I first discovered the Beatles in 1972, when they had already broken up. I bought the two double albums covering their whole career. I then discovered some songs – like "Yellow Submarine" and "Yesterday" – which I had been taught at Junior School without knowing who had sung it. From that moment on I was hooked.
Why these ten?
1. The Beatles always veer between Paul's natural optimism and John's more complex view of the world. "Here Comes the Sun" fits with my sunny disposition, and confirms my natural view of the world.
2. "Norwegian Wood" managed, when I was a teenager, to summon up the infinite possibilities of adult life; confident women, overnighting with others. And I liked the bad pun at the end "I lit a fire, isn't it good, Norwegian wood". I have always enjoyed (and still use) bad puns.
3. Simply because you couldn't have a top ten of any songs without "Yesterday". So simple, so eternal.
4. When I was a teenager I rather liked George – he was the youngest, the most interested in South Asia, and so I wanted to include a song he wrote. His songs have a lyricism about them which is very different from John and Paul.
5. "I want to hold your hand" of course means a lot more than wanting to hold her hand. I always liked the way Beatles' songs had simple lyrics on the surface but conveyed much more adult themes underneath.
6. The Beatles were so innovative in their song-making, breaking all the rules, and keeping on doing so for almost ten years – extraordinary in the fast-moving world of pop music. The long repetitive chorus which fills the second half of this song is just that – producers before would never have allowed it, but it almost becomes like a religious chant.
7. This was the last song on the first Beatles compilation I owned, and so it captured for me the sense of an ending – you listen to it and you are amazed how far the Beatles had travelled since "Love Love Me Do" – constantly learning, experimenting, changing, as well as staying ahead of the media who always wanted to define and reduce them.
8. I have to include Yellow Submarine because you can't forget Ringo. It's a terrible song really, but that's what makes it great.
9. Why do I like "Michelle" ? It's of course a great song, easy to learn and sing. But I think I really like it because of the very bad French accent where they sing "sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble" – Liverpool lads become global stars.
10. George Martin is of course the fifth Beatle, and this song captures the amazing complexity and daring of his production, with orchestras, long single piano notes, reverse engineered tunes – and of course on Sgt Pepper's album, the strange indecipherable message contained, recorded backwards, at the end of this song when the needle sticks in the final groove of the LP.