For the last year or so, I've been asking groups and individuals which 15 of The White Album's 30 songs they would keep if they had to whittle the double album down to a single disc. And the results are in. I'll consider the group tallies first, then the group votes, and lastly compare the two and draw final conclusions.
First, the group results. Following eight of my presentations on The White Album over the last year, I held group votes, so these numbers are out of eight. The 13 boldface song titles made the cut; the three italicized songs are tied for the remaining two openings.
8 of 8 votes: 8 songs
7 of 8 votes: 2 songs
6 of 8 votes: 1 song
5 of 8 votes: 2 songs
4 of 8 votes: 3 songs
3 of 8 votes: 3 songs
2 of 8 votes: 2 songs
1 of 8 votes: 1 song
0 of 8 votes: 8 songs
There's the group votes. What about the individual results?
The top 15 individual vote-getters are shown in blue; the bottom 15 individual vote-getters are shown in orange.
Total surveys submitted: 124
So how do those results compare to each other?
Counting the three italicized songs that tied for the final two spots in the group vote as "kept", 13 songs were kept in both the individual and group votes:
On the other hand, 12 songs were rejected from both votes:
That leaves five tunes that were kept in one vote but rejected in the other. 3 were kept in the group vote, rejected in the individual vote:
And 2 were kept in the individual vote, but rejected in group vote:
So what does it all mean? What macro conclusions can be drawn from all this data?
The first thing that stands out to me is that every song received at least 7 individual votes (and all but one received at least 19), while no songs received unanimous inclusion (the closest was "Gently Weeps", which scored 95%). In other words, every song is valued by someone, and no song is universally valued.
Building off of that premise, my personal fundamental conclusion is that The White Album really does need to be a double album. As Alan Pollack, author of the hugely popular Notes On... series once told me, "This variety and abundance has been argued pro (it’s a feature) and con (they lacked self-control/criticism to select and discard). If diversity is an asset, then it needs to be a double album; if it's a hindrance, then a single album is better." I fall into the former camp - I find the vast stylistic diversity to be the album's strength, and omitting half the songs undermines that diversity and therefore undermines the album's greatest offering.
That being said, if I had to pick 15 songs to keep based strictly on these results (based on objective statistics, as opposed to my subjective preferences and opinions), here's what it all comes down to.
The 15 keepers:
And the 15 rejects:
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.