Thursday, May 17, 2007

Beatles Choices: before I change my mind again...

Here goes:

  1. To Know Her is To Love Her (from The Beatles at the Beeb)

  2. If I Fell (from A Hard Day's Night)

  3. I've Just Seen a Face (from Help!)

  4. In My Life (from Rubber Soul)

  5. I Want You (She's So Heavy) from Abbey Road)


My love for this particular version of "To Know Her Is To Love You" is well established. Unlike other available recorded versions by them, here the harmonies are at their absolutely most perfect. The husky drop in Lennon's voice scarcely bettered elsewhere in their recordings. I first heard it on a BBC show which broadcast on the Beeb in the wake of Lennon's death (a pivotal moment in my life) and wore out tape after tape after tape as I kept re-recording it to a new one just to make it last longer than I knew a tape could. Reading about the Beatles, I discovered this particular track was a gold dust track, loved and longed for in an official recording release afer years of circulation on the Bootleg circuit (if I'm not wrong, "Yellow Matter Custard" was the release that best showcased it to an American bootleg audience where it was passed around like the holy cup of early Beatles recordings). No other version of this song by them even touches the beauty of this one. A joy that always tugs at my heart strings every time I hear it.

"If I Fell" is another ballad of note from the Beatles recordings, and interestingly leans this choice much more to their early recordings than I would have anticipated some time ago. It's from one of my less favourite Beatles LPs, but given that we're talking about albums that would easily be selected over many other recordings anyway, its somewhat arbitrary to make distinctions between good and less good. Again, harmonies....

"I've Just Seen a Face" - the sole contribution to this list from anyone other than Lennon. Sheesh: no Harrison ("Something"! "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"!) here at all? And this so very nearly did not make the cut. It was a tough one to decide whether to have an all-Lennon list or not (it battled for its place with "I'm a Loser" especially). But it's one of the most joyous tracks the Beatles did and the "Help!" album has an especially warm place in my heart.

Choosing "In My Life" may not be especially radical, and of all the tracks here, its the one I suspect is most likely to make the Normblog top track list. The wistful melancholia and adoration that weeps through this track never fails to touch me.

My final choice is something of a curve-ball after all those early songs, but "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" got such heavy rotation from the first time I heard it that I had to include it here. Listening to the song on headphones, its stereoscopic hissing oozing from speaker to speaker as the droning guitar wails to its climax with that dark bassline... makes my ribcage howl with delight at the mere thought of it. For me, one of the best moments in late Beatles recordings.

So there you have it: arbitary, inconsistent and wildly open to change in the next ten minutes. Hell, I was very tempted by the recollection of "Rain" from Puzz Fuzz's choices to go for a complete rewrite of the list. But I'm going with instincts and this is today's, hell, this minutes choice and I'm sticking with it!


Paul Fuzz said...

Yes, yes, yes! 'I Want You' was a strong contender for me too. Your description of it here is perfect - it really does 'ooze' and 'hiss'. It is to the Fabs credit that you could come up with hundreds of differnt Top 5s, and justify them all ob totally differnt grounds. Always good to talk Beatles with you, Ms R.

(ps: are the votes taken from my blog, or do I have to post them on Norm's somewhere?'

AnnaWaits said...

If I Fell and In My Life, both great choices. I'm done too!

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Paul, I took the liberty of emailing your link direct to Norm, and if you like Anna I will forward yours by email to him but for future refs Norms email is at the top of his blog page: There's a heading link "Email Me" on his site.

JoeinVegas said...

Good choices, good explination of your reasoning. But as with anything beauty is in the eye of the beholder (no, not disagreeing with any of your picks).
I really like the whole Sgt. Pepper album - the progression between songs - but then, it came out when I was in college and so probably has more of that feeling for me.

Paul Fuzz said...

Hey, Joe. Yeah, I take your point that Peppers really needs to be regarded and listened to as a whole. (Which is why, I guess, it is difficult to choose ONE track from it for this type of exercise.) And I would also take your point about you being the right age to catch it when it was released - few LPs are as zeitgeisty as Peppers, and I mean that very much as a compliment. It must have been a real kick back in '67.

And cheers, Lisa. I will now stop creating secretarial work for you, and leave that sort of thing to my secretary.*

*Editors note: Paul Fuzz does not have a secretary.

AnnaWaits said...

I've emailed it already, but thanks Lisa! xx

Michael said...

Spooky! - I had the exact same experience with your number one choice - taped the programme in '82 when I was too young to afford many records and played the (already rather old and many-times-reused) tape to death. And To Know Her Is To Love Her was the track I played over and over. I'd pick a different five though, of course...