudence to “come out to play,” but I these youthful memories are familiar to many. After a dramatic breakdown with a great riff, I love how the song ends with the intro again.

 

6. “Here Comes the Sun”

The Beatles (“The White Album”) (1968)

This is one of the few Beatles songs written by George Harrison. It’s a fan-favorite song that reminds me of my childhood and is still great. I find that rarely are such positive songs so popular, but the message of renewal in the lyrics is one everyone enjoys.The higher guitar, energetic drums, and harmonies throughout are really joyful and light. I love the simple lyrics like, “it’s alright,” and the “sun, sun, sun, here it comes” section is really fun.

 

5. “Here, There and Everywhere”

Revolver (1966)

I once heard Paul McCartney say in an interview that this was one of his favorite songs he had written. I, too, love this song. It’s a tender ballad about wanting to be with a lover at all times, whose beautiful intro leads to an equally sweet song. The flow is relaxing, and I really like the two transition chords before “I want her everywhere,” as well as the melodic guitar and classic harmonies that make this song so pretty.

 

4. “Let It Be”

Let It Be (1970)

In a particularly trying time in Paul McCartney’s life, his late mother, Marie, came to him in a dream and told him to “let it be.” I used to never listen to this song because it made me too sad when I was younger. Now that I’ve had my own “times of trouble,” Paul’s message is all the more comforting and meaningful to me: “there will be an answer / let it be.” I love when the drums come in because what first seems to be a soft ballad really gets going, and only gets better with the passionate guitar solo. The ending with the repetition of the descending chords of the chorus is so powerful.

 

3. “In My Life”

Rubber Soul (1965)

This nostalgic love song makes my mom “gently weep,” and I can’t blame her. Though the message of “In My Life” is broad, millions have related to it. The melody of both the voice and the guitar is wonderful. The lyrics are so genius and sweet that I can’t even choose one to quote here, so please just go listen to this song. I also love the sustained vocals in the outro, and how the playful guitar riff returns to finish the song. Have I mentioned how much I love Rubber Soul?

 

2. “Something”

Abbey Road (1969)

George Harrison really went off when he wrote this song. The love song is relaxing in its slow pace, and the romantic lyrics get me every time: “something in the way she moves / attracts me like no other lover.” I really like how it starts to build more as the mood changes in the bridge, as well as into the carefully ascending guitar solo. Some of my favorite parts are the riff after each verse, the drums after the first line of each verse, and, more specifically, the bass line after “something in the way she knows.” Actually, I just love it all.

 

1. “Two of Us”

Let It Be (1970)

Here we are: my favorite Beatles song. “Two of Us” is SO cute, and features John and Paul sharing a microphone in the recording, as they often did in the early days of the band. I understand the song as two old friends wandering just to spend time together, which I love because it reminds me of my friends. The lines “riding nowhere” and “Sunday driving, not arriving” reflect the idea that sometimes the journey is the best part. Also, it seems like the “home” they are going to is their friendship (aw). Musically, the guitar is folksy, which brings an authentic vibe to the song, and the simple two-note riff is enough to be interesting. I also like the crescendo of drums, which develops before the tender lyrics, “you and I have memories / longer than the road that stretches out ahead.” I love the fadeout ending, including the whistling, because it feels like these friends are just continuing their trip into another world and the listener just experiences a part of it.