I’m a regular listener to the Celebration Rock podcast, and a big fan of Steven Hyden’s writing. Their latest episode presented a fun what-if exercise: what if you were the A&R person responsible for cutting the Beatles’ white album down to just 12 tracks for popular consumption? Steven Hyden invited Rob Mitchum to make a track list, as well as modify the order. I made my own list before listening to theirs and it was a fun exercise.
- Back in the USSR – To me it is not the white album without this opening song, though I understand others might throw away this song as another McCartney excursion. Doesn’t hurt that I’m also a big Beach Boys fan and this song is one of the milestones in the interplay between the two bands.
- Dear Prudence – In my all-time top 5 list of Beatles songs, this one must come right after Back in the USSR. This is my all-time favorite Lennon song, and possibly one of the last true collaborations with Paul (check out the isolated bass track).
- Glass Onion – Gotta include the meta-song.
- Rocky Raccoon – I struggled with this one, and in hindsight I wonder if I should have included Martha My Dear instead.
- While My Guitar Gently Weeps – Epic George Harrison, though including this without Bungalow Bill leading into shows just how hard it is to pull out single tracks.
- Helter Skelter – Let’s close side A with one of the best rockers The Beatles ever made.
- Blackbird – Side B is a bit mellower and kicks off with this example of McCartney poetry.
- I’m So Tired – Lennon’s cry out to the world about the impending doom that is The Beatles.
- Happiness is a Warm Gun – I tend towards the straight-line pop from the Beatles; this is an exception.
- Mother Nature’s Son – Love this McCartney song, and I also love Sheryl Crow’s cover.
- Savoy Truffle – Definitely the last pick that made the list. If the rocker version of Revolution had been on the white album it would take this song’s place.
- Julia – John at his mellow-ist, singing to his mother (and Yoko?).
Here’s the playlist on Spotify: