To say what you mean within the confines of a song is already a feat. To say it in two minutes or less is even more of an accomplishment.

In the '50s and '60s, pop and rock music packed the most punch with songs that hovered somewhere around two and a half minutes. In 1964, the year the Beatles first arrived in America, each of the Top 10 Singles on the Billboard Hot 100 was between two and three minutes long, the perfect amount of time to satisfy and engage listeners without taking up too much of a radio station's airtime.

But what about trimming the edges? What about saying more with less? What about leaving the listener wanting more?

Many well-crafted rock songs just miss the two-minute marker — Blur's "Song 2" and Heart's "Dreamboat Annie" both clock in at 2:01, Queen's "We Will Rock You" comes in at 2:02 or the Beatles' "Yesterday" is a tight 2:05. But for the below list of Rock's 40 Best Short Songs, we're taking a look at tracks that get it all down in two minutes or less.

40. Ramones, "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" (1:35)
From: Ramones (1976)

There's no need to wonder if you're missing any subtext here. The second of four songs on the Ramones' acclaimed debut to feature "Wanna" in its title is about exactly what you'd expect: bassist Dee Dee Ramone's childhood memories of sniffing glue. You also won't have to spend much time memorizing the lyrics, which consist of the same four lines - and really, the second couplet is just a slight variation on the first - repeated three times over a propulsive guitar riff. (Matthew Wilkening)

 

39. Neil Young, "Till the Morning Comes" (1:21)
From: After the Gold Rush (1970)

"Till the Morning Comes" closes out the first side of Neil Young's After the Gold Rush, much like "Cripple Creek Ferry," the second shortest song on the album, closes out Side Two, satisfyingly bookending the LP. Stephen Stills helps out with backing harmonies, while Bill Peterson plays a sweet, stately flugelhorn solo — both a welcome respite after the urgency and vigor of the preceding song, "Southern Man." Young didn't perform the song live until 2016 when he performed it in Paris for a French billionaire. (Allison Rapp)

 

38. Queens of the Stone Age, "Quick and to the Pointless" (1:42)
From: Rated R (2000)

The last thing you hear on Queens of the Stone Age's 1998 self-titled debut is Josh Homme's former Kyuss bandmate Nick Oliveri agreeing to join the group via telephone. The bassist made his recorded debut on 2000's Rated R and also handled lead vocals on three tracks. It takes the handclap-heavy "Quick and to the Pointless" a little more than 100 seconds to demonstrate the primal punk energy Oliveri could contribute to the band and how effectively it contrasted with Homme's increasingly sophisticated delivery. (Wilkening)

 

37. Elton John, "Goodbye" (1:52)
From: Madman Across the Water (1971)

The closing moments of Elton John’s 1971 album Madman Across the Water have a somber feeling. But there’s also a reason to find a bit of hope in “Goodbye.” “And now that it’s all over/ The birds can nest again/ I’ll only snow when the sun comes out/ I’ll shine only when it starts to rain,” John sings. You get the feeling Bernie Taupin may have left things intentionally vague, a house of mirrors within the prose. Whatever the case might be, the unknown muse remains intriguing. (Matt Wardlaw)

 

36. Simon & Garfunkel, "Bookends Theme" (Reprise) (1:18)
From: Bookends (1968)

Two versions of the appropriately titled "Bookends" start and finish the first side of Simon & Garfunkel's 1968 life-cycle concept album of the same name: a delicate acoustic 32-second instrumental and a slightly longer version featuring the duo wistfully advising listeners to hold on tightly to their memories: "They're all that's left you." (Wilkening)

 

35. The Who, "Tommy, Can You Hear Me?" (1:37)
From: Tommy (1969)

Though it’s not the most popular or instantly recognizable song from the Who’s classic LP, “Tommy Can You Hear Me?” is still an important component in the rock opera’s overall structure. The 1:37 track serves as a transition piece between “Go to the Mirror” and “Smash the Mirror,” two tunes vital to the narrative of the titular character. “Tommy Can You Hear Me?” still has plenty of musical merits to stand alone, thanks to its lush vocal harmonies and jangly, minstrel-like guitar. (Corey Irwin)

 

