The Beatles’ ‘White Album’ turns 50: Every song on the album, ranked
Released on Nov. 22, 1968, The Beatles’ self-titled ninth album – famously known as the “White Album” for its blank album cover – has endured as the group’s sprawling, experimental masterpiece.
“White Album” fans will be able to celebrate the release’s anniversary with a new box set featuring previously-unreleased sessions from its recording process, including 27 acoustic demos and 50 session takes alongside remastered versions of the album’s 30 tracks.
With its 30 songs, the “White Album” tracklist spans the highs and lows of the band’s catalog, from the album’s throwaway tracks – “Piggies,” anyone? – to several of the Beatles’ very best.
Below, revisit all 30 of the “White Album” songs, ranked from worst to best.
30. “Wild Honey Pie”
The “White Album” at its most vacantly experimental, “Wild Honey Pie” does have its fans. The rest of us, however, just skip over it to get from the album’s killer opening run of tracks to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” an annoying distraction from an otherwise-stellar side one.
29. “Good Night”
Poor Ringo Starr, whose vocals just can’t carry the album’s closing track, a lovely strings composition in theory that totally failed in its execution.
28. “Revolution 9”
One of the album’s more divisive tracks is John Lennon’s eight-minute composition of tape loops and mish-mashed vocals, which as the story goes, the rest of the Beatles and the band’s famed producer George Martin unsuccessfully lobbied to keep off the album. They had the right instinct.
27. “Honey Pie”
“Honey Pie” has nothing in common with its “Wild Honey Pie” counterpart, except their shared distinction as two of the lesser tracks on the album, with Paul McCartney’s take on British vaudeville music better left as an experimentation.
26. “Don’t Pass Me By”
Starr has marginally more success with the vocals of “Don’t Pass Me By,” though the song, his first recorded composition with the Beatles, does sound like exactly that — someone’s first song.
Between the harpsichord and the oinking in the background, “Piggies” is not George Harrison’s best.
24. “Savoy Truffle”
Another song that falls into the category of the Beatles just wasting time is “Savoy Truffle,” famously inspired by Eric Clapton’s love of chocolate, though perhaps Clapton himself would agree that it isn’t the most compelling topic for a song.
23. “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill”
“Bungalow Bill” is the point on the quality scale where the “White Album” filler tracks start to tip from frivolous to endearing, though, like “Wild Honey Pie,” really didn’t need to be in the album’s first six tracks.
22. “Martha My Dear”
McCartney allegedly named “Martha My Dear” after his dog, which is really the only memorable thing about this somewhat-forgettable “White Album” track.
In contrast, “Birthday” is one of the album’s least-forgettable tracks, thanks to its transcendence into a happy-birthday anthem. Critiquing this song is like critiquing “Happy Birthday To You,” but at least the song marginally rocks.
20. “Cry Baby Cry”
With the song buried on the album’s weaker side four, it’s easy to completely forget about “Cry Baby Cry,” with Lennon later calling his song “a piece of rubbish,” a harsh but not completely unfair characterization.
19. “Mother Nature’s Son”
One of the many songs inspired by the Beatles’ travels in India, “Mother Nature’s Son” features a lovely McCartney melody, though his meditations in its lyrics isn’t exactly the album’s most compelling songwriting.
18. “I Will”
Another perfectly fine McCartney composition, that charms some fans and puts others to sleep.
17. “Rocky Raccoon”
This underappreciated “White Album” gem deserves justice, with McCartney doing meandering folk with a wink, complete with Lennon on harmonica.
16. “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?”
Yes, the song is somewhat dumb, and definitely goofy, but hearing McCartney absolutely rip into the vocals is an undeniable pleasure.
15. “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide But Me And My Monkey”
A love song for Yoko Ono, Lennon’s “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide” is a ramshackle production, but charmingly so.
John Lennon’s ode to his mother could sound a little less lethargic, but his naked emotion still makes it a classic.
13. “Yer Blues”
Lennon is the opposite of lethargic on “Yer Blues,” written as he was spiraling into depression, articulated in the track’s raw blues.
12. “Glass Onion”
Here, Lennon offered up a cheeky answer to the fans obsessed with the band’s mythology, wrapped in a quintessentially Beatles-sounding track.
11. “Long, Long, Long”
Apologies to “Julia” and “I Will,” but it’s Harrison’s love song – which he later revealed was an ode to God – that’s the best on the album.
10. “I’m So Tired”
An absolute Lennon classic, written as he was sobering up (and likely going through withdrawal) in India, in which he turns his crankiness into songwriting gold.
9. “Sexy Sadie”
Lennon originally wrote this track to take shots at the Beatles’ associate Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but “Maharishi” became “Sexy Sadie” in the writing process, and voila, one of the band’s best kiss-off songs was born.
8. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”
Yes, this song is a top ten “White Album” cut, because as elementary as its chorus may be, it’s one of the band’s best melodies, period.
6. “Revolution 1”
Of the album’s 30 songs, it has seven indisputable classics, with “Revolution 1” kicking off the list of top-tier “White Album” tracks with its meandering early take on what would become one of the Beatles’ most famous singles.
7. “Back In The USSR”
“Back In The USSR” is McCartney in rockstar mode, offering his tongue-in-cheek take on the Beach Boys’ “California Girls” with a twist.
Famously known as music’s most-covered song, this McCartney staple didn’t get that reputation for not being a near-flawless song.
4. “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”
Not quite as ubiquitous as “Blackbird” or “Back In The USSR,” “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” is the album’s best example of John Lennon making good on his most indulgent impulses, as he strings together four song snippets, one of which written on an acid trip, for a deeply enjoyable song with one of his career-best vocal performances.
3. “Dear Prudence”
“Dear Prudence” is the most Beatles-y track on the “White Album,” a song – which is actually about Mia Farrow’s younger sister refusing to leave her room in India – that’s the perfect ideal of the band’s trademark sound.
2. “Helter Skelter”
McCartney’s best Beatles vocals come on the band’s hardest-rocking tracks, with poor Ringo’s cries that he has “blisters on his fingers” an appropriate casualty for a song this good.
1. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
There can only be one No. 1 song, and it’s Harrison’s crown jewel of the “White Album,” a song that’s come to define not just his legacy, but the band’s, an embarrassment of riches contained in its tight sub-five-minute runtime.
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