I’m Siriusly Excited About The Beatles XM Station

beatles radio

The Beatles, perhaps waiting to hear one of their songs on the radio!

As has become a pattern for me, I tend to blog whenever there is some newsworthy event happening in the Beatleverse, and this happens to be one of those times. These events often revolve around Beatles music entering the public consciousness in a new way, such as through iTunes, Spotify, and now, their own Sirius XM Station, channel 18. I had no idea that this was even happening until a few days before the station went live, and my initial reactions to this announcement ranged from “It’s about time” to “Finally!” Nothing against Pearl Jam, but if they have their own radio station, the Beatles deserve their own station as well. I’m also aware that those in charge of the Beatles brand and catalog (namely Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia Harrison, among others) are notoriously stringent about licensing the Beatles name. In recent years, I think these restrictions have loosened. Though I hope the Beatles don’t start advertising “sausages and diapers,” as George feared they would, I greatly appreciate that they’re latching on to new technological and musical developments and remaining relevant to modern music listeners.

Upon my first listen, the station reminded me a lot of me putting my iTunes library on shuffle and listening only to Beatles or solo Beatles music, as I did quite frequently early on in my Beatles fandom. Listening to the Beatles station has made me nostalgic for what now seem like simpler times when I was 14 and 15, when I dove headfirst into my obsession with all things Beatles and cared little about embracing the rest of the musical world. I’ve also been on a couple of long car trips in the past few weeks and the Beatles Sirius station has kept me entertained for hours each time. Many times while listening to the station, I’ve been delighted to come across Beatles songs that I’d forgotten about or hadn’t listened to for months. These include the underrated gems “For No One” on Revolver and  “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” from Beatles For Sale. I’ve also greatly appreciated the commentary from friends and musicians close to the Beatles such as Peter Asher, as well as the “ear trivia” of playing a second of a Beatles song and revealing the song’s name later.

My one gripe with this development is that, somehow even on a Beatles-centric station that revolves completely around their music, George’s solo catalog is still vastly untapped. The station seems to roughly adhere to a format of “three Beatles songs, followed by one Paul McCartney and Wings song, and maybe a John or Ringo song occasionally,” which is fine. However, having now listened to several cumulative hours of the station over the past couple of weeks, I can count on one hand the number of George solo songs I’ve heard.

This is quite disappointing to someone who is as big a fan of George as I am and who knows the wealth of good material that he produced after the Beatles broke up. Songs like “Faster” from his album George Harrison, “Fish on the Sand” from Cloud Nine, or “Life Itself” from Somewhere in England are all exquisite songs that get zero radio airplay on this station, along with many other fantastic compositions. I hope that perhaps I just haven’t been listening at the right times and that George’s solo career actually has been greatly appreciated on this station in my absence. If not, I sincerely hope that the station begins playing more of his solo songs.

Other than this, I am absolutely thrilled that the Beatles are being celebrated 24/7 (or as the station cheekily notes, 24/8, referring to “Eight Days A Week”) on Sirius XM. They, perhaps more so than any other artist with their own radio station, have a large enough catalog of Beatles, solo Beatles, and Beatles influence songs to support a long stretch of engaging radio programming. What’s more, the whole vibe of the station feels like more than just another radio station. It really celebrates the Beatles’ musical achievements and the massive impact they had on their fans, as evidenced by soundbites from celebrity fans or screaming admirers from their heyday. I hope that it maintains its current charm and continues to celebrate both the sung and the unsung heroes of the Beatles’ success.

My Top 10 Favorite Solo Beatle Albums

So with an unexpected snow day today, I thought I’d post what I said I would post yesterday! For each album, I’ll also post some songs that I would recommend in particular. Keep in mind that this list is just my opinion, and because I mostly listen to George and Paul’s solo music, 90% of this list is composed of George and Paul albums. Sorry John and Ringo fans if you feel neglected, but I feel that even when John was still alive and making albums, George’s and Paul’s albums were better overall and more interesting. So anyway, here we go!

10. Imagine- John Lennon

Imagine

Imagine

I felt obliged to put one of John’s albums on here just to make it a bit more complete, and between this and Plastic Ono Band, I prefer this. For some reason, I prefer listening to John’s songs on shuffle rather than as full albums, but I do genuinely love this album. It has a number of my favorite John songs on it and it’s generally regarded as his best album, and I completely agree.
Recommended songs: Imagine, Jealous Guy, How Do You Sleep, Oh Yoko

9. Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1- Traveling Wilburys

Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1

Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1

This supergroup formed by George Harrison only made two albums, but I prefer this over the other one and listen to it quite frequently, which is why I’ve included it here. The songs are a good mix of compositions from George, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty, and I love that it doesn’t sound like any individual member, but like a completely unique band. This is a great album to throw on when it’s a sunny afternoon and you just feel like listening to some cheerful music, and it always puts me in a good mood!
Recommended Songs: Handle With Care, End of the Line, Dirty World, Tweeter and the Monkey Man, Heading for the Light

