Do you find yourself in ‘times of trouble’? Do you need ‘help’? Then ‘lend me your ears’ and I’ll tell you about some Beatles songs to ‘make it better’.
Insomnia: ‘Revolution Number 9’. Whenever I listen to this through headphones at night, I fall asleep. It’s the last track on the ‘White Album’, which might have something to do with it, but I also think that the repetition and weird noises help to relax one’s mind. If this song is too strange for you, try ‘I’m So Tired’ instead.
Lethargy: ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. The peppy guitar riff at the beginning, the exuberant brass instruments and Paul’s shouty singing are guaranteed to wake you up. This song unfreezes the people of Pepperland in the Yellow Submarine film and starts the revolution, overthrowing the music-hating Blue Meanies.
Frayed tempers: ‘We Can Work It Out’. Try to reach a compromise and cool the heat of arguments at home by thinking of this song, which advises that ‘Life is very short, and there’s no time / For fussing and fighting, my friend.’ I always used to picture a couple of friends alternately holding hands and pushing each other away.
Bad weather: ‘Good Day Sunshine’. This song is great to match the mood of a sunny day in spring or summer but is also ideal for lifting your spirits on gloomy autumn and winter days too. ‘I need to laugh, and when the sun is out / I’ve got something I can laugh about / I feel good, in a special way / I’m in love and it’s a sunny day.’
Feeling unwell: ‘Doctor Robert’. John Lennon was talking about a drug supplier, or maybe a real doctor who had a sideline in recreational drugs for the wealthy. I prefer to picture Robert as a wizard whose ‘special cup’ is a magic potion. However you interpret the song, it makes your ears happy. ‘Well, well, well, you’re feeling fine.’
Hopeless: ‘Blackbird’. This is definitely a song of hope, whether you consider it as a love song, a meditation on nature, a metaphor for race relations, an awakening of the soul or any other meaning you choose. ‘All your life / You were only waiting for this moment to arise.’ The recording of birdsong at the end is a lovely touch.
Stuck indoors: ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. Who needs to go anywhere when this song is ‘waiting to take you away’ to unspecified excitements? In the film of the same name, which is mostly about Ringo and his aunt Jessie, various surreal things happen, not always pleasant but it was better than staying at home.
Empty pockets: ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’. Diamond rings? Yes please. But I would rather have true love and be happy than the finest jewellery and be sad. An early classic which will always be relevant. If you’re feeling poor at the moment, try to be grateful for what you do have. ‘And with a love like that / You know you should be glad.’
Uncertainty: ‘Across the Universe’. John Lennon’s meditation on being one with everything, or just the state of being and feeling without analysing things much. Be a stoic and think about life in a grander context, how amazing it is that anything exists at all and calmly repeat that ‘Nothing’s gonna change my world.’
General anxiety: ‘Let It Be’. Accept that events will happen which are out of our control and so there is no benefit from worrying about them. This song is like a hymn, although any religious interpretation is up to the listener. ‘And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me / Shinin’ until tomorrow, let it be.’