34. Smashing Pumpkins, "Sweet Sweet" (1:38)
From: Siamese Dream (1993)

The penultimate track on Smashing Pumpkins’ alt-rock masterpiece Siamese Dream, "Sweet Sweet" is a blissful repose after the distorted onslaught of nine-minute "Silverfuck." The ballad’s stark production stands in contrast to the album’s dense, multilayered sound — it’s mostly a couple of guitars, one clean and one crunchy; a faint shaker; and singer Billy Corgan emoting about a town where "all the sand faces drown." It’s the kind of melancholy you want to swim around in, even after the final chord rings out. (Ryan Reed)

 

33. Jethro Tull, "Cheap Day Return" (1:23)
From: Aqualung (1971)

Jethro Tull made a noticeable instrumental shift on their fourth album, pushing toward new, more acoustically driven directions. The sessions were complex, with the band working in a newly revamped studio that was once a church as Led Zeppelin toiled away in an adjacent studio. Working with a variety of lyrical themes, frontman Ian Anderson turned the focus inward, using “Cheap Day Return” to process the experience of visiting his ill father. The recollection of being asked for an autograph by one of the nurses exposes the surreal layers of fame. (Wardlaw)

 

32. Yes, "We Have Heaven" (1:39)
From: Fragile (1971)

Yes used an unorthodox blueprint for their fourth LP, Fragile: four traditional full-band songs, five "solo"-type tracks showcasing the styles of their members. Like bassist Chris Squire and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, singer Jon Anderson went into overdub overdrive — on the sunshine-lit "We Have Heaven," he piles his voice into a mountain of harmonies, experimenting with pitch-shifting and effects to create a one-man choir. The resulting lyrical snippets ("Tell the moon dog, tell the marsh hare" / "He is here to look around") don’t register intellectually, but boy do they sound deep when you’re swirling inside them. (Reed)

 

31. Janis Joplin, "Mercedes Benz" (1:47)
From: Pearl (1971)

"I'd like to do a song of great social and political import. It goes like this," Janis Joplin says at the top of "Mercedes Benz," asking the Lord to buy her a car, plus a color TV and a night on the town. Is it a thinly veiled criticism of capitalism and consumerism? There's a haunted quality to the song, too, which was written spontaneously in a bar in Port Chester, N.Y., with Bob Dylan collaborator Bob Neuwirth and poet Michael McClure: It was the final song Joplin recorded before her death and the posthumous release of 1971's Pearl. Her throaty vocal stands out the strongest on the a cappella "Mercedes Benz," which mirrors Joplin's career: here one moment, gone the next. But there's a whole lot of strength and spirit in between. (Rapp)

 

30. The Beatles, "I'll Cry Instead" (1:46)
From: A Hard Day's Night (1964)

Don't let the upbeat arrangement fool you: "I'll Cry Instead" reveals a hefty chunk of emotional vulnerability from John Lennon, who admits he's got "a chip on my shoulder that's bigger that my feet." There's a tone of misogyny to "I'll Cry Instead," with its emphasis on someday getting revenge for having his heart broken — "When I do, you'd better hide all the girls / I'm gonna break their hearts all around the world" — a theme Lennon would return to in songs like "Run for Your Life." To what extent Lennon's personal and professional insecurities impacted the early work of the Beatles can be debated, but "I'll Cry Instead" is over before it has a chance to go too far. (Rapp)

 

29. Genesis, "Guide Vocal" (1:18)
From: Duke (1980)

If Genesis had stuck with their original plan, "Guide Vocal" would have been connective tissue— the shortest of six pieces (along with "Behind the Lines," "Duchess," "Turn It on Again," "Duke’s Travels" and "Duke’s End") envisioned for an epic-length suite on 1980’s Duke. Instead, they opted to ditch the old method and break up the individual tracks, allowing each to breathe as its own worthy composition. "Guide Vocal" is painfully brief — it’s easy to wish they’d developed it further. But that brevity adds extra impact to Tony Banks’ velvety electric piano melody, decorated by Phil Collins’ croon-to-belt vocal. (Reed)

 

28. The Beatles, "Do You Want to Know a Secret" (1:57)
From: Please Please Me (1963)

Even though "Do You Want to Know a Secret" was penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the song would become the Beatles' first Top 10 single to feature George Harrison on lead vocals. It was recorded during the hours-long recording session from February 1963 when the band recorded nine songs for its debut album. Harrison and Lennon's intermingled acoustic guitars make for an especially smooth-sounding pop song. In less than two minutes, Harrison's boyish but bright voice was introduced to the world. (Rapp)