8. Band On The Run- Paul McCartney and Wings

Band On The Run

Band On The Run

This album is consistently ranked as Paul’s best, and while I personally prefer a number of his other albums, I do concede that this is a stellar album. All of the songs are well-crafted and interesting, but the reason that it’s #8 on this list is that, for whatever reason, I just don’t listen to it all that much. Therefore, I can’t really consider it a favorite of mine. But I am listening to it now, and loving it!
Recommended songs: Band on the Run, Jet, Let Me Roll It, Mrs. Vandebilt, 1985

7. Flaming Pie- Paul McCartney

Flaming Pie

Flaming Pie

I often listen to this album while I’m doing homework, but it’s definitely not a background music-type of album. What I love most about it is the incredible diversity of songs on it that I don’t think Paul had done since Tug of War, another great album. This album sounds very timeless to me, and many regard it as Paul’s modern-day “comeback,” but honestly, I don’t think he ever left!
Recommended Songs: The Song We Were Singing, Flaming Pie, Somedays, Young Boy, Beautiful Night (which also features Ringo!)

6. Cloud Nine- George Harrison

Cloud Nine

Cloud Nine

Here it is, the first George solo album on this list, and I guarantee it won’t be the last! This is regarded as George’s major comeback album because it was a huge hit and featured his last #1 single “Got My Mind Set On You,” which was originally recorded in 1962 by Rudy Clark. I think this is probably George’s most fun and upbeat album, and I love that it was produced by ELO legend Jeff Lynne and also features Elton John on electric piano. What a great combo!
Recommended Songs: Cloud Nine, Got My Mind Set On You, Fish On The Sand, This Is Love, When We Was Fab, Devil’s Radio

5. Brainwashed- George Harrison

Brainwashed

Brainwashed

This was produced by Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison and released posthumously in 2002. I believe it won a Grammy for something, but even if it didn’t, this is an absolutely beautiful album. George’s lyrics here are better than ever and the songs are his most honest since All Things Must Pass. Knowing that this was his last album, I sometimes get a little teary while listening to it, but I’m glad that he left us with one last beautiful creation before he passed.
Recommended Songs: Brainwashed, Any Road, Looking For My Life, Stuck Inside a Cloud, Pisces Fish

4. Venus and Mars- Paul McCartney and Wings

Venus and Mars

Venus and Mars

Here’s why I like this Wings album better than Band On The Run: The songs all tell an individual story, something that I don’t quite get with Band On The Run. I love that fellow band members Denny Laine and Jimmy McCullough each get to sing a song, which makes it feel more like a Beatles album. This album also contains my #1 favorite Paul solo song, Venus and Mars/Rockshow. Basically, if you like good old fashioned rock and roll, get this album!
Recommended Songs: Venus and Mars/Rockshow, Listen To What The Man Said, Magneto and Titanium Man, You Gave Me The Answer, Call Me Back Again

3. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard- Paul McCartney

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Out of all of Paul’s solo albums, this is perhaps his most honest and intimate. I love how piano-heavy it is, and the songs each have a certain magical quality that harkens back to the Beatle days. This is definitely Paul’s darkest album, and somehow after 40 years it also manages to be quite inventive and new-sounding. Paul is always reinventing himself, and that is definitely evident on this album.
Recommended Songs: Fine Line, English Tea, Too Much Rain, Riding to Vanity Fair, Friends to Go, How Kind of You

2. NEW- Paul McCartney

New

New

You may be thinking, “Didn’t this just come out? How can it be one of your favorites?” Well folks, it’s just that good. While many may not agree, I think this might be Paul’s best album ever; from start to finish, it’s perfection. It also sounds completely unlike anything he’s ever done, and for that I applaud him. Also, out of all of his albums, I think that I honestly enjoy listening to this the most. While the lyrics may not be his most inspired, this album is a true listening pleasure, and that’s why I love it!
Recommended Songs: Just get the whole album. Really. You won’t regret it!

1. All Things Must Pass- George Harrison

All Things Must Pass

All Things Must Pass

This is definitely the easiest #1 choice on any list I’ve done so far, because there’s just no competition. All Things Must Pass is BY FAR the best solo Beatles album! This was a huge hit back in 1970, reaching #1 on the charts and featuring a #1 hit in My Sweet Lord. George made a lot of fantastic albums in his career, but none quite reach the mastery of this one. Song after song after song, it’s brilliant. If you own one album by a Beatle that’s not a Beatles album, it should absolutely be this one.
Recommended Songs: No even remotely subpar songs here. Get it all!

Whew, that was long! Sorry about that. But I hope you enjoyed this list, and if you’ve never listened to any solo Beatles music, it’s time to start! Enjoy the week!

Beatles Song of the Week: “Martha My Dear”

A cute pic of Paul. He's so adorable.

A cute pic of Paul. He’s so adorable.

So I’m going to try this little segment called “Beatles Song of the Week” when I honestly don’t know what to post, like today. But I also really like this song, and I wanted to share it with all of you!

