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The 100 Best Beatles Solo Songs

Five decades of amazing tunes from John, Paul, George, and Ringo

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When the Beatles broke up in 1970, they figured it was the end of the story. But they got that wrong. Over 50 years later, John, Paul, George, and Ringo are more influential, famous, beloved than ever. That means the world is finally catching up with one of the weirdest chapters in the Beatles’ saga: their solo music. All four Fabs kept making music, on their own eccentric terms. All four dropped classic albums. All four released total garbage. The solo Beatles story is a gloriously messy, crazed, chaotic world of its own.

So let’s celebrate that story: the 100 greatest Beatles solo songs, starring John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The hits, the flops, the deep cuts, the fan favorites, the cult classics, the covers. Some of these songs are legendary tunes sung around the world at weddings and parties. Some are buried treasures only the most hardcore Beatlemaniacs know. And one is “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” As a great man said, it don’t come easy.

Every fan would compile a different list—that’s the beauty of it. We love to keep arguing about the Beatles’ solo records. I have spent my life arguing that Ringo’s 1970 country album Beaucoups of Blues is an underrated masterpiece, and I will argue this forever. Hell, I once had this argument with Ringo. (I can’t tell if I persuaded him or not—he was too busy laughing at me.)

Keep in mind: this is NOT a list of their greatest hits. These songs aren’t here because of commercial success, radio airplay, sales or popularity. The only thing that matters is the level of Beatle magic. That means some incredibly famous hits didn’t make the cut. To pick just the most obvious example, the words “say,” “say,” and “say” do not appear consecutively here at all.

These days, fans dig deeper than ever into the solo Beatles’ music. Records that were once impossible to find are now easy to hear with one click. So the arguments keep getting more sophisticated. When Paul released Ram in 1971, the whole world agreed it was an atrocity. Now it’s easily his most famous and acclaimed album. Fans are just now discovering gems like John’s Mind Games or George’s Living in the Material World. The arguments keep changing—that’s what makes it fun.

This list gives all four Beatles room to make noise. Obviously, it’s tricky because Paul has a far bigger songbook than the others combined—he’s still thriving as a songwriter in his 80s, while John and George had their lives cruelly cut short. But the whole point of is list like this is mixing them up as equally as possible, or at least as far as the music demands. So they’re all fighting for space on this list, just as they always were on Beatles albums. (The Top Ten has three songs by each of the main songwriters, plus a Ringo banger.) But all 100 of these songs live up to that Beatles spirit. The dream will never be over.


John Lennon, ‘God’ (1970)

If you’re making the case for John Lennon as the greatest of rock & roll singers, “God” is the most ferocious performance of his lifetime, or practically anyone’s. It’s his spiritual exorcism from the end of Plastic Ono Band. John never howled so fiercely, raging against things he refuses to believe in anymore—magic, religion, politicians, yoga, Elvis, Dylan, The Beatles. But his voice is full of doo-wop tenderness at the end, as he confesses, “I was the Walrus, but now I’m John.” “God” is a song for anyone who’s ever had to start over as an adult, after the death of a dream they believed in. Something else you hear in “God”: Ringo on drums. He provides the crucial support he always gave his Beatle brothers—as John put it, “the courage to come screaming in.” Everybody did their bravest singing when they had Ringo behind them—and “God” is John at his bravest.


Paul McCartney, ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ (1970)

Paul McCartney wrote his most soulful, passionate, unforgettable love song for Linda, in the aftermath of the Beatles break-up. He felt lost and confused in all the turmoil, isolated on their Scottish farm, getting wasted and sleeping late and wondering what to do with his life now. But something even more terrifying: he was in love. As he confesses in this song, “Maybe I’m a lonely man who’s in the middle of something/That he really doesn’t understand.” Linda Eastman was a tough-as-nails New York woman who had her own life, her own career—not your typical consort for a Sixties rock star. But “Maybe I’m Amazed” captures the moment when their romance was just beginning. Paul and Linda were inseperable for the next 29 years, until her death; they never spent a single night apart until the week he went to a Tokyo jail in 1981. The music world had no idea what to make of this, so they just decided the McCartneys were weird. There are no other rock & roll love stories like this one. “Maybe I’m Amazed” tells that story in gloriously vivid detail. You can hear it in Paul’s ragged voice—he already knows that life as he knows it has changed. He has no idea what to expect from his future with Linda. He’s scared out of his wits. But neither one of them is backing away.