Hello, Goodbye

I’m heading back to Ohio; several hours of travel followed by, you know, some real life and all. May or may not update again today.

To keep you amused, a question: What’s your favorite Beatles song? Pick only one. Explain your choice.

Mine: “Something.” Because the bliss of love is undercut with just a hint of concern for the future, a reminder that even a perfect thing needs tending. Also, because George Harrison is underrated as a songwriter.

Your turn.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

131 replies on “Hello, Goodbye”

Arggh talk about a Sophie’s choice…

If you held a gun to my head, I’d have to say it’s “Blackbird”. It’s a very moving song for me, my go-to song for when I want to pick myself up on a bad day.

I have to go with either “Paperback Writer” (which, in less than three minutes, manages to invoke virtually every myth about the publishing industry held by wannabe writers… then or now) or “With a Little Help From My Friends” (associationally if nothing else, thanks to The Lathe of Heaven).

Count me as another “Something” lover.

I think it has to do with his recognition that love is more than superficial attraction – it’s mysterious.

And it’s because the woman he’s writing about seems to have a lot of power. I like men who like powerful women. Men who are strong enough to admit that they love powerful women are priceless.

I’ll have to go with “You Never Give Me Your Money.” The song just resonated with me from the first time I heard it, shortly after Abbey Road was released in 1969, and I was about 12, and chronically short on funds.

I would have to choose “Fixing a Hole,” mostly because it seems to be about recognizing the flaws and problems in one’s life and being happy anyway. I’m not sure if there is a secret to life, but if there is I’d bet that was part of it.

Plus it’s a bouncy little tune for something with such bittersweet lyrics.

Only one… That’s tough. Probably it would have to be “A day in the life” mainly because I love Sgt Pepper. Not sure why, but it’s one of those songs that I loved from the first moment of hearing.

Patty Boyd.


Oh – the favorite song part… if I gotta pick just one, let’s make it Helter Skelter.

I’m just glad I don’t REALLY have to pick just one – that would suck.

I always love ‘Revolution’. The riff at the start is wonderful & the line about Chairman Mao always makes me smile.

My four year old son currently loves “Oh-Bla-di, Oh-Bla-da”.

I’m not a big Beatles fan, but I always liked Back in the USSR. My 7th grade music teacher introduced our class to that song. We all got a big kick out of it, and it still makes me smile to this day.

My computer’s opening sound is a few bars of “Here comes the sun” and has been since computers had sound.

But that’s not my favorite. What may be my favorite is the ineffably tender “Things We Said Today” or possibly “I Will.”

I am, after all, a Paul Girl.

I’m with Tetris and Patrick: Eleanor Rigby – all the loney people, Father Mackenzie, darning his socks. It really resonates.

Plus, Beth Thornley recorded an excellent cover of the song. This was not intended as a plug for Beth Thornley, though I do recommend her music. (And I first heard about Beth Thornley from the long gone, much missed, so really, this is as much a plug for our host as it is for anyone else.)

Lady Madonna – simply because the boogie-woogie piano part is so infectiously upbeat. It’s just one of those songs that makes me smile when I hear it.

Music’s great that way.

“Revolution.” Which I seem to remember was my dad’s least favorite Beatles song; nonetheless, knowing how much I loved it, he would crank the volume every time it came on.

I have to hide under my desk now and really miss my father. DAMMIT…

(Most hated Beatles song: Rocky Raccoon. Yes, even more than Revolution Number 9. SHUT UP.)

Just one . . . damn . . .

I’d have to go with Eleanor Rigby. There’s something about the way they used an orchestra that really appeals to me. I also happen to enjoy The Moody Blues and ELO.

Oh . . . and there’s a killer version of “Smoke on the water” with (I’m guessing) the London Philharmonic Orchestra that is way cool.

Go Here to see it.

No hesitation: “Penny Lane.” It just makes me happy. The piccolo trumpet solo is one of my favorite all time top ten sniplets of music — rock, classical, folk or TV theme. I remember listening to it in the car when it came out. I was in kindergarten or first grade and I used to ride around in our station wagon, lying in the back with my head up against a speaker (seat-belt-what-now?), transported to this goofy English place in my head made up of bits from Mary Poppins, The Avengers and the Beatles cartoon show.

