Monday, 21 November 2016

The Beatles Top 100 Countdown & This Week's Statistics

Today we'll be counting down the Beatles songs that occupy positions 80 through 71 in our Top 100. After that, we'll break down this week's statistics.


At #80 we find Things We Said Today. It was written by Paul and was composed for the film A Hard Day's Night (1964), but was eventually not included. It does appear on the soundtrack album. It was also released as the B-side of the single A Hard Day's Night in the UK.

In May 1964, McCartney and Jane Asher went yachting in the Virgin Islands along with Starr and his girlfriend, Maureen Cox. One day, McCartney wandered away from the rest of the group and wrote Things We Said Today about his relationship with the 18-year-old Asher, whom he had been seeing for a year.

"It was a slightly nostalgic thing already, a future nostalgia," he said of the song, an uptempo track whose moody, minor-key melody sets it apart from other McCartney love songs of the era. "We'll remember the things we said today sometime in the future, so the song projects itself into the future and then is nostalgic about the moment we're living in now, which is quite a good trick."

Though McCartney promises his love that "we'll go on and on," it wasn't to be: McCartney and Asher were engaged in 1967 but broke up the next year. "We see each other, and we love each other, but it hasn't worked out," she told the London Evening Standard in October 1968. "Perhaps we'll be childhood sweethearts and meet and get married when we're about 70."

Here's a live version of the song:


At #79 there's yet another song from The White Album. Martha My Dear was also written by Paul, and he's the only Beatle to perform on the track.

The title Martha My Dear was inspired by McCartney's Old English Sheepdog, named Martha. McCartney has said that the song itself is probably about his longtime love interest Jane Asher. Asher broke off their engagement in mid-1968. McCartney chides her with the lyrics in the song "...when you find yourself in the thick of it, help yourself to a bit of what is all around you..." Asher inspired many of McCartney's songs, including Here, There and Everywhere, I'm Looking Through You, For No One and We Can Work It Out. (A later "Martha" lyric explains, "You have always been my inspiration..." McCartney has also said that the song is about his "muse"—the voice in his head that tells him what words and music to write.)


At #78 there's a cover version of Chuck Berry's 1956 hit Roll Over Beethoven. Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song at #97 on its list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Here's the original version:


Roll Over Beethoven was a favourite of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison even before they chose "the Beatles" as their name, and they continued to perform it right into their American tours of 1964. Their version of Roll Over Beethoven was recorded on July 30, 1963, for their second British LP, With the Beatles, and features Harrison on vocals and guitar. In the United States, it was released April 10, 1964, as the opening track of The Beatles' Second Album. Here's a live version:


At #77, I’m Only Sleeping, written primarily by John, was found in the UK version of their 1966 studio album Revolver. It was released two months earlier on the US-only album Yesterday And Today and was not included on the US version of Revolver.

Though some hear I'm Only Sleeping as another drug ode, Lennon may have simply been expressing irritation at being woken up by McCartney for a songwriting session. Lennon was known to be a sedentary sort. In March 1966, he confessed that "sex is the only physical thing I can be bothered with anymore."

Harrison's eight-measure guitar solo on I'm Only Sleeping was inspired by a mistake — after an engineer threaded the multitrack tape incorrectly, the musicians heard that now-familiar blurred, slurping sound. McCartney recalled later that everyone was floored: "'My God, that is fantastic! Can we do that for real?'"

Harrison played a line inspired by Indian music and asked George Martin to transcribe it in reverse. Martin had to conduct Harrison beat by beat, resulting in what engineer Geoff Emerick described as "an interminable day," lasting nine hours. "I can still picture George hunched over his guitar for hours on end," Emerick wrote in 2006, "headphones clamped on, brows furrowed in concentration."


At #76 we find I’m a Loser, another Lennon song. Recorded in 1964, it was originally released on Beatles for Sale in the United Kingdom, later released on Beatles '65 in the United States. It was considered for release as a single until Lennon wrote I Feel Fine.

