The SFW Survey: What's Your Favorite Beatles Song & Why?

Here's our new thing: we're asking everyone in the world to answer song-related questions for us so that we can share your responses on Strawberry Fields Whatever and then all get to know each other so much better. Our next question is "Which song do you most closely associate with the first time you fell in love?" If you'd like to answer, please email your response here, sometime before August 13. We're most interested in the story behind the song. Tell us your stories, morning glories.


"Tomorrow Never Knows" 

-Laura Jane

"You Never Give Me Your Money"


Today my favorite Beatles song is "Don't Bother Me", but I don't think it's my overall forever favorite. Here is a brief history of some favorite Beatles songs:

"I Should Have Known Better" was my first favorite Beatles song. I liked it because of the whoa-whoa-I and hey! hey! hey! parts. I was 10. There's also the harmonica and the scene in A Hard Days Night where they're playing cards and singing it with girls staring and grabbing at them, which I loved. I think I was also super into "Happy Just to Dance With You" at the time. George. Fun. Cute. Eventually I was in high school feeling weird, angsty and dramatic so I liked "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" the best. A few years ago I was out at some show or something and heard "Don't Let Me Down" and it hit me in a super emotional way. I loved it. That was my favorite Beatles song. 


my favorite beatles song is honey pie, because my dad used to sing it to me when i was little and also because it's just one of those beatles songs that they obviously were trying out some weird shit for funzies. the whole white album rules (yes, i am one of THOSE PEOPLE) but honey pie is just cute and happy and lovely and doesn't make you feel like anyone's on drugs and that's the best to me. this is probably a very predictable answer coming from me.

You ask this because it's a tough question, right? I'm not some typical Beatles fan with a quick answer to this; I love the Beatles, like a lot of people, but having been a little kid right when the Beatles were big, it's for sure part of the soundtrack of my childhood (I don't often listen to them regularly now), and therefore the answer is complex. The Beatles in general remind me a lot of moving to New York City and playing with my cool first grade friend Liz Lewis whose mom was an artist and painted her living room orange one week and black the next (my mom was an opera singer, our room was done in tasteful velvet and toile and we did not listen to the Beatles in our house). So I'm going to just pick this one and you should know that after you print this I'll probably decide I was wrong and wish I'd said "Norwegian Wood." But today: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Mostly because of the melody (for me, it's almost always melody, except when it isn't). Because I mean come on: (I look at the world and I notice it's turning/while my guitar gently weeps/With every mistake we must surely be learning/still my guitar gently weeps). Did I actually answer the question? 

"Yesterday." It was the only Beatles song I really knew in high school. "Come Together" doesn't count, I only knew that because of the cover Aerosmith did that they used to use to advertise trucks for rednecks back home. Our class theme was Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2," which we thought was very clever because we were teenagers, but the song that defined my senior year of school was definitely "Yesterday." We took a bus from Madrid to Valencia for our senior trip. I think it was just an overnight trip, but at one point, most of the senior class, including people I'd only hung out with briefly or actively beefed with, were chilling on the beach late at night, smoking and drinking. At some point, someone started singing "Yesterday" while we sat on driftwood, and then another person joined in, and then another until all of us were singing or harmonizing. Ever since, I've really loved that song. I had this marker that I'd used for tagging occasionally (I was never good at it), and I scrawled my name and a bunch of other people's names into the wood, along with the phrase "and I remain indelible," a line from a Company Flow song. It felt like the right thing to do.

-David Brothers (writer, 4thletter!) (PS: Laura Jane would like to add that this piece David wrote about Shakey Dog by Ghostface Killah is one of the best things she's read all year) 

