I came across this YouTube video of John Lennon’s 18 most hated Beatles’ songs. This is my take on his take. What’s yours?
“A Taste of Honey”: yes, piece of crap. C-.
“It’s Only Love”: wrong, love it, even the tremelo’d guitar that made Lennon cringe. In the Spring of 1966, I heard and felt its lyrics every time a certain Kathy appeared on the recess field. A-.
“Yes It Is”: wrong, love it. So what if it’s derivative? So what if he’s plundering himself? It’s a bit teen-age angsty, but so is a lot of great rock ‘n’ roll (see: the Ronettes, “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall in Love?”). In the bridge, Lennon’s vocal goes exhilaratingly, cathartically over the edge. The only singer who does crazed romantic agony as well is Little Anthony. A-.
“Run for Your Life”: yeah, nothing great happening here (and talk about derivative). B-.
“When I’m 64”: OK, it’s “granny music,” but I love me granny (despite her appreciation for Lawrence Welk). What, we used to wonder, high on consciousness-expanding substances, was Paul attempting to illuminate for his audience of little heads? But no, it was, simply, granny music. B.
“Lovely Rita”: Wrong. It’s not the words, it’s the music, the bouncy dreamy fun of it. B+.
“Good Morning, Good Morning”: Right, piece of crap (and a good indication of how flawed Sgt Pepper is. If you accept Lennon’s assessment of these three songs—the center of Side 2—you lift the needle after the first track (“Within You and Without You”) and drop it on the last (“A Day in the Life”), and that cuts the heart out of one half of a wildly over-praised album. Side 1, of course, is not similarly afflicted, with the exception of another piece of crap, “Mr Kite.” C-. (“Mr. Kite” = D).
“Hello, Goodbye”: Rubbish. Ashamed I bought the single. C-.
“Lady Madonna”: agreed. A struggle for significance, but of what? An exercise that should have been saved for the archives. But easy to understand why Paul tried, given the majesty and resonance of “Eleanor Rigby.” C. (“Eleanor Rigby” = A+).
“Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da”: Well…a silly attempt at ska. Fun. And with four sides, there was room for it. B.
“Martha, My Dear”: Wrong. Lovely. Enduring. A.
“Rocky Racoon”: Right, garbage. C.
“Birthday”: ditto. C.
“Cry Baby Cry”: Hmm. I like this one. No idea what it’s about. Love the vocal, love the chorus. B+.
“Sun King”: Wrong—the harmonies alone make it. The pidgin Italian, or whatever it is, wonderful. A-.
“Mean Mr. Mustard”: yeah, not much here. But a good example of how something can be salvaged by what surrounds it. As part of the great medley, a not unpleasant cog. B-.
“Dig a Pony”: Rubbish. Filler was better in the days before AOR. C.
“Let It Be”: wrong. What Paul’s singing about is his mother, and loss. I remember thinking, though, how far it falls short of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the other white pop single that season that essayed gospel. I think the song would work better a bit less Beatled up (like that guitar solo—yecch). B+.
The tally: 10 Paul songs, 8 of his own. I guess that’s fair.
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