In 1980, Lennon said the song was "me in my Dylan period" and added, "Part of me suspects I'm a loser and part of me thinks I'm God Almighty. [Laughs]" Country music and Bob Dylan were catalysts for the song.


At #75 there's their first single: when Love Me Do  was originally released in the United Kingdom on 5 October 1962, it peaked at #17.

The song was written several years before it was recorded, and prior to the existence of the group named the Beatles. The single features John Lennon's prominent harmonica playing and duet vocals by him and Paul McCartney. Three different recorded versions of the song by the Beatles have been released, each with a different drummer. (Best, Starr and a session drummer).

Lennon: "Paul wrote the main structure of this when he was 16, or even earlier. I think I had something to do with the middle ... Love Me Do is Paul's song. He wrote it when he was a teenager. Let me think. I might have helped on the middle eight, but I couldn't swear to it. I do know he had the song around, in Hamburg, even, way, way before we were songwriters"

McCartney: "Love Me Do was completely co-written. It might have been my original idea but some of them really were 50-50s, and I think that one was. It was just Lennon and McCartney sitting down without either of us having a particularly original idea. We loved doing it, it was a very interesting thing to try and learn to do, to become songwriters. I think why we eventually got so strong was we wrote so much through our formative period. Love Me Do was our first hit, which ironically is one of the two songs that we control, because when we first signed to EMI they had a publishing company which took the two songs, Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You, and in doing a deal somewhere along the way we were able to get them back"


At #74 and at #73 we have two songs from The Beatles' magnum opus, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). First, there's When I'm Sixty-Four.

A McCartney song, sung by a young man to his lover, is about his plans of growing old together with her. Although the theme is ageing, it was one of the first songs McCartney wrote, when he was 16. It was on the Beatles playlist in their early days as a song to perform when their amplifiers broke down or the electricity went off. Both George Martin and Mark Lewisohn speculated that McCartney may have thought of the song when recording began for Sgt. Pepper in December 1966 because his father turned 64 earlier that year.


At #73 is a Lennon song called Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite. Interestingly, Mr. Kite and When I'm Sixty-Four are the most 'British' songs to be found in Sgt. Pepper's.

One of the most musically complex songs on Sgt. Pepper, it was recorded by the Beatles on 17 February 1967 with overdubs on 20 February (organ sound effects), 28 March (harmonica, organ, guitar), 29 March (more organ sound effects), and 31 March. Lennon wanted the track to have a "carnival atmosphere", and told producer George Martin that he wanted "to smell the sawdust on the floor." In the middle eight bars, multiple recordings of fairground organs and calliope music were spliced together to attempt to produce this request. In a 1968 interview, Martin recalled that he achieved "this by playing the Hammond organ myself and speeding it up." In addition to the Hammond organ, a 19th century steam organ was found for hire to enhance the carnival atmosphere effect. After a great deal of unsuccessful experimentation, Martin instructed recording engineer Geoff Emerick to chop the tape into pieces with scissors, throw them up in the air, and re-assemble them at random.


At #72 is a song primarily composed by John and sung by George. Do You Want To Know A Secret is found in the 1963 album Please Please Me. It was the first Top 10 song to feature Harrison as a lead singer, reaching #2 on the Billboard chart in 1964.


The Beatles' version was never released as a single in the UK, where a cover version by Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas (released on 26 April 1963) reached #2 in the Record Retailer chart, and hit #1 in the NME chart (used by Radio Luxembourg) and the BBC's Pick of the Pops chart, which were more widely recognised at the time. It appeared on his album, Little Children. It reached #8 in the Irish Singles Chart.


