The Beatles‘ Abbey Road turns 50 today (September 25), and like many classic albums, it really shows no signs of age.
Honoring such a landmark album on such a major anniversary is already a difficult task, so why not embrace the magnitude of it all and try to do something incredibly challenging: Rank the songs of Abbey Road.
After much debate and thought, here every song on Abbey Road ranked.
10. “Her Majesty”
When you rank the tracks of a classic album, something has to come in last. Considering “Her Majesty” was a brief, hidden track, it serves as a practical default “last place” in this situation. Fun fact: “Her Majesty” was originally supposed to be part of the epic Side B medley between “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam.”
9. “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”
A jaunty melody with grim lyrics, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” isn’t a bad song, per se, but it just doesn’t measure up the other offerings on the album. The song was famously difficult to record from the perspective of John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, neither of whom were a big fan of this Paul McCartney-led effort. They thought he spent way too much time on the song.
8. “Octopus’s Garden”
The last Starr-sung track from The Beatles, “Octopus’s Garden” is undeniably catchy with warm, comforting lyrics like, “Oh what joy for every girl and boy/Knowing they’re happy and they’re safe.” If Xanax or any other anxiety medication had a playlist, this song would surely be on it.
Ambient and chill-inducing, “Because” is incredibly simple, but it sticks with the listener thanks to Lennon, McCartney and Harrison’s vocal harmonies, which were recorded on three different tracks to make it sound like nine voices.
6. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”
The longest single track on ‘Abbey Road,’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is a stellar blues track from Lennon about one of his favorite subjects: Yoko Ono. It’s complex musically, but very straight-forward lyrically and a perfect way to bring side A to a…well…heavy close. And its sudden ending never fails to be jarring with every listen.
5. Medley (“You Never Give Me Your Money,” “Sun King,” “Mean Mr. Mustard,” “Polythene Pam,” “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window,” “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight” and “The End”)
This is where some might take issue with this “every track” ranking, but frankly, it’s too difficult to imagine these songs apart, so why bother trying to separate and rank them? They truly belong together and are a prime example of how ambitious The Beatles remained even until the very end of their recording career. Plus, it’s hard to top the close of “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make,” one of rock’s most iconic lyrics of all time.
4. “Oh! Darling”
Heavily influenced by the swamp pop from New Orleans, “Oh! Darling” contains one of McCartney’s most remarkable vocal performances ever recorded. How remarkable is it? McCartney has never performed the track live, ever.
3. “Here Comes the Sun”
Famously written by Harrison in Eric Clapton’s home garden after playing hooky from some meetings at Apple Records, “Here Comes the Sun” is the angelic sound of relief and release from whatever problems life may have thrown at you. Understandably, the song remains a major fan favorite of fans to this day and has been covered by numerous artists from Nina Simone to Booker T. & the M.G.’s and was even covered on an episode of musical dramady Glee.
Harrison’s other contribution to Abbey Road, “Something” remains one of the most-beloved ballads, best ballads of all time. Like “Here Comes the Sun,” “Something” has also been covered by a number of artists over the years including, Smokey Robinson, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett and Ike & Tina Turner.
1. “Come Together”
Number one, with a bullet in more ways than one. “Come Together” and its wacky lyrics kick off Abbey Road in epic fashion. It provided The Beatles with one of their final number one singles topping the Billboard Hot 100 and staying on the chart for 16 weeks. It has one of the coolest, most-recognizable intros in music history. Simply put, it’s 4:19 of rock and roll perfection that is unlike anything else in the Beatles catalog.