All Time Top 5 – Solo Beatles Songs

I randomly picked up Plastic Ono Band (the Lennon one, not the Ono) at a record shop in Baltimore a few months back. I had never heard the album (gasp!) and was always of the opinion that Lennon had by far the worst solo career of all the Beatles. “Imagine”? Come on does anyone really like that sentimental, tacky crap? Turns out Plastic Ono Band is brilliant, and there are many gems to be found in Lennon’s discog. In honor of Dave picking me up a significantly better copy of POB, here are the All Time Top 6 (I couldn’t decide on just 5) songs by solo Beatles!

All Time Top 5 is a bi-weekly feature written by Those Who Dig where we combine our love for High Fidelity, lists, and musical trivia into a totally arbitrary article of rankings. It’s a win-win.



Ringo Starr – I’m The Greatest

My Dad is a huge Beatles’ nut and had most of their albums on vinyl when I was growing up. He also had Ringo Starr’s first rock solo album Ringo. For some odd reason, my 8 year old self couldn’t get enough of that shit. In my older, wiser years I realized Starr was the crazy, least talented Beatle and I forgot about that album for a long time.

When I finally revisited it, I found to my surprise that it is by far one of the strongest solo Beatles albums. Now, this is probably because all his fellow ex-Beatles played on it and wrote some of the songs along with big names like The Band and Harry Nilsson. Nevertheless, Ringo pulled some talent out of his butt with this one. The stand-out track to me is the self-confident, bragging jam “I’m The Greatest” that is (of course) written by Lennon and has Harrison shredding.



Paul McCartney – Jet

I should probably rank my Beatles at this point. While in the Beatles, my order was as such: Harrison, Lennon, McCartney, Starr. McCartney’s solo stuff always seemed pretty cheesy to me and a little too radio-friendly. But I’ll admit it. Band on the Run is a pretty great album. And “Jet” is just a flat-out fun song. It has awesome horns and that reggae swing. And McCartney constantly yelling shit. That’s a win in my book.



John Lennon – Well Well Well

I know this isn’t the most profound song on Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band. I just love it. This album spawned out of Lennon’s primal scream therapy and served as a way to release his deep emotions about his family and upbringing. The heat and passion explodes all over your face throughout “Well Well Well” as Lennon does his best Wilhelm Scream. Over and over. And over.



George Harrison – If Not For You

This was probably the hardest choice for me. Picking the best song from All Things Must Pass is like choosing between an amazing sandwich and tuna steak. It’s impossible, because it’s all so amazing. “If Not For You” is one of those simple love songs that would only be written in the 1970’s. It’s so straightforward and sentimental. But Harrison kills it with a pedal steel and a great vocal performance. Miss ya, Georgie.



John Lennon – Oh Yoko!

I know I gave “Imagine” shit earlier, but the album had one of the greatest solo Beatles songs on it. “Oh Yoko!”, despite it’s namesake and throwaway lyricism, is a rollicking, undeniable, addictive pop tune. It’s so ridiculously catchy, you just want to put it on repeat and listen to it for the length of a 6 hour road trip. Not that I’ve ever done that….it was only a 3 hour trip. Also, I can’t say the inclusion in Rushmore didn’t help.



John Lennon – Working Class Hero

I read a great word describing this album once: “unflinching”. Lennon bares it all on Plastic Ono Band like maybe nobody has since . “Working Class Hero” is stripped down and bare. It’s a man, his guitar, and decades of sadness and emotion. It’s profound, universal, and personal. It’s also the greatest solo Beatles song.

-Words by Kyle

6 comments for “All Time Top 5 – Solo Beatles Songs

  1. Sam
    March 30, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    Great choices, can’t say I disagree with them. I’d never even looked at Ringo’s solo stuff for pretty obvious reasons, but “Im the Greatest” is pretty hilarious. Lennon’s backing on it sounds so much more appropriate though haha. Oh and it’s worth mentioning that “If Not For You” is a Dylan song, though George tears it up.

  2. March 30, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    That’s funny I actually had the thought as I was writing this that “If Not For You” was Dylan. Don’t know if I had heard that before or if it’s because it just sounds so much like him. Good to know!

  3. Patrick
    March 30, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    excellent, thanks Kyle!

  4. March 31, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    I keep telling myself that I’m going to get around to digging into more of their solo stuff… I mean, I’ve read a Lennon biography and whatnot, so there’s a basis of interest… but I never get around to it. Thanks for sharing.

    Sidebar: Isn’t that an odd thought… having to set time aside specifically for the purpose of listening to something? Perhaps it isn’t and I’m just groggy, but it’s a funny thought at the moment.

  5. Dan B
    November 28, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    Wow, well those definately wouldn’t be my top 6, but yea good songs anyway. I don’t know why you say imagine is “sentimaental, tacky, crap” because all these songs really are similar in many ways.

  6. Kris
    June 23, 2012 at 3:45 AM

    I love topics like this, you did a good job, except for ‘if not for you’, there are some other amazing songs on that Harrison record. I’ve always been a bit unsure of ‘working class hero’, it always seems to me a little fake in away, I think ‘gimme som truth’ and ‘mother’ are more real in my opinion. thanks for posting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *