The Beatles were active as a band for just a single decade. Despite that, the four members put out a huge number of songs, as shown by their 13 studio albums from 1963 to 1970. These songs touched upon a wide range of subjects, not least because of John Lennon’s penchant for surrealism. However, The Beatles returned to love again and again, which to be fair, makes sense because love is one of the great constants of the human experience. It is no exaggeration to say that there are Beatles love songs for every occasion.
Top 10 Beatles Love Songs
#10 – Real Love
“Real Love” had the most complicated path to release on this list. It started as a part of Lennon’s unfinished play called The Ballad of John and Yoko. He continued working on the song until his untimely death in 1980, as shown by how he recorded it six times in 1979 and 1980. Later, the surviving Beatles completed “Real Love” for the Beatles Anthology in 1995, thus enabling its release as the last Beatles single in 1996. Regardless, “Real Love” is a powerful statement that love is the answer to the individual’s fear, loneliness, and frustration.
#9 – I Want to Hold Your Hand
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” is the Beatles’ best-selling single with more than 12 million copies sold. It was so successful that it would’ve shot to the top of the U.K. charts on its first day of release if it hadn’t been for the resurgence of the band’s previous single “She Loves You.” As it was, the song took a couple of weeks to replace its predecessor in the number one position before proceeding to hold it for five weeks. It is interesting to note that “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was also The Beatles first number-one hit in the United States, thus making it an incredible success at its intended goal of appealing to the American market.
#8 – When I’m Sixty-Four
Love doesn’t always last. Despite that, people are right to dream about going the distance. “When I’m Sixty-Four” paints a very domestic but very pleasant image of growing into old age with one’s significant other. Amusingly, Paul McCartney wrote this song when he was about 14, meaning it is one of the first songs he ever wrote.
#7 – Don’t Let Me Down
People have documented every one of The Beatles romantic relationships in thorough detail. Out of those, Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono remains the best-known, particularly since it is so entwined with his later musical output. For instance, “Don’t Let Me Down” is a 1969 song in which he exposes his emotional vulnerability to her before effectively begging her not to tread upon his feelings. It is memorable precisely because it is so intense.
#6 – Any Time At All
Supposedly, “Any Time At All” originated as an attempt at writing “It Won’t Be Long” that veered off-course so much that it turned into a separate song. Its message is worth hearing. Love means being there for one’s significant other in times of need. Naturally, that includes offering a sympathetic ear.
#5 – If I Fell
Lennon tends to be remembered as an acerbic individual. Even so, McCartney said he had a very warm side to him that he hesitated to show. That impression is supported by Lennon’s ballads, which are often filled to bursting with softer sentiments. “If I Fell” is a 1964 song that has the distinction of being the man’s first attempt at writing a true ballad, meaning it paved the way for the rest.
#4 – In My Life
Speaking of which, “In My Life” was the first time Lennon penned lyrics about his personal life. Originally, he had intended to include references to locations that he saw while riding a Liverpool bus route. Later, he decided to go with a more generic-sounding set of lines, thus making the song more relatable to a wider range of individuals. The earlier references didn’t quite go to waste. Later, Lennon and McCartney revisited them, thus resulting in a couple of well-known hits. Lennon did most of the writing for “Strawberry Fields Forever,” while McCartney did most of the writing for “Penny Lane.”
#3 – All You Need Is Love
“All You Need Is Love” might be one of The Beatles most criticized songs. Much of that criticism consists of tired cynicism. In particular, people choose to interpret the lyrics in the most literal manner possible before pointing out that we humans need more than just emotions to sustain ourselves. Suffice it to say that kind of literalism wasn’t clever when it was new. Sheer repetition has made it reek. Simultaneously, a sizable segment of the counter-culture took issue with the song’s pacificism. In their opinion, it laid out an unrealistic set of expectations for people seeking to make the world a better place, meaning it did more to reinforce an unjust status quo than anything else. The sheer cyclone of emotion surrounding “All You Need Is Love” speaks volumes about its impact on the cultural landscape of the 1960s and 1970s. That’s not bad for a fundamentally utopian song deliberately simplified for increased international reach.
#2 – Here, There and Everywhere
The Beatles and The Beach Boys became famous at around the same time. Unsurprisingly, that ensured a rivalry between the two bands, which pushed them to greater heights than otherwise possible. For instance, McCartney’s “Here, There and Everywhere” took clear inspiration from “God Only Knows” and the rest of the Beach Boys’ sound. However, it is no mere emulation because it stands as one of the best Beatles songs ever released.
#1 – Something
Most of the Beatles’ songs were written by Lennon and McCartney. “Something” stands out in this regard because it was one of George Harrison’s songs. Specifically, a lot of people think it is the moment when Harrison proved himself to be just as good at composition as his two bandmates, which is no small achievement considering their rightfully legendary status. Generally speaking, people believe George Harrison wrote the song about his first wife, Pattie Boyd. In later years, he claimed that he had other sources of inspiration in mind. One particularly well-known alternative is Krishna, which isn’t even necessarily wrong because Harrison had already written a love song directed at both a god and a woman at the same time before. Whatever the truth of things, there aren’t a lot of songs that can match up to “Here, There and Everywhere.” “Something” is one of that select number.
Top 10 Beatles Love Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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