The Beatles

With all of their songs being available now on streaming services I thought I would analyze some data about one of the greatest bands of all time: The Beatles. This visualization looks at their career including their albums, hit songs, and lyrics from 1964 to 1970.


108 comments:

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    1. Data nerd here. Tableau is pretty fantastic.

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    4. Really cool stuff with non-standard Tableau views. For example, how did you create the tree/chord diagram in tableau? Was it a lot of "coding the data" to have it converge on a single point? Even then, I'm not sure how you got the lines to go in that shape instead of a straight line...

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    5. The smooth connecting lines are essentially a sankey chart. It uses the Sigmoid function to achieve the curved, smoothing effect. Check out this site for how to create that in Tableau: http://www.dataplusscience.com/FinanceSankey.html

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    6. Before the split up, there were no Lennon songs and McCarty songs “by himself”. Their entire catalogue was always & only Lennon/McCarty published songs… even though there were indeed various songs written separately “by himself”. Regardless, the two would still bounce their “by himself” songs off each other and often result in at least minor tweaks, like one word… hey Paul, change “love” to “like” for example in one famous song (don’t remember which song at this moment.) So to me, the graph seems to ignore the most fundamental Beatle history and even blasphemes to separate this great song writing duo into a solo category labeled “by himself”… and further to me, this misguided graphical separation “by himself” ignores or at best diminishes what made the Beatles truly great.. the unique Lennon/McCarty song wiring partnership. Notice when Georges big hits came.. years later.

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    7. I don't see how a chart which represents the truth according to the songwriters themselves is misguided or blasphemous. You seem to be ignoring the truth that many songs were incorrectly attributed to the duo and they themselves corrected that error after they broke up. After all I didn't just make up this up. It came from the men themselves for a reason.

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    8. Wonderful indeed! It would also be interesting to figure in the influence of George Martin...no doubt instrumental to the growth and depth of their songwriting.

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  2. great work! i found it a little confusing that the y axis in the final graph was oriented "upside down" (i.e., 0 unique words is at the top and 140 is at the bottom).

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    1. Yeah I debated that for a while and I know it's not best practice and can be confusing obviously. But I wanted the effect that everything is emanating from the center circles outward but I might change it. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. Is there a reason I Want You (She's So Heavy) is missing from the vocabulary list? It should be very close to the bottom!

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    1. Good catch. It fell off that chart because Yoko was a co-writer and that threw off my logic. I will need to fix. Thanks.

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  4. Awesome graphic :)

    The only recommendation I'd have is to line up the tracks with their original single release rather than their first compilation release (i.e. Paperback Writer was release on a single in 1966 before it was released as part of Hey Jude in 1970). It'd be a more honest grouping of when their most successful periods were.

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  5. What a great visualization of some really interesting data! Brilliant!

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  7. This is a really awesome visualization, but I'm wondering what data source you used for the albums, because there is some bizarre stuff going on there; off the top of my head, it does not include "Hard Day's Night", "Rubber Soul", "With the Beatles", or "Yellow Submarine" but it does include obscure compilation albums like "Early Beatles" and "Hey Jude" (among others).

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    1. Good catch. The reason is that the visual is showing top 100 US hits by album. The album width display the number of top 100 hits for that album. Those albums you listed surprisingly had no top 100 hits in the US. Thank you!

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    2. Ahhhh... that makes sense. Totally surprising that those albums didn't have any top 100 hits!

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    3. I'm pretty sure A Hard Day's Night and Can't Buy Me Love both were #1 hits in 1964, and both are on the A Hard Day's Night record. I could be misinterpreting something...but you should double check I think??

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    4. I used US albums not UK. So Can't Buy Me Love is on on Hey Jude. And that is why Hard Day's Night doesn't appear. Thanks.

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    5. So according to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Hard_Day%27s_Night_(album)#Track_listing_2), the US release of A Hard Day's Night included Can't Buy Me Love, which went to number one in the US on April 4, 1964 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Can%27t_Buy_Me_Love#US_music_charts). The title track was also released as a single in the US and reached number one (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Hard_Day%27s_Night_(song)#Release_and_reception).

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  8. Awesome work, thank you! This was so much fun to explore.

    One minor comment: "For Your Blue" (under Harrison, first chart) should be "For You Blue"

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  9. WOW that interactive chart is great!

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  10. WOW that interactive chart is great!

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  13. That's an incredible chart! I only wish that it was done for the "real" U.K. albums; the U.S. albums are a travesty.

