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The Top 10 Sad Songs by The Beatles

By Edited May 12, 2014 0 0

Many believe The Beatles to be the greatest rock band of all time. Whether their songs encompass the thrilling experiences of having a first true love, or the harrowing process of losing a loved one, millions of listeners from across the globe--and across generations--have connected with The Beatles' music in one way or another. In this list, we draw our focus to the songs that break our hearts, the ones that make us, as listeners, ache a little bit more each time we hear them. Without further adieu, we present to you our list of The Top Ten Saddest Songs by The Beatles.

1. "Yesterday"

Supposedly, McCartney composed the melody of this song while he was asleep. When he arose in the morning , McCartney instantly began playing it on his piano. He was afraid that he had accidentally plagiarized someone else's work without knowing it, so he took the song to a group of music executives, asking if they'd ever heard it. He said, "I thought if no one claimed it after a few weeks then I could have it," which he was able to do, luckily. According to the Guinness Book of World records, "Yesterday" is the band's most covered song; since its release there have been over 3,000 cover versions of it.

2. "Girl"

"Girl" was the last song recorded for Rubber Soul, with John Lennon as the leading writer. It explored the notion of a perfect woman, and alluded to the musician's own views towards religion--namely Christianity. The song is compositionally similar to McCartney's "Michelle" with its acoustic instrumentation, slight chord changes and masterful vocal harmonies.

In the lyrics, "Girl" presents the figure of the femme fatale, (French for "the fatal woman"), or in Lennon's words, "'the kind of girl you want so much it makes you sorry." In terms of the subtle religious theme, Lennon described how his opposition to the church was due to his childhood upbringing.

3. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

George Harrison's most celebrated song on The Beatles album, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was driven by the teachings in the I Ching (a Chinese classic text) and featured Harrison's friend and fellow musician, Eric Clapton.

Harrison began writing the doleful melody of "My Guitar" while abroad in India, and finished the rest of it once he returned to England. In an interview, he described how he created the song after picking up some book and turning to a random page; after seeing the phrase "gently weeps," Harrison felt an overwhelming surge of inspiration to begin writing.

4. "Julia"

This tearjerker can be found at the end of the band's 1968 album, The Beatles (also called The White Album), is quite possibly the most heart-wrenching ballad ever penned. The song was written by Lennon during the Beatles' 1968 visit to northern India, where Lennon learned the song's finger-picking guitar style. "Julia" was written for Lennon's own mother, Julia, who was struck down and subsequently killed by a drunken police officer when John was only seventeen years old.

5. "Blackbird"

This truly haunting song was a solo performance by Paul McCartney, composed shortly after returning from India. "Blackbird" was written on McCartney's farm in Scotland. Shortly after its completion, on the first night his future wife Linda stayed at his home in London, McCartney performed "Blackbird" to the adoring fans that waited on the other side of his gates.

It is said that the lyrics were inspired by the civil rights movement in America; the 'blackbird' of the title was said to represent the everyday woman facing oppression in the era. 

6. "Hey Jude"

"Hey Jude," the first release on The Beatles' own Apple Records label, was a ballad by Paul McCartney. Written in June 1968, It was created to comfort John Lennon's son Julian during the divorce of his parents. The lyrics were fell into the hearts of the public (both Beatles' fans, and non-Beatles' fans alike) who related to the song's optimistic message.

Its all-embracing effect was shown when Lennon later brought to light that he felt the song had been directed at himself. Despite the fact that The Beatles had stopped performing live by the late sixties, the universal anthem-like qualities of "Hey Jude's" coda was a perfect for audiences' participation at McCartney's solo performances.

7. "Eleanor Rigby"

An undying, nihilstic ode to the hardships of life, set to a grieving string octet. "Eleanor Rigby," which originally appeared on the Revolver album is legitimately held as a one of The Beatles' truly everlasting musical compositions.

There was in fact, a real Eleanor Rigby lived in Liverpool decades before the song was created. She met her untimely death in October of 1939 at the young age of 44. Buried next to her other deceased family members in a Liverpool cemetery, her tombstone has become a monument for Beatles fans.

8. "Michelle"

One of Rubber Soul's most memorable, and most heartbreakingly-sweet songs, Michelle was written by Paul McCartney with a some assistance from an old colleague. The song was one of McCartney's oldest, having been started in around 1959. He composed the tune on his first ever Zenith guitar, which he still currently owns.

"Michelle" was one of McCartney's first attempts to play with a finger-picked guitar style, and was recorded in a single take. In terms of the French quality of the the song's title, it is believed to have been inspired by parties held by one of Lennon's tutors at the Liverpool College of Art, Austin Mitchell.

9. "For No One"

Originally called "Why Did It Die?,"  "For No One" is a melancholy meditation also written by Paul McCartney; the song is about the conclusion of a deeply passionate love affair, and came to be one of the most popular songs on the Revolver album.

McCartney told an interviewer how he wrote "For No One" inside of a tiny bathroom on a ski trip in Switzerland; the song's main female character was based on a girl he witnessed putting on makeup. Wanting to have a French horn in the song, McCartney approached George Martin to do the job. After recording it, John Lennon stated that "For No One" was of [his] favorites of [Paul's]--a nice piece of work."

10. "Let It Be"

The Beatles' final single, and quite possibly their greatest song. "Let It Be" was inspired by a dream Paul McCartney had in which his late mother appeared to him and comforted McCartney by telling him, "It will be all right, just let it be."

He later stated that he felt blessed for the dream, as tit allowed him to see his mother again. This song is also one of their saddest; at this time, the band was beginning to see their end. Even though McCartney retained his positive, happy demeanor in the public eye, he was actually feeling insecure and hurt by the group's inevitable disbanding. 

Whether you recognize all ten of these saddening songs, or only just a handful, you cannot deny how their power has been able to withstand the cruel test of time. These compositions are made of true music magic; their successes not only illustrate how much The Beatles have influenced the industry, but also how much their legacy has influenced the world.

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