It’s been awhile, but another outbreak of Compulsive List Disorder has overcome us. Now, we love The Beatles – so much so we named half our blog after them – but let’s be honest. Not every song they recorded was a hit. Not to be confused with the Worst Beatles Songs of All Time!!!1!, however, this list is the Fab Four’s more lackluster tunes. Not technically bad per se, these songs are dull, uninspired, forgettable, weak, subpar, or otherwise passable. If they were being graded, they’d earn C minuses or D pluses. That is to say, not the worst songs, yet certainly far from the best, and on that note we are proud to present: The Most Mediocre Beatles Songs Evah!1!
1. She’s Leaving Home– Otherwise known as “S/he’s Skipping This Song.” This song is the “bored standard” of Beatles mediocrity. On an album known for ground breaking music and studio achievement The Beatles decided, boldly, mind you, to turn the clock back a whopping eleven months to try to recapture the magic of “Eleanor Rigby.” Paul McCartney’s penchant for documenting the mundane events of ordinary people (see: “Eleanor Rigby,” “Another Day,” and “Ob La Di, Ob La Da”) is in full display in this musical equivalent of a particularly bad soap opera. But where “Eleanor Rigby” earns points for originality as the first of these types of songs and for the brilliant marriage of a tense, staccato string arrangement (courtesy of George Martin) with the drama in the lyrics, “She’s Leaving Home” falls short due to bland lyrics and a sleep inducing score (which Paul did not allow Martin to arrange, much to George’s disappointment). The end result is a song that has nothing profound to offer about loneliness as “Eleanor Rigby” does, save for advancing the overused “drop out, your parents are all squares” mantra of the times. While we can see that it does have a place on Sgt. Pepper as the album has a sort of “variety show” feel to it, the only saving grace for it being there is that “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite” follows immediately to wake the listener up.
2. Long Long Long– I know it seems that way, but it only lasts 3:04. Of course any song would sound longer than it is when the listener is forced to strain their ears to hear anything for the duration. This song is a good example of a lovely melody drowned out by reverb and a bad mix. Being one of the last songs to be recorded for The Beatles it could have been hurried in an effort to complete the album. Or it could have been exactly as George Harrison envisioned it. We’ll grant him that privilege but respectfully request permission to skip over it.
3. Martha My Dear– “Music Hall Paul” strikes again. And this time, he’s brought his dog. We must reiterate that this list differs from the “Worst Beatles Songs of All Time!!!1!” list in that we do not necessarily dislike all of these songs (criticisms and all). Some are bland, some are misplaced, and some, like “Martha My Dear” are sweet, but unfulfilling (much like a diet yogurt). If one were to ask 20 people familiar with The Beatles to name one thing about this song, at least 19 of them would say that they heard that Paul named the title character after his sheepdog, Martha (he did). That doesn’t say a lot about the song’s quality.
4. Good Night– Given our review in #2, might it have been better for The Beatles to have placed this song prior to “Long Long Long” on “The White Album?” As boring as the song is, it does have a cuteness to it. It was designed to be schmaltzy as a counterpoint to “Revolution 9” which preceded it on the album. And who doesn’t love the idea of Ringo crooning a lullaby? But we find that one listen every 10 years or so satisfies any craving for whatever it is that this song offers.
5. She Said, She Said– One of the mysteries about the greatness that is the Revolver album is that John Lennon’s contributions were surprisingly mediocre. We’ve covered “Doctor Robert” in the “Worst Beatles Songs of All Time!!!1!” list. But other than that his contributions were “Tomorrow Never Knows” (brilliant), “I’m Only Sleeping” (pretty good), “And Your Bird Can Sing” (okay, people seem to like the guitars and the harmonies, but John himself hated it), and “She Said She Said” (mediocre). “She Said She Said” seems to be an early attempt at the wordplay that he would perfect in “Strawberry Fields Forever” (phrases such as “I said even though you know what you know, i know that I’m ready to leave” sound like a precursor to “Always no, sometimes think it’s me. But you know I know and it’s a dream”). If it took the world having to endure a mediocre song like “She Said She Said” in order to create “Strawberry Fields Forever,” then I suppose it was well worth it.
6. Only A Northern Song– This song, by its very name, loudly proclaims its own mediocrity. It’s what the song’s about, for crying out loud.
It doesn’t really matter what chords I play
What words I say or time of day it is
As it’s only a Northern song.
7. Wait– When a song that was not considered good enough to be included on a previous album is taken off the shelf on the last day of recording to complete a band’s obligations on a later album, you can bet that the song in question has mediocrity double tracked, and placed very high in the mix. It is clear when listening to Rubber Soul that The Beatles had already moved past songs like “Wait.” In fact, with lyrics such as “I’ve been away now, oh how, I’ve been alone” one might think that they had already moved past a song like “Wait” when they recorded it for the “Help!” album. But deadlines being what they are the song still found its way onto one of the more important albums in Beatles history.
8. Flying– Formerly titled “Aerial Tour Instrumental” this track was written to supply a soundtrack to what The Beatles hoped would be a sequence in which the Magical Mystery Tour bus would fly through the air (they would eventually settle for some tinted footage of clouds). It’s a cute little song, but probably not one that would feature in anyone’s Top 20 Beatles Songs list.
9. Tell Me What You See– In a lot of ways the Help! album was the bridge between the earlier, fluffy pop songs The Beatles could churn out seemingly at will, and the more advanced songwriting of Rubber Soul. The album contains elements of both, and “Tell Me What You See” is most definitely the former. It sounds as though it would have been more at home on Beatles For Sale.
Tie: 10-11 I Need You – You Like Me Too Much – It is difficult for us to chide George Harrison about his earlier songs. After all, these were some of the first songs he ever wrote and he most certainly did not have a writing partner like Lennon or McCartney to refine his ideas. These songs, while not unlistenable, were the necessary mediocre groundwork that needed to be laid in order for George to be able to advance to “Taxman” and “Think For Yourself” in the next year.
12. Sun King– This song is successful in that it achieves a very relaxed mood which was intended (bird and insect sound effects will tend to do that). But other than that the song is just a stop over point between “You Never Give Me Your Money” and “Mean Mr. Mustard.”
13. Ask Me Why– Do you want to know why we can safely deem this song “forgettable?” When preparing this list and this song was proposed, Drae immediately began singing “Tell Me Why” off of the Hard Day’s Night album. I think that qualifies, don’t you?
14. Little Child– Even Paul McCartney considered this song “album filler.” When a song is too bubblegum and mediocre for Paul McCartney, you know it has to be pretty weak.
15. Thank You Girl– The Beatles recorded this song in the same 1963 recording session as “From Me To You.” The songs are pretty similar in subject matter, though the presentation couldn’t be more different. “From Me To You” is a classic; catchy and containing all elements of the early Beatles sound. “Thank You Girl” just sounds like a groveling 14 year old’s love letter.
You’ve been good to me,
You made me glad
When I was blue,
And eternally I’ll always be
In love with you,
And all I gotta do
Is thank you girl, thank you girl.