The Impound is asking our favorite musicians to pick their eleven favorite Beatles songs in an effort to offer Fab-u-lous insights in our shared love of the greatest rock band of all-time. The latest entry comes from Tim Carbone, a musician DI has no problem describing as ridiculously talented and not a little magic. When Tim is firing on all cylinders – which is most of the time – he not only shines in his own right but works as an inspired catalyst to his fellow players. Put another way, Carbone makes music richer, better and a number of other positive adjectives. The Railroad Earth violinist was one of the first people DI thought of for this series and we’re happy to present a slice of his fertile, wisdom-rich mind.
Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone’s 11 Favorite Beatles Songs
When Dennis asked me to do this I knew it would be hard. As an “uber fan” it seems almost impossible to pick eleven favorite Beatles songs. It might actually be easier to pick my eleven least favorite and then all the rest would be my favorite. I have decided not to put them in order of preference but instead I will put them in chronological order.
I have a very typical “reason why I became a musician” story, especially for a musician my age. I decided I was going to be a musician when I saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9th, 1964. I come from a musical family. My parents met while my mom was in a dance band playing at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC for dancers being instructed by my dad. Two of my older brothers were in bands and some of my earliest memories include my brothers and their friends singing “doo wop” on my front porch. But when The Beatles broke into “All My Loving” that night in 1964, my fate was sealed. I turned to my mom and said, “That’s what I want to do!” And so my ﬁrst choice for my eleven favorite Beatles songs is where it all started…
A Paul tune all the way. Concise, crisp with a really strong vocal that bordered on a rasp. I loved it from the ﬁrst downbeat. Ringo rocking back and forth and George stomping his foot, I was transﬁxed! Of course, seeing hundreds of girls go berserk may have had a bit to do with it. Ironically, the song would be playing on the sound system in the emergency room when John Lennon was pronounced dead at Roosevelt Hospital on December 8th, 1980, another date that changed my life. (LISTEN)
I’m A Loser
John in his “Dylan” period. John explained, “Part of me thinks I’m a loser and part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.” The record was recorded after coming back from touring America. The album title seems to sum up the time period and so do the album photos. Pretty dark compared to their previous work.
Geek alert! Just a word on the recording of these early albums: In England at this time the vast majority of the record buying public owned and listened to records recorded in mono. Record players that played stereo recordings were expensive and beyond the means of most post-war Brits. As a result the stereo mixes were treated almost as an afterthought. The songs were recorded to 2 and 4 tracks with drums almost always bounced (mixed down) to one track. That meant, most of the time, the drums were either going to be in the left or right channel – makes for an unbalanced listen. More importantly, the only mixes that The Beatles themselves had their hands on were the mono mixes. When they released the mono box-set some years ago I purchased them and it was almost like hearing the songs for the ﬁrst time. It was remarkable! I’ll be geeking out along the way here so sorry to those who I will inevitably bore. (LISTEN)
I’ll Follow The Sun
Do you have a song you love that immediately puts you in the same mood you were put in the ﬁrst time you heard it? “I’ll Follow The Sun” is such a song for me. There’s something about the “walking down the street” groove and the pitter patter drum beat that makes me happy-sad every time – a Paul song with a simple form. John and Paul double the short verses with Paul singing the single line verse alone. The bridge is classic with Lennon singing a descending harmony that also gives the song its happy-sad feeling. Love, love this song. (LISTEN)
One of Lennon’s great songs, a thinly veiled reference to an affair he was having. Unusual for a number reasons, it was in 3/4 time, not too common for a rock band, and it also featured the ﬁrst appearance of the sitar on a Beatles song, perhaps the ﬁrst ever on a rock record. Paul helped on the middle eight. (LISTEN)
When I hear this song my mind rewinds the movie reel of my life and I relive the times and memories with the people I’ve loved and lost. As I get older the list of people this song conjures up to me keeps growing. A powerful song can do that, transport you. It sounds like a collaboration – middle eight has Paul written all over it. The solo sounds like a harpsichord but is actually a piano piece written and played by George Martin and recorded at half speed, thereby sped up on playback making it an octave higher. (LISTEN)
She Said, She Said
A total Lennon song. In fact, Paul doesn’t even play on it. That’s George playing the bass. A very trippy track. It was included in many of my psychedelic soundtracks. “I know what it’s like to be dead.” The story goes that Peter Fonda spit out the line describing a near-death experience he had whilst tripping with John, George and Ringo. It wasn’t the only or last LSD inspired bit of Lennon writing. I love the jangling, semi-distorted guitar ﬁgures and the circular drumming. (LISTEN)
Got To Get You Into My Life
This is a highly underrated Paul song. The horns! Close miked, compressed and right in your face! The vocal is so amazing, especially the ad libs at the end. The outro on the mono version is completely different then the stereo version we’re so used to hearing. It goes on about 10 or 15 seconds longer with the trumpet and Paul’s vocal wailing away. (LISTEN)
An underrated Lennon classic. More overly compressed horns courtesy of Sound Incorporated. I love this song mostly because I’ve always thought the guitar solo was the most ripping on any Beatles record. I played air guitar in front of the mirror in my bedroom when I was a kid a thousand times to it. It wasn’t until I started recording and producing records and studying how these recordings were made that I found out that the guitar solo was performed by Paul! (LISTEN)
Within You Without You
One of the few songs featuring just one Beatle. In this case George. The lyrics are my essential philosophy in life. They are the simple pieces of the puzzle. Thank you, George, for introducing me to this way of life and the music of India that has so moved me and inﬂuenced my music and way of thinking. (LISTEN)
I had the [White Album poster up in my room for two years. I stared at it for clues. Paul, upper left corner. Paul is dead. He blew his mind out in a car. There it was! Turn me on, dead man,, turn me on, dead man. They had practically ceased being a band. They were recording their separate songs many times separately, occasionally on the same day in different parts of Abbey Road. Even their long time engineer Geoff Emerick bailed on them. Ken Scott engineered most of the record. Me and my friends had had it with the Vietnam War, school, parents… Fuck it all! This song was the soundtrack of my life then. The geek point in this song is that the incredibly distorted guitar was achieved by plugging the electric guitar directly into the Redd mixing desk and cascading one overdriven pre-amp into another. Rip your head off guitar tone achieved! (LISTEN)
The ﬁrst A-Side single for George and what a beauty! My second favorite guitar solo on a Beatles record. It has a tonally uplifting bridge thanks to the modulation from C major to A major, then back. Going to A minor (the relative minor) would have been more conventional. “You’re asking me will my love grow?” A major baby. It makes the song feel like it’s growing. After the discord of the White Album and the disaster that was Let It Be, Abbey Road brought the team back together. Geoff Emerick and George Martin were both back and The Beatles ﬁnished their career as a band on a very high note indeed. (LISTEN)
Like I said, all (or most) of The Beatles songs are my favorite and I could write about them all. These are but a small portion of them, the ones that most shaped me as a musician and a person. Thanks, Dennis, for letting me share my thoughts on these songs!