The 50 Greatest Ever Beatles Songs – Picked By Johnny Marr, Royal Blood, Brian Wilson And More

You’ve seen part one of our list of the best ever Beatles songs. Now it’s time to get serious. Here are the 50 greatest ever Fab Four songs according to NME writers and musicians including Johnny Marr, Royal Blood, Bob Geldof, Hot Chip, The Killers and Suede, to name but a few. Enjoy!

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50. With a Little Help from My Friends Chosen By: Katy B

Katy B: “That and Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ – they both make me want to scream my lungs out. ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ is just one of those vocal hooks that the entire world knows. It’s perfect.”

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49. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away

49. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away<br><br>

49. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away

After ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ was released, Paul McCartney described it as “just basically John doing Dylan”. Singing with crisp conviction over some dreamy interplay between his and George’s acoustic guitars, John twisted Dylan’s influence into an intimate, lonely song about being a lovelorn laughing stock.

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48. Julia
Chosen By: Ryan Jarman, The Cribs

Ryan: “I used to fall asleep with my earphones on listening to my iPod, years ago, and if a really good song came on I’d always wake up. ‘Julia’ woke me up one night. It was the first time I’d ever heard it and I thought ‘man, that’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard’ and I still think it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard.”

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46. Long, Long, Long
Chosen by Felix White, The Maccabees

Felix: “I think it’s amazing how good George Harrison’s song writing got towards the end of The Beatles. Good on you, man! He had that sardonic wit and the tenderness that sometimes neither Lennon nor McCartney had.”

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45. Nowhere Man

45. Nowhere Man

45. Nowhere Man

John was struggling to write a final song for ‘Rubber Soul’ when he went for a lie down and had the entire song rush into his head. “I thought of myself as a nowhere man [and] ‘Nowhere Man’ came, words and music, the whole damn thing… [it’s] like being possessed, like a psychic or a medium.”

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44. I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
Chosen By: EL-P, Run the Jewels

EL-P: “It’s always been my favourite Beatles song. It’s sexual and heavy and dark and loving. The riff is just something else. As a musician it’s one of those pillars that you study. As a producer you have to know it inside and out, because they broke ground with it in terms of the rhythm.”

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43. Can’t Buy Me Love
Chosen by Kieran Shudall, Circa Waves

Kieran: “This is The Beatles at their simplest and most poppy. It kicks in with a chorus which hooks you from the off. The verse’s weaving melody hurtles towards the end of each line. Paul wrote this just after ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ had blown up, and was seemingly unfazed by the pressure of a follow up single.”

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42. Two Of Us

42. Two Of Us

42. Two Of Us

‘Let It Be’’s understated opening track stands out because of a perfect Lennon McCartney co-vocal that betrays the beef they had at the time, and a bass part lent a peculiar jaunt by George Harrison playing it on his rosewood Telecaster guitar.

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40. Rain

40. Rain

And The Beatles said ‘let there be psych!’ The head music that the band had been developing over the course of ‘Rubber Soul’ came to a, well, head on ‘Rain’, a revolutionary tune tucked away on the B-side of ‘Paperback Writer’. Inspired by nothing more than a downpour the band was caught in when arriving in Melbourne, it became a benchmark for many psych bands to come.

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39. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

39. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

39. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

With its lyrics about “a girl with kaleidoscope eyes” and “flowers that grow so incredibly high”, the hallucinogenic ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ is not exactly subtle but musically it works much harder. McCartney and Lennon’s unmatchable pop nous comes though as strong as ever on one of the band’s most memorable and indelible choruses ever.

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38. Here, There and Everywhere
Chosen By: Little Boots

Little Boots: “I had this massive Beatles phase when I was 16. I was really into them. That’s when I really clicked with music and writing songs. You could feel that connection – they meant it. I guess it’s the first music that didn’t feel throwaway to me. And this, off ‘Revolver’ is such a touching and intimate song.”

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37. Dear Prudence

37. Dear Prudence

Mia Farrow’s sister Prudence meditated herself out of her mind in India. So deeply did she immerse herself in the Maharishi’s teaching that she became a recluse, rushing to her private hut straight after meals. John and George eventually managed to coax her out with a song John described as “a simple plea to a friend to snap out of it”.

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36. Taxman
Chosen By Johnny Marr

Johnny: “It would take a band with that cockiness, and the character of George Harrison, to name names in the way they do. They didn’t hold back. It’s a very anti-establishment song, especially for those times. They name names and point the finger, and it might be the first directly anti-establishment song to get in the charts.”

