Only Some Northern Songs in
Abbey Road


Although Abbey Road was really the last album to be recorded by The Beatles, chronologically, back in the sixties the fans had to wait a little longer to get Let It Be. Following such an order, we must first tell last chapter of the tale.

After recording Let It Be, the Beatles had reached the lowest point in their career as a group. Their paths were slowly separating and each one already thought of all the great things he could achieve as a solo musician (perhaps exceptuating Ringo). However, a last and final effort was made to regain the Beatles feeling in doing a last LP. Paul went to George Martin and asked him to produce another Beatles album "like in the old days". Martin's role as a Beatles producer had been interrupted in Let It Be, and Glynn Jones and later Phil Spector were responsible for the production of the Get Back/Let It Be project. Martin's only condition was that work should really be carried out like in the old days. And probably with greater commitment and effort, the four Beatles started in July recordings for Abbey Road. The working method did indeed change, and every Beatle used the others as exceptional session musicians for his own songs. The result however was one of the best albums in their career, both in the technical and creative fields.

One of the album's most distinctive features, is the cover. It probably runs parallel with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band in the number of times it hasbeen imitated although esentially it was quite improvised. The album title, of course, refers to the Emi Studios in Abbey Road where The Beatles recorded almost all their songs. The Lp was going to be called Everest, honouring the brand of cigarretes Geoff Emerick used to smoke. In fact, a trip was planned to the Himalaya to photograph the album cover. However, as the completion of the album seemed closer, someone said "look, why don't we get out there, make the cover photo and simply call the album Abbey Road?". And on August 8th, Ian Macmillan stepped up a small ladder to take the picture of all four Beatles crossing the most universal zebra crossing of all. Abbey Road has quite a lot of traffic and only 6 shots were made. Neither the Wolkswagen nor the suits, not even Paul's bare feet were prepared for the picture. The Wolkswagen (with the LMW 281F license plate) used to be parked there often and it belonged to someone living in the block of flats next to the studio. The suits were simply the ones that The Beatles were going to work in that day. Paul, living very close to the studio, had arrived with his sandals on, and even in some of the shots appears with them on. Just as a last curiosity, the back cover picture actually corresponds to a street sign long since gone. The word BEATLES was later added to a picture of such sign also by Ian MacMillan. The blue blurry thing at the right of the Abbey Road sign is in fact a girl with a short dress and pretty legs.

  • Abbey Road
  • Recording Dates: 22 February 1969 - 19 August 1969
  • Release Date: 26 September 1969


Come Together

Lennon
John:Rythm Guitar, Lead Guitar Tambourine and Lead Vocal
Paul: Bass Guitar, Electric Piano and Vocals
George:Lead Guitar and Maracas
Ringo:Drums

Come Together was written by John for Timothy Leary, who intended to run for governor of California in 1969 curiously against Ronald Reagan. The campaign slogan was "Come together, join the party". The original Come Together had different lyrics (Come together, right now. Don't come tomorrow, Don't come alone...) Leary who had been at the recording of "Give Peace a Chance" in Montreal, took from there a demo John had recorded with his guitar of the song and had it played in several radio stations. However, as Leary finally dropped the race for Governor, John changed the style and the lyrics and decided to record it for Abbey Road.

Two of the lines in the song, referring to the "old flat top" were a tribute to a song by Chuck Berry "You can't catch me". In fact, the publisher of the song thought that it was plagiarism and intended to sue Lennon for it. Finally, John agreed to record several songs from the catalogue of the publisher of "You Can't Catch Me" (one of the main reasons to record the "John Lennon Rock & Roll" album, where he recorded "You Can't Catch Me" and "Sweet Little Sixteen")

Something

Harrison
John: Electric Guitar
Paul: Bass Guitar and Vocals
George:Lead Guitar and Lead Vocal
Ringo: Drums
Billy Preston: Piano
21 Session Musicians: Orchestral arrangements

Abbey Road saw finally George Harrison's explode, and with Something and Here Comes the Sun, he probably achieved Abbey Road's best known songs. This brilliant trajectory would be topped months afterwards when he issued "All Things Must Pass", his terrific triple solo album. When Paul McCartney was commented on Abbey Road that "it was as good as Pepper" he answered "No, I don't think it's as good as Pepper. But I like George's song. I think it's the best song he's ever written". In fact, Something has become the second most covered Beatles song, only beaten by Yesterday. Definitely a masterpiece.

