Come together—Abbey Road celebrates its 48th birthday this month! The second to the last Beatles album harbored what many critics consider some of their best songs, leaving behind a legacy that we’ll be passing on to our own grandkids.
The sudden death of their manager Brian Epstein carried over their previous album cycles and they wanted to break free of that. Paul McCartney suggested to the late George Martin, their producer and affectionately known as the Fifth Beatle, to make an album “the way we used to do it.” Martin agreed, but strictly urged them to allow him to record the album the way he truly does and that discipline will not be a problem.
By this time around, tensions between the Beatles were at an all time high. John Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono became a permanent presence during recording sessions and often clashed with the other members. The pair got into a car crash while recording took place, and because the doctor told her to take stay in bed, Lennon installed a bed inside the studio so she could continue to monitor them. Regardless, McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and Martin recall positive experiences during the recording process.
“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”
Written about Lennon and Ono’s relationship, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy) incorporates progressive rock and blues throughout the song. Playing at 7 minutes and 47 seconds, it is the second longest track from the band’s career. The final mixing and editing on August 20, 1969 marks the last day all four Beatles were together in a studio.
“Here Comes the Sun”
A personal favorite, Harrison wrote “Here Comes the Sun” while taking a break from stressful band meetings. The relief he felt while walking through Eric Clapton’s garden with no men in suits and ties inspired him to write, and critics and fans alike regard the track as one of Harrison’s best originals. Harrison takes the lead on this track singing vocals and guitars—a feat they usually saved for Lennon-McCartney.
“Oh! Darling” remains to be the least Beatles-esque track from the whole album, but it still makes for one hell of an earworm. McCartney’s take on the doo wop style made him record the song once a day for a week straight, giving his voice the illusion that he’d been performing it on stage the whole week. Lennon begged to disagree with how the song came out, however, claiming that his voice would do a better job.
Featured photo from Enstarz