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  14. This is great! It looks however that the counts are a bit off - for example, the lowest song on the chart (Wild Honey Pie) says it has 9 unique words; while in fact it's 7. Looks like capitalization is conisdered different, so "Honey" isn't counted the same as "honey".

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    1. I only count 5 unique words? Honey Pie, I love you. Six, if you include "Wild" in the title.

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  16. Teddy Boy is not a Beatles song. It might be on the Annthology but its a McCartney solo album. You should check other songs to look for this mistake.

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    1. Paul wrote it while with the Beatles and was on a Beatles album anthology so I included but you're correct it was first on McCartney.

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  17. This is based off the US releases rather than the original UK releases, so some of that data is skewed. It also includes some Harrison and McCartney songs that technically were released on the Anthology series but were really solo tracks. I don't know what version of Let It Be has Ringo's "Taking a Trip to Carolina," but I've never heard it. The biggest issue is that while we know many songs credited Lennon/McCartney were written by one or the other, there are inconsistencies - for example, "Rocky Raccoon" is listed as a Lennon/McCartney but that's got to be all McCartney; "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is listed as Lennon/McCartney but that's all Lennon. This sort of skews all the data because it's tough to determine the driving factor that credited which songs to which writer.

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    1. Yeah I was curious to know how you decided which songs were solo written by Lennon or McCartney, as all of their songs are credited to both even though it's pretty clear some were just one or the other.

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    2. After their partnership ended, Lennon & McCartney each gave account of their individual contribution to each jointly credited song

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  18. This is really cool, thanks for making it!

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  19. how infographics should be done

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  20. I think it's a really cool project, beautifully rendered.

    I hope you can hear this as constructive criticism. I want this to be as cool as it could be!

    As others have suggested, you will get more accurate results if you change your methodology a bit. I understand you are working off of the US Billboard charts, but the US albums are very strange. If you can untether "hits" from albums you will lose a lot of the mess.

    In fact, if you can start out with original UK albums and their non-album singles (the latter of which are collected succinctly on "Past Masters"), and then re-work a version for the US Billboard charts, you will get clearer on what you are working with. The Beatles released 212 songs while they were together, give or take--not 310. Things like "Teddy Boy" and "Taking a Trip to Carolina" were not heard on Beatles releases until the 1990s.

    Even with your method, you are not taking into account two non-Capitol albums which almost certainly charted. Vee-Jay's "Introducing the Beatles" came out in 1963, yes? and United Artists released the "Hard Day's Night" soundtrack album in 1964.

    Your chart say things like "'The Early Beatles' was written in 1965." Well, it was _released_ in the US in 1965, but it was a Capitol re-release of the 1963 album known as "Please Please Me" in the UK and Vee-Jay's "Introducing the Beatles" in the US.

    I wouldn't include things like "Anthology" and the "Fly on the Wall" disc of "Let It Be Naked." (or "Let it be naked", period....that's a 2003 compilation/reworking). The "Hey Jude" album from 1970 collects odds and ends from 1964 to 1969. "Yesterday and Today" does a similar job for material recorded/released in 1965-1966, including singles that had charted a year before. In some bands' discographies, such a gap might seem small. The Beatles evolved so rapidly that even an inaccuracy of 6 months is extremely misleading.

    Keep rockin', keep going!

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    1. Thank you for the constructive feedback.

      There are a total of 310 Beatles' songs regardless of whether they were together or not.

      The use of UK vs US albums is somewhat confusing to folks but since I wanted to focus on US hits and not albums I used US albums. To use UK albums would be confusing as well so its a tradeoff. Plus albums are not the focus of the visualization more contextual.

      Great point on "..it was written in ..." instead of released. I will fix that in a future version.

      Some of your other points speak more to the underlying data itself not my analysis. All of the data comes from this Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_recorded_by_the_Beatles which probably isn't perfect.

      But thanks for your feedback. I am going to make some changes based on a few comments here and update shortly.

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    2. "Plus albums are not the focus of the visualization..." Indeed. So, those hits you list in 1970 (because of a much later album) should actually be listed in the years they were hits, which was sometimes 6 years prior. This was an era where albums were often (not always) an afterthought, and standalone singles were the norm. The Beatles were revolutionizing the album as a pop format, but they still typically created singles that weren't part of album complilations. That's what's tangling up your graphics.

      That Wikipedia page has a lot of problems on it. It's not a great source.

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  21. Dude, very awesone infograph. I showed it to everyone in the office.

    I do have a question, out of curiosity: On the "Who wrote most of their songs?" part, it says that "Paul by himself wrote 30% of all the songs but was responsible for 43% of their #1 hits", but also that "John wrote the most songs (30%) and 35% of the band's top 100 hits".