Finally for today, at #71 we meet This Boy. It was written by Lennon. It was released in November 1963 as the B-side of the British single I Want to Hold Your Hand. It also appears on the 1964 US album Meet the Beatles!. The Beatles performed it live on 16 February 1964 for their second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Its composition was an attempt by Lennon at writing a song in the style of Motown star Smokey Robinson, specifically his song I've Been Good To You, which has similar circular doo-wop chord changes, melody and arrangement. The tune and arrangement also draws from You Don't Understand Me, a B-side to a Bobby Freeman single. Paul McCartney cites the Teddy Bears' 1958 hit To Know Him Is To Love Him as also being influential. Lennon, McCartney, and George Harrison join together to sing an intricate three-part close harmony in the verses and refrain (originally the middle eight was conceived as a guitar solo, but altered during the recording process) and a similar song writing technique is exercised in later Beatles songs, such as Yes It Is and Because.

This is from their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show:


Now, let's move on to this week's statistics. It was a busy week and there were a few changes. As a result, we have the most geographically diverse weekly Top 10, possibly forever, consisting of countries from Europe, North and South America, the Middle East and South-East Asia

The full Top 10 is as follows:

1. the United States
2. Greece
3. the United Arab Emirates
4. the Netherlands
5. France
6. the United Kingdom
7. Germany
8. Argentina
9. Russia
10. Hong Kong

Here are the other countries that graced us with their presence this week (alphabetically): Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Guinea, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Vietnam. Happy to have you all!

In the all-time list there have also been changes: most importantly, the United Arab Emirates, after another great week, have replaced Italy at #10. Since the countries in positions 7-11 are very close to one another, this is a race that I'll be watching very closely indeed. Here's the all-time Top 10:

1. the United States = 46.7%
2. Greece = 18.5%
3. Russia = 8.2%
4. Germany = 3.4%
5. France = 2.6%
6. the United Kingdom = 2.5%
7. Canada = 0.98%
8. Cyprus = 0.93%
9. Ireland = 0.89%
10. the United Arab Emirates = 0.84%


That's all for today, folks. Till the next one!

6 comments:

  1. Lots of goodies here. Just a note on "Martha, My Dear"--it makes more sense if you assume it's about a dog: "Hold your head up you silly girl / Look what you've done." But I guess Paul should know! I first heard "I'm a Loser" on a Marianne Faithfull album. I remember marveling at the range it took to sing: "I realize I have found it too late." With Marianne, I could only dream of hitting that last note, but John doesn't seem to be bothered. No hill for a stepper! I will always associate "This Boy" with the montage featuring Ringo in "A Hard Day's Night." Speak, memory!

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    1. I too connect This Boy with the montage featuring Ringo in A Hard Day's Night. Also, now that you bring it up, re: Martha, My Dear, that line, today, would never be used for girl, while it definitely would for a dog. However, the Beatles' friend, Jagger, had some pretty demeaning lines about women in his lyrics of the same era, so, one can't be absolutely sure...

      ... Since I put up today's list, the song that I'm constantly humming is I'm Only Sleeping.

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  2. The tragedy of "Doctor Robert," "And Your Bird Can Sing," and "I'm Only Sleeping" is that they weren't included on the American release of "Revolver," a fact that considerably reduced Lennon's achievement. The UK and American releases didn't sync up until "Sgt. Pepper's." Just think what that album would be like without "Lucy in the Sky," "Mr. Kite," and "Good Morning, Good Morning"!

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    1. It was indeed so confusing (and still is) - different singles and different albums in the UK and the US. It even went beyond Sgt. Pepper's: Magical Mystery Tour was released as a double EP rather than as an LP in the UK until 1976. All the songs that take up side 2 of the US album were not included.

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  3. It was the practice in England to release singles and albums separately. The singles were then collected at a later date--if at all--as a Greatest Hits compilation. In America, the odd Beatles singles were collected on "Yesterday and Today" and "Magical Mystery Tour." To be a Beatles completist, one needed to have both UK and US releases! In the case of duplicate releases, I used to buy my (cheaper) copy of the album at the American Base Exchange, then go to Karstadt's on the German economy to find out whatever tracks I was missing.

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