35. "Early Days"
You might think of McCartney as being beyond the old debates over who wrote what in the Beatles, but if so, you don't know Paul. "I know my memory has got chips in it that still can go exactly back to two guys sitting in a room trying to write 'I Saw Her Standing There' or 'One After 909,'" he told Rolling Stone in 2014. "I can see every minute of John and I writing together, playing together, recording together. I still have very vivid memories of all of that. It's not like it fades." This highlight from 2013's New, he explained, is rooted in that same sense of frustration at revisionist Beatles histories. "They can't take it from me if they try/I lived through those early days," he sings. "So many times I had to change the pain to laughter/Just to keep from getting crazed." And because he's Paul, it comes out as a bittersweet, gentle folk ballad that's one of the most moving songs he's written this century. There's no resentment in the performance, just a lot of love for the memory of a friend.