Beatle Moment: “I’m a Loser”

“I’m a Loser’
The Beatles
Beatles for Sale
1964

I lost all my playlists at the hands of Best Buy, so I’ve been shuffling my entire iTunes library in the car lately. I never go a week without listening to the Beatles, but this song has been out of rotation for years. This morning I was reminded of what an unassuming little work of art it is. It was recorded in 1964 but says 1965 to me. This is my favorite Beatles year, and “I’m a Loser” sounds like it belongs on Help!, which is the slightly feeble-minded twin brother of my favorite album, Rubber Soul.

John wrote this during his wannabe Dylan days, and although some of the lyrics are a little emo, there are lines that catch me off-guard in their rawness. “Is it for her or myself that I cry?” The title, too, hits close to home – I know well the strategy of mocking yourself before the world can do it. The most compelling thing about the song is the upbeat folkiness of it all – during this period, John still hid behind the distraction of a poppy guitar even while his lyrics delved deep. Only in the next couple of years would his instrumentation become as honest as his songwriting. There are signs of that here, especially when he hits the low G. That note is classic John, jarring and bitter-funny.

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