What’s your favorite Beatles song?
That’s what literary agent and author Blauner (editor: The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages, 2015, etc.) asked some well-known novelists, journalists, music critics, actors, and musicians. Each contributes a pithy essay explaining why. Organized chronologically, a few standards are here—“I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Yesterday,” “Let It Be”—as well as a few surprises. David Hajdu, music critic for the Nation, picks a song that usually ends up on the worst-songs list, “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).” In an interview, however, Paul McCartney said it was “probably my favorite Beatles track.” John Lennon “relished” it, as well, and Hajdu finds it “irresistibly, if vexingly, compelling.” Singer Shawn Colvin writes, “lyrically, I can’t think of another heartbreak song as satisfying to sing as ‘I’ll Be Back.’ ” Rosanne Cash picks “No Reply” from 1965: “a handful of words, expertly woven into a fierce melody.” New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik is a fan of the 1967 double A-sided single “Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane,” a “perfect expression of the Beatles’ art at the high point of their artistry.” Chuck Klosterman “loves” the “sixth-best song [“Helter Skelter”] on their fifth-best album” because it “intermittently resembles the blades of a lawn mower falling out of alignment after hitting a brick.” Throughout the collection, we learn a great deal about how these songs came to be written and what the Beatles thought about them. Lennon dismissed “Let It Be” as “a bad Christmas carol.” The first song a female musician played on was “She’s Leaving Home.” Other Beatles’ fans picking their favorites include David Duchovny, Jane Smiley, Amy Bloom, Pico Iyer, Rebecca Mead, Jon Pareles, Alec Wilkinson, Touré, and the sly Rick Moody, who cheats, picking the “Golden Slumbers”/ “Carry That Weight”/ “The End” medley.
A charming, delightful collection for Beatles fans and music fans in general.