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Fargo's ultimate Beatles record favors 'Sgt. Pepper'

Fargo's Beatles fans love "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" 37 years after its release. The Forum asked readers to choose 12 songs from the band's catalog for an ultimate Fargo Beatles album and 25 percent of the songs picked appear on the ...

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Fargo's Beatles fans love "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" 37 years after its release.

The Forum asked readers to choose 12 songs from the band's catalog for an ultimate Fargo Beatles album and 25 percent of the songs picked appear on the landmark 1967 album - the title track, "Strawberry Fields Forever" and the closing track, "A Day in the Life."

Below are the 12 songs 117 people chose by signing on to www.In-Forum.com . They are in order of popularity:

1. "Hey Jude," released as a single on Aug. 30, 1968.

This was The Beatles' last single released specifically for the 45 market. Written by Paul McCartney, it was a song of encouragement to Julian Lennon, John's son by Cynthia, while his parents were going through a divorce. When McCartney presented the lyrics to Lennon, John stamped them complete, not allowing his band mate to change a word. It is the longest single released by the band, as well as the first issued by Apple Records. It spent nine weeks at No. 1 in the United States.

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2. "Yesterday" appeared on the "Help!" album released in August 1965.

Solely a McCartney song, it originally was called "Scrambled Eggs" as he worked out the lyrics. The poignant, simple, direct sentiment helped make it the most performed song in the United States for eight years, 1965-73. Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Lennon do not appear on the recording.

3. "Let It Be," released on "Let It Be" in May 1970.

Another McCartney song, this quasi-religious tune includes a reference to Mother Mary, which might have been McCartney's mother. The song has been called "Paul's Catholic ballad."

4. "Eleanor Rigby" appeared on "Revolver" released Aug. 5, 1966.

Another McCartney song, it features a string quartet and includes sociological observations for one of the first times in a Beatles song. Lennon and Harrison sing backing vocals, but no Beatle lends any instrumental backing. "Taxman" and "Eleanor Rigby" open "Revolver" and hint at a more mature band.

5. "A Day in the Life" appeared on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" released in June 1967.

Fargo fans finally pick a Lennon tune. "A Day in the Life" was originally two separate songs - Lennon's had no middle and McCartney's had no beginning. Lennon's imagery and lateral association have left the song open to varied interpretation, including it being a vision of the Day of Judgment. The extended, haunting piano chord, played by three Beatles simultaneously on different pianos, lasts 42 seconds.

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5. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" released on "The Beatles (White Album)" in November 1968.

Harrison's only song in the Top 12. This majestic blues piece features Eric Clapton on guitar, one of the few times an outside musician of stature appeared on a Beatles release. It was inspired by the "I Ching." Harrison says he decided to write a song on whatever appeared when he randomly opened the book. The first phrase he saw was "gently weeps."

7. "Come Together" was released on "Abbey Road" in September 1969.

Lennon's exaltation of simultaneous orgasm, the song was inspired by Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me." It was the last song recorded for the album, but the first song on the record.

8. "Can't Buy Me Love" was released as a single in March 1964; it later appeared on the soundtrack to "A Hard Day's Night."

The first single to simultaneously reach No. 1 in the United States and England, "Can't Buy Me Love" also inaugurated a system within the band where the predominant writer of a song would sing lead vocal. This bouncy pop song is primarily McCartney's.

9. "Strawberry Fields Forever" was released as a B-side single in February 1967; it later appeared on the "Magical Mystery Tour" album released in December 1967.

Lennon's recollection of his childhood in Liverpool, it is the flip side to McCartney's memories on "Penny Lane." The title is a real place, a Salvation Army orphanage around the corner from Lennon's home. The surreal images and overlapping musical textures were a stark contrast to McCartney's straight-forward, pop remembrance on the other side.

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10. "Blackbird" appeared on "The Beatles (The White Album)" released in November 1968.

A McCartney solo tune a la "Yesterday." Many have thought of it as a sympathetic gesture toward the Black Power movement which was taking hold in the United States.

10. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" appeared on the titular album released in June 1967.

The grandiose opening track - "It was 20 years ago today ..." - sets up McCartney's vision for the trailblazing album - assuming the identity of another band and presenting a vaudeville show. McCartney was inspired by the colorful names of San Francisco bands The Electric Prunes, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead.

10. "In My Life" appeared on "Rubber Soul" released in December 1965.

Lennon's lyrics matched with McCartney's melody and a baroque piano solo by producer George Martin closes out Fargo's favorite Beatles album. This is one of Lennon's first forays into looking back at his childhood, which would continue in other songs like "Strawberry Fields" and "Julia."

Other songs finishing in the Top 20 are "Back in the USSR," "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Here Comes the Sun," "Get Back," "Revolution," "Norwegian Wood" and "All You Need Is Love."

Readers can reach Forum features editor Dean Rhodes at (701) 241-5524.

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