Today marks the last day that The Beatles were together in the recording studio, exactly fifty years ago, recording the final overdubs for our song of the day, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”.
Just like last week, we’re looking back through the archives of music history to guide our selection of songs. Yesterday, we looked at David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” from “the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”. Today, we turn our attention to a band that needs no introduction.
On this day in 1969, exactly fifty years ago, The Beatles were in Abbey Road studios finishing up the final touches on “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, as well as finalizing the track order for the final album. While they may not have known it at the time, it would be the last recording session that all four Beatles would attend together.
So before we get into the song itself, let’s first take a look at “Abbey Road”, one of The Beatles’ most successful albums.
“Abbey Road” was the eleventh studio album by The Beatles, released on September 26th, 1969. While “Let It Be” was technically the last Beatles album released, most of the material had been previously recorded. “Abbey Road” historically marked the final recording sessions of the Fab Four.
The songs on “Abbey Road” encapsulate The Beatles’ songwriting skill and versatility, containing an eclectic mix of genres such as blues, rock, progressive, and more. It was also the album that gave us hits like, “Come Together”, “Here Comes the Sun”, and “Something”.
During production, “Abbey Road” was recorded on eight-track tape machines instead of the four-track used on previous Beatles albums. It was also the first Beatles album not to be released in mono. One final interesting recording note was the use of the Moog synthesizer, which featured prominently on the tracks, “Because” and “Here Comes the Sun”.
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, at 7 minutes and 47 seconds is the second-longest Beatles song ever recorded, just behind “Revolution 9″‘s run time of 8:22. But considering “Revolution 9”, its safe to say that “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is the longest coherent Beatles song.
The song was written by John Lennon explicitly for Yoko Ono, with lyrics that were intentionally simple, and a basic blues chord structure that mimicked that simplicity. However, there are some progressive rock elements in “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, as well. These included the length of the track, repeating musical phrases, and experimental use of sounds. Most notably, the wind-like outro, which was created by the Moog synthesizer.
“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” ends with a jarring stop in the middle of the repeated riff, concluding the first side of the “Abbey Road” LP.
“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, while maybe not the most musically impressive of songs found on “Abbey Road”, is still essential to an album that insists on a full-through listening. Even as a love song, it finds its place in the center of the album, and ends the first side with a sense of approaching doom. Like all good storytellers, The Beatles knew the importance of structure. They use it in “Abbey Road” to give the album its “dark night of the soul”, before lifting listeners back up with a glimmer of hope in “Here Comes the Sun”, on the second side.
Maybe that’s too much speculation and connecting-dots-that-aren’t-there for you. But you can’t deny the craft behind The Beatles. This is not me overrating an old band. This is me trying to fully appreciate the care, attention, and skill that it took to bring the world a truly timeless album.
That about does it for our discussion today. I hope you enjoyed listening to “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. We’ll be back tomorrow with another song from the archives of rock history.