Ann Powers commemorates the availability of The Beatles on iTunes by listing her 15 favorite tracks by the Liverpudlians. Alex Ross responds with his own list, and thus a meme is born. Here are my 15 favorite Beatles tracks, as least as of right now:

15. "Back in the USSR" (The Beatles). Beach Boys-influenced rock 'n' roll, with clever and darkly ironic lyrics.

14. "All You Need is Love" (Magical Mystery Tour). With its quotations and trippy, layered texture, this prescriptive anthem is almost a pop Hymnen.

13. "Getting Better" (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band). The texture thins for most of the last verse of this plea for undertanding from a guy who's trying to change. After a list of transgressions, the band (led by Paul McCartney's driving bass) storms back in, arguing for redemption.

12. "For No One" (Revolver). Intense emotion and rigorous technique. Sounds like art to me.

11.. "I'm Down" (Past Masters, Vol, 1). Old school rock 'n' roll screamer, which McCartney does almost as well as John Lennon in

10. "Rock and Roll Music" (Beatles for Sale).

9. "Yes It Is" (Past Masters, Vol, 1). Gorgeous vocal harmonies in a song about the inability to move on.

8. "Julia" (The Beatles). Simple, direct, haunting.

7. "A Hard Day's Night" (A Hard Day's Night). As Alex said, there's that chord. Not only that, but an energetic song about being out of energy.

6. "Let It Be" (Let It Be). This entire project has been criticized for overproduction, but I really dig the prominent roles given to three very dixtinct keyboards. Make sure hear this version, because in some versions the fine guitar solos are buried in the mix.

5. "Help!" (Help!). Rounding out the trio of movie themes with Lennon's call for assistance.

4. "Something" (Abbey Road). It's always seemed to me that neither Lennon nor McCartney were half the songwriter alone as they were together. On the other hand, George Harrison.

3. "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" (Beatles for Sale). I've always loved this song; can't give a rational defense. Note, however, the wonderful vocal harmonies.

2. "She Loves You" (Past Masters, Vol, 1). An ebullient expression of pure joy. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

1. "Ticket to Ride" (Help!). The percussionist in a musical organization is often the best musician therein. Ringo Starr makes his case herein. Note the different fills in front of the last two occurances of the tagline ("And she don't care") as well as how he recomposes the groove behind different verses. Also, again, the vocal harmonies.

Feel free to post your own lists in the comments (or links, if you have already posted somewhere else). Better still, some commentary on why The Beatles don't deserve the attentio would be very interesting.


The Jazz Hands of Love

What is now the Florida State University College of Music was founded 100 years age, in 1910. At that time the University was called the Florida State College for Women.

These two facts are the basis for the conception behind this weekend's production of Gaetano Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore ("The Elixir of Love") by the College's Florida State Opera. This production is the Opera's first in the newly renovated Ruby Diamond Auditorium. I'll have more to say about the Auditorium on another occasion, but for it's enough to say that the renovation is beautiful and the sound so improved that it is really an entirely new hall.

The production (by FSU professor Matthew Lata) replaced the military regiment of the original with the University of Florida football team and set the action in familiar FSU locations. Mr. Lata's productions always give you something to look at during arias, without distracting from the music. This production featured dances loosely modeled on dances of the period--very loosely, and the program notes begged pardon for the various historical inaccuracies. The resulting frisson between the music and the dancing heightened the playful atmosphere of this enchanting production. FSU Director of Opera Activities Douglas Fisher led the cast and the newly-enlarged (the pit is much bigger now) Opera Orchestra in a well-paced, lively performance.

In all the talk about the future of classical music, I've not seen much discussion of localizing the music, stressing place, etc. A production like this, with it use of school colors in the sets and costumes and the biggest rival's quarterback as the antagonist, would not travel, but the idea certainly would. Critics of concert music culture often talk about the music not having a direct relation to peoples' everyday lives (I'm not sure that's always a bad thing, but that's for another post), but this production celebrates an institution that is a part of the everyday life of most of the people in its audience, and it does so without compromising the work itself.

Very well done.