 

27. Prince, "Sister" (1:32)
From: Dirty Mind (1980)

Prince's first two albums were impressively written and performed but not particularly groundbreaking. The raw and randy Dirty Mind from 1980 is where he finally found his voice both musically and lyrically. The album's shortest track is among its most shocking. With one foot in new wave and the other in rockabilly, "Sister" pulls no punches while telling the never denied or confirmed story of how Prince received a firsthand sexual education from an older sister. (Wilkening)

 

26. Cat Stevens, "The Wind" (1:40)
From: Teaser and the Firecat (1971)

There's a good reason "The Wind" has served as the soundtrack to key moments from classic movies like Rushmore and Almost Famous. Delivered over a delicate guitar, Stevens' lyrics perfectly capture the desire for spiritual guidance. "That was my goal: to be able to detach myself from my physical surroundings and material things," the singer-songwriter explained in a 2022 Rolling Stone interview. "I was very earnestly searching." (Wilkening)

 

25. Bob Dylan, "Oxford Town" (1:47)
From: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)

In the early days of Bob Dylan's career, part of the power of his "protest" music was that it simply stated facts and shed light on injustice in plain terms. In 1962, Dylan was asked by the folk magazine Broadside to write a song about the Ole Miss riot of 1962, which had been prompted by the enrollment of Black student James Meredith at the University of Mississippi. "Come to the door, he couldn't get in / All because of the color of his skin / What do you think about that, my friend?" Dylan asks. Two civilians were murdered during the riot and hundreds more were injured: "Two men died 'neath the Mississippi moon / Somebody better investigate soon." (Rapp)

 

24. The Rolling Stones, "I Wanna Be Your Man" (1:44)
From: A-side Single (1963)

John Lennon and Paul McCartney thought so little of "I Wanna Be Your Man" that they gave it to both their biggest rivals and their own drummer to sing. The Ringo Starr-led Beatles version (included on their second album, With the Beatles) came out just weeks after the Rolling Stones released the song as their second single. The Stones deliver a frenzied rock 'n' roll take compared to the Beatles' more mannered pop version, and that makes all the difference. The song made it to No. 12 in the U.K. and eventually found its way as the B-side to the Stones' first U.S. single, "Not Fade Away." (Michael Gallucci)

 

23. Radiohead, "I Will" ("No Man's Land") (1:59) 
From: Hail to the Thief (2003)

Proving that the horrors of war transcend era, Thom Yorke based this depressing lullaby on a devastating real-life image: the Amiriyah shelter bombing, which killed more than 400 civilians during the first Gulf War. He attached that brutality to one of his loveliest vocal melodies, carried by a flickering falsetto — but the song took time to simmer. Though most fans first sampled "I Will" from a soundcheck performance in the 1998 band documentary Meeting People Is Easy, Radiohead’s multiple studio recordings were unfruitful — Yorke even dismissed one as "dodgy Kraftwerk." But their vision finally cohered on 2003’s Hail to the Thief: no electronics, no experiments, just Yorke and his profound sadness. (Reed)

 

22. Cheap Trick, "Hello There" (1:41)
From: In Color (1977)

Whether Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen was aware of it, he was crafting a song whose legacy was greater than just its opening-track position on the band’s second album, 1977’s In Color. They quickly adopted it as a show-opening theme song that served as a raucous carnival-barker introduction to the circus that was coming. Nielsen wasted no time in writing an answer song, “Goodnight Now,” which flips the lyrical script, signaling the night with Cheap Trick has come to an end. (Wardlaw)

 

21. The Clash, "Career Opportunities" (1:54)
From: The Clash (1977)

The Clash didn’t pick a random target when raging through a brief but stinging indictment of the lack of meaningful careers available to young people in late-‘70s England. Mick Jones had worked a part-time job as a clerical assistant in a benefits office for the Department of Health and Social Care before rising to fame. One of his jobs as the most junior employee was to open mail – and “Career Opportunities” directly references the worries of those times with the lyric “I won’t open letter bombs for you.” IRA operatives had been charged with rigging postal deliveries in an ongoing struggle known as “The Troubles.” Jones later admitted, however, that correspondence at his office was far less interesting: “Most of the letters the social security get are from people saying their neighbors don't need the money.” (Nick DeRiso)

 

20. Simon & Garfunkel, "The 59th St. Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" (1:49)
From: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966)