This, of course, is an impossible question. So I'll do my best to evade it. I do have a favorite album, Rubber Soul. My parents owned it, so I grew up listening to it, singing it, dancing around the house with it. Only later, in the way that we can't see evolution except in retrospect, did I realize where it stands in the arc of the band, perfectly poised on the cusp of everything Beatles, and thus everything rock music. Propelled by the sweet pop and the deep soul of the early days, with the happy harmonies and catchy hooks, it also dips into what would come next: hippie, folk, psychedelia, social commentary, and the forlorn. So there it is, balanced between lyrics both straightforward and cryptic. And between Ringo's upbeat cymbals and George's introspective sitar. And between love songs and pain songs. On the cover, groovy lettering and longer hair, but no beards or mustaches yet. Each song is a little ball, a rubber ball, that bounces around inside you. Most of us who listened to that record can still hum the tunes of each song on it, and come up with quite a bit of the lyrics, too.
       I do wonder how much of my love for this record is intertwined with my love for my childhood, when this record was playing. Before the divorce, before welfare and food stamps, before sex and disappointment and despair and money problems, that's when I was listening to the word, love; these are words that go together well; I'm looking through you, you're not the same; time after time, you refuse to even listen; baby you can drive my car, and baby I love you; You better run for your life if you can little girl, hide your head in the sand little girl, catch you with another man, that's the end-a.
        As for the favorite song, what's so hard is deciding between early and late Beatles, those two sides of the cusp I mention. But I have a soft spot for an early song, "Hold Me Tight," again, for sentimental as well as harmonic reasons: a great boyfriend taught it to me and we'd sing it together with him on guitar and coming in with that echo in the chorus to my lead. I always side with young Elvis over old Elvis, too. But if you want it roughed up, The Smithereens do a great fuzzy metal version of "Hold Me Tight," too.

-Frances Lefkowitz (author, To Have Not)

When I got into bed, I asked my girlfriend what her favorite Beatles song was and she said "'Norwegian Wood.'" Then she said, "'Carry that Weight.'" Then "No. 'Paperback Writer.' Definitely."
        We were quiet for a minute. I thought maybe she'd fallen asleep. The she said, "All of them. All the Beatles' songs are my favorite."
        OK, then. Me too.

-Erica Lorraine Scheidt (author, Uses for Boys)

"Any Time At All" is a favorite. I appreciate that's it's such a pure, upbeat declaration of love and loyalty. Plus you can dance to it! I've lovingly stuck it on multiple mix CDs for friends over the years.

-Sarah-Lynn Knowles (editor, Storychord)

This is the music writer equivalent of that old playground game where you had to choose between, like, french-kissing your grandmother or sliding down a razor blade into a vat of rubbing alcohol -- no matter what you pick, you really can't win. How can you take one song out of the greatest catalog of the rock era and hold it above all the others? UNPOSSIBLE.
        Well, whatever. Here's my totally arbitrary choice: "Here Comes the Sun." I'm not sure it's technically my favorite Beatles song, because I love a bunch of them more or less equally at different moments, but I'm picking it here. Why? Because I grew up in California, where you never have to think about the weather, but now I live in New Hampshire, where everything is frozen for half the year and the seasons really mean something. Every spring, when that first warm breeze floats in and I can start to imagine a future (temporarily) free of road salt and heavy coats, I listen to "Here Comes the Sun" at least once and feel nice and warm inside.
        Close runner-up: "Oh! Darling," because it's so much fun to sing when no one else is around.

-Jeff Giles, (editor-in-chief, Popdose.com)

"Hello, Goodbye" answers a lot of my questions. I'm surprised by this choice because i'm more of a John fan. I like it when Paul scream/yells in it and i always love George's guitar sounds. This song feels like what "The End" feels like. It's super sad. The end of love usually kills me but I don't have a problem with death. I also love "Something". It's so pretty.

-Sonja Ahlers (artist; author, The Selves)

"Strawberry Fields Forever." It's the first song on the Blue Album, which was the first Beatles cassette I ever listened to. When I was 13 my brother had borrowed it from a friend for a while, and at night I would steal it from his bedroom (he didn't like it when I listened to the same music as him, sibling rivalry I guess) and listen to it on my headphones as I fell asleep. "Strawberry Fields Forever" has an otherworldly, dreamy quality that captivated me from the beginning, and it was always a bit jarring when "Penny Lane" came on afterwards.

