And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make
– The Beatles, The End
Which Beatles album is the greatest? The answer is different for most everyone, but it usually comes down to Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s each wrestling for number one, with a couple of votes each for The Beatles (White Album) and Abbey Road. It’s a bit like asking which is your favorite child; you simply love them all as they are.
The Beatles are always in the background of my life. Always. Born at the height of their popularity, you simply grew up listening to them. For those of us born “too late”, we missed out on the anticipation of a new album being released, for it was all out there when we began listening in earnest. When you’ve heard the later work, your jaw doesn’t drop quite as far to the floor when you listen to Rubber Soul. But you still appreciate the creative leap forward from Help! (a great album itself).
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all
– The Beatles, In My Life
Which is your favorite Beatle? This tells more about you than you might think. For me it was always George Harrison. The quiet Beatle. And for all the brilliantly prolific work of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it was George who dropped some of the best songs into the mix of “best Beatles song”, which is close to impossible to determine.
With every mistake, we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps
– The Beatles, While My Guitar Gently Weeps
If George has 3-4 songs that ought to be in the mix for the best Beatles song, Lennon and McCartney had even more individually, and collaboratively co-wrote some of the greatest songs ever written on some of the best albums ever released. So how do you choose the best? Look at their solo careers? Here too, the ratio seems about the same.
We could spend our lifetime debating such things or just agree that it was a brilliant run for the Fab Four. For this business of picking a favorite is nonsense. In the end we love them all.