"Oh, I loathe that song," Paul Simon said of "The 59th St. Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" in 2017. "It just feels naive, you know?" He doubled down on the sentiment the following year, delivering a rare live performance of the track as self-punishment for getting the lyrics to a different song wrong. The breezy 1:43 track may not have the depth of future triumphs like "Bridge Over Troubled Water" but dozens of artists have covered the song since 1966, including Jimmy Page, who'd play parts of it during his guitar solos at Led Zeppelin shows. (Wilkening)

 

19. The Beatles, "I Will" (1:45)
From: The White Album

“I Will” is a moment of needed simplicity on the overstuffed White Album, as Paul McCartney declares his undying love in a stripped-down trio setting. McCartney plays guitars, while John Lennon and Ringo Starr provide light percussion. It feels like a very late-night jam session or perhaps a tossed-off demo. Except it most certainly was neither. McCartney started “I Will” during the Beatles’ February 1968 trip to India and was still fiddling around with the lyrics as he entered the studio in September. Donovan helped out along the way, to no avail. After McCartney was finally satisfied with the words, the Beatles then required an astounding 67 takes over two days to get the final version. The trio was in the studio so long that they started working on other music – including “Can You Take Me Back,” which was edited into the space between "Cry Baby Cry" and "Revolution 9” on the LP. (DeRiso)

 

18. Pink Floyd, "Pigs on the Wing" (Part One) (1:24)
From: Animals (1977)

Even Roger Waters could see that Animals was becoming one long “scream of rage.” He’d spent the album fulminating about the politics and social issues of the day on a trio of long-form songs that were loosely based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The shortest of them was a sturdy 10 minutes. What he needed was something short and sweet. It came easier than you might think since Waters was quite happy at home when not ranting and raving in the studio. He’d finally found a partner whom he could love while also serving as his intellectual match. At the time, that seemed about as likely to him as a flying pig. He suddenly had the perfect intro (and outro) for an album of notable fury, even for Waters. (DeRiso)

 

17. The Smiths, "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" (1:52)
From: B-side of "William, It Was Really Nothing" Single (1984)

Originally found on the flip side to the 1984 single "William, It Was Really Nothing," "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" has become one of the Smiths' best and most covered songs. (Artists as disparate as Hootie & the Blowfish, Deftones and Muse have taken a crack over the years.) Singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr pack a lot of emotion in the short, mostly acoustic song, which works particularly well in the visual medium, too: "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" had pivotal spots in the 1986 movie Pretty in Pink and in a 2021 Saturday Night Live sketch. (Gallucci)

 

16. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Ain't No Telling" (1:46)
From: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

When you think of Jimi Hendrix, you think of long, powerful, epic guitar solos - not exactly the kind of rock music that lends itself to brevity. While that image may be true of the guitar god’s concerts, Hendrix still managed to release plenty of short-but-sweet tracks in his career. Among the gems, “Ain’t No Telling,” released on 1967’s Axis: Bold as Love. The track chugs along at a high pace, with Hendrix delivering his trademark axe work over the top of a frenetic backbeat. For all his guitar-hero glory, “Ain’t No Telling” is proof that Hendrix knew how to distill his brand of fiery rock 'n' roll into a brief yet emphatic form. (Irwin)

 

15. The Beatles, "I'll Follow the Sun" (1:49)
From: Beatles for Sale (1964)

Paul McCartney started writing this breezy folk tune as a teenager in the late '50s, only finishing it years later for the Beatles' fourth LP. But "I’ll Follow the Sun" blossomed into a unique piece, exemplifying the band’s growing stylistic ambitions: John Lennon augments McCartney’s chorus melody with a refined low harmony; George Harrison’s brief guitar solo adds a hint of twang; and Ringo Starr makes percussion sounds with his body. "We didn’t want to fall into the Supremes trap where [the singles] all sounded rather similar," McCartney noted in Barry Miles’ 1997 book, Many Years From Now. "So to that end, we were always keen on having varied instrumentation. Ringo couldn’t keep changing his drum kit, but he could change his snare, tap a cardboard box or slap his knees." (Reed)

 