-Anabela Carneiro (superstar blogger, Fieldguided

My favorite Beatles song is "Long, Long, Long." This is so obvious for anyone who knows me well; I've always been a George kind of girl in the Beatles cosmology. But besides the obvious melancholy beauty of the song, it's kind of a bellwether for me: if you love "Long, Long, Long," then there is about a 75% increase of the chance that I'll love you completely, sincerely and unabashedly. To favor it above other songs in the vast and rich Beatles discography is a sign that someone has a particularly romantic, elegiac spirit and exquisite sensitivity, at least in my mind. I remember a moment when "Long, Long, Long" was playing at a mellow Irish pub, and my companion for the evening confessed over a glass of Jameson that it was one of his favorite Beatles songs. I was so excited to hear this; he was foxy, witty, intelligent and incredibly adorable, and I already could spend whole evenings watching him talk and seeing how his eyes lit up when he caught hold of a torrent of ideas. But I was looking for real signs, wondering if he was my heart's true companion and was he the real deal? A true love's got to be more than an evening's entertainment, after all. "Long, Long, Long" was like getting the first in a trail of clues, each one leading to the next "yes," and "yes," and "yes." And I've been saying "yes" ever since.

-Kat Asharya (writer, filmmaker, subversive romantic)

I would have to say "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," because it so perfectly sums up a shimmering aesthetic and worldview of possibility and perhaps higher consciousness. Also, I obviously enjoy everything with the word "Diamonds" in it. I once spent a night lying on the putting green outside the house I grew up in, in the deep vast silence with my best friend, at age 14 or so, and think often of the particular quality of those stars. Why do we think that we know more as we age? We may have more experience, but not necessarily more of the answers. I try to remain humble in the face of such vast natural beauty that surrounds us where we dwell.

-Lauren Cerand (publicist, blogger, purveyor of elegance) 

"Hey Jude" is my favorite Beatles song. Which is definitely a cliche, but certainly one of those cliches that exists for a reason. Plus it's one of the longer Beatles songs so if you put it on a jukebox you get to dominate the jukebox for longer than you would otherwise. "Oh! Darling" is a close second.

-Chelsea Fairless (blogger, Cat Party)

"When I'm Sixty-Four" because it was the first song that I remember noticing my dad was modifying the lyrics of. It's something he's always done and still does, but I keenly remember listening closely to that song and realizing that the line wasn't "when I'm six feet four." I've grown up making the same silly lyrics modifications (eg. my version of a Depeche Mode classic - "Just Can't Give A Fuck"), so I suppose I have "When I'm Sixty-Four" to thank for it. 
        It also made me learn early on that my father pulls my leg a lot.

-Samantha Garner (writer, clock & bell

I wasn't a Beatles kid growing up, neither my mom or dad listened to them. In fact, my Dad often talked shit about them because he preferred The Who. He has a tendency to rail against the popular for no reason other than POPULAR, ARGH. I felt this way about the Beatles for the longest time, until I broke that conditioning (Thanks Dad!) The song that did it, and the one that I still love for that reason to this day, is 'Happiness Is Warm Gun'. I wish I had another deeper explanation other than 'Bang Bang, Shoot Shoot' being really pleasing to my ear. That lazy, crunchy sounding guitar right before "I need a fix cuz I'm going down…"
-Morgan Jeske (artist, illustrator, all-around solid dude) 

Choosing a favorite Beatles song is kind of like choosing a favorite noodle in plate full of perfectly cooked pasta. Seriously, how could you ever make that distinction? I mean sure, maybe a few of those noodles are a little undercooked, maybe even crunchy. And there might even be one that's overcooked, just too squishy to ever pass the al dente test. But if you don't love 'em all equally, you're probably not Italian so just shut up right now. (Sorry, lost my head for a second there. Clearly this is a very emotional topic for me.)
      Unfortunately for me, there's a gun to me head right now regarding this question, and truth be told I am happy to oblige (even it's not a warm one, and no, I'm not apologizing this time). So I'm going with "Hey Jude." The nerdy know-it-all fan in me is kicking my ass right now, insisting that I think a little harder and choose something either more obscure, or more in line with my personal being, or more rockin' (since I routinely cite the supremely rockin' Please Please Me as my favorite Beatles studio album). But the fact is, "Hey Jude" has brought more joy into my life than any other Beatles song, bar none. This is directly on account of my having seen Paul McCartney perform live about 14 times or so since 1990. All of those performances included "Hey Jude," and each time he played the song, the unbridled joy of his performance prepped all of us in attendance for the celebrated "na na na, na na na na" coda. We'd need that buildup of energy, because Paul expected us all to sing along. We always did, and we always will as long as he keeps playing it. There's no better way to experience the communal bliss and interconnectedness that the Beatles have brought to the entire world than to experience being in the same room as Paul McCartney, singing the coda to "Hey Jude" with thousands of other like-minded individuals. If you've been there, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, go right ahead and add "attend a Paul McCartney concert" to your list of things to do before you die (and before he dies -- he's 70 now, remember that).

