When we name The Beatles, we think of screaming fans, roaring Rickenbackers, Vox amplifiers, and rock and roll. Well, The Beatles are, perhaps, the biggest rock band of all time, and their talent is virtually endless.
Therefore, as much as you can go bananas screaming and shouting to the early records, you can also have fun playing their amazing, resourceful, clever, and catchy acoustic tunes.
These are their best acoustic riffs of all time. As a group, these songs are a masterclass on acoustic songwriting that can help you develop your talent as a songwriter.
Here we go!
1965 and Rubber Soul mark a departure for The Beatles from being a rock-pop act with radio-oriented hits to steering the history of music. Right from the beginning, the acoustic guitar enters the track with authority and becomes the main driving force until the end.
As a curiosity, Michelle not only won a Grammy in 1967, it is one of the most widely covered songs by the Fab Four.
I remember going to a Paul McCartney concert a decade ago and hearing nothing but perfect lyrics joining Paul in one of the most famous compositions of his entire career. This ballad became an anthem and featured gorgeous acoustic guitar playing together with one of the most celebrated lyrics of all time.
Fun fact: with over 2,200 cover versions since its release in 1965, this is one of the most covered songs in the history of music.
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
This is another 1965 Rubber Soul song that departs from your classic Beatlemania-era tunes.
Yes, Bob Dylan's influence is very evident in this track, not only because of the cadence and the guitar picking but also because of the expressiveness in the lyrics. The credits for this song are awarded to one of the most productive songwriting duos of all time "Lennon-McCartney."
Something that sets this song apart is the sitar section that's played by George Harrison and symbolizes the breakthrough of this Indian instrument and its characteristic sound in Western music.
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
In 1965 The Beatles gave the world two amazing records: Help! and Rubber Soul.
This song is in the first record of that year and features an upbeat picking style behind a timeless vocal melody and minimalistic accompaniment. Speaking of which, the only other instruments in the recording are a brushed snare, maraca, and tambourine, besides the flute.
When asked about this song, Lennon and McCartney said that it was Lennon's attempt to play Dylan while trying to write one more song before the movie Help! came out.
Later, in the recording studio, the band decided to replace the harmonica with a flute to make the inspiration not so obvious.
Mother Nature's Son
The Beatles visiting India gave the band more than just the sitar; it also provided them with a new philosophy that they soaked in.
Later on, that knowledge would cascade into their songs mixed with out-of-this-world compositions and breathtaking vocal melodies. This song, in particular, is a very good example of one of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's teachings turned into a song. It belongs to the White Album, and it was released in 1968.
As a curiosity, Paul McCartney wrote most of this song while visiting his dad in Liverpool, inspired by the words of the Maharishi and "Nature Boy" by Nat King Cole, which he used to listen to at home as a youngster.
Here Comes the Sun
Waking up on a sunny day, opening the windows, and playing this song feels like spring. Yes, "Here Comes the Sun" is one of George Harrison's first contributions to The Beatles as a songwriter.
It features a very catchy acoustic riff that becomes the main motif of the song and is joined very close by the melody of the lyrics to create one of the best-known Beatles songs of all time.
It is no surprise that in 2021, this was The Beatles' most streamed song worldwide on Spotify.
Till There Was You
This song is a cover version of a tune by Meredith Wilson that appeared on the album Meet the Beatles! in 1964. It is sung by Paul McCartney in a very soft voice that perfectly matches the soft pace of the song.
That being said, the reason why it made it into the list is the mind-blowing acoustic guitar solo that a 20-year-old George Harrison plays on the original recording.
As a curiosity, to make this song work, the instrumentation used by the band is dueling nylon-string guitars by Lennon and Harrison, bass guitar by McCartney, and a bolero beat played on a bongo by Ringo Starr.
This touchy ballad recorded by Lennon for the White Album in 1968 features a very intricate and musical fingerpicking pattern and soft vocals by John. The song's theme is Lennon's mother, Julia Lennon, who passed away in 1958 at the young age of 44. The song was credited to Lennon-McCartney, but John received help from Donovan, a Scottish musician, during the composition stage.
This song was another product of The Beatles' visit to India since it was written in Rishikesh, North India.
I'm Only Sleeping
This Revolver song came out in 1968, and it features a dual-acoustic guitar tandem played by Lennon and Harrison. This gives the song a particular cadence since we can hear the whole band moving behind the beat on a steady pulse.
As one of those amazing rare Beatles occurrences, this song features the first backward guitar ever recorded in pop music. Nevertheless, the underlying acoustic instrumentation is just as jaw-dropping good.
Perhaps, the best-known acoustic Beatles song in history is this solo number by Paul McCartney for their 1968 White Album. This is another tune that came from the prolific songwriting sessions of the band's India trip. The original recording is just Paul playing his beloved Martin guitar, the D-28, in the studio.
In their permanent experimentation path, The Beatles included an original male blackbird singing at the back of the track.
This is only my take on the best acoustic songs ever released by the Fab Four. Their catalog offers many gems that have escaped this selection.
I suggest you dive into these songs and then the whole catalog of one of the biggest bands of all time.