14. Paul McCartney, "Junk" (1:54)
From: McCartney (1970)

"Motorcars, handlebars, bicycles for two," Paul McCartney coos on this fingerpicked reverie, using scrapyard items to illustrate cycles of old and new. "Junk" was once relegated to a junk pile: The songwriter wrote it during the Beatles’ 1968 stint in India and later recorded a demo at George Harrison’s home before the tune wound up discarded during the White Album sessions. McCartney revived the pensive sing-along for his debut solo LP, an album defined by that same homespun charm. It’s the perfect home for a castaway classic, a savvy salvage job. (Reed)

 

13. Elvis Presley, "Blue Suede Shoes" (1:59)
From: Elvis Presley (1956)

Few songs in rock 'n' roll history are as iconic as “Blue Suede Shoes.” The song wasn’t originally recorded by Elvis Presley; its writer, Carl Perkins, first released it in 1956. That version was a hit, selling more than a million copies and crossing over to the R&B and country charts. But Presley's take may have more significance. Released nine months after Perkins’ version, Presley's rendition was faster and more guitar-heavy. The King also performed “Blue Suede Shoes” on national television three times in 1956, with his gyration dance moves to the song becoming one of the era’s most identifiable pop-culture images. (Irwin)

 

12. The White Stripes, "Fell in Love With a Girl" (1:50)
From: White Blood Cells (2001)

Many people point to “Seven Nation Army” as the song that rocketed the White Stripes to fame, and while that track certainly helped them become one of the biggest acts of the new millennium, it was “Fell in Love With a Girl” that first put them on many music fans’ radar. With frenzied guitar riffs and Jack White’s relentless vocal delivery, the track is a blitzkrieg of garage-rock energy. It peaked at No. 12 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart and opened eyes (and ears) to the new duo emerging out of Detroit. (Irwin)

 

11. The Beach Boys, "Little Deuce Coupe" (1:41)
From: Little Deuce Coupe (1963)

People going on and on about their cars can be so tiresome. But Mike Love gets to the point about his favorite car in less than two minutes, even rattling off some details in the process. Still, the coupe’s pep comes at a price: “I get pushed out of shape/ And it’s hard to steer/ When I get rubber in all four gears.” However unfriendly the handling may be, one thing seems clear: The sweet ride is well-equipped for any competition it faces. And if all the bragging is to be believed, that “Little Deuce Coupe” has raced away with more than a few grand prizes. (Wardlaw)

 

10. The Rolling Stones, "Not Fade Away" (1:48)
From: The Rolling Stones (1964)

Seven years after "Not Fade Away" was released as the B-side to Buddy Holly and the Crickets' "Oh, Boy!," the Rolling Stones revived the non-charting gem and revved up their career in the process. They trimmed more than 30 seconds from Holly's original while keeping the Bo Diddley-inspired beat and adding muscle and menace. The result was the Stones' first Top 5 U.K. hit. It also cracked the Top 50 in the States as the Stones' first U.S. single. "Not Fade Away" also served as the opening number to many of the band's early shows, a role it reclaimed for the 1994-95 Voodoo Lounge tour. (Wilkening)

 

9. David Bowie, "Breaking Glass" (1:51)
From: Low (1977)

Bowie's landmark Low album is best known for its mix of ambient music, art-rock and electronic experiments, heralding a bold new era for the artist following a drug-fueled period of plastic soul. "Breaking Glass" is one of the project's few songs that sounds like a carryover from that earlier time. Musically it's not too far removed from Station to Station's space-age R&B, while its lyrics almost sound like a fever dream come-down after a night of overindulgence: "Don't look at the carpet, I drew something awful on it." Luckily the nightmare is over almost as soon as it begins. (Gallucci)

 

8. Elvis Costello, "Welcome to the Working Week" (1:23)
From: My Aim Is True (1977)

When Elvis Costello was recording his debut album, 1977's My Aim Is True, he was still working his day job as a computer operator at Elizabeth Arden, the cosmetics company he referred to as a "vanity factory" in another of the LP's songs, "I'm Not Angry." He gets a lot of frustration out in the 83-second "Welcome to the Working Week," voicing his dislike for typical day-job drudgery but ending with more serious considerations: "Sometimes I wonder if we're living in the same land / Why do you wanna be my friend when I feel like a juggler running out of hands?" (Rapp)

 

