"I think before the Abbey Road sessions it was like we should put down the boxing gloves and try and just get it together and really make a very special album."-Paul McCartneyRecorded: 22 February- 20 August, 1969
EMI Studios, Olympic Studios, and Trident Studios
Released: 26 September, 1969 (UK)
01 October, 1969 (US)
Producers: George Martin, Chris Thomas, Glyn Johns
Engineers: Tony Clark, Geoff Emerick, Jeff Jarratt, Glyn Johns, Phil McDonald, Barry Sheffield
John Lennon: Vocals, guitar, piano, electric piano, Moog, maracas, Hammond organ, white noise generator, tambourine, handclaps
Paul McCartney: Vocals, bass, guitar, piano, electric piano, Hammond organ, wind chimes, handclaps, tape loops, Moog
George Harrison: Vocals, guitar, bass, harmonium, Moog, handclaps
Ringo Starr: Vocals, drums, congas, maracas, bongos, cowbell, timpani, anvil, handclaps, effect, tambourine
George Martin: Lowrey organ, Hammond organ, electric harpsichord
Billy Preston: Hammond organ
The Beatles twelfth studio album recorded but eleventh studio album released was named Abbey Road. Starting in February 1968 with on and off recordings up till April 1970 The Beatles had been working on Let It Be. During Let It Be recordings the environment was hostile, John Lennon even saying that making the album was hell, check out John Lennon's Let It Be interview with Howard Smith here. With Let It Be already recorded The Beatles came together once more to record Abbey Road. Note; Even though Let It Be was recorded before Abbey Road the album would be released about five months later in May 1970.
|Back in the studio, 1969|
"I was quite surprised when Paul rang me up and said, 'We're going to make another record, would you like to produce it?' and my immediate answer was, 'Only if you let me produce it the way we used to.' and he said, 'We do want to do that' and I said, 'John included?' and he said, 'Yes, honestly.'"- George Martin
"I think it was in a way the feeling that it might be our last, so let's just show 'em what we can do, let's show each other what we can do, and let's try and have a good time doing it."- Paul McCartneyTrack listing:
- Come Together
- Maxwell's Silver Hammer
- Oh! Darling
- Octopus's Garden
- I Want You (She's So Heavy)
- Here Comes The Sun
- You Never Give Me Your Money
- Sun King
- Mean Mr. Mustard
- Polythene Pam
- She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
- Golden Slumbers
- Carry That Weight
- The End
- Her Majesty
"It was a funky record- It's one of my favourite Beatle tracks (or one of my favourite Lennon tracks, lets say that). It's funky, it's bluesy, and I'm singing it pretty well. I like the sound of the record."- John Lennon, 1980
"''Come Together' was an expression that Tim Leary had come up with for his attempt at being president or whatever, and he asked me to write him a campaign song. I tried and I tried but I couldn't come up with one. But I came up with 'Come Together', which would have been no good to him- you couldn't have a campaign song like that."- John Lennon, 1980John was later sued for using the line "Here Comes old flat-top" from Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me".
"George's 'Something' was out of left field."- Paul McCartney, AnthologyArguably George's greatest work, "Something" was written about his wife at the time, model Patti Boyd.
"Something was written on the piano while we were making the White album. I had a break while Paul was doing some overdubbing so I went into an empty studio and began to write. That's really all there is to it, except the middle took some time to sort out! It didn't go on the White album because we'd already finished all the tracks. I gave it to Joe Cocker a year before I did it.
It's probably got a range of five notes which fits most singers' needs best. This I suppose is my most successful song with over one hundred and fifty cover versions. My favourite version is the one by James Brown - that was excellent. When I wrote it, in my mind I heard Ray Charles singing it , and he did do it some years later. I like Smokey Robinson's version too."- George Harrison, I Me Mine
"It was beautiful. George was blossoming as a songwriter. With 'Something' and 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' - are you kidding me? Two of the finest love songs ever written, and they're really on a par with what John and Paul or anyone else of that time wrote. They're beautiful songs. It's interesting that George was coming to the fore and we were just breaking up."- Ringo Starr, Anthology'Something' would be the first single The Beatles would release with a Harrison track. John, Paul and George Martin state that in the beginning "George was never treated on the same level as having the same quality of songwriting." (George Martin), that The Beatles songwriting consisted of Lennon- McCartney with a few exceptions in fact Frank Sinatra admitted that 'Something' was his favorite Lennon-McCartney song and later when George would meet Michael Jackson at the BBC Michael questioned George on the song saying, 'Oh, you wrote that? I thought it was a Lennon/McCartney'.
Maxwell's Silver Hammer
John is not featured on the track due to him being ill and hospitalized after an accident with his new wife, Yoko Ono. The track took about three days to record and John later said that the the band spent more money on that one song than any other track on the album.
"Some of my songs are based on personal experience, but my style is to veil it. A lot of them are made up, like 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' which is the kind of song I like to write. It's just a silly story about all these people I'd never meet. it's just like writing a play: you don't have to show the people, you just make them up.
Paul and George
I remember George once saying to me, 'I couldn't write songs like that.' He writes more personal experience, John's style was to show the naked truth. I f I was a painter, I'd probably mask things a little bit more than some people.
The song epitomizes the downfalls of life. Just when everything is going smoothly - Bang! Bang! - down comes Maxwell's silver hammer and ruins everything."- Paul McCartney, Anthology
McCartney spent a lot of dedication when recording the track. In fact for a week he would be the first one in the studio just to sing by himself to make sure his voice wasn't too clean
"I wanted it to sound as though I'd be performing it on stage all week."- Anthology
John however thought that the song was more of his style and that he should of recorded it.
|George and Ringo|
In 1968 while on a boating trip with his family Ringo was offered an octopus lunch by the boats captain, which Ringo denied. Instead of engaging in an octopus lunch, Starr and the captain engaged on a conversation about the creatures where the captain explained that octopuses search the sea floor collecting objects for their gardens, hence the name.
I Want You (She's So Heavy)
The song took about a six month span, from February- August 1969 to record. The track featured John, Paul, and George experimenting on a new instrument, the Moog.
"A reviewer wrote of She’s So Heavy: ‘He seems to have lost his talent for lyrics, it’s so simple and boring.’ She’s So Heavy was about Yoko. When it gets down to it, like she said, when you’re drowning you don’t say ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’ you just scream. And in She’s So Heavy I just sang ‘I want you, I want you so bad, she’s so heavy, I want you,’ like that."-John Lennon, Rolling Stone 1970
Ringo and George with the Moog
Here Comes The Sun
"Here Comes The Sun was written at the time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be business men, all this signing accounts, and 'sign this' and 'sign that'. Anyway it seems as if winter in England goes on forever; by the time spring comes you really deserve it.. So one day. I decided - I'm going to sag off' Apple, and I went of to Eric's (Clapton) house: I was walking in his garden, The relief of not having to go and see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I was walking around the garden with one of Eric's acoustic guitars and wrote Here Comes The Sun."-George Harrison, I Me MineThe following video is from Living In The Material World documentary of Ringo Starr talking about his drumming on the track and Eric Clapton about watching "Here Comes The Sun" unfold;
In 1969 George Harrison would said that the track maybe his favorite on the album,"Yoko was playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano. She was classically trained. I said, ‘Can you play those chords backward?’ and wrote Because around them. The lyrics speak for themselves; they’re clear. No bullshit. No imagery, no obscure references."- John Lennon, All We Are Saying
"The lyrics are so simple. The harmony was pretty difficult to sing. We had to really learn it. But I think that’s one of the tunes that will impress most people. It’s really good."You Never Give Me Your Money
"'Funny paper'- that's what we get. We get bits of paper saying how much is earned and what this and that is, but we never actually get it in pounds, shillings, and pence. We've all got a big house and a car and an office, but to actually get the money we've earned seems impossible."- George Harrison, 1969
"This was me directly lambasting Allen Klein’s attitude to us: no money, just funny paper, all promises and it never works out. It’s basically a song about no faith in the person, that found its way into the medley on Abbey Road. John saw the humour in it. "- Paul McCartney, Many Years From NowSun King
The soft song is sung with lines of spanish words Paul vaguely knew from his school days. The group wanted to add "Para noia" (they used to call themselves Los Para Noias) but had forgotten about it.
Mean Mr. Mustard
"That’s me, writing a piece of garbage. I’d read somewhere in the newspaper about this mean guy who hid five-pound notes, not up his nose but somewhere else. No, it had nothing to do with cocaine."- John Lennon, All We Are SayingThe song was written in 1968 while The Beatles were in India and was what Lennon hoped to be the last track on the White Album but wasn't recorded until the Abbey Road sessions.