-Michael Fortes (writer, Popdose.com

The truth is that I’m not a huge Beatles fan, which I know is heresy around here. Shoot me. It’s not that I don’t like the music, just that I never really got into it. But if I had to pick a favorite, I’d probably go with "Norwegian Wood."

-Brady Hammes (writer, photographer)

Like so many important things in my life, my favourite Beatles song comes from memories of my childhood. My brother and I spent a lot of time at my grandparents house after school when my parents were still at work. They had these old LPs from when my mom was a kid: mostly Elvis and Beatles’ singles. My brother and I would turn up the record player, clear off this long coffee table in the living room, hop on, and dance. Every time I listen to “I Want to Hold Your Hand” I can still imagine doing the twist with this little kid with a rat tail, and feeling like the coolest person in the world. I also really like “Please Please Me,” but that one doesn’t have a memory associated with it.

-Laura Maize (blogger, Burgundy Girls)

I’ve never known why exactly, but "You Never Give Me Your Money" cuts so deep. Something about the quiet acceptance, that certain loneliness that can only come from certain relationships. Both parties know they can’t give what the other needs and neither’s willing to be the first to give in. They simply show love in different, incompatible ways. It’s a lament without much blame, an understanding that all this union will ever do is break down, all in a lean 1:07.
        In some ways, choosing this track is a copout. It’s a little all over the map, a choice sampling of bits of songs, much in the same way The White Album is a great Beatles album because there’s just so much of them there. "You Never Give Me Your Money" is a little sounder, but with the same bursting appeal of having much too much of everything.

-Amanda Caswell (blogger, Burgundy Girls)

My favorite Beatles song is "Here Comes the Sun" because it perfectly captures the sweet, delicate hope that tiptoes into existence after long winters, heartbreaks, and any other hardships that cause us to thoroughly despair, conjuring that beautiful, blissful moment when we feel happy for the first time after any season of darkness. And because of the way he says "Little Darling." And because I want to be George Harrison when I grow up.

-Sarah Tomlinson (writer, author, Duchess of Rock)

"long long long" - I must confess I am not the world's biggest Beatles fan. This is the one song that I have always really loved, and each time I hear it I think to myself... ahh! one of these days, I will learn to appreciate the Beatles more.

-Andrew C. Seitz (blogger/photographer: Soft FocusOne From The Heart, Ginza Cosmetics, Dream Boat City)

It might actually be "Revolution No. 9." I know, I'm probably the only person in the universe who would answer that way. But that song was foundational for me, when I turned eleven and got a tape of the White Album. I didn't know that you could do things like that! I first heard it in the minivan, as it was getting late and we were on the last leg of the six-hour drive to the DC suburbs, and my mom and all my siblings had fallen asleep. I was fascinated and attracted and maybe the simplest way to put it is, my tiny mind was blown. I got heavily into psychedelic sounds and mind bending movies long before I was "experienced," and maybe it's the Lads' fault that I love pot so much. 

-Pat Barrett (designer, illustrator, cartoonist)

There is no one answer to this, obviously, but I'm going to go with “Martha My Dear.” In high school I thought I had a massive crush on a girl named Michelle, who could play it on the piano. She had a beautiful voice! I love Paul McCartney's cheeseball songs. What do Paul haters have against happiness?

