ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Top Ten Beatles Songs

Updated on May 3, 2014

Here is my list of top ten Beatles songs. The difference between my list and the lists of others is that I have criteria. I have used this criteria for other top song lists, and it works to explain my thought process as a song-writer and former front man for a local band whose posters were more famous than the band itself. I’ve studied composition and written about 200 songs, mostly crappy ones that I’ve thrown away. However, that experience of failure gives me a unique perspective when analyzing songs.


A. Melody and Chorus.

Melody is the most subjective category. However, a catchy tune has some common threads and works because of intervals and surprises. One thing the Beatles were masters of in their earlier years was writing choruses that were at once surprising but expected; their musical choices made sense within the context of their songs. The chorus never seemed to be a happy accident. Few bands can say that.

B. Song Structure

Does the song have a pick up note in the beginning to jump start it? Does the song break away from the typical verse, verse, chorus, verse chorus, end. I give bonus points for songs that have a bridge, the third part that leads us away from the chorus and then returns us back to the chorus. I also give points for key changes and rhythm changes within a song.

C. Lyrics

Are the lyrics original and interesting? Do they surprise? Are the lyrics poetic? Good lyrics can make a good song great (“Short Skirt Long Jacket” by Cake) or make a good song into a no so great one (“Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys).

D. Instrumentation

Are the instruments used in a clever, unique manner? Is the musicianship on the instruments top notch? Are there unique or unusual instruments in the song? Do they incorporate unusual styles into their songs. The Beatles did this well with their use of Mellotrons, sitars and various horns and strings.

Top Ten Beatles Songs

10. I want you (She’s so Heavy)

If rock and roll never goes extreme, it’s not rock and roll. “I Want You” is a different kind of love song. Throughout the song, George Harrison gets soulful on his guitar in way Clapton only dreamed of. With George, it was in the bones. What is also great about the song is that the sweet “Here Comes the Sun” starts the second side of the LP or starts right after the glorious noise of “I Want You” on CDs. They get bonus points for stretching the envelope with the noisy section at the end.

9. Eleanor Rigby

The song talks about loneliness, isolation and pain: all the elements of a great song! It starts with the chorus like many Beatles songs. And it works to glorious effect. The strings dominate the song and gives it a slightly baroque feel. It’s classical pop/rock before Yes or ELP even formed. I feel slightly bad for Ringo though, who was out of a job during this song.

This song is the hardest to rank. It could be 9, it could also go at number 2. I put it here for its foundation can be seen in earlier songs, thus, it’s not as groundbreaking as some of the other songs on the list.

8. Only a Northern Song

“I Want You” rocks; this track is the most psychedelic of their catalogue. Moreover, the instrumentation is incredible. "Only a Northern Song" is an unusual choice for a top ten list, but what made the Beatles great was not just their song writing acumen, it was their ability to break though rock and roll convention and succeed. “Only a Northern Song” does just that.

This is yet another Beatles song with self-reflective under-pinnings, “If you’re listening to this song, you may think the chords are going wrong--but they’re not, we just wrote it like that…” It features a church organ and garage band drums with psychedelic horns. The song was written by Harrison during his frustration as a Beatle.

In Harrison’s words, “Only A Northern Song was a joke relating to Liverpool, the Holy City in the North of England. In addition, the song was copyrighted Northern Songs Ltd, which I don't own, so: 'It doesn't really matter what chords I play... as it's only a Northern Song'.” Good thing he stayed a Beatle; they wouldn’t have recorded one their best, “Something”, without Harrison.

7. For No One

Talk about your painful break ups. The hook on this track almost makes you forget that the man featured in the song was left by his lover who doesn’t care about him one lick.

You want her, you need her
And yet you don't believe her when she says her love is dead
You think she needs you…

You stay home, she goes out
She says that long ago she knew someone but now he's gone
She doesn't need him

The baroque clavichord, french horn, and other instrumentation works wonderfully here. The song starts with one clavichord chord and then the verse. In classic McCartney style, the verse beautifully sets you up for the chorus, and the chorus brings it back down to the verse. Whether this song was McCartney expressing his feelings, or him manipulating the feelings of his audience (as he was a master of), the song can cut if you relate to the tale of lost love.

6. Strawberry Fields

The songs gets high marks for the keyboards, the pick up note into the chorus, then the verse, and the philosophical lyrics. And Ringo’s drums stand out beautifully. I originally put this song at number 2. The reason for the move is not that I like this song less, but I gave 1-5 a longer listen and decided on the move based on their quality. As for lyrics, this is one of their best. And the backward sounding instrument track is innovative. Did they influence Pink Floyd or vice versa, or was it just time for backwards instrument track sounds?

This song is one of the most popular on top ten Beatles lists for its undisputed quality of recording and musicianship.

5. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)

The song features sitar, irony, drugs, prostitution (or extra marital affairs), a lovely tune, lines like “I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me…” What’s not to love?

