Like many music lovers the Beatles’ music is well represented in my music collection. I’m no expert or anything but I am lame enough to play ‘Birthday’ on my birthday and think I’m being clever. And I have a favourite Beatle. And I have favourite Beatles songs. And I’ve had many a discussion regarding the songwriting genius of the Lennon-McCartney partnership. And I don’t need to tell you about the greatness of ‘In My Life’ or ‘Hey Jude’ or ‘A Day In The Life’.
But I do need to tell you that neither John nor Paul wrote the most perfect Beatles song ever; no, George Harrison did. The song: The White Album’s ‘Long, Long, Long’. I’m not saying this just to be contrary. Nor am I saying that George wrote the best Beatles song ever; discussion of which Beatles song is best is an inane discussion anyway. What I mean to suggest is that this song achieves one thing that no other great song in the Beatles catalogue achieved:
It can be listened to repeatedly without feeling like old hat. Without feeling ubiquitous.
The melody is tender and sweet. Not too catchy. And can be listened to repeatedly without fear of inducing drunken frat boy sing-alongs (hello ‘Hey Jude’) or hippy kumbayaish moments (I’m looking at you ‘All You Need Is Love’). It doesn’t threaten to be used to sell shoes or insurance. Artists cover it rarely yet respectfully and expertly. It is neither a happy song nor a sad one; its waltz like tempo encourages me to dance with a partner, its introspective lyrics could be a paean to a lover or an ode to a god. It simply gets better with each and every listen.
It feels like longing, like yearning, like craving. But it also feels like satiation, consummation, the fulfillment of desire. It is a kiss goodbye and a kiss goodnight. It is a song for any moment. It is a song in the key of life. It feels lived.
It feels perfect.
‘Long, Long, Long’ – The Beatles