10 Underrated Songs from Throughout the Beatles Career

With a band like the Beatles, there has already been so much said that it seems almost impossible to say anything new. Their music, legacy and their continued popularity all speak for themselves so even saying anything sometimes isn't necessary.

Still, the Beatles catalog of music is quite large and often some songs slip through the cracks for the casual listener. This is a list of some of my favorite, more underrated Beatles songs from the earliest days of their career to the latest (though they aren't listed cronologically). Some are more well known and appreciated than others, but I like all of them for one reason or another and as a whole, they are just a few more reasons why the Beatles are the best band ever.

10 - "A Taste of Honey" from Please Please Me
Featuring typical early Beatles harmonies as well as poetic lyrics, this cover has always been one of the Beatles songs I come back to repeatedly. It is interesting because its arrangement and feel hints at some of their more complex work to come. With a slightly mystic feel a bit unlike the bouncy pop, standard early rock and roll and ballads that fills the rest of the album it is definitely a unique song. It isn't exactly the deepest song, their best work or even a long song at barely two minutes, but is one of the few songs from the early Beatles that, although still dealing directly with love topics, is not completely pop oriented. It still fits in with the rest of the album, but expands it into new territory.

9 - "I Wanna be Your Man" from With the Beatles

A song written at a time where the all the groups in the early rock scene were getting on together in England, this song was written by Lennon and McCartney, but was actually recorded and released first by the Rolling Stones. I like the Stones version but actually prefer the this version with Ringo on vocals because I think it not only better captures the high energy dance feel of early rock and roll, but sounds more believable and less... well creepy... with Ringo singing instead Mick Jagger. Still, it was a good song with the Stones as well, and really both versions are great examples of simple yet great, rock and roll.

8 - "You Know My Name, Look Up the Number" Single, can be found on Past Masters, Vol. 2

Released as a single years after it was first conceived, this may be the most eclectic song the Beatles ever recorded, ending up even stranger than their most psychedelic and lyrically cryptic songs. Full of strange and silly sounds with an almost lounge feel, the final piece is a bit disturbing, hilarious and yet irresistible in its eclectic feel. I'm especially fond of the opening harmonies with are ragged, raw and with very spontaneous blues feeling. The song then launches into its lounge feel complete with quasi spoken word vocals from McCartney and calypso style percussion. It then descends into a complete mishmash of random sounds and crazy voices before returning to that feel again, sounding straight out of a dive of a night club. I particularly like this song because although there are song deep intellectual songs throughout the Beatles catalog, a big part of their music was also just them joking around. They never really forgot that music and especially rock 'n' roll is supposed to be fun, even towards the end when they were falling apart.

7 - "Its All Too Much for Me to Take" from Yellow Submarine (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

From an album that is often overlooked because it was recorded as the soundtrack to the cartoon version of Yellow Submarine, this song is just one of those that draws you in. With a screeching feedback driven guitar intro, hands clapping to the beat, cryptic and poetic lyrics laced with both a bit of humorous lightheartedness and subtle social comment it definitely fits the feel of the movie although wasn't in it at all. The song was actually written and recorded during the writing of Sgt Pepper, and definitely has that psychedelic feel complete with horns, fanfare and an idealistic "peace, love and happiness" feel. It is an extended song that is consistent with some of the other songs from this album, like "All You Need is Love" in terms of being sing alongs. It is a little over extended, but is all in good catchy fun.

6 - "I Me Mine" from Let It Be
This blues inspired jam that starts off slow and stripped down, erupts into a great blues stomp chorus that really pushes the chorus and transforms the song from a subtle folky number, to a blues riff jam from verse to chorus. I do wish the song was extended, with George Harrison taking a true solo, but the song only hints at it. Still, a great little number that fits well with the increasingly complex songwriting of Harrison and does hint a little at what was to come on his solo records, specifically All Things Must Pass. It is a moody song that is not exactly happy and lighthearted, but the arrangement takes some of the sting out of it and makes it just a little more fun that bleak. Some people would consider this song more of a throwaway on an album like Let it Be. I, however, think it is more just overshadowed by amazing songs like the title track, "Get Back" and "I've Got a Feeling" (and many others) and Harrison's work on both the Beatles final album and his first solo project. Probably not one of the best songs George Harrison wrote during his career, but it's definitely not one of the worst. I really like its bluesy shifting sound and think it holds up both on its own and as part of the album.

