Putting Together a List of Favorite Beatles Songs? Consider Some Rules

Barry Lyons
4 min readJun 26, 2020

First of all, this photo. John, put your mask up. George, that’s not funny.

Every so often you’ll see an online discussion of people’s favorite Beatles songs. You can pretty much tell from people’s lists what kind of fans they are. There are those who place emphasis on the “solo” years of the White Album (“solo” because not one song from the collection is a group creation). Then there are those who like songs drawn from the psychedelic era of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (George Martin never forgave himself for leaving “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” off that album) and Magical Mystery Tour. And let’s not forget the folk rock songs from Help! and Rubber Soul. But here are two songs that you will never see on any short list of favorite Beatles songs: “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” This is where the first of my two rules comes into play: If you’re going to put together a short list of your favorite Beatles songs and if your intent is to capture the full scope of the band from beginning to end, it follows that you have to include at least one song from the Beatlemania days of ’63 and ’64.

I bring this up because a discussion of people’s five favorite Beatles songs appeared recently in a post at Jerry Coyne’s website. Coyne cited a list made by a friend: “Hey Jude,” “Blackbird,” “In My Life,” “Got to Get You into My Life,” and “For No One.” That’s a good list but it wouldn’t be mine. I’ve never cared much for “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and while the other four songs wouldn’t make my Top Five list, I will say that one of them would probably make my Top Ten list: “For No One.”

My second rule for compilers of favorite Beatles songs is also straightforward: You must have a George Harrison song on your list. Sorry, Ringo, there’s only room for the principal songwriters (recall that Harrison had three songs on Revolver).

So here’s my list of my Top Five favorite Beatles songs:

  1. She Loves You
  2. Rain
  3. Penny Lane
  4. Here Comes the Sun
  5. A Day in the Life

I almost went with “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” which is one of the most thrilling songs by the early…

Barry Lyons

Not a fan of sports or religion. I guess that makes me a bad American.