George wrote Something inspired in his beautiful wife Pattie. The video of the song portrayed all four Beatles with their wifes or girlfriends at the moment. However, the opening line, was probably taken by George from the title of a song by James Taylor (Something in the way she moves). The song was composed during the recordings for the White Album, but it made it too late to appear in it. Later, George forgot a little about it and offered it to Joe Cocker and Jackie Lomax to cover it, until he finally decided to record it for Abbey Road. Once again the perfect song is topped by Martin's exceptional orchestral arrangements, Paul's bass, Ringo's excellent drumming and George's simple and yet magnificent guitar solo. Something was issued as a double A-side single along with Come Together.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer

McCartney
John: Acoustic Guitar and Lead Guitar
Paul: Bass Guitar, Piano, Synthesizer and Lead Vocal
George: Lead Guitar and Vocals
Ringo:Drums, Anvil and Vocals
George Martin: Hammond Organ

Maxwell's silver Hammer was another bouncy song by Paul in his close to vaudeville style. Apparently and according to John, the song went on about the law of karma, in which "the moment you do something that's not right, Maxwell's silver hammer will come down on your head". John would later come back to this idea with "Instant Karma". When Paul was asked on the song, he said that it described the ups and downs of life. "Just when everthing is going smoothly, "bang bang" down comes Maxwell's silver hammer and ruins everything"

Oh! Darling

McCarthey
Working Title: I'll Never Do You No Harm John: Piano and Vocals
Paul: Bass Guitar, Lead Guitar, Piano, Tambourine and Lead Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Vocals
Ringo: Drums

Oh! Darling is simply one of those great songs that thrill you the moment you start listening to them. The incredible vocal work by the three Beatles (Paul on lead and John and George backing him) and the simple but effective instrumentation get to the heart of the listener every time. Paul's vocals, maybe even trying to get close to John's style are fantastic. In fact, Paul wanted them to sound as if he had been all week on stage, so he walked everyday to Abbey Road from his house to perform a single recording of the vocal a day during a week. Finally he achieved the desired result. Listening to Paul's vocal in Oh! Darling a capella (no instruments) it's an almost mystical experience. Although featured in bootlegs, that's a piece that the Anthology 3 unfortunately didn't include.

Octoups's Garden

Starkey
Lennon: Lead Guitar
Paul: Bass Guitar, Piano and Vocals
George: Lead Guitar and Vocals
Ringo Starr: Drums, percussion and Lead Vocal

Ringo's second and last song in a Beatles album fit perfectly into Abbey Road. Although Ringo's ability as a composer has never been outstanding, Octopus's Garden is a great song. It has the strange ability of making you happy with his bouncy feeling, the almost honky-tonk piano and the great guitar lines by George. The backing vocals by Paul and George were put through compressors and limiters to create the gurgling sound. Finally Ringo also decided to add the sound of bubbles beeing blown into a glass of water.

Ringo came up with the idea for Octopus's Garden during a family boating holiday in Sardinia imn 1968. After rejecting an octopus's lunch, the captain told him how octopuses would go around the sea bed collecting object to build gardens. The subject of the song, and Ringo's vocal along with the funny sound effects, often lead people to compare it with Yellow Submarine.

I Want You (She's So Heavy)

Lennon
Working Title: I Want You
John: Several Guitars, Hammond Organ, Moog Synthesizer, White Noise Generator and Lead Vocal
Paul: Bass Guitar and Vocals
George: Several Guitars, Conga and Vocals
Ringo:Drums

I Want You was a love song by John to Yoko. The idea was to get a song as simple as possible, and that would make it superior to Eleanor Rigby and I'm The Walrus. As a matter of fact, Yoko's way of understanding art may have had quite an strong influence in John that maybe tried here to take mimalist art into pop music.

The recording of I Want You started in February, months before the Abbey Road project went on its way, and with Let It Be still unfinished. At that point of early takes, even Paul gave a try to the vocal, although we must admit that the song wouldn't have been the same without John's voice in it. The progression of the bass and guitar lines mark the song strongly, and the end of it extends to over 7 minutes, making it one of the longest Beatles tracks ever (only Revolution 9 is longer). At the end of the song, the noise is increased by a White Noise generator operated by John. Everything is abruptly cut i the middle of a phrase with little fade out, and suddenly the sun comes...

Here Comes The Sun

Harrison
Paul: Bass Guitar and Vocals
George: Acoustic Guitar, Lead Guitar, Harmonium, Synthesizer, Handclapping and Lead Vocal
Ringo:Drums
Session Musicians: 17-piece Orchestra

As Beatles affaires were getting more and more rough (all but Paul had voted for Allen Klein to be their manager, and constant meetings were being held at Apple to negotiate the situation) George felt one day that it was enough and took the day off. He visited his friend Eric Clapton in Surrey. As he walked by the garden he just felt happy to be in the sun (which is highly comprehesibleif you've lived in England. Believe me, you ARE happy to see the sun, and then and only then understand George). As George said, he was happy just to be in the sun, and the song came to him.

