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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.


Paul McCartney, ‘Put It There’ (1989)

Paul’s realest fatherhood song, inspired by both his dad and his son. (Both named James—as is James Paul McCartney.) “Put it there’ is an expression my dad Jim often used,” he recalled. “When he was shaking your hand he would say, ‘Put it there if it weighs a ton.’” The father tells his son, “As long as you and I are here, put it there.” But it’s also connected to his Beatles brotherhood. “I wonder whether I wanted to direct this song in John,” he says in The Lyrics. “Whether it’s not, in its own way, a peace offering to a man who died way too early.”


John Lennon, ‘I Found Out’ (1970)

John tears down a few of the false idols he sees getting worshipped around him, like drugs, religion, and masculinity. He snarls, “I seen through junkies, I been through it all, I seen religion from Jesus to Paul.” He’s got tough words for his parents’ generation—“They didn’t want me so they made me a star”—but also his own, scoffing, “The freaks on the phone won’t leave me alone/So don’t give me that ‘brother-brother-brother-brother.’” But his guitar never lets up—so bristly, so wary, coiled to lash out at any target in sight. 


Paul McCartney, ‘Little Willow’ (1997)

A beautiful elegy for Ringo’s first wife Maureen “Mo” Cox Starkey Tigrett, after she died from leukemia in 1994—the first Beatles spouse to pass away. Paul visited her in the hospital; Ringo was at her side when she died. Mo was one of the original Beatlemaniac fangirls who used to scream for them at the Cavern Club. (She kissed Paul before she got to Ringo.) As you can see in the Get Back rooftop concert, she’s cheering louder than anyone, still the most passionate fan around. Paul’s last words on the roof: “Thanks, Mo.” He dedicated “Little Willow” to her children.


John & Yoko, ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ (1971)

Strange as it seems, this holiday classic flopped in the U.S. when it came out in 1971, and vanished for the rest of John’s life. The public didn’t discover “Happy Xmas (War Is Over”) until December 1980, while reeling in shock and grief after his murder. That was the first Christmas the radio played it, and that’s when it became the beloved seasonal standard we’ve known ever since, with Yoko and the Harlem Community Choir kids chanting, “War is over if you want it.” Honorable mistletoe to Ringo’s “I Wanna Be Santa Claus,” George’s “Ding Dong, Ding Dong,” and the Paul song you were hoping we wouldn’t mention at all.