I would go with “Happiness is a Warm Gun” off the White Album. I was a freshman in college I the late 70’s when I first heard this in a friend’s dorm room. Up to that point the Beatles to me had been “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. This song and the entire White Album open my eyes to how good the Beatles were.

Piggies. Because I like social commentary.

And well…a song about pigs wallowing in mud reminds me of something Newt Gingrich once said, and a column Mr. Scalzi once wrote, so it seemed an appropriate choice for this thread.

It varies by mood, but currently it’s “Hey Bulldog” — hardcore rock’n’roll, screams and laughter, and sounds like the fab four having a better time on record than they were having in real life, being in mid meltdown. Plus a killer piano riff, a rarity for them.

Gun to my head: “Eleanor Rigby”. Great, great song.

Ten years ago, I would have said “Blackbird” or “I Will” (soft spot for the White Album). Those songs still resonate, but there’s something about Eleanor Rigby that just gets me at this stage of my life.

Gotta echo the love for “Here Comes the Sun.” It’s bright, it’s sunny, and I love it.


It absotively, posilutely *has* to be Richie Havens’ cover from, I believe, Woodstock. It’s the first version I ever heard, and it’s the version that has stuck with me all this time.

And it’s the only Richie Havens song I’ve ever heard.

Eleanor Rigby. I love the melody and it also reminds me of how many people appear to be unhappy to us, but really, was Eleanor lonely, truly, or did she come to be content with her life? Was Father MacKenzie really unhappy?

Also, I love wailing along to it.

I also love a lot of the Beatle Songs (and no better way to learn to play a guitar!), but if I had to pick one:

‘P.S. I Love You’
It was the song the was playing in my head as I left my first real love behind when I was transferred to another city for work.

It still makes me think of her when I hear it.

Another vote for Eleanor Rigby. Nothing else I have ever heard or read so elequently conveys the lonliness and isolation that some people live.

So many to choose from, but for the nonce I’m going to go with The End. Ringo’s awesome drum solo, followed by a freakout jam, followed by the corniest-but-truest lyric ever laid down, and then that’s it: The Beatles are over. (Minus, of course, the palate cleansing coda of Her Majesty.)

On the whole I don’t miss the LP format all that much, but I do feel bad for the young whippersnappers who don’t grok the experience of “side 2 of Abbey Road“.

I side w/ Michael K. The Abbey Road medley is my favorite. Which keeps the 2nd half of AR off my iPod. Nothing more jarring than to have The End come up randomly.

Although I certainly respect PNH’s choice of Rain. If the medley is DQ’d, I pick Rain.

Tough choice. Much as I love “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and can think of a bunch of songs that are “great” for all sorts of standards, in the end, my favorite one is “Daytripper.” Yeah, it’s fluff. But it’s the one I go to most often, and holy crap, does it have an amazing guitar riff.

I’ll have to go with “A Day in the Life.” When I was younger (…obviously) it sounded so new and modern and experimental. Learning since of some of the mythology within and surrounding the production only makes it better. I count down with George Martin to the alarm clock buzzer whenever I’m listening to it alone.

Well I’m going to ignore the proper subject of this post and ask why you didn’t reference “My City Was Gone” by the Pretenders? I mean, ‘Back to Ohio’ seems like such an obvious lead-in to that song!

Good thing I saw this so late. Otherwise, people might have actually read it…

There’s a lot to be said for Penny Lane. I was working in a factory where all the crews had the same radio station on. When Penny Lane came on, every single person in the shop started singing along.

I am clearly a moron, or I was undercaffeinated, or the dog ate my homework; take your choice.

That drum solo I like in Revolution? There ain’t one. Not at all.

The solo I was thinking of is from The End on Abbey Road. The very beginning of the song. Two other great things about the song. Its proof that the Beatles could totally rock when they had a mind to. It also totally shifts rhythm at the end. A neat trick they liked to play around with at the time.

