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Tracks from the Past: The Beatles — The White Album

BY DI STAFF | JULY 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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They say it's your birthday?

Former Beatle drummer Ringo Starr will turn 72 on Saturday, so this week's Tracks from the Past is the band's seminal White Album — the double masterpiece that features one of the only birthday songs ever written that's actually worth a listen.

But "Birthday" doesn't appear until the second half of the mammoth 30-track project from 1968. The White Album begins with "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Dear Prudence," a potent one-two punch of hard-driving rock 'n' roll and eerily beautiful acoustic guitar.

Both themes are repeated over the course of the record; "Glass Onion" and "Helter Skelter" are perhaps the best examples of the former category, and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Blackbird" are among the most famous acoustic tracks ever composed.

The White Album features plenty of other influences, as well. "Rocky Raccoon" is a twangy American folk song, while "I'm So Tired" is a bluesy track about the mental strain of insomnia.

The White Album spent 155 weeks on the Billboard 200 list, including nine weeks at the top, and was named Rolling Stone's No. 10 record of all time.

It may have also marked the beginning of the Beatles' downfall, and it became infamous when serial killer Charles Manson used it as his manifesto. But 44 years after its release, The White Album is still a masterpiece like few others.

So happy birthday, Ringo; we're gonna have a good time.

Turn it up.

— by Seth Roberts


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