Here’s what makes me think it might involve prostitution, though Beatleheads claim its about an affair, “She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh; I told her I didn’t and crawled off to sleep in the bath…” Well, prostitutes work in the morning, and news that he picked up a pro. might lead a guy to sleep it off in the other room. Whatever the case, this song could reasonably be number one on any Beatles list.

4. Something

It has great guitar parts, great transitions between verse and a kind of half chorus, and one of the best bridges ever. This song has something all right; it has been covered by over 150 artists.

Some people call this song sentimental and like a “shampoo commercial” and don’t like it. I’ll stick with Lennon and McCartney’s feelings on this, thanks.

“John Lennon and Paul McCartney both rated the song highly. Lennon said, "I think that's about the best track on the album, actually," while McCartney said "For me I think it's the best he's written."”

3. A Day in a Life

With lines like “now we know how many wholes it takes to fill the Albert Hall” and the transition “into a dream”, this song is a wonderful journey and way to end the Sgt Peppers album. The song starts beautifully with the acoustic guitar and piano, then describes a deadly car crash. Few bands could get away with this clash of lyric and music. The song has been covered by The Fall, Neil Young, Jose Feliciano, and many more. It could easily be number 1 on a list without any whinging from me.

Let me add that the ringing phone in the song pre-dates Pink Floyd’s song “Time.” Take that Mr. Waters!

I’ll let Lennon’s word state my admiration for the piece,

“Just as it sounds: I was reading the paper one day and noticed two stories. One was about the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story about four thousand potholes in the streets of Blackburn, Lancashire, that needed to be filled. Paul's contribution was the beautiful little lick in the song, 'I'd love to turn you on,' that he'd had floating around in his head and couldn't use. I thought it was a damn good piece of work.

John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

2. Taxman

I have two words for you. Are you listening? Are you listening to me? Are you?

Harrison’s guitar.

His guitar throughout the song would make even Hendrix turn his head. Okay, perhaps not Hendrix, but most guitarists. It’s also why I rank Harrison as one of the best rock guitarists. And remember, this was in 1966 before all the overdubs and effects of current music.

Yes, this is a Harrison heavy list, even if I thought his solo career weaker than that of the other three Beatles. My one critique is they should have had more cowbell. Listen to it in the chorus.

The Beatles in 1966 were very successful. So successful that they were paying the top tax bracket in England, 95%. “There’s one for you, nineteen for me.” Those lads were good at their math too. I’m for a progressive tax, but 95%? That’s enough to get you to write a song, play more guitar and turn it up to 11!!

1. I am the Walrus

It has the best bridge of all the Beatles songs: “Sitting in an English garden, waiting for the sun…” The words are enlightened gibberish. “I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob”?

Lennon wanted this song to be the single after “All you Need is Love”, but their producer George Martin and Paul McCartney thought “Hello Goodbye” was a more commercial song.

While Martin and McCartney may have been right at the time, who today thinks “Hello Goodbye” is a better song than "I am the Walrus"?

Their argument about what single to promote highlighted the difference between the two master songwriters. While Paul wrote great songs, he would lean to choices for the more commercial. Lennon didn’t seem to care about writing hit songs as much as doing something different.

The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend, the second line on another acid trip the next weekend, and it was filled in after I met Yoko.”

John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

All you Yoko haters need to rethink your dislike of her. If she influenced the writing of lyrics like “ you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allen Poe” and “see how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly…”, then Yoko must be forgiven! And to Roger Waters: John beat you with the flying pigs by at least seven years.

The violins and other instruments fit in seamlessly into this masterpiece. In the opening of the song, the descending minor key on the electric piano turns slightly dissonant as the violins take over. It makes the song a wonder right from the start. Then you hear the lyrics, "I am he as you are me…", and you think, “WHAAAT?” Acid trip John does it again. Who else would have the balls and influence to sing, “Yellow matta custard dripping from a dead dogs eye” and make a hit song out of it?

Honorable Mention: All of the Beatles songs are quality with a few exceptions that includes “The Word”, “Run for your Life” and Dr. Robert.”

Tex Shelters


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Boomer Music Man profile image

      Boomer Music Man 

      2 years ago

      The Beatles are my y favorite group. I like the way you ranked the songs and the descriptions of how these was done. Bravo and congratulations for a well organized blog.

    • texshelters profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Mesa, Arizona



    • Josie Wall profile image

      Josie Wall 

      4 years ago from England, Arkansas

      Very well!! You have collected my top favorite songs list. I always love Beatles & never forgot this group.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      I think you have put together a great top ten Beatles songs list. For me instead of Taxman i would have put the song In My Life, but that's just me.

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas


      Some odd choices in here to my tastes, but then again I'd have to stop and put some real thought into it all to figure out what ten I like the best.

    • texshelters profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Mesa, Arizona



    • peachpurple profile image


      6 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      I love all beatles songs. They are awesome and their vocal cords are simply enchanting. Wish they could sing again... Paul Mc Cartney voice has gone off during the London Olympics... Voted up

    • profile image

      Chica Libre 

      6 years ago

      Thanks Tex, I really really enjoyed your list - I love the Beatles!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)