By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – In a way, I admire poor Elysa Gardner of USA Today.

She’s got some nerve, writing a column selecting the 20 greatest Beatles songs of all time.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

That takes spunk, and as Lou Grant once said on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” I admire spunk.

Or did he say he hated it? I can’t remember.

Anyway, Gardner’s editors acknowledge that “the premise is ridiculous, the task impossible,” and admit they’re just trying to stir up controversy.

Mission accomplished.

So here we go.

I’ll actually go along with many of USA Today’s picks, but “Penny Lane” was a little too cute and overdone for me. I’m OK with “I Saw Her Standing There” or “Please Please Me,” but not both. There are too many choices to allow rough duplicates.

“Here, There and Everywhere” I could do without, and frankly, “Let It Be” was overrated. The group was running on fumes by then, and it showed.

But it’s not so much what’s on USA Today’s list of greatest Beatles’ songs ever, but what’s left off it.

For early Beatles, “All My Loving” and “Ask Me Why” deserve serious consideration.

If you want to illustrate their experimentation with weird sounds, how about “Baby You’re a Rich Man” off the “Magical Mystery Tour” album?

For my money, you can replace “Hey Jude” with “Blackbird” or “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and not miss a beat, no pun intended.

And where’s “Taxman,” “Revolution,” or “Helter Skelter” to illustrate their political songwriting?

What about “Paperback Writer,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “Rocky Racoon,” or arguably the greatest pure Beatles song ever written, “In My Life”?

USA Today’s mistake was even trying to limit it to a top 20.

Try a top 50, and maybe you have a fighting chance.

But their article did serve a purpose.

It reminded anyone who needed reminding which rock and roll band was the greatest of all time, hands down.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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