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35. All My Loving

35. All My Loving

35. All My Loving

On their 2014 US tour, Arctic Monkeys played the song twice to mark the 50th anniversary of that Ed Sullivan Show appearance. “Apparently one in three Americans actually watched that performance, so if we’re lucky, one or three Americans might watch this Youtube video,” later quipped Alex Turner.

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33. Michelle
Chosen By: Michel Gondry, director

Michel Gondry: “All my life, when people see me they sing ‘Michelle, ma belle’. One day I was asked to do a video for Paul McCartney. I walked past him in the corridor and he went ‘Michelle, ma belle’. So that’s my song, I guess, but at least I have the stamp of the author.”

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32. Get Back

32. Get Back

32. Get Back

“We were sitting in the studio and we made it up out of thin air,” Paul McCartney wrote in the press release for the single release of ‘Get Back’. “We started to write words there and then … when we finished it, we recorded it at Apple Studios and made it into a song to roller-coast by.”

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31. I Saw Her Standing There
Chosen By: Lemmy, Motorhead

Lemmy: “This was the first thing I heard by The Beatles that they’d written themselves and it was really exciting – very raw and with very good harmonies. The Beatles just had great melodies – ‘In My Life’, ‘If I Fell’, ‘And I Love Her’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ were all excellent.”

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30. And Your Bird Can Sing

30. And Your Bird Can Sing

30. And Your Bird Can Sing

What makes ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ a stand-out Beatles track is the intertwining double lead guitars, played by Harrison (certainly) and McCartney (probably). The effect is divine: psychedelic, but also propulsive, setting the song apart from other jangly psych-pop songs of the time.

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29. Penny Lane
Chosen By: Mike Kerr, Royal Blood

Mike: “I was probably about eight years old and my class at school had to learn a song to perform. I was never in the choir – this was a one-off – but I would retreat into the music room at lunchtime to play piano instead of playing football.”

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28. Got To Get You Into My Life

28. Got To Get You Into My Life

28. Got To Get You Into My Life

This came bristling with huge Stax brass courtesy of members of Georgie Fame’s Blue Flames and full of the joys of pop, it marked the climax of the unstoppable reel of magnificent pop songs on side two of ‘Revolver’ and is still one of Macca’s most full-of-life songs.

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26. Norwegian Wood
Chosen By: Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys

Brian: “’Norwegian Wood’ is my favourite. The lyrics are so good and so creative. I can’t forget the sitar too, I’d never heard that before, that unbelievable sound. No one had heard that in rock and roll back then, this amazing, exotic sound. It really inspired the instrumentation I ended up using for Pet Sounds.”

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25. We Can Work It Out
Chosen By: Jon Ouin, Stornoway

Jon: “This is a classic slice of unabashed Paul McCartney optimism, and one of my favourite mid-period Beatles songs. I think it was inspired by a dispute with his girlfriend of the time, Jane Asher, but it’s really the ultimate uncynical riposte to anyone reluctant to try and settle an argument.”

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24. All You Need Is Love
Chosen By: Sean Lennon

Sean: “My list of favourite things changes from day to day. I like when my dad said: ‘There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known/Nothing you can see that isn’t shown/Nowhere you can go that isn’t where you’re meant to be’. It seems to be a good representation of the sort of enlightenment that came out of the ‘60s.”

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22. Yesterday

22. Yesterday

22. Yesterday

Its simple use of language is haunting and poetic and strikes at the secret behind life – that it’s never constant, that the past will always be looked at with rose tinted spectacles, and that the speed at which everything in a person’s world can change is overwhelming. It’s a brutal sentiment, but one that stands the test of time.

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21. Revolution
Chosen By: Pete Shelley, The Buzzcocks

Pete Shelley: “Me and a friend used to get together at school and play along with Beatles records on acoustic guitars. I remember listening to ‘Revolution’ one morning, and it struck me: ‘Yes! this is what I’ve got to do!’. So I rushed off to a phone box, phoned him up and said, ‘Let’s get a band together!’.”

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19. A Hard Day’s Night
Chosen By: Ira Wolf Tuton, Yeasayer

Ira: “The Beatles are the greatest kid’s music ever. From song to song it’s very easy to latch on to melodies and, as a kid, you don’t know what on octopus’s garden is, but it’s cool imagery for a kid in the same way that it’s cool imagery for someone who’s feeding their head with tonnes of drugs.”