The song from beginning to end is a complete masterpiece. The joy escapes through the notes of the incredibly recorded acoustic guitar, and once again, orchestration is perfect. All pieces fit in perfectly, with Paul high pitched vocals giving it the final and perfect touch.

Because

Lennon
John: Lead Guitar and Vocals
Paul: Bass Guitar and Vocals
George: Vocals
Ringo: Rythm
George Martin: Baldwin Spinet Electric Harpsichord

The ultimate vocal harmony song was written by John for Abbey Road. One never gets tired of listening to the three fabs absolutely melting their voices for this song. Unknown to many listeners until the issue of Anthology 3, where all voices can be heard with no music (incredible experience), Because is one of those songs that everybody loves.

Once again proving that he could do more than just rocking, John was one day listening to Yoko play in the piano Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (piano sonata in C Sharp, opus 27, number 2). A wonderful experience you should all give a try. He got the chords and wrote the lyrics. When they got to the studio, they first recorded the basic rythm track, with Ringo tapping the rythm in the hi-hatt (he worked as a metronome that day). Voices were recorded later up to a total of 9!!!. Of course a 9 part harmony is not a trivial musical exercise, and from the 3rd on, George Martin was tellling them which notes to sing. The result is simply breath-taking.

You Never Give Me Your Money

McCartney
John: Lead Guitar and Vocals
Paul: Bass Guitar, Piano, Tambourine, Chimes and Lead Vocal
George: Lead Guitar and Vocals
Ringo: Drums

You Never Give Me Your Money represents the start of the world famous Abbey Road medley of songs. Apparently the idea of the medley was in part George Martin's who suggested it to Paul. In fact even You Never Give Me Your Money is a medley of four separate songs. You Never Give Me Your Money opens the medley, with Paul on the piano. It was written regarding the Beatles financial problems at the time. in fact George said that all they got was a "funny paper" in which they told them how much they had earned. But getting the cash was almost impossible.

The other songs are That Magic Feeling, One Sweet Dream, and the fourth part comes in whern the song fades away (the "one, two, three, four, five, six seven, all good children go to heaven"). Early takes of the song did not have this ending, having a sudden stop (supposedly to be followed by another song in the medley). However, as the last part seems to fade out, the sound of crickets inmediately takes us to

Sun King

Lennon
Working Title: Here Comes The Sun - King John: Rythm Guitar, Organ and Lead Vocal
Paul: Bass Guitar, Piano and Vocals
George: Lead Guitar and Vocals
Ringo: Drums and Percussion

John said that Sun King had come to him in a dream. The lyrics, a mixture of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese mean nothing at all. However, it is true that at least it's one of the two songs The Beatles ever sung with lines in Spanish (Besame Mucho and Sun King) although we could add to this list Los Paranoias (which was not a working title of Sun King as some authors quote and we could all see in Anthology 3). I'm almost sure though, that Paul had much to do in the Spanish part of the lyrics, since some of the phrases come from almost complete ones, and Paul was the one knowing a little Spanish (as he has often showed). Here is the translation of most of the terms in the song:

  • Cuando - Quando (SP-I): When
  • Para (SP): For
  • Mucho (SP): Very
  • Mi amore de felice (I): My love of happy
  • Corazón (SP): Heart
    (that even makes some sense "my love of hapy heart")
  • Mundo (SP): World
  • Paparazzi (I): Journalists
  • Mi amore (I): My Love
  • Chica (SP): Girl
  • Parasol (SP): Sunshade
    (actually this line sounds very close to (SP) "Chica de mi corazón" -girl of my heart-)
  • Questo (I): This
  • Obrigado (P): Thankful
  • Tanto Mucho que (SP): So Much That
As you can see, pure nonsense, and yet beautiful and relaxing. And as the Sun King sets, we go into

Mean Mr. Mustard

Lennon
John: Rythm Guitar, Organ and Lead Vocal
Paul: Bass Guitar, Piano and Vocals
George: Lead Guitar and Vocals
Ringo: Drums and Percussion

Just as in the medley, Sun King and Mean Mr. Mustard were recorded at the same time, so there wasn't much editing to get those two together (none at all in fact). John wrote Mean Mr. Mustard while in India, and his inspiration came from a newspaper story in which a man tried by all means to retain all his money without spending a penny. Of course, Mr. Mustard had a sister, and although originally she was some Shirley Mustard, later she became Pam Mustard...