    Does that mean that John wrote more songs, but the difference is so small (like only one song) that both amount to 30%, or is one of the numbers wrong?

    Also, "A day in the life" and Sgt Pepper's..." are love songs?

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    1. 30% is rounded. John wrote 58 and Paul 57. Love songs refers to when the song contains the word love.

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  22. Interesting chart! Not sure about all the data however, or the choices that were included. For You Blue, for instance, was a #1 only on a technicality in the USA if memory serves where Long and Winding Road was issued as a double A side (meaning, the world likely bought it for LAWRoad and not for For You Blue). Also, including Taking a Trip to Carolina and Teddy Boy is dubious, as these are not canonical Beatles songs. Otherwise, great!

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  23. This is awesome.

    It'd be interesting to contrast the average words that Lennon and McCartney used for Beatles songs with those they used in songs they farmed out to other groups.

    (Also, and no criticism is intended, there's a minor typo in the last graph.)

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  24. where did you get the information about who wrote which song (john/paul)? of course, they all are listed as lennon/mccartney. some of the songs have a well-known story to them (e.g. "yesterday"), but especially with the early tunes it would be hard to tell if one of them wrote any of them without the other. plus: I highly doubt "rocky raccoon" being written in teamwork - the white album is more or less a compilation of solo efforts, and in my book this song is one of the least likely candidates for a john/paul-collaboration (I think john didn't even play on it).

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    1. All info comes Wikipedia. Distinction between Paul and John on Historically Lennon-McCartney songs comes from the writers themselves who after their partnership ended gave account of their individual contribution to each jointly credited song

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  25. Very nice graphics, but full of errors unfortunately (Can't buy me love published in 1970? Hey Jude an new album? Come on...) Also, I think you should have used UK discography, since the band was from UK.

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    1. Can't Buy Me Love was on Hey Jude in the US which was released in 1970. Not sure where it says its a new album. And I was showing US hits so showing UK albums would be incongruent. Thanks.

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    2. Can't Buy Me Love was on Hey Jude in the US which was released in 1970. Not sure where it says its a new album. And I was showing US hits so showing UK albums would be incongruent. Thanks.

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    3. "Hey Jude" is a compilation, and a rather shoddy one at that. It's not really considered a canonical Beatles album any more.

      "Can't Buy Me Love" and "I Should Have Known Better"'s original US album appearances were the 1964 "A Hard Day's Night" soundtrack album, issued by United Artists under a special arrangement (because they had released the film). The only reason it and "I Should Have Known Better" appeared on "Hey Jude" is that they hadn't appeared on a Capitol album. (Capitol was distributing Apple in the US.)

      "Past Masters," although a 1980s release, has become the canonical repository of the UK non-album singles. It includes all of "Hey Jude" minus the songs from that United Artists album. If you want a comprehensive US album listing that includes each recording at least once, you'd need to include the UA "Hard Day's Night," "Hey Jude," "Rock N Roll Music" (just for the song "I'm Down") and the US version of "Rarities." Or, more simply, "A Hard Day's Night" (US version) and "Past Masters." (although you'd need the Vee Jay album for 1963's "Misery" and "There's a Place."

      You will get something a little more accurate if you move back to 1963, and include Vee Jay's various versions of "Introducing the Beatles" instead of Capitol's later "Early Beatles" release.

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    4. A ha! Well, here's the source of a lot of your problems....That Wikipedia page says "Album debuts pertain only to the EMI-related Parlophone (UK), Capitol (US) and Apple (UK and US) releases." This is a strange and arbitrary clause, for the reasons cited above. In the US, they were not distributed exclusively by Capitol, so key releases are missing.

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  26. "Just Ringo?" - subtle and hilarious

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  27. Do you offer classes or instruction on Tableau design? Would be very interested.

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    1. I don't for the public. Just my company. But I would look into Jeffery Shaffer's courses. He is also a Zen Master and more talented than myself. http://www.dataplusscience.com/services.html

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  28. Where is "I Want You/She's So Heavy"?

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    1. See comment above. Blame Yoko. Going to fix.

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  29. Great job! I would like to see a more complete chart, starting from 1962 when their first single was released in the U.K. and covering their hits in other countries. Demos from the anthology should not count, nor should 'Taking A Trip To Carolina', its only official release being a brief snippet from the 'Let It Be…Naked' bonus disc. If you want to boost Ringo's writing credits, include 'What Goes On', co-written with Lennon/McCartney, from 'Rubber Soul'. You're also missing several other songs that fit into your parameters, including 'I Want You(She's So Heavy)', 'The Inner Light', 'I'm Down', 'The Ballad of John and Yoko', 'Taxman', and 'You Know My Name(Look Up The Number)'.