5 - "I'm So Tired" from The Beatles (The White Album)
Starting off with a slow bluesy feel that fits perfectly with Lennon's sleepy, smoky vocals before building into a little more of a sledgehammer blues riff with soulful vocals, this song is definitely unique. It has two distinct feels that are a good dichotomy; the soulful hard edged blues of the choruses and the sleepy laid back feel of the verses. Although perhaps not the catchiest song on first listen, it does have some subtle and authentic lyrics that when combined with its build and release character, and of course John Lennon's instantly recognizable vocal style, makes for a nice little blues based song. It remains one of the first Beatles songs I learned to play all the way through, despite some interesting and complex chord changes, and remains one of my favorite songs as well. I just wish it was longer as it has such a great feel that it really could have built into something huge, but i guess the fact that it doesn't is part of its charm.

4 - "I Need You" from Help! [UK]

Although I like all the Beatles albums and songs, if I had to pick a single album by them as my favorite, I might pick Help, if I was actually able to decide. The album as a whole just has a very distinct feel than cannot be really accurately described. It is pop-esque and catchy, but also slightly restrained, melancholy and haunting. I think "I Need You", although probably not one of the best songs off the album when compared to songs like "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" and "Ticket To Ride", represents this feel perfectly. It is a pop song and features a catchy feel, but it isn't as bubbly as the early Beatles work, with a bit more weight and earthiness, demonstrating some of the new directions they were going. It is the haunting backing vocals and the use of a tone pedal guitar to create the fading in and out effects that give the song its unique feel. It is a feel that for some reason carries through the rest of the album right into the more experimental work. This song is one of those that shows where all their later songs started.

3 - "She Said" from Revolver [UK]
One of my absolute favorite Beatles songs of all time, "She Said" supposedly came out of the phrase "I know what is is like to be dead" said by Peter Fonda to John Lennon. I think the combination of that lyric with it's eastern style musical feel that is both modal and droning while still retaining the obvious elements of a rock and roll song is just perfect. One of those songs where everything just works, it comes off as a complete work with a thick sound that is both haunting and catchy. I'm especially fond of the guitar work and the lyrics on this song. Lyrically it has a feel that is starkly honest, simple and real but still enough mysticism to come off a bit more... enlightened. The guitar work is probably as perfect as can be; an echo of the vocal melody played with grit and fuzz.

2 - "I Want You She's So Heavy" from Abbey Road
Another one of my favorite Beatles songs of all time, this combination song really sounds like two ideas meshed into one, namely "I Want You" and "She's So Heavy". Featuring a feel that is somewhere in the same vein as "Come Together", this song has that bluesy feel that is more characteristic of the later Beatles. It features relatively simplistic lyrics although they are sung with soul and power by Lennon, and that makes them seem more meaningful than they ever could be if you just read them. I love the subtle guitar throughout the song as it is bluesy and gritty but extremely subdued and soulful without being anywhere close to over the top. Just the perfect guitar tone for the song, dark and rough without being harsh. Once the song goes into the "She's so Heavy" sections the feel stays dark and mysterious but also builds to an epic shadowy feel. It is a neat transition from the stripped down blues feel to this minor tinged thickness that just fills the sonic landscape with hypnotic guitars and a foreboding baseline. The song builds and builds without adding abrupt or obvious layers of sound... before being abruptly cut off. Great song, but I do wonder how they would have originally ended it.

1 - "Hey Bulldog" from Yellow Submarine (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Although, as I've mentioned, I like all the Beatles songs, some do stand out more than others as personal favorites. "Hey Bulldog" is another one of these. This heavy song features what may be my favorite riff on guitar and piano, ever penned by the Beatles (maybe, it's close). Although lyrically it is purposely cryptic, humorous and a little silly what with the barking and all, they work well and create a great mood. Something of a great balance as the lyrics are not straight forward but are simple enough that they don't weigh the song down or sound pretentious. It is a heavy song (in terms of sound), but not lyrically, which is maybe even a little bit of social comment if you want to think of it that way. Overall, it is just a catchy, heavy tune that well... rocks. Great song.

In Conclusion

With bands that have 10+ albums of material it is hard to go through and pick favorites, especially when there is so much great songwriting and supremely influential music. I actually think I was lucky not to be alive when the Beatles were releasing albums and singles because it meant that I got to grow up with all of these songs equally and not be swayed by what songs were getting more press, radio play, or were the singles and/or B-sides. That might have allowed me to better appreciate some of their more eclectic works.

To someone who is only familiar with a few songs from their catalog, these songs are probably not the best place to start, (I'd start with the hits) but they are a place to start none the less. If you're really interested in the Beatles and have yet to really delve into their music, you have to just start listening to every album as each is quite unique and offers a new side and dimension to the greatest band of all time.

As for this list, these are just some of the more underrated songs that I personally like and are definitely worth checking out. It was actually quite a difficult list to put together as I had a hard time picking out only 10, as I like pretty much every song the band recorded. It is definitely not a definitive list though and I'm sure there are some that I didn't include that could be included just as well.

Each Beatles fan, just like every person, is unique, and so their personal favorites will also be unique. Go find your own favorites and underrated favorites and see how they compare to mine.


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