“Yellow Submarine”. The tune is bouncy and easy to remember. I used to rock my son and sing it to him when he was very little. Now, he’s too big to let his mom sing to him (he’s 13!) and the dog is the only one who enjoys my stirring renditions of the classics.

All My Loving. It’s simple, unpretentious in either music or lyrics, and while I’m away I’ll write home every day had a special meaning when my wife and I lived on different continents for 15 months.

Another vote for the Abbey Road side 2 medley. The other voters have taken the words out of my mouth regarding why I’d choose it. If I have to pick just one bit of the medley, it’s Golden Slumbers. I simply adore that song. I started singing it to my son at night when he was 1 year old and having a miserable time falling asleep. Maybe it was the fact that I was dead exhausted, or the fact that I have the singing voice of a cow with a bad head cold, but it would always make me tear up.

Has no one chosen “Let It Be” yet? Really? It’s really the only Beatles song I actually like. But it’s brilliant, surely. There’s something big and sweeping about it, but it’s so simple, too.

Oddly, I like most Beatles songs when performed by other people; I love the soundtracks for I Am Sam and Across the Universe.

I’d ask if I’m the only one who thinks they’re overrated, but that’s probably discussion fodder for another day all together.

Norwegian Wood – for mostly personal reasons, I guess… It’s been with me since highschool, and I still get a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth every time I hear it.

I know, I’m hopeless. John, are you going to make a playlist with all the songs people propose here? Cos’ if you don’t, I will :D

@65: I just read this or else I would have already said “Let It Be”. It is the song (and album) I make sure to have with me on long drives where the weather report makes me nervous. I put it on and focus on the calmness that it evokes. Of course, at other times I’ve found a need for it’s words of wisdom.

Penny Lane.

Because I used to ring the little bell on my Fisher Price schoolhouse at the exact moments when the bell rings in the song.

I still visualize the song the same way I did when I was in kindergarten.

Let it Be.

Not necessarily for the music, but because I learned to play it on the piano and for the first time I played real music.

Some background. I studied music for a long time as lad(something like 10 years) and never was good at it. I never got the notion that playing music was something more than playing the notes; I figured that if I played the right notes in the right tempo with the right volume I would be playing music. I was wrong, and consequently I never was good at music, even though I wanted to be good.

In university I had a small keyboard that I toodled around with and someone taught me the chord progression in let it be that comes right before the solo. At the same time I was playing around with the piano and figuring out the notes in the main part of the song. I finally got it and was playing “Let it be”, and I think at that moment might have been the only moment in my life that I was actually playing music. It felt really good.

I have had a soft spot in my heart for “let it be” ever since.


“I Am The Walrus”, for it’s brilliant evocation of anarchic creativity, both lyrically and not, and because way too many people pick one of the ballads.

Oh I love so many of them! But I’ll pick “The Fool on the Hill.” Because, yanno, he sees the sun going down and the eyes in his head see the world spinning round, which is pretty cool.

I don’t think I’ve listened closely to that song before, especially since I started playing guitar. That’s really a terrific guitar solo in there.

I’m pretty fond of “Paperback Writer.”

Rocky Raccoon

Because the line Her name was Magill, and she called herself Lil – But everyone knew her as Nancy is just so damned Pythonesque.

Especially the live studio take on Anthology 3 (which I am listening to right at this very moment, thank you very much), where Paul does the hammy country western drawl, and he and John are cutting up. Paul flubs the line the doctor came in stinking of gin as “sminking of gin” and starts to crack himself up and just starts winging it. That always makes me laugh.

Rob Thornton in 62 and I are the only ones to get the right answer:

“Tomorrow Never Knows” from Revolver. It was the first Beatles song I heard that gave me an idea of their range; before that I’d thought everything they did was just variations on “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”.

And it’s still got the best hook in pop music, one so good the Chemical Brothers used it twice.