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    1. See comment above regarding Yoko.

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    2. I see you are using the US Albums to create the function (which is a LOT of fun).
      I agree with Jar/Sonkin that non-US album cuts are missing. Therefore "I'm Down" "The Inner Light" and "You Know My Name" are not counted.

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  30. Great chart. Data nerd here: what's the x-axis in the bottom unique words chart?

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    1. Thank you. The bottom chart is essentially a jitter plot which usually has a randomized or meaningless x-axis. But in this case the x axis is actually an ordinal scale that represents time or the date the song was released.

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  31. Very cool visualization. One question: how did you arrive at 18 albums? The Beatles' core catalogue is considered to be the 12 studio albums they released in the UK, as well as Magical Mystery Tour (which was released in the US as an EP): Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night, Beatles for Sale, Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper's, Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles (aka the White Album), Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road, and Let it Be. The other albums that are typically listed in their discography are compilation albums released primarily in the US by Capitol to make an extra buck. Also, just a tweak on the years: their first two albums were released in 1963, not 1964.

    Anyway, though, awesome chart!

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    1. Sorry, just a couple of additional notes: the Wikipedia article for the Beatles discography denotes their core albums (just to substantiate my comment about the core discography). If you want to be really complete about it, you can also include the songs that were released as singles, but not included on albums, as they include some of their most famous songs (the fast version of Revolution, Hey Jude, She Loves You, etc.). The Beatles had a practice whereby they tried to typically release songs as singles that were not on albums (this is obviously not the practice of most bands, especially nowadays). They didn't think it was fair to ask people to pay for songs more than once (aka as a 45 and as an LP). Now, if you do include singles, you'll have to be careful to only include those released in the UK. That ensures that you're only including the singles they intended to be released, as opposed to the ones released by Capitol and other distributors.

      Sorry for the information overload! I think this is a very cool project.

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    2. Thank you. The albums breakdown has thrown a lot of people off for obvious reasons. The US albums, as another commenter noted, are a mess. I am probably going to re-align the songs to date of release and not albums. This will remedy some of the confusion. Thanks.

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  32. Just wondering if it would have been more difficult/easier to do this using D3?

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    1. It depends. Starting from scratch (no knowledge of either) it is easier to build something in Tableau than D3. I am better in Tableau than D3 and don't have a JS background. But each tool has its benefits.

      There are basically 6 separate views in this dashboard: 1) a stacked bar (albums), 2) bar chart/dot plot (songs), 3) Sankey chart (lines to the artists), 4) donut chart (songwriter heads), 5) text box (top lyrics), and 6) jitter plot (largest vocabulary by artist). Four of those charts are easy to create out of the box in Tableau with no coding. Numbers 3 and 4 require a little bit of trickery but nothing fancy (still no coding). So in general I would say it is easier to create this in Tableau. D3 allows greater customization and has generally smoother interactivity. Both are excellent tools.

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  33. Great visualization! How did you get the sankey and the bar to line up so well. Is there a trick?

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    1. I find it's easier to get them to line up when you float the objects, size them and position them exactly. It's really trial and error.

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  34. Amazing! Thank you for putting this together!

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  35. Amazing! Thank you for putting this together!

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  36. Excellent ... What a piece of information for us, Beatlemaniacs!

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  37. This blog awesome and i learn a lot about programming from here.The best thing about this blog is that you doing from beginning to experts level.

    Love from

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  38. Wonderful visualisation, thanks for sharing it with us

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  39. Absolutely brilliant. Lovely design too http://www.simplysoundandvision.co.uk/DetailsPage/tabid/2877/ArticleID/84/The-Beatles.aspx

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  40. It's a fascinating chart. Thank you for doing it. I'm just curious; of the 310 songs, how many were covers i.e. not written by the Beatles and how many of those covers were not hits for other artists?

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  48. another chart for baby boomers who just can't let go.

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  49. another chart for baby boomers who just can't let go.

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  50. You've listed Help! and Ticket to Ride as McCartney/Lennon. They are both Lennon tracks.

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    1. Also, Paperback Writer is McCartney/Lennon, not McCartney. Is this data skewed because you're a Mccartney fan? There may be more errors, these are just the ones that stood out.

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    2. Actually I am a Lennon fan. Not sure why you think I am a McCartney fan. All writing credits come from one source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_recorded_by_the_Beatles

      I didn't just make it up.

