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The Beatles Seven Most Experimental Songs

Jul 27, 2008
Sadly I've found that many people think of The Beatles only as the band that sang songs such as "She Loves You" & "Can't Buy Me Love." While these simple early tunes are great and have lasted the test of time. It's The Beatles more artistic, experimental songs that I feel are their real legacy. They are the songs that are still inspiring thinking musical artists nearly 40 years after they last recorded together.

These seven songs were The Beatles at their most experimental. Not all of these songs are among their best (although some certainly are) but they are all a cherished part of The Beatles back catalog to me.

#1 "What's The New Mary Jane"

This song which features only John Lennon, George Harrison and Lennon's soon to be wife Yoko Ono. It was not actually released until The Beatles Anthology 3. It was intended for The Beatles incredible 1968 double album known as The White Album (it was actually self titled.) It was not included due to time constraints.

The song features a simple piano part, bizarre lyrics, and insane sound effects. The last 4 minutes of the song is basically just spacey sound effects. It's definitely one of those songs that's quite hard to describe with words. It's definitely a real trip.

#2 "Revolution #9"

This 8 minute track was included on The White Album and has probably become The Beatles most infamous track. Many hate it. Some love it. Count me among those that loves it. Don't get me wrong, I don't listen to it every time I put the album on, it's not that kind of track. But when I do listen to it, I still find it fascinating.

#3 "Tomorrow Never Knows"

Incredibly the last track on Revolver, "Tomorrow Never Knows" was actually the first song recorded for the album. I think that's incredible as the song, even 42 years later, still sounds like the future. With lyrics from the book The Psychedelic Experience (which was based upon the Tibetan Book of the Dead), backwards guitars, insane sounding tape loops, this was a song that sounded thousands of years removed from the mop top hits of just 2 years previous.

#4 "Wild Honey Pie"

This is a strange little song which was completely sung and performed by Paul McCartney. It just consists of the refrain "Honey Pie" and some bizarre sounding guitars.

#5 "I Am The Walrus"

Possibly The Beatles most perfect weird psychedelic song. It's endlessly listenable as there are so many layers to it that one can literally hear something they've never heard before even on their 1000th listen.

This was The Beatles at the peak of their "studio as an instrument" phase and it's still inspiring countless experimental rock musicians to this day. Forget "I Want To Hold Your Hand," it's all about "I Am The Walrus."

#6 "Strawberry Fields Forever"

If "Strawberry Fields Forever" isn't quite as weird as "I Am The Walrus," it's probably even more perfect. It's a truly brilliant song and much like "I Am The Walrus" it's the an amazing example of the "studio as an instrument" aesthetic that The Beatles perfected in 1967.

#7 "Within You Without You"

I feel this song often gets short shrift. And yes, it's very experimental. A "pop" song with an all Indian instrumental? Sure there was "Love You To" & "The Inner Light" before, but this one took it to the next level. I think it's a brilliant song that fits on Sgt. Pepper perfectly. It's a trip through some bizarre carnival and you have to make a stop in India while you are there, of course.
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