Paul supposedly wrote this song about his sheepdog Martha, which is one of the cutest things I’ve ever heard. 🙂
If I decide to do another “Top 10 Underrated Beatles Songs” list, which I might do because there are so many, this song will definitely make the list. Amidst all of the fantastic songs on the White Album like “Blackbird” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” this little ditty by Paul tends to get overlooked, which is a shame because it’s really a fantastic song. Like many of Paul’s best songs, it has a jaunty piano part that I’m sure is harder to play than it sounds, and I also like that it combines a lot of different moods and sounds into one short 2:30 minute song. I can definitely hear Paul’s childhood music hall influences come out in this song, as well as in others like “Honey Pie” and “Lady Madonna,” both of which have upbeat, lively piano parts like this one.

This song is extremely catchy and is likely to get stuck in your head for days once you hear it. It’s definitely a hidden gem in the Beatles’ massive catalog, but it deserves its fair share of attention because it’s such a good song! Enjoy!

My Top 10 Most Underrated Beatles Songs

I’ve been thinking about doing this post for a while, but it’s taken me some time to come up with Beatles songs that are truly underrated. Since the Beatles have so many famous songs, there aren’t too many that I think are truly underrated or unknown. For this list, I’m not including any covers the Beatles did like Twist and Shout, and I’m also not including songs that are really well known like Hey Jude or She Loves You, because while I don’t think they’re overrated, they are definitely not underrated. So, with that in mind, we begin!

10. I’ll Be Back

This song is kind of similar to If I Fell, which is also on the A Hard Day’s Night album, but it’s not as well known. However, I think it’s just as good. The harmonies here, like those on If I Fell, are spot on and beautiful, and the song is a sign of the growing musical maturity that the Beatles showed on this album. It’s a really lovely song that definitely does not get enough credit within the Beatles’ catalog.

9. I’m Down

This is one of my favorite up-tempo rockers by the Beatles, but once again, it is probably one of the lesser-known Beatles songs. I think that Paul’s vocals on this are fantastic and John’s keyboard playing is lively and fun. I just love this song!!!

8. Not A Second Time

This song is buried on With The Beatles, which is a shame because I think it’s an absolutely great song. I’m totally in love with John’s vocals here and the song has a different, more pleading vibe than most other early Beatles songs. It’s definitely a hidden gem.

7. Cry Baby Cry

I don’t think this song is completely unknown, but it’s certainly not one of the more popular cuts from the White Album. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful song by John, and it’s one of those songs that I always seem to find myself singing around the house.

6. Dig A Pony

An absolutely great song that unfortunately was on the Let It Be album, so it probably didn’t and still doesn’t get the credit it deserves. This is one of my favorite songs to sing on Beatles Rock Band, and while the lyrics might not be the most inspired words that John ever wrote, they are clever and worth a listen.

5. Don’t Bother Me

I was obsessed with this song when I first discovered it, mostly because it’s George’s songwriting debut on a Beatles album. While he basically dismissed it as a bad song, I think it’s a great first attempt. Apparently he wrote this while he was sick in bed in a hotel room. No wonder it’s called Don’t Bother Me!

4. I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party

This is one of those songs that instantly puts a smile on my face whenever I hear it. I don’t know why, it just makes me really happy! The harmonies here from Paul and John are absolutely gorgeous and the rockabilly-influenced guitar by George is wonderful. Again, this is one of those songs that I love inexplicably and I wish it was more well known!

3. I’m Only Sleeping

An absolute hypnotizing song written by John that once I hear once, I cannot stop singing! Since it’s on Revolver, which is one of the most critically acclaimed Beatles albums, some people might not consider it that underrated, but I think that it’s definitely not as highly regarded as it should be. The backwards guitar on this song is incredible and the song is just amazing.

2. Old Brown Shoe

Yet another George song that no one seems to care about. Sigh… Well, I love this song! The lyrics to this song are so clever and well thought-out, typical of a George song. Also, it was George and not Paul who played bass here, which is funny because it’s such a Paul-ish bassline. George never fails to surprise/amaze me…

1. Yes It Is

This is to me THE most underrated Beatles song simply because no one I know has heard of it, yet it’s possibly one of the most beautiful and emotional Beatles songs in existence. It was the B-side to the Ticket to Ride single and seems to have gotten pushed to the bottom of the Beatles barrel over time. However, the lush harmonies here are absolutely gorgeous and they really make the song great. I always tear up for no reason when I hear this song because it’s so beautiful. Anyone who doesn’t know this song, check it out and you will be amazed!

You may notice that most of the songs on this list are from the earlier period of the Beatles’ career. That’s not by accident; I firmly believe that while they do differ from their later output, the early Beatles songs are just as good in their own way as the later ones. I hope that you check out these songs that casual Beatles fans may not know, because they really are fantastic and deserve a listen!
If you have any suggestions for more underrated Beatles songs, please comment with your thoughts! Thanks!