Doug: It's been quite a long time since we did a Versus post. Lately we've gotten into the Face-offs, where we give you a choice between two alternatives -- and you can look for one of those gems early next week! Today, however, we'd like to give you four options for discussion. You know I'm always inspired to discuss music after one of my long drives to Indiana to see my son in college. After one of my last trips, I was set on what this topic would be -- the solo careers of the Beatles. What we'd like to know is: Which former Beatle produced a solo playlist that you would pick first for your listening pleasure?
Doug: I don't have stats handy, but I think we could agree without reservation that Paul McCartney had the most commercially-successful career after 1970. With high-profile hits like Live and Let Die from the James Bond film of the same name, Band on the Run, Jet, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, and his two big hits with Michael Jackson (Say, Say, Say, and The Girl Is Mine), Sir Paul has been in the Top 40 off an on almost ever since the Beatles broke up. While his songs can be a little too pop at times (Silly Love Songs and Let 'em In come to mind), his staying power cannot be denied. Even today his concerts sell out, and it's always special when he does a big ticket appearance like the halftime show at the Super Bowl, or last year's performance at the White House.
Doug: If McCartney had the most Top 40 appearances on mainstream radio, perhaps John Lennon had the more thoughtful songwriting career. Always socially-conscious and not a bit afraid to get under people's skin politically, I think Lennon worried less about the charts and more about making the music he wanted to make. While commercial success was certainly a part of Lennon's solo career, with hits like Imagine, #9 Dream, Instant Karma, and Just Like Starting Over, Lennon never had a solo #1 hit (EDIT: Of course I had erroneous information when researching this post. I did not make this up, but did see it on a site I regretfully cannot recall. There has been further conversation on this in the "Comments" section below, and corrections have been duly noted). Still, his hall-of-fame career is distinguished and is without reproach. I still think it's such a pity that his life was cut short at such a young age. That newsflash, from none other than Howard Cosell, is still one of the events in my life where I can recall exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the awful report.
Doug: Lastly we come to George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Of the two, Ringo has perhaps the least-distinguished solo career, although he did knock out two #1 singles in You're Sixteen and Photograph. Other solo hits were It Don't Come Easy and Oh, My My. Sometimes I think of Ringo as a caricature of himself, rather than as a serious musician. Still, he remains in the public eye today and tours somewhat regularly with his All-Star Bands.
Doug: Harrison, on the other hand, found radio play over a much longer period. Songs such as My Sweet Lord, What is Life, and Give Me Love were all thoughtful pop singalongs. And of course his career in the 1980's took off yet again with joint ventures with Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Roy Orbison in various combinations and as The Traveling Wilburys. Harrison also left us much too soon.
Doug: So, who ya got? If I am cruising the artists section of my iTouch, of these four I am most likely to land on George Harrison. I really enjoy the three songs I mentioned above, and his version of Ringo's It Don't Come Easy is better for my money; I love the bridge when the back-up singers cry out "Hare Krishna!" That recording is actually a bootleg release -- it was a demo version from the same recording session when Ringo recorded his final version. The backing vocals were provided by members of Badfinger. It's vintage Harrison, though. I'd mention, too, that I have an acoustic version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps and it's killer good. You?
Karen: Doug's asked me to add my two cents. Basically for me, it's between Lennon and McCartney. If I am in a happy,breezy mood, I listen to McCartney. If I am feeling more contemplative or mellow, it's usually Lennon. Both men are such talents, although I do feel McCartney often drifted into sappiness.