It's a controversial subject for music fans, but the truth cannot be denied - not every Beatles song was perfect. The Fab Four had some songs in their catalog that should have been left in the vault. As songwriters, John Lennon and Paul McCartney reinvented pop music and changed the course of history with the vast majority of their music. But there were bound to be a few songs along the way that didn't stand up with the classics.
Sometimes it's a corny song stuck on an album of masterpieces, while other times it's the composition or the lyrics that make a bad Beatles' song bad. While it can't be denied that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr created one of the most influential and legendary groups in history, even they made mistakes.
Here are just some of the Beatles songs that might have been locked away in the vaults.
While "Maggie Mae" is a re-working of an old English folk song and not a Beatles original, it feels out of place on Let It Be. It's just 39 seconds long, and was obviously done as a joke, but the album would undoubtedly be much better off without it.
It's more of a musical distraction than anything else, on an album that is divisive enough already (McCartney himself reportedly hated the album). Let It Be might have flowed a bit better had it not been for a moment as unimportant as "Maggie Mae."
"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is an interesting song for many reasons. It's not a musical bright spot for the band, nor is it lyrically very compelling (some might argue that it borders on nonsensical). The McCartney composition did, however, polarize the band members. John Lennon doesn't appear on it, Ringo Starr wasn't excited about recording it, and George Harrison openly criticized it.
"Sometimes Paul would make us do these really fruity songs," Harrison said of the song. "I mean, my God, 'Maxwell’s Silver Hammer' was so fruity. After a while we did a good job on it, but when Paul got an idea or an arrangement in his head."
Starr agreed, calling it "the worst track we ever had to record."
"Don't Pass Me By" was written by Ringo Starr, and is an arguably forgetful piece of The Beatles' catalog. It was reportedly inspired by Starr's love of country music, and appeared on the self-titled White Album. In an interview, Starr broke down the genesis of the song.
"I only play three chords on the guitar and three on the piano. I was fiddling with the piano … and then if a melody comes and some words, I just have to keep going," he explained. "That’s how it happened. I was just sitting at home alone and ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ arrived."
The band sat on the song for several years before finally adding it to the White Album. Not a particularly memorable Beatles song by anyone's standards, "Don't Pass Me By" was recycled by Starr and re-recorded in 2017, and it's been played live in his All Starr Band set for years.
A band as talented as the Beatles eventually wound up competing against themselves. What would be a solid song for another band, can feel mediocre when produced by the Beatles. For example, "Doctor Robert," while not a terrible song, doesn't quite stand up against some of groundbreaking songs on Revolver.
One reviewer, ranking the album's tracks from worst to best, said the song isn't "a dud, but against everything else on the album, it feels like filler by comparison."
Another reviewer echoed that observation, saying,"It's not a bad song, but there are so many other great songs, it just feels like a throwaway."