It’s almost sacreligious to say, but I’ve never been an especially ardent fan. While I admit that they are by far the most influential and enduring of all rock bands, my personal tastes have leaned more towards the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and even the Eagles.
Yet even if I wasn’t one of the screaming, fainting fans at LaGuardia when they landed here in February of 1964 — OK, I was barely two years old — some of their songs have moved me. Here are my five favorites:
5. Norwegian Wood. A haunting, inventive tune that catalyzed the transition from the pop vibe of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to the art rock that characterized their later career.
4. Yesterday. One of the reasons I like Paul more than John.
3. Let It Be. In its lyric, its tempo, and its tune, this one belongs in a hymnal.
2. Golden Slumbers Medley. It’s almost not fair to regard this epic collection that closes out Abbey Road as one song . . . but I’m going to anyway. As the saying goes, “it’s all good.” And all of it is.
1. Hey Jude. The first of rock’s true anthems, a song that by virtue of its length, lyrics, and variety paved the way for Stairway To Heaven, Layla, and Hotel California. I love the (possibly apocryphal?) story of Paul McCartney ruining a Mick Jagger party by playing an early demo of this song . . . and everyone in the room knew it would be more popular than anything the Stones were preparing to release.