Despite being the most influential band of the last century, The Beatles had some weak links in their back catalogue. It’s okay — everyone does. I would be very surprised to come across a Beatles fan who doesn’t have at least one song they dislike (if that fan is you, I’m very surprised!) so just for fun, I’ve decided to let you in on a few songs that have failed to impress my Beatle-worshipping ears. As you might imagine, these are songs I’m not in the habit of listening to regularly, so I’ve revisited each of them for the first time in quite a while to see if my opinion has changed. In no particular order…
It’s a strange one; I’ve always been a big fan of the White Album, yet for some reason most of my least favourite Beatles tracks happen to be on this one. I guess double albums often run the risk of containing filler, and the White Album is guilty of that in places. ‘Rocky Raccoon’ is one of the very few songs Paul McCartney has ever written that has managed to make me cringe. To be fair, he has described it as a folk pastiche, which explains the faux-American accent at the beginning. But I’ve still never been able to get past that.
Listen Again Verdict: I still cringed my way through the first verse. I have to admit though, I started getting into the melody and almost forgot how much I disliked the song. Very folky. Nice harmonica too. In fact, it’s probably the beginning of the song that ruined the rest for me in the first place.
Don’t Pass Me By
This has always been one I’ve skipped over (sorry, Ringo — I still love you, honest). It just sounds a little cheesy, for want of a better word. I actually feel guilty for disliking it so much. It was Ringo’s first solo songwriting credit and I should probably cut him some slack for that, but I’m afraid it can’t be helped.
Listen Again Verdict: I would like to have quoted the words of the song and said, “I’m sorry that I doubted you” but unfortunately I was unable to change my mind about ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ after giving it another chance. Everything about it is just… so cheesy. I don’t even like the violin. I’m sorry Ringo, I really am. ‘Octopus’s Garden’ is a much, much better song.
To be honest, I hesitate to call this a song. It’s more of a sound experiment. Even so, I’ve always found it completely unlistenable. The Beatles were one of the most experimental bands there has ever been, but at eight and a half minutes long, this just feels like too much. It’s enough to test the patience of even the most dedicated listener.
Listen Again Verdict: I can’t remember the last time I’d listened to this all the way through, but it still feels like a chore. It also highlights the divisions that were starting to happen within the band. Many of the tracks on the White Album feel like individual efforts, and ‘Revolution 9’ was very much John and Yoko rather than The Beatles. Part of me admires the level of experimentation that went into this track, but to me it feels out of place on the album.
Blue Jay Way
There aren’t many George songs I dislike, but this is one I’ve never been very fond of. Some people like it for its trippiness, but to me it’s all a bit boring and repetitive. George wrote this when he was waiting for his friend, Beatles publicist Derek Taylor, to come over: “Please don’t be long or I may be asleep.” Makes me feel like that, to be honest…
Listen Again Verdict: I still don’t really like it that much, but I think it’s mostly down to the melody. Ringo’s drumming, though, is bloody great. Definitely the most interesting part of the song.
Okay, so it’s not even a Beatles original. But while I enjoy the vast majority of the covers on the early albums, ‘Mr. Moonlight’ is not one of them. It turns out lots of fans aren’t crazy about it. I never particularly liked the organ solo.
Listen Again Verdict: Still not crazy about it, but the best aspect by far is John’s vocal. The opening in particular is superb — wow. One of those vocal performances that gives you shivers up your spine. I like the guitar and bass too. The organ still irritates me though. There are definitely much better covers than this.
So there you have it: my five least favourite Beatles songs. What are yours?