      Paperback Writer is a McCartney song according to.... John Lennon. Lennon told Hit Parader in 1972 that "Paperback Writer" was primarily written by McCartney: "I think I might have helped with some of the lyrics. Yes, I did. But it was mainly Paul's tune." Lennon also told Playboy in 1980: "Paperback Writer is son of Day Tripper, but it is Paul's song." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paperback_Writer

      Ticket to Ride is trickier because Paul and John disagreed. In his authorized biography Paul said: "we sat down and wrote it together … give him 60 percent of it … we sat down together and worked on that for a full three-hour songwriting session." Speaking in 1980, Lennon said that McCartney's contribution was limited to "the way Ringo [Starr] played the drums" on the recording. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ticket_to_Ride

      Help! is also tricky. Yes it's very much a John song. John said in an interview in 1980: “’Help!’ which I wrote – bam! bam! Like that – and got the single,”. While it definitely is primarily a ‘John song,’ Paul did have a hand in it. In his book “Many Years From Now,” Paul explains: “John went home and thought about it and got the basis of it, then we had a writing session on it. We sat at his house and wrote it, so he obviously didn’t have that much of it. I would have to credit it to John for original inspiration 70-30. My main contribution is the countermelody to John. If you analyze our songs, John’s are often on one note, whereas mine are often much more melodic. I enjoy going places with melodies. I like what John did too, but his are more rhythmic. So to take away from the solo note a little bit I wrote a descant to it.” http://www.beatlesebooks.com/help!

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    3. You give Paperback Writer to McCartney though it was "mainly Paul's tune," yet Ticket to Ride and Help! are mainly John's tunes yet you give McCartney credit. I also don't take the words of McCartney as fact years after. John and Paul did this sometimes, would try and take credit for each others best work to annoy one another. I think we need to access the facts on more than one writer's input years after the fact, especially when their memory is often incorrect. I was curious and checked wikipedia and the writers are listed there as I've stated. Paul can say he co-wrote Imagine, it doesn't make it so.

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    4. Once again I didn't "give" any song to anyone. This is the source:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_recorded_by_the_Beatles

      If you disagree and have actual facts beyond Paul liked to annoy John or his memory is bad you should edit the page. You just saying otherwise doesn't make it so.

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    5. That list has Ticket to Ride credited to Lennon alone. And if you actually click the song links, the individual song pages state Lennon co-wrote Paperback Writer and wrote Help! essentially alone. This is a far cry from what is represented here. I understand you may not have had the time to look at each song in detail, and trusted that list completely; however, it seems that list is in need of editing to fall in line with the actual wikipedia content.

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    6. The list and the individual song pages are two different Wikipedia entries. One doesn't feed the other. Therefore there is two different versions of the truth as evidenced by the quotes I shared.

      John said Paperback Writer is a Paul song so I am comfortable listing it that way. The other songs there is a debate between the two men and those who curate Wikipedia so I'm comfortable attributing it to both men since it doesn't exclude anyone's contribution just potentially falsely attributes credit which in my opinion is the lesser of 2 evils.

      To say my visualization is objectively wrong is incorrect. It is wrong based on your interpretation of what is true versus another interpretation. Ultimately only 2 people know the truth and we aren't either of them.

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    7. The list and the individual song pages are two different Wikipedia entries. One doesn't feed the other. Therefore there is two different versions of the truth as evidenced by the quotes I shared.

      John said Paperback Writer is a Paul song so I am comfortable listing it that way. The other songs there is a debate between the two men and those who curate Wikipedia so I'm comfortable attributing it to both men since it doesn't exclude anyone's contribution just potentially falsely attributes credit which in my opinion is the lesser of 2 evils.

      To say my visualization is objectively wrong is incorrect. It is wrong based on your interpretation of what is true versus another interpretation. Ultimately only 2 people know the truth and we aren't either of them.

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    8. Yes they are two different entries. One is a detailed analysis of who wrote the songs. The other is a tabulated list summarizing those entries, which is clearly incorrect. Your visualization is objectively wrong by your own standard as Ticket to Ride is listed as written solely by John on that list. Your somewhat careless attributions lead to statements like "[John] had more success writing hits with Paul than by himself." Such a statement is factually incorrect, and as a Beatles fan, borderline offensive.

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    9. Well agree to disagree. Thanks for your comments. Hope you like the site. Take care.

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    10. Well agree to disagree. Thanks for your comments. Hope you like the site. Take care.

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  52. Great website with interesting stories , I have a large autograph collection here: Autographs autographs such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin etc.

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