Ranking the 5 Best Album-Opening Songs on Beatles Albums

The Beatles revolutionized music in more ways than we have space to list here. For one: They transformed (accidentally at first, consciously as time passed) the status of the LP from an afterthought in the hierarchy of rock to an essential vessel for an artistic statement. In doing that, they made sure to consistently start their albums off with a bang.

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Let’s dive into The Beatles’ catalog and look at their best album-openers. We’re narrowing it to five, so expect some classics to be left out. And we’re basing the rankings both on the songs’ overall quality, and how well they jump-start and set the tone for their respective albums.

5. “A Hard Day’s Night” from A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

Not only was this an ideal song to start an album, but it also proved perfect as the kickoff for the movie of the same name, which was also The Beatles’ first cinematic excursion. “A Hard Day’s Night” has an edge in this department because of that iconic blast of an opening chord. From there, the boys sustain a pace as relentless as it is invigorating. The song is also a typically smart collaboration between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, which is apropos because the A Hard Day’s Night album was the only in the band’s catalog that consisted solely of Lennon/McCartney songs.

4. “Two of Us” from Let It Be (1970)

As a whole, Let It Be falls a bit short, quality-wise, of the band’s other late-period albums. But it starts off with a beauty in this lovely ballad. McCartney was actually referring to his relationship with Linda, in that the two could escape the chaos of the world whenever need be and find refuge in each other. But with McCartney and Lennon singing harmonies like the old days, it was easy to interpret it as a testament to their friendship. And easier still to hear the song as an imagining of how we wanted it to be between the two once their friendship suffered some tough times.

3. “Taxman” from Revolver (1966)

George Harrison wouldn’t receive the honor of writing a single until Abbey Road, the final album The Beatles recorded (and the penultimate one they released). But Harrison did get to pen an album-opener in 1966—and what an album to open. “Taxman” introduced a bit of a different songwriting edge to the group, with Harrison willing to acerbically make light of the status quo. The band had been largely big-tent crowd-pleasers to that time. Here was a song that was willing to question and even protest, and to do so with humor and insight.

2. “Come Together” from Abbey Road (1969)

Even though they were all still in their 20’s when they made it, Abbey Road has an almost autumnal feel to it, perhaps because the group knew their time together was drawing near an end. “Come Together” starts the album off with a bit of feisty rock, as if to say that they could still get it done as well as the whippersnappers when they set their minds to it. Lennon wrote it as a campaign song for Timothy Leary (ah, the ’60s). It ended up being a kind of sleazy portrait of a miscreant, but one that soars thanks to the thrilling musical touches (Harrison’s weeping guitar, McCartney’s smoky piano.)

1. “I Saw Her Standing There” from Please Please Me (1963)

“Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me” were technically released as singles before The Beatles uncorked their first LP on the world. But if you went chronologically by albums, “I Saw Her Standing There” counts as not only an album-opener, but also a career-opener. And how fitting it is on both counts. First, there’s a count-in to prepare us for what’s to come, although you can’t really ever be prepared for the ebullient burst once they all kick into gear. The rhythm section of McCartney and Ringo Starr make the biggest impact in this song with their precision in the midst of a furious pace.

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Photo by David Redfern/Redferns

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