Monday, November 30, 2009

Pop Matters' playlist versus my own.

My first playlist that I did on the blog back in, what, April or something, was a hidden treasures playlist. Listing the Beatles' hidden treasure tracks is a slightly ridiculous exercise, given the culture's massive Beatles overexposure in general. But that's why it interests me so much. Besides, for whatever reason, I have personally witnessed several people come to the Beatles (rather like one would come to Jesus) because they heard a kickass song no one had bothered to play for them before, so they ARE out there. My own playlist, though, was rendered even more ridiculous by the fact that I limited myself to songs I'd already written about, so that I could link to them in a shamelessly self-promoting kind of way. So I'll be the first to admit it's incomplete.

That won't stop me from having strong opinions about other people's lists, though. The other day (as usual I'm like a week late) Pop Matters posted a 20-song countdown of the best of Beatley buried treasures. And I have some remarks to make. Sure, all of these songs are terrifically awesome. But are they all really BURIED?

1. "Tomorrow Never Knows." Maybe. I would argue, though, that with the high profile of Revolver these days, "Tomorrow Never Knows" is getting more than its due. Also consider the song's prominence in what is probably the best known remixed track from Love, as well as the fact that George Martin brings it up in like every single interview he does, and I think this is less buried than one might think.

2. "Rain." Again, maybe just me, but I think the kids are pretty well aware of "Rain." It's another one George Martin likes to talk about, and Ringo brings it up quite a bit too. If my husband is any indicator, high school kids like to teach themselves the bass part. All that said, "Rain" should be listened to as often as possible, so if there's any internet surfer who still didn't know it, I guess it's good they'd find it here.

3. "Hey Bulldog." Okay, this one I'm with you on, Pop Matters. It was on my original list because I'm still shocked and appalled that people sometimes haven't heard or don't remember it.

4. "She's Leaving Home." Yeah, okay. This song has its passionate devotees, but I can maybe buy that it's not out in the mainstream as much. Still, though, considering its iconic status as one of the first albums you were supposed to listen to all the way through, can ANY song from Sgt. Pepper ever be described as truly buried? Discuss.

5. "No Reply." Yes. This song deserves more love than it gets. I think its structural oddities might still put it ahead of its time, maybe even more so than much later songs.

6. "You Never Give Me Your Money." I will give you this one only because I can agree that the glories of this song might get lost in the sweep of the Abbey Road medley, all components of which are inferior to this song.

7. "She Said She Said." No one appreciates this one as much as I do, I swear, so I'll come along with you on this, though also gently nudge you back to the first two songs on the list to point out that, due to this song's similarities, some of those same points apply.

8. "Here, There, and Everywhere." See, I don't know. I think this one is pretty firmly on people's radars. Perhaps it's because of the number of times it's been covered. Or because, despite its sophistication, it's still a McCartney ballad, so you can be sure that if you, say, play it at your wedding (which, YES, I did, SHUT UP) even your grandparents will probably nod knowingly at each other at that opening strum.

9. "Happiness Is a Warm Gun." Probably. Sure. People love the White Album, but they're going to remember several songs off the tops of their heads before this. Plus, it's obviously one of the bigger weirdos in the catalog.

10. "Taxman." But, no. You guys, people freaking love "Taxman." Have you ever turned on a classic rock station on April 15th? The people are very familiar. Buried this one is not.

11. "Tell Me Why." This is a song that's hidden-- hidden because any fun rocking song would be inevitably hidden by all the masterworks on A Hard Day's Night. An underrated song, and an excellent pick.

12. "I'm So Tired." Hmm. Not sure. The heroin-influenced Lennon songs tend to get a lot of attention from biographers and bitter high schoolers, and, you know, not that the average listener has read the biographies, but I still say this one might have a higher profile.

13. "I'm a Loser." Mostly with you, Pop Matters, except that, again, this is one that no Lennon biographer overlooks-- what with the self-loathing and the Dylan influence and whatnot. But since I still think no one actually listens to this song as much as they should, I'll go ahead and nod along with you here.

14. "Old Brown Shoe." Oh my God, I know. Isn't it criminal how much people ignore "Old Brown Shoe"? This made my list, and for good reason.

15. "And Your Bird Can Sing." Again, RIGHT-O. This one made my list, too. I suspect that Beatles Rock Band might have the power to change this, though. Let's hope so.

16. "I'm Only Sleeping." I wavered here, but then I couldn't think of why. So, okay. Yes. Sure.

17. "It's All Too Much." Here I agree 100%. I'm told that it's kind of cool to like this song now, in the same way that it's cool to like "Hey Bulldog," so I'll take that as a good sign.

18. "Girl." Do you think so? Is this one underrated? Hmm. Maybe you're right. I think it might be more of a hidden Rubber Soul track than a hidden Beatles track, if you take the point, but I'll go with you here, though I feel like a lot of people seem to know and adore this song.

19. "You Won't See Me." Ah, yes, another hidden nugget of genius on Rubber Soul. I am totally in agreement that this is less beloved than it deserves.

20. "Yer Blues." I don't know-- if you're the kind of Beatles fan who likes this kind of song, you've probably already found it, and if you haven't found it yet, you don't want to find it. Does that make sense? I think it's notorious (if not actually famous) just for its polarizing qualities. Rather like "Helter Skelter."

This is obviously all just my opinion, but seriously, whither the early songs, Pop Matters? That's where there are really some juicy hidden songs, even if you arbitrarily decide to not count the covers. Whither "Any Time at All," "It Won't Be Long," "I'll Be Back," or "There's a Place"? I mean, it seems like no one even listens to Please Please Me anymore. (And what's with these kids on my lawn, anyhow?....)


  1. See that was my beef with the Pop Matters list, too. They focused on late-period Beatles songs which are the best known these days. When indie bands cover Beatles songs now, they almost always pick the late-period stuff. It's many of the early Beatles songs that would qualify as buried treasures: Songs like Every Little Thing, What You're Doing, and Baby It's You. (OK, I know that last one is a cover, but just the way John sing "baby" is worth the price of admission. I'm fairly certain he was singing directly to me.)

  2. With you as usual. I think we think 'hidden' among Beatle fans, and they're more talking about the casual listener who doesn't own any discs.

  3. Fair comment on the popmatters article. They did aim for a 'democratic' process, but I was surprised at some of the inclusions. I'm glad the two of mine which made the cut - No Reply and Tell Me Why - found you in agreeance. For what it's worth, here's the list of suggestions I sent in:

    Within You Without You
    I've Got A Feeling
    Run For Your Life
    No Reply
    It Won't Be Long
    She Said She Said
    Tell Me Why
    You Can't Do That
    Things We Said Today
    I'm A Loser

    Not to be disloyal, but I don't think the popmatters feature measured up to the work done on this site.

  4. Thanks, John. Your personal list is far superior to the ultimate list, but hey, democracy is flawed. And the whole feature wasn't bad, really. Your piece on Revolution in the Head was excellent.

  5. There's so much here it would take another article like yours to voice my opinion. So, i shall keep it brief, esp since i am again coming to this late and no one will probably read this.

    I agree with Todd, in that as a strong fan of the music it is hard to think of what is "hidden" from the less fortunate. All in all, i would say the list is half right. I think some of the songs that John listed are dead on: Run For Your Life, It Won't Be Long. Strong candidates.

    And finally, I agree that your 11 month long blog is still the best thing out there. I just wish that since you are now posting irregularly, that there was a way to be notified when a new post goes up. I keep coming late!