-Alexandra Molotkow (writer: The Hairpin, Toronto Standard, Weekend at Bernie Taupin's) 

"Across the Universe." I just love it. It's such a sweet song. And both David Bowie and Miss Fiona Snapple covered it beautifully, which is how I was introduced to it.

-Niki Luparelli (chanteuse, hula-hooping comedienne, one half of the world-famous Steamy Bohemians)

Favorite Beatles song… hmmm… I'm gonna have to go with HELP, since that's what instantly sprang to mind, although I've had tons of favorites over the years (I Am the Walrus, Something, Hey Jude, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) and recently found out I still know all the songs & most of the dialogue to Hard Day's Night (watching it with my sister). Maybe because I just identify with it so strongly now, although I didn't realize that either until just this moment. It has this sincerity and directness that's both disarming and affecting––maybe that's how I want to come off (sincere, direct) and how I want people to respond (disarmed).

-Amy Herschleb (editor, The Fanzine)

"Something." It was our "first dance" song at our wedding almost 2 years ago :)

-Laurie Kearney (owner/curatator, Ghost Gallery in Seattle)

"I'm So Tired."  I'm a person with depression, so I sleep a lot. "I'm So Tired" reminds me of the times when I try to be sweet to myself and coax myself into doing another day, and I'm like "Hey kiddo - you can hit the snooze button 3 times in a row!  You deserve these extra naps. So much." When you finally get out of bed, you can do a little dance to the "You say / I'm putting you on..." part (you do that knee-fist-leg-pull thing Beyonce does in the "whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh" part of the "Single Ladies" music video, only slower) and you can deal with whatever the day may have in store.

-Kritty Uranowski (singer/songwriter, Patti Cake

"What You're Doing" -- Because: Ringo! He's got that simple, perfect drumbeat. And I love the sing-a-long aspect of it. Imagine being tipsy with a bunch of your best friends and yelling along "PLEASE!" + "YOU!" when it plays on the stereo...I know I've done it at least once. My cat is named Ringo.

-Sarah Utter (artist, bassist/vocalist for Western Hymn)  

I could try to be funny and say "Revolution 9" because it's the longest, or agree with everyone who says "A Day In the Life" because it's considered their greatest artistic statement, blah, blah, blah. I could also name about 100 Beatles songs and they'd all be my favourite. This is what happens when your mom is a lifelong Beatle fan who takes you to your first rock concert to see Paul McCartney. SO, I narrowed it down to four. "Because" has the most incredible harmonies - it never fails to confound me that this is the sound of a group breaking up (it's the last actual song they recorded) - and that weird, lovely Moog solo. But it doesn't have Ringo, and you can't have a favourite Beatles song that doesn't have Ringo. The same goes for "Dear Prudence", despite the fact that it has almost everything you could imagine wanting in a song AND it was covered by Siouxsie, which immediately makes it one of the sexiest Beatles songs ever recorded. No Ringo, no dice. "Here Comes the Sun" makes me happier than anything they ever recorded and feels like a sweet, warm hug from George, but it doesn't have John. In the end, I'll pick "I Should've Known Better" - the first song I saw them play, the first time anyone sees them play in the best movie of all time. And you never forget your first time.
-Thierry Côté (music writer, Sonic Weapons)

The mother of all music questions, aside from what "buzzy" means. "Eleanor Rigby" strikes the deepest chord. It's one of those rare songs that so clearly mixes and matches story with sound. Also, the orchestral elements are prominently featured in this song, which makes me fall in love every time. Just when we've become fully immersed in the track, the music abruptly stops, putting our emotions to a screeching halt. And we yearn to feel that vulnerability all over again.

Pure gold.

-Lee Levin (writer/editor, Knox Road)


  1. I love how varied the responses are, and where people overlap and why.

    I think "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" is definitely the #1 Beatles song that I always want to sing at karaoke and then somehow forget to pick when I get caught up in the moment. There are so many changes and and switch-ups in that song that it's probably a transcendantal experience if you sing it with a bunch of friends.

  2. Mine is "Let it be" because it puts me in a deeply reflective mood and helps me step back and think about life particularly when things aren't going my way.