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18. For No One

18. For No One

From its offbeat chord sequence to the drear melancholy of its lyrics – delivered from a cold, clinical second-person perspective – to the French horn solo that seems to arrive out of nowhere, ‘For No One’ is gold-standard songwriting, even if its understatement means it’s rarely talked about in the same breath as ‘Hey Jude’ or ‘Yesterday’.

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17. Paperback Writer
Chosen By: James Bagshaw, Temples

James: “I remember seeing The Strokes and wanting to be like that, but the first seeds would have been The Beatles when I was 10. They made me want to play music with a group of people. I wasn’t listening to the weirder stuff back then, it would have been early singles, and ‘Paperback Writer’ was a standout.”

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16. Ticket To Ride

16. Ticket To Ride

16. Ticket To Ride

’Ticket To Ride’ was the first Beatles album track to cross the three-minute mark, if only by ten seconds. In doing so, however, it took the band into new territory, making extensive use of overdubbing techniques and, in John Lennon’s view, becoming “one of the earliest heavy-metal records made.”

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13. Let It Be

13. Let It Be

13. Let It Be

One of Macca’s last great Beatles ballads, and a song that became something of a spiritual anthem thanks to his renaming of his dream vision of his mother Marie as Mother Mary. “I don’t mind,” he said, “I’m quite happy if people want to use it to shore up their faith. I have no problem with that.”

31
 

12. In My Life
Chosen By: Bob Geldof

Bob: “I went to see them in ’64. And what I remember is the smell of piss as girls fainted. There was a green marbled lino on the cinema floor and all we saw was the streaks of dirt that the rivulets of piss made, running down the aisles. I picked ‘In My Life’ because it’s a great song.”

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11. Hey Bulldog
Chosen By: Dave Grohl

Dave: “To me, it’s a quintessential Beatles rocker. Paul’s rolling bass line. The trademark Ringo drum fills. George’s gritty distorted guitar. And that sound that only the back of John Lennon’s throat could produce. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for The Beatles I would not be a musician.”

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10. Hey Jude

10. Hey Jude

10. Hey Jude

“It’s very strange to think that someone has written a song about you,” Julian Lennon wrote of ‘Hey Jude’ in 2002. It must be even stranger still when that someone is not your Beatle father but his best mate and the song in question is an arm-around-the-shoulder to help you deal with your parents’ divorce. The Beatles’ most universal song.

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8. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Chosen By: Justin Young, The Vaccines

Justin: “My favourite Beatles album is ‘The White Album’, it’s maybe not the most focused record ever but certainly very pleasing for good pop songs. On ‘The White Album’ I like ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’… Beatles songs redefined pop music.”

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7. Across the Universe
Chosen By: Mark Stoermer, The Killers

Mark: “‘Images of broken light/Which dance before me like a million eyes/They call me on and across the universe’. I like the whole lyric but that’s the line I like the best. I recently found out that John Lennon believes this song’s lyrics were the most poetic he’d ever written, and I think I might agree.”

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6. Tomorrow Never Knows
Chosen By: Bob Mould

Bob: “’Sgt Pepper’ was cute and clever and had all the backwards guitars and stuff, but this was the culmination of all their years beating it out in the clubs. It’s their speed record, really raw and elemental, not too sophisticated. And the drumming is amazing.”

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5. Blackbird
Chosen By: Rebecca Taylor, Slow Club

Rebecca: “It’s my earliest memory – I still say that’s my favourite song. It reminds me of being a child. My dad had a tape that he made with The Beach Boys on one side and The Beatles on the other. We’d rotate this tape for two weeks every summer. That was the one I always looked forward to; I knew every word.”

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4. Here Comes The Sun
Chosen By: Courtney Barnett

Courtney: “It’s so peaceful. I don’t really know what the lyrics are about but it’s just so gentle. I want it played at my funeral, to make people feel sad.”

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3. I Want To Hold Your Hand
Chosen by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan: “They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid… I knew they were pointing the direction of where music had to go.”

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2. A Day In The Life
Chosen by Brett Anderson

Brett: “It’s an amazing song. When I was a kid, my dad was a huge classical music fan – he travels every year to Liszt’s birthplace and kisses the soil. The only pop album he had was ‘Sgt Pepper’s’, and so when he was in a jolly mood he’d put that on. So I spent my formative years listening to ‘A Day In The Life’.”

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1. Strawberry Fields Forever
Chosen By: Alexis Taylor, Hot Chip

Alexis: “You don’t need me to tell you it’s a masterpiece but what I find interesting is that it doesn’t sound dated. That sound of the melotron is totally distinctive. John’s voice really gets to you as well, it’s just so English and unique and also so weird and perfect.”

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