In a world where new music is released every single day, it’s hard to stay on top of current musical trends, much less know all the oldies. Before their untimely breakup, The Beatles recorded more than 230 original songs (plus another 172 covers), and it’s okay if you don’t know them all. But whether you love them or hate them, you have to admit: John, Paul, George and Ringo released a lot of great music over the course of their 10 years together.
Not every Beatles tune deserves to be on 2000’s collection of No. 1 songs so bluntly entitled 1 and not every track they wrote was a hit. Still, the Fab Four composed some gems that, even though they didn’t make it onto our list of the 50 Best Beatles Songs, still deserves recognition. Here, then, are the 10 best forgotten Beatles songs.
1. “All Together Now”
If you’ve never seen the classic, psychedelic cartoon film Yellow Submarine, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard this song. It’s sort of like The Beatles are singing children’s music and, just to warn you, it will probably get stuck in your head. Paul’s bouncy bass line drives the track, leading up to some enthusiastic call-and-response choruses. By the end, the song completely falls apart, but in the best way possible.
This song is the only one in the entire Beatles catalogue John recorded by himself. With just its simple finger-picking guitar and vocals, the track serves as heart-wrenching tribute to his mother, Julia, and his eventual wife, Yoko Ono. It’s a beautiful, gentle love song with a bittersweet melody that is the perfect cap The White Album.
3. “Blue Jay Way”
Recommended for inclusion by our own Games Editor, Garrett Martin, “Blue Jay Way” is a track from George’s period of heavy Indian inspiration. Harrison was staying in L.A. on Blue Jay Way (yes, that’s a real street) when he wrote this Magical Mystery Tour track, which is literally about his friends getting lost on the way over. “Blue Jay Way” creeps along slowly but surely in classic Harrison minor keys, mesmerizing the listener until all of a sudden, the song is over.
4. “Act Naturally”
In their early days, The Beatles played a lot of covers. This cover of Buck Owen and The Buckaroos’ “Act Naturally,” released on Help! in 1965, was particularly special because Ringo takes the lead. (And if you’re a Beatles devotee, you’ll know that Ringo didn’t get to sing all that much.)
5. “For You Blue”
The penultimate track of Let It Be is a jaunty little ditty led by George. It’s a blues song at heart, but it might just be the happiest blues song you’ve ever heard. Harrison cheers on Lennon (or offers an ode to Chuck Berry), yelping, “Go, Johnny, go!” amidst some background laughter. It’s a shame this was so close to the end for The Beatles.
Well, if the title doesn’t make it clear, this song is about junk. Literal trash. The melody, however, is wistful, waning and hypnotizing. It’s the word ennui come to life. Not in the literal meaning of the word, but in the emotion it entails (but you can read all about ennui songs here). This track begs you to listen. It begs you to think about the words, and it begs you to find meaning in its nonsense.
7. “Honey Pie”
Not to be confused with “Wild Honey Pie,” the sharp, twangy 53 second jam on the first part of The White Album, “Honey Pie” is straight out of the 1920’s. Paul once called this one “another one of [his] fantasy songs,” and anyone listening can surely fantasize about being in McCartney’s position—or rather, in the position of Honey Pie herself.
Did The Beatles write the original emo song without anyone noticing? “The world is treating me bad / Misery” is about as literal as lyrics can get. Off of Please Please Me, “Misery” is classic early-Beatles, full of sing-along harmonies and a bouncy assonance. For such a sad song, it seems pretty upbeat.
Often touted as “the ultimate B-side”, this song is incredibly hard to find. When we polled colleagues and writers what should make this list, this track was by far the most popular suggestion. From 1966, this song was the B-side to “Paperback Writer” that never made an actual studio album. If you close your eyes while listening to this one, you can definitely hear the hazy influence of sticky, sweet Mary Jane during the band’s experimental phase.
From the austere opening of fuzzy guitar picking to the stupefying “ahh’s” in its harmonies,
“Because” is covered with Lennon’s fingerprints. It’s hard to really know what he means when he coos, “Because the sky is blue, it makes me cry,” but it’s easy to sing along to. George once said that this was his favorite song off of Abbey Road, and if he truly liked this one more than his universally beloved “Here Comes the Sun,” you know it has to be worth a listen.