Rolling Stone Changed Its Mind About What’s the Best Beatles Song

Rolling Stone has spent decades praising The Beatles’ songs. It’s no surprise the magazine placed a few Beatles songs on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. The highest-ranked Beatles song on the list is one of the Fab Four’s most acclaimed tunes. Notably, Rolling Stone previously ranked a very different Beatles song as the Fab Four’s best.

The Beatles on a stage
The Beatles | Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer

Rolling Stone said these are some of the greatest songs of all time

Rolling Stone has a long history of producing lists of the greatest songs or greatest albums of all time. The magazine released its newest list of the 500 greatest songs of all time in 2021. Several Beatles songs appear on the list.

“Strawberry Fields Forever” is ranked at No. 7. It is the highest-ranked Fab Four tune on the list. The six songs that outrank it are, in ascending order, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”

Why Rolling Stone liked The Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ so much

The list includes a blurb about the greatness of “Strawberry Fields Forever.” “John Lennon was one of the world’s most visible people in 1966 — but he wrote his most exquisitely lonely song with ‘Strawberry Fields Forever,'” the blurb said. “It opened up a whole new psychedelic era for The Beatles, changing the way pop music was heard and made.

“But it began with Lennon alone on a Spanish beach, with an acoustic guitar, writing a song about his painful childhood memories,” the blurb continued. “Strawberry Field was the name of a Liverpool orphanage where he used to play — and hide from the world — as a boy. 

“It was the first song cut at the Sgt. Pepper sessions, though it got left off the album so it could come out as a February 1967 single, with McCartney’s ‘Penny Lane’ on the flip side,” the magazine said. “‘Strawberry Fields’ is a song full of raw pain — yet the Beatles made it feel like an irresistible invitation.”

Rolling Stone previously said this was the best Beatles song

Rolling Stone published a very different opinion in 2020. That year, the magazine released a list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs. The song that topped that list was “A Day in the Life.” Interestingly, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” is the second song on the list, while “Strawberry Fields Forever” is the third.


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Why “Strawberry Fields Forever” rose in Rolling Stone’s estimation is anyone’s guess. Regardless, “Strawberry Fields Forever” remains a classic song which continues to resonate with listeners and Rolling Stone critics to this day.