Counting Down (Well, UP) My Favorite Songs: #1

Just got back from a long break... first the dreaded Covid (fortunately the double-booster kept it to little more than a very mild cold), then a couple weeks of summer travel. And I suppose I could start up again with the album picks... but, as should be clear from other recent posts, I'm a little tired of it. I've written up over 800 records here, and while I've got thousands more in my collection, I'm facing diminishing returns here. So I could just stop and call it a day, add relegate this blog to the dustbin of history like so many others... but I still like the exercise of forcing myself to write a little bit every day.

So I thought, ok, maybe instead of albums we talk about songs for a bit. I've posted my Top 900 songs here before, maybe I just count 'em down? But I'm not sure I've got 900 days left in me, so probably safer to work my way from #1 and see how long it lasts. (Who knows, by then I may finally expand my Top 900 to a proper Top 1000.)

So without further throat-clearing, here's my favorite song of all time: The Beatles' "Rain," from 1966.

Now, obviously it's gonna be a Beatles song. I could make my Top 20 all Beatles songs. (But I've tried to show restraint and keep the repetition to a minimum... although we're gonna hit a number of them along the way, still hogging a lot of the top spots.)

The harder question... why "Rain"? I admit it's not an obvious choice. It's a B-side (to the pre-Revolver "Paperback Writer" single), never included on a proper LP, and (insanely) not even making the cut for the 1962-1966 "Red Album" collection. Indeed, while I probably heard it on the radio at some point in my childhood--the Chicago classic rock station used to have annual Beatles A-Z weekends where they played every Beatles song in alphabetical order, which is how I discovered a lot of Beatles music before I had the budget to buy the albums--I didn't actually own the song, and really discover it, until the Past Masters compilation CD came out in 1988.

Perhaps it's that relative rarity, and late discovery, that's partially responsible for my undying love of the song. By high school I was a diehard Beatles fanatic, intimately familiar with most of their music, but it wasn't until the end of college that I finally had the opportunity to really hear the song. It was almost like hearing a brand new Beatles record, some 18 years after their-break up... something that wasn't part of the oldies catalog that felt a little overplayed by that point in my life, but a truly "new" piece of music.

Which isn't to say it isn't an incredible song on its own merits. Maybe not their "best" song (we'll get to that one soon enough), but damn near perfect. The tune is incredibly infectious, and while not lyrically deep, it sticks with you. The guitars are a stunning wash of psychedelic jangle. Lennon is in fine voice, and the harmonies strategically deployed. Ringo's drumming has never sounded better... this track alone belies the myth that Ringo was somehow a lesser musician than the rest of the band. And of course you've got the tacked-on backwards verse at the end, inspired by Lennon accidentally playing the rough mix backwards while stoned late at night.

There are a lot of Beatles songs I can (and have!) play a million times and never tire of, but this one is somehow just a little more worthy of repeat plays than anything else.


  1. I do remember thinking that this was a peculiar pick when I saw your lists over on Spotify. I do wonder why this single seems to have (possibly) faded a bit in Beatles lore. I know how hugely regarded the Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields single is but for my money I think I would put Paperback Writer/ Rain up against them for lasting joy. Probably not for some sort of studio accomplishment, although the production touches on both sides of this single are pretty marvelous as well.

  2. And don't forget Paul's ridiculous bassline and bass presence in general. I like to re-listen to their stuff and just focus on Paul's bass.

  3. Hey JWG...I read some time ago that Rain was also Ringo's favourite song(at least in the Beatles catalogue) you are in good company.
    In terms of what to do next can I recommend a new direction?? I participate in another forum focused mostly on audio gear but does stray into music as well. There was a recent thread that posed the theory that there is no new albums today that will stand the test of time. So was wondering if you would like to take a shot at proposal would be to highlight only albums that are great start to finish that are older than 1 year but less than 10 years old....just a thought.

    1. Not a bad idea. I obviously do not share the view of some that there are plenty of albums coming out today that will stand the test of time. Ok, maybe there is less and less room to come up with the next Abbey Road or Dark Side of the Moon or London Calling, but there are a few albums I can see turning to in the years ahead. I'll have to cobble together a list...

    2. I am not sure that any or all of these fit the criteria but these are albums that I have gone back to multiple times so if any can be cross referenced with your list it would be interesting(there are probably more but this was what I could think of)
      Cat Power – Sun
      Justin Townes Earle – Nothins gonna change the way you feel about me now
      The Weather Station – Ignorance
      Holly Miranda – Mutual Horse
      Broken Social Scene – Hug Of Thunder
      Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
      Daniel Lanois – Heavy Sun
      Robbie Robertson - Sinematic
      Grizzly Bear – Shields
      Gary Clark Jr. Black & Blu
      Gary Clark Jr. This Land
      Jonathan Wilson – Fanfare
      The National – Trouble Will Find Me
      The Black Keys – Delta Kream
      Phosphorescent – Muchacho
      Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I fight
      Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City
      Valerie June – The Order Of Time
      Laura Marling – Once I was an Eagle
      Orville Peck – Show Pony
      The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream
      alt-J – An Awesome Wave
      alt-J – This is All Yours
      Leon Bridges – Coming Home
      Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear
      Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think
      David Bowie – Black Star
      Morgan - Air
      Nick Cave – Skeleton Tree
      Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
      Beck – Morning Phase
      Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free
      Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Reunions
      Fleet Foxes – Crack Up
      Tt – Lovelaws
      Julien Baker – turn Out the Lights
      Perfume Genius – No Shape
      The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
      Father John Misty – God’s Favourite Customer
      The Decemberists – What Terrible World, What A Wonderful World
      Lucy Dacus – Historian
      Brandi Carlisle – By The Way I Forgive You
      Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
      The Marcus King Band – Carolina Confessions
      Beth Orton – Sugaring Season
      Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains
      Ryan Adams – 1989
      Aldous Harding – Designer
      Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising
      Tyler Ramsey – For The Morning
      Villagers – The Art Of Pretending to Swim
      Hazel English – Wake UP!
      Susto – Ever Since I lost My Mind
      Cass McCombs - Tip Of The Sphere
      Ray Lamontagne – Part Of The Light
      Frokedal – Flora
      Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg
      Lady Blackbird – Black Acid Soul
      Calexico & Iron and Wine – Years To Burn
      Yo La Tengo – Fade
      Stephen Malkmus – Traditional Techniques
      Joan As Police Woman – The Solution Is Restless
      Nick Mulvey – Wake Up Now
      Tom Petty - Mojo
      Mattiel – Satis Factory
      Black Country, New Road – for the first time
      King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – K.G.
      Sault – Untitled(Black Is)
      Whitney – Forever Turned Around
      Ryley Walker – Course In Fable
      Loma – Dont Shy Away
      London Grammar – Truth is a Beautiful Thing
      David Gray – Gold In a Brass Age
      Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
      Mondo Cozmo – Like A Bird
      EoB – Earth
      David Kilgour – Bobbies A Girl
      Deidre & The Dark – Variety Hour
      Katie Pruitt - Expectations

  4. Replies
    1. After moving on from WLS-AM, the top 40 station that first got me into music, I flipped over to WLUP and WXRT on the FM dial. I don't remember which one rant the Beatles A-Z weekends.


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