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The Beatles - The Story & the Songs

VO: Eric Cohen

You've heard Hey Jude, All You Need Is Love, Please Please Me, A Hard Day's Night, and the rest of the best Beatles songs. The Beatles are John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and together they wrote they wrote some of the most famous pop songs in history and became one of the most influential bands ever. But how did the Beatles start? How did the Beatles become famous? How did the Beatles break up? Find out how the Beatles changed music.

You can't rank the music without knowing the legend, so we're bringing you "The Story and the Songs"; a WatchMojo.com music show covering the bios and top 10s of the most influential artists of all time. On this episode, we tackle the Beatles history and best songs.

Thank you to SOUNDCENTRAL for allowing us to film in their store. You can find all kinds of great musical goodies by visiting their online shop: http://soundcentralstore.com

Be sure to give your opinion on which artists we should cover next! https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Artist+of+the+Day:+The+Story+and+the+Songs+-+VOTE+FOR+THE+NEXT+FEATURED+ARTIST!

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Transcript

The Story and the Songs – The Beatles


John, Paul, George and Ringo; four lads from Liverpool who went on to form what some would call the most successful, influential, creative and flat-out greatest band of all time. So how did they get there from their humble beginnings playing small clubs in Hamburg, Germany? This is The Story and the Songs; I'm your curator Eric Cohen, and I’m going to take you on the musical journey of… The Beatles.

While you’re watching, it’d sure “Please Please Me” if you tell us what you think in the comments, let us know your fave Beatle factoid and give us your personal Beatles Top 10 – if you dare…

Alright, enough talk; let’s get to know the men beneath the mop tops. Here’s Part 1 – The Bio.

Formation and Early Line-Up


Rock band The Beatles formed in 1960 in Liverpool, England. The group originally consisted of guitarists, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison along with bassist Stu Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best. Much of the group’s early time was spent playing shows in Hamburg, Germany.

Record Deal and Classic Beatles Line-Up


McCartney then took on bass after Sutcliffe’s 1961 departure, and they began recording as a backing band. After meeting their future manager Brian Epstein, The Beatles were signed to EMI’s Parlophone label by producer George Martin in 1962. That same year, Ringo Starr replaced Best during their first recording session, and the classic Beatles line-up was solidified.

Number One Debut


All four members contributed vocals, but Lennon and McCartney’s singing and song-writing partnership stood out. The group released two successful singles before their number one 1963 debut Please Please Me, and followed that with two more hits.

Beatlemania


As they toured the UK in 1963, their popularity generated frenzied fan reactions dubbed “Beatlemania.” That year, the foursome also released the chart-topping LP With The Beatles.

Topical Trivia: Beatles concerts were said to have a distinct aroma… That of urine, to be exact. Yup, not only were those girls so excited they couldn’t even hear the band over their screaming; they literally wet themselves in delight.

The Ed Sullivan Show


Next came their first number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song, and their first 1964 appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” kick-started the British Invasion in America.

"A Hard Day's Night"


Screaming fans continued to pursue the band on their international tour dates in 1964. The group also starred in the successful comedy “A Hard Day’s Night,” and released a popular soundtrack.

More Chart-Topping Releases


That year also saw the UK release of the number one album Beatles for Sale and the U.S. release of the chart-topping record Beatles ’65. The next year, their second film “Help!” and a number one soundtrack that featured the song “Yesterday” came out.

Tensions Begin


The Beatles recorded the folk rock LP Rubber Soul amid growing tensions. That effort showcased the band’s musical and lyrical progression and is often considered one of the greatest albums ever made.

Controversy and Hits


In 1966, controversy arose when Lennon commented on the band’s popularity. Despite this, the band continued to crank out hits. They also topped the charts with the psychedelic rock record Revolver, and this was another triumph.

Community Commentary:

marinlini
When Lennon said that Beatles were more popular than Jesus, he didn't think that they were greater than god or something. I think what he was trying to say was that at that time on the hight of Beatlemania, there were more people screaming after the Beatles, than there were people screaming after Jesus.

Topical Trivia: Don’t worry; the Vatican forgave the Beatles for the “bigger than Jesus” comment… in 2010. That same year, the Vatican also named “Revolver” their number one pop album of all time, for what it’s worth.

"Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band"


After their final tour came the 1967 record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The effort’s successful mix of musical genres and its use of varied instruments and sounds made it one of the most important pop music albums.

Meditation, Tragedy and Another Movie


The Beatles’ song “All You Need is Love” premiered next, and was followed by a meditation retreat in Bangor, Wales. Following the shocking death of Epstein, The Beatles released a successful psychedelic rock soundtrack to their poorly reviewed “Magical Mystery Tour” film.

The Beatles' "White Album"


In 1968, the well-received animated movie “Yellow Submarine” and corresponding soundtrack were followed by The Beatles’ first single on their label Apple Records. After visiting the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India that same year, the group released a self-titled LP commonly known as The White Album. Despite tension-filled recording sessions and Lennon’s romantic fixation with Yoko Ono, the record topped the charts.

Falling Apart


Over the course of their 1969 recording sessions for the album Let It Be, The Beatles began to fall apart. During this time, they made their final live performance on the rooftop of their recording studio.

"Abbey Road"


Unable to resolve their issues, The Beatles put Let It Be on hold and began work on Abbey Road. They released that album later in the year, and it became one of the group’s most commercially successful efforts.

Community Commentary:

The Dark Demon Dude
Nothing on the death rumors of Paul? That was one of the biggest things in Beatles history. Rather it's true or not dosen't matter but the clues and winks & knudges in the songs and covers are one of the greatest things they ever did. For the rest of time people will be looking to thous songs and clues to make sence of it all.

Last Release with "Let it Be"



Though it was recorded before Abbey Road, Let It Be was the band’s final album release. It was finally released in 1970 along with an accompanying documentary. By this point, both Lennon and McCartney had started releasing solo material.

Topical Trivia: Think Disney World is “the happiest place on Earth”? Well, not for Beatles fans: John Lennon signed the paperwork that officially broke up the band at the Polynesian Village Hotel, while he was in Florida for Christmas 1974.

Continued Popularity After Breakup


Despite their subsequent breakup and the deaths of Lennon and Harrison, the band’s popularity did not diminish with time. The members continued releasing solo albums, and many projects were released with and without input from the band. Some of the most successful of these include the “Beatles Anthology” documentary and Cirque du Soleil’s theatrical production “Love.”

Musical Legacy


The Beatles were artistic innovators who quickly achieved massive success. With their colossal pop culture influence, it is without a doubt that their musical legacy will live on.

So, all in all, the Beatles lineup we know and love was only making music together for about ten years, but in that time they released hit album after hit album, hit single after hit single and built a musical legacy that’s tough to beat. We wouldn’t DARE try to rank their top 10 best songs, right? Wrong!

From Rubber Soul and Help, to Sgt. Pepper’s, the White Album and Abbey Road – WatchMojo has done the impossible and ranked our picks for the Top 10 Beatles Songs. Don’t forget to let us know how wrong we are in the comments!

Here we go: Part 2 – The List

These boys from Liverpool are known as the Fab Four. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down the picks for the Top 10 Beatles Songs.

For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs.

#10: “In My Life”
Rubber Soul (1965)

It’s partly thanks to George Martin that this Rubber Soul track has its baroque pop feel. The producer contributed piano to this gentle but memorable number that shows a more personal side to John Lennon. Arguments with Paul McCartney about who contributed what don’t take away from the fact that the Beatles were able to capture a beautiful melody and showcase the band’s evolving sound in just two-and-a-half minutes.

Topical Trivia: George Martin wrote and played the piano solo in the middle of “In My Life”… but he couldn’t play it fast enough, so they recorded it at half speed and sped it up, making it sound kinda like a harpsichord.

#9: “Something”
Abbey Road (1969)

It doesn’t get more romantic than this: with George Harrison at the helm, this gorgeous rock and pop number proved the Quiet Beatle was more than just a talented guitarist. Fans fell so in love with “Something” that it topped the American charts. With Harrison’s sweet vocals complemented by a string arrangement and an instrumental break, the three-minute tune is also one of the Fab Four’s most covered songs.

#8: “Strawberry Fields Forever”
“Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane” Single (1967)

With its psychedelic pop and rock flavors, this single was really able to bring the magic and wonder of Strawberry Fields to life. Inspired by Lennon’s childhood memories, it shared the A-side with McCartney’s “Penny Lane” and stood out for its distinctive musical structure and use of the mellotron and Indian harp. After putting in 45 hours of recording time, the band was rewarded with a top 10 smash and a Beatles classic.

#7: “Help!”
Help! (1965)

As the title song to the 1965 film and its accompanying soundtrack, this folk rocker topped both the U.S. and UK charts. While its fast pace was a fitting musical representation of the band’s swift rise to fame, the single also ingrained itself into our musical consciousness through Harrison’s surf rock-inspired playing, Ringo Starr’s energetic drumming and Lennon-McCartney’s vocal interplay.

#6: “Let It Be”
Let It Be (1970)

Mixing pop, rock and gospel, this ballad was released just before McCartney declared he was leaving the Fab Four. As such, it prominently features Macca on vocals and piano and moved so many with its "words of wisdom" that it hit the top 10 of the UK and U.S. charts. As the title song to the documentary of the same name, "Let It Be" was also awarded with an Oscar and a Grammy.

#5: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
The Beatles or The White Album (1968)

He may not have been credited for it, but it’s well known that Eric Clapton lent his exquisite guitar skills to the solo on this Harrison-penned piece. Featured on The Beatles’ self-titled double album, this bluesy hard rocker is especially striking thanks to its vocal harmonies, use of multiple guitars and the band’s musical chemistry. It’s also an often-cited fan favorite.

Topical Trivia: Yes, the band’s musical chemistry is on full display here, but George Harrison actually wrote “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” about the disharmony plaguing the band at the time.

#4: “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” Single (1963)

If it weren’t for this upbeat composition, Beatlemania may’ve never come into existence. With its rocking chords, pop influences, and vocal harmonies, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” caught on with music lovers so strongly that it topped both the UK and U.S. charts. Thanks to its happy-go-lucky feel and mood, we still can’t help but clap our hands and enjoy the Grammy-nominated tune today.

#3: “Yesterday”
Help! (1965)

Though both Lennon and McCartney are credited as writers, this Beatles’ track was all McCartney. In fact, he conceived of the haunting melody in a dream and then brought the acoustic guitar ballad to life by getting a string quartet to accompany him. Thanks to its baroque pop style and touching lyrics, the simple-but-effective “Yesterday” topped American charts and eventually became recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the most recorded songs ever.

#2: “A Day in the Life”
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

The Beatles couldn’t have crafted a more perfect closer to the groundbreaking and best-selling Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: with its melding of psychedelic rock, progressive rock and baroque pop, its orchestral sections, and musical and lyrical contributions by Lennon and McCartney, “A Day in the Life” was an ambitious and original tour de force. As such, one of Lennon and McCartney’s finest compositions also became one of The Beatles’ most influential tracks.

Topical Trivia: It took 34 hours to record the song “A Day in the Life”; the entire album “Please Please Me” took less than 11.

Honorable Mentions
- “Happiness is a Warm Gun”
The Beatles or The White Album (1968)

- “Drive My Car”
Rubber Soul (1965)

- “Eleanor Rigby”
Revolver (1966)

- “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”
Abbey Road (1969)

- “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

- “A Hard Day’s Night”
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

- “Come Together”
Abbey Road (1969)

#1: “Hey Jude”
“Hey Jude” Single (1968)

Crafted around McCartney’s lead vocals and piano playing, this rock and pop ballad seems simple at first, but gradually becomes more elaborate as instruments like guitar and tambourine are incorporated. “Hey Jude” didn’t only make history for being a 7-minute-plus British chart topper but also for ruling radio stations and topping the American chart for nine weeks despite its length – it’s just that good. And then there’s the unforgettable “Na-na-na na” and its orchestra-led conclusion. Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite Beatles song? With new top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

So how’d we do? Any surprises there? Well, we think our commenters are right: we DO need to make ANOTHER Top 10 Beatles Songs. Anyway, if you’re dying for more content from the Fab Four, check out our list of the Top 10 Legendary Albums That Were Panned At Release to see which Beatles album made the cut, find out where the boys clock in on Top 10 Most Important Moments in Music History and see if they came out on top on our rundown of the Top 10 Greatest Rock Bands.

But we’ll leave you with this burning question: What is your favorite post-Beatles song by a Beatle? Leave us a note in the comments, and see you next time – I'm Eric Cohen, and this has been the Story and the Songs.
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