The Beatles' status in cultural history is as much admired as it is revered, by their descendants as well as their contemporaries. Their clout was so significant that when Paul first played “She’s Leaving Home” to a shaky Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys in 1967, Wilson cried, proclaimed it “beautiful”, and sank into a deep depression. The Beatles kicked off genres, killed off others and still continue to influence any band with two guitars and a drumset.
So yeah - they were pretty good, like.
However there is a huge gap between chaos and creativity, and the Fab Four, in between bust-ups, brilliance and boatloads of acid, came up with some seriously fucked-up music in their time. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: the top 10 strangest Beatles songs.
10. The Beatles - Revolution 9
Released on the D-side of The White Album, this 8-minute, 22-second avant-garde cacophony of sound split not only the opinion of the fanbase but of the Beatles themselves, with Paul McCartney and Beatles producer George Martin trying their utmost to keep it off the album. Many claimed it to have been brilliant, but many others claimed that it shook their faith in the Beatles. A track perhaps more famous for its back-masked messages about a dead Paul McCartney than anything else.
9. George Harrison - Electronic Sound
This is George. Experimenting on a Moog synthesizer. For 45 minutes. Good luck.
8. The Beatles - 12 Bar
A completely instrumental track that wasn’t released until 30 years after recording. The track – originally dismissed by John as “lousy” - is one of the few songs credited to Lennon, McCartney, Harrison & Starkey.
7. Plastic Ono Band – Cold Turkey
Not a bad single in my opinion; this A-side is a hard-hitting rock number, rejected by Paul for the next Beatles single and taken on instead by the Plastic Ono Band. John howls in an aching tone about his heroin addiction, riddled with dark thoughts and suicidal tendencies. The B-side is Yoko Ono howling over a rock-funk groove. More of an endurance test than a song, to be quite honest.
6. The Beatles - What’s The New Mary Jane
Lennon, desperate not to compromise his artistic integrity, recorded this psychedelic experimental rock tune, heavily inspired by Syd Barrett (as much as Lennon claimed that it wasn’t). It was intended to make it onto the White Album until it was dropped due to time constraints. It gets its place on the list for its bizarre lyrics (“She liked to be married with yeti, he grooving such kooky spaghetti.”), more screaming Yoko, and a Day in the Life-esque collapse of sound in the closing two minutes of the song.
5. The Beatles - You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
Bizarrely, Paul McCartney’s favourite Beatles song. Originally the B-side to ‘Let It Be’, and released in 1970, this song had only one line: 'You know my name, look up the number' and nothing more. Stylistically, it is a primarily piano-driven music hall piece with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones on the saxophone. It also has a salsa break. It’s ace.
4. John Lennon and Yoko Ono - Two Virgins/Life With The Lions/Wedding Album
There aren’t enough terms in my vocabulary to describe the experimental albums John and Yoko produced in the late 60s and early 70s. The most apt adjective I can use at this point in time is 'unnerving'. They are frankly terrifying listens. From the eye watering album covers to the actual audio content, it’s a marathon; a horrible, horrible slog. Congrats to anyone who can finish an album in one sitting, you’re certainly stronger than I am.
3. The Beatles- Christmas Time (Is Here Again)
Did you know the Beatles did a Christmas song? No, neither did I.
2. Das Beatles - Komme, Gib Mir Deine Hand
It is what it is.
1. The Beatles - Carnival of Light
And at number one, the famous Carnival of Light recording: an apocryphal track famous amongst true Beatles nerds. Commissioned by the Roundhouse theatre for The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave, the song – lasting 13 minutes and 48 seconds – was said to have included "distorted, hypnotic drum and organ sounds, a distorted lead guitar, the sound of a church organ, various effects (water gargling was one) and, perhaps most intimidating of all, John Lennon and McCartney screaming dementedly and bawling aloud random phrases like 'Are you alright?' and 'Barcelona!'". Not appearing on any Beatles release to date, the track is unavailable to purchase, but a number of uploads on YouTube claim to be the leaked genuine article. Until it’s released on a single, we may never know.