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The Top Ten Beatles Songs of All Time

Get a Sneak Peek at Our New Collectors Issue of The Greatest Band’s 100 Greatest Songs

CIRCA 1964: Rock and roll band Beatles pose for a portrait in circa 1964. (L-R) Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The Beatles, 1964

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The lyrics for George Harrison’s first truly great Beatles song began with him choosing the phrase “gently weeps” from a random book. It wasn’t until Harrison pulled Eric Clapton in to play guitar that the arrangement was finished.

For more on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and the rest of the 100 greatest Beatles songs, pick up Rolling Stone: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs on sale at barnesandnoble.com now.

Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/Shutterstock (998151bb)'Scene at 6:30' TV - 1963 - The Beatles - Paul McCartney, George Harrison.ITV ARCHIVE

Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

ITV/Shutterstock

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

Writer: Harrison
Recorded: September 5 and 6, 1968
Released: November 25, 1968
Not released as a single

The lyrics for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” George Harrison’s first truly great Beatles song, began as an accident — but a deliberate one. Harrison composed most of the music during the Beatles’ February-April 1968 trip to Rishikesh, India, but wrote its words after the band returned to England. Inspired by the relativism principle of the I Ching, Harrison pulled a book off a shelf in his parents’ house, opened it to an arbitrary page and wrote a lyric around the first words he saw, which turned out to be the phrase “gently weeps.” (Its source might have been Coates Kinney’s much-anthologized 1849 poem “Rain on the Roof,” which includes the lines “And the melancholy darkness/Gently weeps in rainy tears.”)

Beatles 1970 John Lennon on Top Of The Pops Chris Walter

John Lennon on Top Of The Pops, 1970

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“Come Together”

Originally intended by Lennon as a campaign song for LSD guru Timothy Leary when he ran for California governor in 1970, this became the last song all four Beatles cut in the studio together.

For more on “Come Together” and the rest of the 100 greatest Beatles songs, pick up Rolling Stone: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs on sale at barnesandnoble.com now.

Paul McCartney playing on stage during The Beatles', last tour.

Paul McCartney playing on stage during The Beatles', last tour.

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“Let It Be”

McCartney channeled Aretha Franklin’s soul in “Let It Be,” recorded during the peak of the Beatles’ troubled times. A month after its 1970 release, McCartney announced the band had broken up.

For more on “Let It Be” and the rest of the 100 greatest Beatles songs, pick up Rolling Stone: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs on sale at barnesandnoble.com now.

The Beatles

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“Hey Jude”

McCartney’s lyrics for “Hey Jude” were inspired by John and Cynthia Lennon’s five-year-old son, Julian — but Lennon first thought McCartney was singing to him about his relationship with Yoko Ono.

For more on “Let It Be” and the rest of the 100 greatest Beatles songs, pick up Rolling Stone: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs on sale at barnesandnoble.com now.

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01:  Georges Harrison Sitting And Playing Guitar During Sixties  (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Georges Harrison Sitting And Playing Guitar During Sixties

France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

“Something”

Before it became the second-most-covered Beatles song behind “Yesterday,” Lennon said this unexpected Harrison track was “the best track on [Abbey Road]” and McCartney called it “the best song [Harrison has] written.”

For more on “Something” and the rest of the 100 greatest Beatles songs, pick up Rolling Stone: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs on sale at barnesandnoble.com now.

The Beatles - Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George HarrisonTHE BEATLES CHRISTMAS CONCERT, BRITAIN - 1963

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“In My Life”

“In My Life,” featuring Lennon’s most personal lyrics up until that time, is one of only a handful of Lennon-McCartney songs where the two strongly disagreed over who wrote what.

For more on “In My Life” and the rest of the 100 greatest Beatles songs, pick up Rolling Stone: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs on sale at barnesandnoble.com now.

PAUL MCCARTNEY AT THE DE MONTFORT HALL LEICESTER BRITAIN - 1963Old Pic Beatlemania

Paul McCartney at the De Montfort Hall Leicester Britain, 1963

Richard Mitchell/Shutterstock

“Yesterday”

The most covered song in history began as something called “Scrambled Eggs.” It also began in a dream of Paul McCartney’s.

For more on “Yesterday” and the rest of the 100 greatest Beatles songs, pick up Rolling Stone: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs on sale at barnesandnoble.com now.

The British rock group The Beatles is shown during their U.S. tour in Washington, D.C., . Standing, left to right are Ringo Starr and George Harrison, and seated are Paul McCartney and John LennonThe Beatles 1966, Washington, USA

The Beatles during their U.S. tour in Washington, D.C.

AP/Shutterstock

“Strawberry Fields Forever”

Lennon once said growing up “was scary because there was nobody to relate to.” Strawberry Field, a Liverpool youth’s home near where Lennon grew up, represented those haunting childhood visions. With this song, Lennon conquered them forever.

For more on “Strawberry Fields Forever” and the rest of the 100 greatest Beatles songs, pick up Rolling Stone: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs on sale at barnesandnoble.com now.

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 7: The Beatles arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport, February 7, 1964.  From left: John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

The Beatles arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport, February 7, 1964.

CBS/Getty Images

“I Want to Hold Your Hand”

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the first exposure most American had to the songwriting magic of Lennon and McCartney. It set off Beatlemania, and represented what producer George Martin calls “the apex of Phase One of the Beatles’ development.”

For more on “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and the rest of the 100 greatest Beatles songs, pick up Rolling Stone: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs on sale at barnesandnoble.com now.

The Beatles - Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John LennonVarious - 1967

The Beatles, 1967

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“A Day in the Life”

The ultimate Lennon-McCartney collaboration, “A Day in the Life” wasn’t recognized as the band’s masterwork until the Eighties, after Lennon’s death. It pairs lyrics inspired by the newspapers and Lennon’s own life with McCartney’s idea to have classical musicians perform what producer George Martin called an “orchestral orgasm.”

For more on “A Day in the Life” and the rest of the 100 greatest Beatles songs, pick up Rolling Stone: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs on sale at barnesandnoble.com now.

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