The Beatles redefined an entire genre of music and became the top-selling artists of all time, selling more than a billion albums. For one week in 1964, the top five songs on the Billboard singles chart were all Beatles songs. In 2000, the album “1” was released with all the band’s songs ever to hit No. 1. Predictably, that album also hit No. 1—in 35 countries. These are the songs the Beatles are known for, the songs that everyone knows—but there are still plenty of Beatles songs you (probably) haven’t heard.
5 “Run for Your Life”
You probably never heard “Run for Your Life,” which appeared on the Beatles’ 1965 album “Rubber Soul,” and John Lennon was quite alright with that. Lennon openly expressed dislike for the track, saying it was his least favorite Beatles song. Lennon ripped off a line from the song “Baby, Let’s Play House,” recorded by Elvis in 1955, and made it the focus of his own piece. Out of a sweet love song expressing desire and longing, Lennon created a creepy, threatening track from the standpoint of a jealous and possessive lover. “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man.” On second thought, just go listen to “All You Need is Love” and forget about this one.
4 “This Boy”
John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote “This Boy” as more of an experiment, an exercise in writing three-part harmony. Composed in a hotel room while the band was on tour in 1963, the song was released as the B-side to the “I Want to Hold Your Hand” single in the same year. The song showcases the harmonic skills of the band and has a closer, more intimate feel than many of their singles in the same period. An orchestral version of the song wound up on the soundtrack to the movie “A Hard Day’s Night,” retitled “Ringo’s Theme.” Although that version charted in the United States, the original song was never released as a single.
3 “Yer Blues”
The Beatles’ self-titled 1968 double album, commonly known as the “White Album,” contained a number of Fab Four well-known classics. Everybody’s heard “Helter Skelter” at least once, and you at least know half the lyrics to “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” But there’s one track, “Yer Blues,” that doesn’t get as much attention. One of the most raw and emotionally evocative blues tunes the Beatles ever released, the song was actually recorded with the four of them playing in what was basically a closet next to Abbey Road’s studio two. The lack of sound-proofing in the room is evident in the recording. Once completed, editing was done straight from the master four-track tape, rather than the Beatles’ standard practice of using a copy to protect the master from any possible mistaken edits.
You’d be forgiven for not having heard “Rain.” Although it’s included in the Beatles “Past Masters” collection, it wasn’t on any of the albums. The song was the B-side of the “Paperback Writer” single. Big fans consider it the best of the B-sides, though, and Ringo Starr said it was one of his favorite performances. Aside from the drumming, which Starr recounts as the first time he started a break by hitting the hi-hat first, the song is also notable for John Lennon’s backwards vocals. The reverse recording, which Lennon claims was an accident, can be heard at the song’s end during the coda.
1 “For No One”
In 1966, Paul McCartney was on a skiing holiday in Switzerland with Jane Asher, his girlfriend at the time. They got in a fight, and McCartney holed himself up in the bathroom of the Swiss chalet where they were staying and wrote a song about it. The song he wrote, “For No One,” ended up on the band’s “Revolver” album. It was included in “Rolling Stone” magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Beatles Songs,” and John Lennon counted it a one of his favorite McCartney songs—but it was never released as a single, which is probably why you haven’t heard it.