She Came In Through The Bathroom Window"John had a bit called 'Polythene Pam' which was based on a girl he'd met a long time ago through the poet Royston Ellis, a friend of ours from Liverpool. We'd re-met him down South when we got out on tour, somewhere like Shrewsbury- he just showed up at the gig John had gone out to dinner with him and back to his flat afterwards, and there was a girl there who apparently had polythene around her. He came back with all these tales about a girl who dressed in polythene. 'Shit! There was this chick and it was great..." and we though, "Oh, wow!" Eventually he wrote the song."- Paul McCartney
The song was inspired by a true experience when an Apple Scruff, Jessica Samuels, through a brick through McCartney's bathroom window while he was out and would raid his house.
"We were bored, he was out and so we decided to pay him a visit. We found a ladder in his garden and stuck it up at the bathroom window which he'd left slightly open. I was the one who climbed up and got in."- Jessica SamuelsGolden Slumbers
"I had a couple of bits and pieces that weren't finished. They were songs that needed maybe a middle, or a second verse or an end. I was playing piano in Liverpool in my dad's house, and my step-sister Ruth's piano book was up on the stand. I was flicking through it, and I came to 'Golden Slumbers'. I can't read music and I couldn't remember the old tune, so I just started playing my own tune to it. I liked the words so I kept them, and it fitted with another bit of song I had."- Paul McCartney, AnthologyCarry That Weight
It was during this time that The Beatles were struggling with management and their own business which lead to many songs being written about their experiences.
"I’m generally quite upbeat but at certain times things get to me so much that I just can’t be upbeat any more and that was one of the times. We were taking so much acid and doing so much drugs and all this Klein shit was going on and getting crazier and crazier and crazier. Carry that weight a long time: like for ever! That’s what I meant."- Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now
"In 'The End' there were three guitar solos where John, George, and I took a line each, which was something we'd never done before. And we finally persuaded Ringo to play a drum solo, which he'd never wanted to do. And it climaxed with, 'And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make....'"-Paul McCartney, Anthology
In 1980 John Lennon the line "And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make." as "A very cosmic, philosophical line"
"Solos have never interested me. That drum solo is still the only one I've done. There's the guitar section where the three of them take in the solos, and then they thought, 'We'll have a drum solo as well.' I was opposed it: 'I don't want to do no bloody solo!' George Martin convinced me. As i was playing it, hunted it because we needed a time. It was the most ridiculous thing."- Ringo Starr, Anthology
Ringo Starr, 1969
"It was quite funny because it’s basically monarchist, with a mildly disrespectful tone, but it’s very tongue in cheek. It’s almost like a love song to the Queen. "- Paul McCartney, Many Years From NowThe song is the shortest Beatles tune lasting twenty-three seconds.
|Paul's sketch of Abbey Road|
The cover also played a major part in The Paul Is Dead Rumor, to read about the rumor click here.
On release in the UK on the 26 September, 1969 Abbey Road had peaked number one staying there for seventeen more weeks but remained in charts for sixty-four weeks. In the US the album reached number one for eleven weeks and continued to stay in charts for seventy-two more weeks.
|Photo taken by Linda McCartney|
- In "Mean Mr. Mustard" his sister, Pam's, name was originally Sally. Her name was changed due to John wanting to incorporate "Polythene Pam" into it.
- "Her Majesty" was originally placed in between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam" but McCartney then realized that it didn't fit into the medley
- "Her Majesty" was not listen on the back of the original album with the rest of the tracks. This lead to the first hidden tracks on rock albums
- The original name for the album was Everest
Photo by Linda McCartney
- "While we were in the studio, our engineer Geoff Emerick always used to smoke cigarettes called Everest, so the album was going to be called Everest. We never really liked that, but we couldn't think of anything else to call it. Then one day I said, 'I've got it!' - I don't know how I thought of it - 'Abbey Road!' It's the studio we're in, which is fabulous; and it sounds a bit like a monastery'"- Paul McCartney, Anthology
"It was a very very happy album. Everybody worked frightfully well and that's why I'm very fond of it."- George Martin
"I think it shows on the record when we were excited: the track's exciting and it all comes together. It doesn't matter what we go through as individuals on the bullshit level; when it gets to the music you can see that it's really cool, and we had all put in one thousand per cent"- Ringo Starr, Anthology
"I didn't know at the time that it was the last Beatle record that we wouldn't make, but it felt as if we were reaching the end of the line. I can't honestly say what I felt after the record was finished."-George Harrison, Anthology