Friday Fun, Songs from Before My Birth, #9
"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" by the Beatles (1965)
It's not exactly top-shelf analysis to point out that the Beatles were pretty great. Music writer Chuck Klosterman once put together a list of the "properly rated" bands, and said this: "[t]he Beatles are generally seen as the single most important rock band of all time, because they wrote all the best songs. Since both of these facts are true, the Beatles are rated properly." That's pretty much the most succinct explanation of the Beatles and why they are important.
There are at least a dozen Beatles songs that I could have picked ("Norwegian Wood," "In My Life," "I've Just Seen a Face," "Yesterday," "Across the Universe," "Revolution," and "We Can Work It Out" deserve consideration). I went with this song, because I believe it is the best written song of all time. "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" has only 113 words, and 28 of those words are the chorus repeated four times. So, absent the chorus, John Lennon has 85 words to tell his story. In those 85 words, he describes the feeling of not being able to move on from a failed relationship. The other person is fine, but you are a mess, and it seems like everyone know it.
In 85 words, John Lennon captures that experience perfectly, to the point where you think he is narrating an experience that you have had. As a technical matter, it is an amazing achievement to communicate this in so few words--it's not like the song is talking about a particularly simple or uncomplicated experience. And yet the song nails it, perfectly. It's amazing. That's why the Beatles are the best.