Polythene Pam

Lennon
John: 12 String Acoustic Guitar, Electric Piano and Lead Vocal
Paul: Bass Guitar, Piano and Vocals
George: Lead Guitar , Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
Ringo: Drums and Percussion

And this time the inspiration for Polythene Pam, according to Steve Turner in his book "A Hard Day's Write" came from two sources. The first one was a fan from The Cavern days called Pat Hodgett. She took up the habit of eating polythene, and finally got called "Polythen Pat". The other source for the inspiration concerned the dressing in jackboots and kilt and in polythene bags. One night Royston Ellis, his girlfriend Stephanie and John went to Ellis apartment where they all dressed in polythene bags and slept in the same bed. Supposedly, nothing very exciting happened, and yet 6 years later it served John to write this incredible song.

As short as Polythene Pam turns out to be for most of us, since we would like it to go for a couple more minutes, it's long enough to raise the overall beat of the medley (Sun King is quiet and slow, Mean Mr. Mustard speeds up a little, and Polythene Pam awakens the listener once more). The backing vocals are once again great by Paul and George, and the guitars right on the spot.... a perfect Lennon to lead into a perfect McCartney...

She Came In Through The Bathroom Window

McCartney
John: 12 String Acoustic Guitar, Electric Piano and Vocals
Paul: Bass Guitar, Piano and Lead Vocal
George: Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
Ringo: Drums and Percussion

And the truth is that they came in through the bathroom window. A group of Apple scruffs, that is, broke into Paul's house climbing a ladder into the bathroom window. Apple scrufs was the name by which the girls that used to wait for the Beatles both at their homes and the studio were known. George Harrison also wrote a song called "Apple scruffs" in his first solo album "All Things Must Pass". The fact is that one of the girls got in the house and opened the door for the rest. Of course, all they wanted was some memorabilia, and although they didn't take anything valuable, some of the pictures the girls chose to keep were quite precious to Paul. Eventually, he managed to get back some of them, although some other stuff made it to America.

The song was written by Paul in June 1968 during a trip to America. The song is a delight both instrumentally and vocally, with a catchy melody and great drumming by Ringo. Suddenly it comes to a stop, and we start dreaming...

Golden Slumbers

McCartney
Paul: Rythm Guitar, Piano and Lead Vocal
George: Bass Guitar and Lead Guitar
Ringo: Drums
Session Musicians: 30 piece orchestra

While at his father's house, Paul was playing the piano and came across a lullaby with lyrics by Thomas Decker (17th century). Unable to read the music of the song, he made up his own version (and what a wonderful one). The song wonderfully arranged for an orchestra inmediately leads us into

Carry That Weight

McCartney
Paul: Rythm Guitar, Piano and Lead Vocal
George: Bass Guitar, Lead Guitar and Vocals
Ringo: Drums Timpani and Vocals
Session Musicians: 30 piece orchestra

Recorded together with Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight is really a reprise for You Never Give Me Your Money, achieved in a way only Paul McCartney aided by George Martin could have achieved. The additional vocals of this reprise by George and Ringo, specially George in the money bits, are a wonderful way to prepare us for the end...

The End

McCartney
John: Lead Guitar and Vocals
Paul: Bass Guitar, Lead Guitar, Piano and Lead Vocal
George: Lead Guitar and Vocals
Ringo: Drums
Session Musicians: 30 piece orchestra

It has always said that there wasn't a better way to finish the last recorded album in the Beatles career. The End features the first (and last) drums solo by Ringo in a Beatles song, and it synthesizes his whole career as a drummer, .... simple and yet SO effective. After Ringo's turn, the remaining three Beatles take their guitars and compete playing the solo lines (this can even be heard better in the Anthology 3). And all of this, to finally listen a piano backing the phrase that John defined as cosmic "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make". A great way to say goodbye.

Her Majesty

McCartney
Paul: Acoustic Guitar and Lead Vocal

Or not? It seems like Paul had stayed after everyone else had gone, after the studio lights had been turned off, and had picked up his guitar to sing to her majesty. The shortest and last recording in a Beatles album, could have proved to be a wonderful song, but lasting only 23 seconds, it seems like of Paul had also decided to leave the studio and consider The End as the truly last song of the best group of all time.


©Copyright 1997-2000 Enrique Cabrera
The contents of these pages are protected by the intelectual property rights and hence cannot be reproduced without written permission from the author.