I’m with you, John.. “Something” is my favorite. (“Layla” is possibly my favorite song of all time; I don’t know what it was about Patti Boyd…)

It’s hard to resist naming 2nd, 3rd, 4th… nth choices here. I’ll just say that I can sympathize with all you people voting for “Elanor Rigby”.

I’m Only Sleeping

The structure is very simple. I love the bridge and the chorus melodies the most (since the verse doesn’t have much to speak of). If I’m stuck singing a Beatles song, I like doing this one the best. Oh, and the bass line is awesome.


I can’t do just one. You’ve got me thinking abut it but I can’t seem to get it down to just one.

“It’s For You”, which is one of the few Beatles songs they didn’t record, being written for Cilla Black. It’s one of the first songs I remember hearing as a child, and I loved the near trepidation of the main melody written against a very brassy bridge.

@90: You have to hear Holly Cole’s wonderful cover of “I am only Sleeping”

Reverend Ref@28,

I also really love the full orchestral sounds of the Moody Blues and then ELO. I even started liking ELP after I heard them often enough.

But – the Beatles – may I pick something by Yoko Ono?

Okay, okay, just kidding.

No one picks “Yesterday?” Is it too smaltzy? That is probably my favorite despite all the elevator music it spawned. What can I say, I liked the Burt Bacharach rendition of MacArthur Park too.

Eleanor Rigby is probably my number two, but picking these is very difficult.

I think the hesitation on “Hey Jude” is because it is so specific. Maybe it’s Julian Lennon’s favorite, but it doesn’t have the universal message appeal of the other songs.

(And to out myself as a figure skating nut, Torville and Dean they did a great ice dance to “Revolution” and “Imagine.” It’s a classic.)

Ok, if I had to chose one RIGHT NOW right now it would be “Love You To.” Just so driving, just so awesomely George Harrison, my new favorite Beatle.

I can’t decide, so I’m passing along my cats’ vote: “Here, There, and Everywhere.”

When I was moving cross-country, my friend and I were in a U-Haul with six cats. The cats were astonishingly good until we hit Atlanta traffic, at which point they started yowling and smacking each other upside the head. We put on “Here, There, and Everywhere” and they curled up together and started washing each other.

I should probably pick one. Today, I’ll say “Dear Prudence,” but that’s subject to change. I second Syd’s least favorite vote for “Run for Your Life.” Bleah!

let me go with a real underdog; slow down off the something new lp. the critics hated it, nobody ever plays or includes it in comps, but it’s really a nice tune…..(amercan bandstand…good beat, easy to dance to…) I like it.

Although my answer will probably change tomorrow, my love of The Beatles being fierce and profound, “Your Mother Should Know” always makes me smile when I hear it, and therefore I choose it as my favorite.

I don’t like the Beatles, but they have one song I like, “Hide Your Love Away.” I like it because I’m a lesbian and it sounds like it’s about being gay. I’ve heard John Lennon wrote it about Brian Epstein, who was gay, but I have no idea if that’s true or not. I only know it speaks to me.

I like “Dear Prudence” as well, but only by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

This one is not too hard to answer actually. My initial response is anything off of the Rubber Soul album, which I can sing side to side and track to track since this was the very first album I ever fell in love with way back in 1970. In second grade I appropriated my eldest brother’s copy and have never given it back.

Since that is my absolute favorite album I will have to pick a song from there. While like some of you I love ‘In My Life’ for all of the obvious reasons and some that are very personal my favorite has got to be George’s contribution of ‘Think for Yourself’

While many folks feel that this song is relationship driven it has always felt more like a reminder anthem for me. It was an enjoinder from the writer not to follow the crowd, think critically and to own everyone of your decisions.

I agree with the majority that the subject matter of ‘Run for Your Life’ is appalling. I mean WHAT were they thinking when they included that song?!

But subtract the lyrics and keep the tune and you have quite a nice little ditty. I have always enjoyed the opening riff of this song and the bridges are awesome. Sans lyrics and you have a nice little song that you can do the pony to.

“Mother Nature’s Son” is what immediately popped into my head. Then I read the other comments, nodding and saying “Yup, that’s a great song.”