7. Ray Charles, "Hit the Road Jack" (2:00)
From: A-side Single (1961)

As short songs go, Ray Charles’ Hit the Road Jack” is particularly brisk, settling into an energetic shuffle from the first second. Even Charles’ background singers the Raelettes, who chime in after only five seconds of instrumental intro, seem to be in a hurry. But  Charles gives the song a surprisingly laid-back feeling with his casual delivery. He eventually settles into more of a conversational direction, with Raelette Margie Hendrix greeting one particular exchange with a saucy, authoritative reply. Charles never seems closer to winning his argument, but he sure has fun trying. (Wardlaw)

 

6. Elvis Presley, "All Shook Up" (1:57)
From: A-side Single (1957)

Elvis Presley was an electric performer and a true rock ’n’ roll visionary. But he was no writer. So how’d he end up with a composing credit on the multiplatinum single “All Shook Up”? Depends on whom you asked. Otis Blackwell, who was listed as Presley’s cowriter, said he was inspired by a moment when he was shaking a soda up and down. David Hess, who recorded the first version, said he came up with the title but that Presley declined to record a cover unless his name was added. Presley's version of how “All Shook Up” happened: “I’ve never even had an idea for a song – just once, maybe,” he once said. “I went to bed one night, had quite a dream and woke up all shook up. I phoned a pal and told him about it. By morning, he had a new song.” And a huge hit. (DeRiso)

 

5. Ramones, "Judy Is a Punk" (1:32)
From: Ramones (1976)

If there was ever a band built to deliver a flurry of rock 'n' roll in a short amount of time, it’s the Ramones. No song on their self-titled debut is longer than 2:35, and six of the 14 tracks came in at less than two minutes. “Judy Is a Punk” is the best of them, a riotous story about two women - Judy and Jackie - who either join the Ice Capades or the Symbionese Liberation Army. The lyrics are catchy, the structure is simple. In short, it’s everything that makes the Ramones great. (Irwin)

 

4. The Beatles, "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" (1:41)
From: The White Album (1968)

There's not much to "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?," Paul McCartney's 101-second heavy rocker that's inspired by horny monkeys and buried near the end of The Beatles' second side. It's just McCartney, Ringo Starr on drums and two lines, repeated over a simple, bluesy rhythm. But it makes quite an impression sandwiched between Starr's twangy "Don't Pass Me By" and McCartney's acoustic love song "I Will." Just two months earlier McCartney and the Beatles recorded "Hey Jude," which held the title as the longest single to top the charts for a time. He was an expert at writing songs at average lengths, too. (Gallucci)

 

3. The Clash, "White Riot" (1:58)
From: A-Side to Single (1977)

There are two official versions of the Clash's debut single, and both clock in at less than two minutes. That first single was recorded in 1977, but the take released on the Clash's self-titled album that same year came from a 1976 demo. Both are searing introductions to the pioneering punk band. Even though its title sparked some controversy, "White Riot" is a protest song about poverty and racial politics. "All the power's in the hands of people rich enough to buy it," Joe Strummer snarls over angry, biting guitars, proving their music matters just as much today as it did back then. (Gallucci)

 

2. The Box Tops, "The Letter" (1:55)
From: The Letter/Neon Rainbow (1967)

As short as “The Letter” is, this lickety-split single took forever. The Box Tops, then still known as the DeVilles, reportedly took 30 takes to nail the song for producer Dan Penn at American Sound in Memphis. The idea was to follow writer Wayne Carson’s demo. Simple, right? But they’d never cut a record. The arranger had never written a string chart. Even Penn was a novice. Gruff wunderkind Alex Chilton, still a teen, cooled his heels waiting for his chance to sing. Then, with only a brief instruction from Penn on how to say “aer-oh-plane,” Chilton nailed the lyric. Studio head Chips Moman tried to talk Penn out of adding an “aeroplane” sound effect he’d found on an LP from the local library – but Penn was adamant. Next stop: the top of the charts. (DeRiso)

 

1. The Beatles, "From Me to You" (1:56)
From: A-side to Single (1963)

"From Me to You" is more significant for what it signaled than for what it is. The Beatles' third single was their first to reach No. 1 in the U.K. and, in a roundabout way, the first time a Beatles song charted in the U.S.: Del Shannon's cover version made it to No. 77 (Lennon and McCartney's chart debut in the States), prompting the group's original to bubble under the Hot 100 for three weeks. As a song, there's not much to "From Me to You." Like most early Lennon-McCartney compositions, it's a simply structured pop tune that merely hinted at what was to come. But the song opened the gates for Beatlemania to take over the world within a year. This was the start. (Gallucci)

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