Ranking the 5 Best Songs The Beatles Released in Their Incredible Year of 1967

We’re guessing there are other candidates that can stake a claim, but it’s hard to think off the top of our heads of any band or artist ever having a better recording year than The Beatles did in 1967. Fresh off their decision to cease touring, they focused their energies on the studio and released masterpiece after masterpiece.

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We decided to dive into that impressive year and rank the five best songs that the Fab Four delivered in that magical 12-month stretch. See if you agree with our choices.

5. “All You Need Is Love”

Amidst what was an incredibly busy year, The Beatles had to find time to write a song for a satellite television special that would be shown worldwide, since they were Great Britain’s representatives on the show. John Lennon rose to the occasion by delivering the message the world needed to hear, and still does. No, the recording isn’t the most dynamic, since the circumstances forced a kind of simplicity onto it. But that just means that everything gets out of the way so that Lennon can explain how nothing else matters if you have love in tow.

4. “She’s Leaving Home”

“Yesterday” might have paved the way and “Eleanor Rigby” solidified their technique, but, for our money, “She’s Leaving Home” stands as The Beatles’ best-ever borrowing classical music fusion. The story was taken from an item in a newspaper about a teenage runaway, but Paul McCartney (in the verses) and John Lennon (in the refrains as the parents) get to the heart of what makes this family tick, for good and bad. That kind of insight elevates what could have been a routine character sketch into something majestically bittersweet.

3. “Strawberry Fields Forever”

Once The Beatles knew that they were no longer touring, they took extra time in the studio to make sure their ambitious musical ideas were realized. But they also seemed to dig a little bit deeper as songwriters once they were free of the burden of the road. “Strawberry Fields” frames the titular location from John Lennon’s childhood as a kind of ideal, but Lennon’s struggles to make sense of his present situation give the song its depth. The music mirrors this dichotomy, at turns almost lullaby-like, and, at other times, copping a deeply unsettling vibe.

2. “I Am the Walrus”

As experimental as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band may have been in a musical sense, many of the songs were grounded by slice-of-life stories. On the EP Magical Mystery Tour, released later in 1967, the lyrics tended to match the music in terms of their off-kilter weirdness. “I Am the Walrus” proves just how glorious that approach can be with firm hands at the controls. Lennon’s lyrics are gobbledygook, but somehow moving nonetheless. And even with all the bizarre embellishments in the arrangement, Ringo Starr’s driving beat is the crucial component, centering the whole affair.

1. “A Day in the Life”

We’re not going out on too much of a limb to say that “A Day in the Life” is not just the best by The Beatles in ’67, but also their best ever, full stop. After learning of the death of a young man they knew, John Lennon began musing on the mundane things we do to fill up our days while we’re alive. Paul McCartney’s middle section suggests that we do a lot of rushing around but never really get anywhere. When Lennon sings I’d love to turn you on, he is referring to a drug trip. But what truly turns us on is music as inventive and transporting as what’s provided by The Beatles on this one-of-a-kind track.

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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