But I’m sticking with MNS. It’s very spare, almost transparent, and I can see how everything works and meshes together, note by note, tap by tap.

I’ve got to go with “A Day In The Life”.

It’s got it all. Sad. Happy. Strong melody. Chaotic noise. It’s pure lyrical impressionism. Like a really really long musical haiku.

I think I’ll have to go with “All You Need Is Love”, partly for the heart-warming use of it in Yellow Submarine and partly for the good-natured lyrics in the verses, accepting our limits and finding them worthwhile.

There could be too many Beatles to be able to make a decision, since they changed so much over the years. I can agree with most of the songs mentioned. And yet, the one that currently intrigues me whenever it comes on WLAV Classic Rock is “Back in the U.S.S.R.”. Probably because it was banned by the radio stations I would’ve otherwise heard Beatles songs on while growing up, it’s fun, it’s got a driving beat, a jet airplane sound, it’s a parody and I can’t believe that uptight adults In The Day got all hepped up about it. (grin)

Dr. Phil

Late to the party!

If I was still married I would say ‘The Fool On the Hill,’ because if I didn’t my (ex-)wife would kick me. Hard. But now it’s just me here so I’ll agree with Nathan@44: ‘Nowhere Man.’

My first strong taste of the Beatles was through Yellow Submarine (the animated film), and whenever I hear Nowhere Man now it turns me right back into that 6-year-old sitting a few feet from the old console television, transfixed. Jeremy Hilary Boob sitting in his nowhere land — it’s all emotion, baby.

“Back in the USSR.” No set of opening chords/additional noises (jet engine!) fills me with such glee. And you’ve got to love the shout-out to the Beach Boys. Great drumming, too. Though “Nowhere Man,” “With a Little Help from My Friends,” and “Got to Get You into My Life” are jostling around for seconds.

One, John? Just one? You are a cruel, cruel master.

I’ll be even more specific and limit myself to a transition between two songs from the Sgt. Pepper album: The transition from “Good Morning Good Morning” into “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)”, say, the first minute or so. That driving bass rhythm is simply the most powerful rock’n roll there is.

Well the Beatles are the 800 pound gorilla in the room more than just musically, in my early life. My Dad was a Capital Records Rep. during the 60’s; the success of the Beatles contributed enormously to his career success as he was able to leverage the momentum of the Beatles into a bunch of small records/instruments/Hi-Fi stores. But such success may have caused my parents to divorce almost at the same the Beatles broke up. I’m talking correlation here not cause and effect. So I have no time and place memories that are all that pleasant (nor for that matter do I like the Carpenters for much the same reasons). No nostalgia in other words.

However for just pure musicality and guitar riffery, you gotta love “Get Back”. Kind of reminds me of ACDC, If that makes sense….

“The Long and Winding Road”

The fact that it was their last number one hit and (I think) their last single just adds to the poignancy of it. I know some say it’s over produced with all the strings and such, but to me it’s the most emotionally resonating of all their songs.

All my choices have already been named: “Paperback Writer” for the subject matter, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” because it’s such a good rock song, with old slowhand on the bass even and “We Can Work it Out” because it’s such a goshdarn good pop song in itself.

So I’ll chose “Octupus Garden” instead, cause Ringo is so underrated. Besides, cepholopods.

I am glad Hey Bulldog got mentioned above. I absolutely love the riff. Austin public access tv used to play a live version by Ian Moore that was just killer.

However, I Feel Fine has not garnered any votes and it is running through my brain tonight, so that’s my vote. It has a great riff, an infectious melody, and I love how the bass and drums kick in. And John Lennon is happy because somebody loves him. What more can you ask from a Beatles song?

As a younger man, I was partial to Rocky Raccoon. Also, I always proclaimed that my favourite Beatle was John Lennon because he was, well, John Lennon.

Now that I’m older, I’ve come to appreciate that George Harrison always was my favourite Beatle, I just hadn’t realized it. Quiet, introspective, deep, and a helluva songwriter.

So, for the Harrison nod, and because the song simply speaks to me, I also declare Something to be my favourite Beatle song.

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