10 Hardest-Hitting Beatles Songs
via Elena the Beatles photos/YouTube
The Beatles continued to stay relevant even if the music trends changes. Their songs are timeless, whether it has their Indian influences or the era where they created psychedelic and experimental tunes in the mainstream. The Fab Four certainly has some heavy music when it comes to conventions, distorted guitars and loud drums. We listed down 10 hardest-hitting Beatles songs below.
Who would think that a birthday song could be one of the Beatles’ heaviest hits? Paul McCartney and John Lennon were credited with the lyrics of the song. They did what Roy Orbison had done with “Pretty Woman,” and mixed it with Little Richard’s classic “Lucille.” Instead of using traditional background singers on this track, the band used Pattie Harrison and Yoko Ono’s vocals for the “birthday” line in the chorus.
9. “I’m Down”
Another Little Richard influenced which also written by Lennon and McCartney. Lennon played the Hammond organ on this track and was his first time to play any kind of keyboard on a record. The Beatles performed this song on their third live Ed Sullivan Show appearance on September 12, 1965. McCartney said in Barry Miles’ book Many Years From Now:
“I could do Little Richard’s voice, which is a wild, hoarse, screaming thing; it’s like an out-of-body experience. You have to leave your current sensibilities and go about a foot above your head to sing it. You have to actually go outside yourself. It’s a funny little trick and when you find it, it’s very interesting.”
8. “Ticket to Ride”
The impressive guitar solo on this song was played by bass player McCartney. Lennon said about the song in a 1980 Playboy interview: “That was one of the earliest heavy-metal records made.”
7. “Paperback Writer”
This was the first #1 hit for the Beatles that was not about love and the song that led the transition from their early style to their later style. McCartney’s bass was boosted on this track by using a loudspeaker as its microphone was positioned in front of the bass speaker. While, Ringo’s bass drum was emphasized as a microphone was placed an inch away to make it boom.
6. “Tomorrow Never Knows”
Lennon wrote this and described it as “my first psychedelic song.” McCartney created 16 tape loops of guitar sounds and odd vocals that he brought into the studio to create some of the effects before they recorded the song. Each Beatle created strange sounds which were mixed in throughout the recording, often backward and in different speeds. Lennon used only one chord in this whole song, which creates a hypnotic feeling while, Harrison played a droning Indian instrument called a tambura.
5. “Hey Bulldog”
The Fab Four recorded this song while they were filming the promotional video for “Lady Madonna.” Lennon and McCartney are yelling and barking towards the end. Lennon called this “a good sounding record that means nothing.” But musically, it is surely interesting and one of their hardest tracks.
4. “Yer Blues”
This song was recorded live to tape in a small room next to Abbey Road’s Studio 2 and showed the Beatles raw musicality. Lennon was shouting the third verse into a dead microphone. In a Rolling Stone interview, Ringo said this song was one of his all-time favorite sessions: “We were just in an 8 foot room, with no separation, just doing what we do best: playing.”
3. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”
Lennon wrote this song about Ono at the time he was experimenting with a heavy blues sound, so the song has few lyrics and long stretches of repeated chords. Harrison played a Moog synthesizer on this track. It is one of the first uses of the instrument, which was custom-made for Harrison and the guitars were overdubbed many times to get a layered sound.
This was their first overtly political song and was Lennon’s response to the Vietnam War. There are two very different versions of this song: a slow version that appears on The White Album, and a fast, loud version that was released as a single. It is definitely one of their hardest tracks because of its hyper-distorted, dueling guitars and Lennon’s unhinged screams.
1. “Helter Skelter”
McCartney wanted to write the “loudest, nastiest, sweatiest rock number we could” after reading a Pete Townshend interview describing a Who track. He said: “I thought, Right, they’ve done what they think was the loudest and dirtiest; we’ll do what we think. I went into the studio and told the guys, ‘Look, I’ve got this song but Pete said this and I want to do it even dirtier.'” And they surely did.
This was the song connected to Charles Manson. He saw the Beatles as the four angels mentioned in the New Testament book of Revelation that were telling him and his followers to prepare themselves for a war. He send out his followers to invade two homes and murder the residents. The phrase “Healter Skelter” (a misspelling of the Beatles song) was scrawled at the second home.
The Los Angeles assistant District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who led the prosecution of Manson and the other killers, named his best-selling book about the murders Helter Skelter. Bugliosi’s book was also the basis for a film of the same title.