Friday, 31 July 2009

Can't Buy Me Love


Right, let’s be a bit more controversial for this post. If history has taught us anything at all it is that, to quote a classic silver screen tag line, ‘Nobody’s perfect’. Even the greatest icons have their lesser moments, the trick seems to be to overwhelm those moments with a wealth of acclaimed work so that no one notices.

One of the greatest exponents of this principle was The Beatles who managed quite successfully to overshadow their own failings with a constant production line of brilliant songs. But strip away the good stuff and what are you left with? Welcome to some of The Beatles Worst Songs Ever.

‘Within You Without You’ – Does anybody not skip over this track nowadays? It is the wart on Sgt Pepper’s nose and not what most people would have you believe, i.e. a beautiful piece of eastern-inspired music, but a complete dirge. Whilst I am happy to indulge George in his other Indian influenced efforts (‘Love You To’ for example) and even John in his (‘Jealous Guy’) I really can’t be doing with this.

‘Ob-la-di Ob-la-da’ – Whilst I can live with most of McCartney’s whimsy (even frogs), I’m afraid that this just doesn’t do it for me and it rather spoils the otherwise excellent first side of the ‘White Album’. What were Marmalade thinking of? (answer: the money).

‘Dig A Pony’ – Fans will tell you that ‘Let it Be’ is just as good as other Beatles albums but this song belies that contention (along with a few others). Yet another Lennon/McCartney song that I cannot stand, basically because it is waaay too long and it drags like a sack of coal up a steep incline.

‘All Together Now’ – This song, knocked up to allow the Fabs to appear in their own ‘Yellow Submarine’ film, just redefines ‘filler’. It is rather depressing to see the greats of the popular song sunk to riffing around a nursery rhyme melody like it was their latest golden egg.

‘Octopus’s Garden’ – There’s a limit to how much ‘loveable’ Ringo a person can stomach, and this is it, or it could possibly be ‘Don’t Pass me By’.

‘One After 909’ – I feel that I dislike this so much because it arrived out of context. What was OK on the first Beatles album sounds naive and dated on ‘Let it Be’. Let’s face it, this is a bog standard rock ‘n’ roll structured song which belongs in the 1950s, not in the late 1960s rubbing shoulders with ‘Let it Be’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Down’. It just reeks of barrel scraping.

Right, that’s it. I’m off to calm down and listen to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’, arguably two of the greatest songs ever written. Strange that they came from the same stable as all the above!

15 comments:

Jayne said...

I really enjoyed this post, and it reminded me that it has been so long since I have listened to any Beatle album in its entirety. Must find them all again - the problem is I have them mainly on LP and my record player is somewhere in a box (as is most things I want!).

I agree with most of the songs you have here - especially 'Within You Without You’ - I'd have to be in a very dedicated mood to listen to that one. But I have a sneaking fondness for 'Ob-la-di Ob-la-da’ - probably because I first heard it as a child and the tune seemed like it could be a children's song... also I could sing a rude word in front of my mum - 'bloody' and no one ever noticed. Not so sure those reasons should be the criteria for good songs though...

musicobsessive said...

Hi Jayne. You're obviously in good company with 'Oh Bloody' as Marmalade proved, but I try and avoid it:)

Btw, I'd stick with your LPs if I were you as you can't hear the Beatles on Spotify nor can you download from iTunes (yet). CDs still cost the earth. Why is this product still price-protected 40 years on? It is outrageous and imho stains the memory of the greatest band ever.

Charlie said...

HMMM, interesting post! Not sure I agree with all of your choices though. I'll have to post my own list. However, IMHO one song that should be on my list of my alltime favorite band's worst songs is "I Am The Walrus." As one blogger once wrote accurately, "As long as there are 15 year old boys this song will always be popular." I just find it creepy.

While none of the songs you wrote about will ever go into the Beatles Hall of Fame, the thought, effort, and personal affection George put into "within You and Without You" makes it stand above the others, and I kind of like "One After 909," especially when you think of it's historical context.

musicobsessive said...

Hi Charlie. Lively debate has always been one of the more fun aspects of music so I look forward to seeing your list:)

In the meantime, I don't think anyone is ever going to convert me to 'Within You Without You'...sorry!

Jeff said...

I'm glad you listed Ob-la-di on there. I believe The Beatles are the greatest band of all time, but I see that song as annoying filler on The White Album. I'm not sure why it receives so much attention - my only guess could be its message, but musically it doesn't hold up. Another song I would add to that list is "Blue Jay Way" on the Magical Mystery Tour.

musicobsessive said...

Hi Jeff. Another vote for 'Oh Bloody'. Looks like it could be the most hated Beatles song ever!

Just for the record, I'd still put all mine above 'Blue Jay Way' which can sound OK given a following wind. Although come to think of it 'Flying' isn't so hot either...

Sean Coleman said...

Interesting picks for the worst Beatles tunes. I am currently in the middle of a Beatles marathon, reviewing all of the original LPs from Please Please Me through to Let It Be.

For me, "Wild Honey Pie" is in the top five of all time Beatle clunkers.

Excellent blog, sir.

musicobsessive said...

Hi Sean. You're right about WHP - the upside being that it is very short!

I'd be interested to know whether you come up with any more after your marathon trawl!

Craig said...

Obla Di Olla Da and Octopus's Garden are kitchy classics. They can't really be categorized as bad in that they - in the big picture - are very appealing to children. Part of the charm of The Beatles is that their vast library offers something for virtually everyone... kids, teens and adults alike. Certainlt they have 'bad songs' in the sense that musically they arent't 'greats,' but overall the spectrum is covered.

musicobsessive said...

Hi Craig. Sure, it is the Beatles' massive diversity that makes them what they are. I'm just listing those that I consider at the bottom of the pile. They may not be 'bad' per se, but they sure drive me nuts!

Craig said...

Will be posting a response to this on my blog very soon Martin. Thanks for the inspiration.

musicobsessive said...

Well, this post has really stirred up a hornet's nest:) with some strong views on either side of the fence. This is what I like about blogging - it's like all those arguments you used to have as a teenager LOL! Anyway, check out these:-

Craig at Cuttingedgedjs has posted a blog reply at: http://www.cuttingedgedjs.com/blog/2009/08/07/my-beatles-journey-dont-hate-on-the-octopus/

and Charlie at Bloggerhythms has posted a deviant (if that's the word!) post at: http://bloggerhythms.blogspot.com/2009/08/10-great-beatles-songs-you-may-have.html

Both are great music blogs so give them a look. Let the debate continue!

Roger said...

To be honest.. let me see you write a song even as catchy and as warm as octopus's garden & as thoughtful as within within out you . Sure I will admit I like other Beatle's songs more than others but I think you just need to learn to appreciate what talent's George and Ringo had .

The explorer said...

Only a northern song?

Adopted Son said...

Everyone likes to bash on "O-bla-di..." And I can't really blame them. I'll grant you most of what's on this list (I haven't listened to "Within You, Without You" in years), but to include "Dig a Pony" and "One After 909" on this list is just not right. I love those songs.
Of course, arguing about the Beatle's worst songs is kinda silly. Even their worst is better that most's best.