Music: Abbey Road

And In The End...

Abbey Road is the twelfth studio album by The Beatles, released in 1969. It is their last recorded album, but was released as their penultimate offering before the band released Let It Be and eventually split up in 1970.

The album was recorded when there was still tension amongst the band members, but they put their differences aside for one last time. As a result, everyone got to shine with George Harrison proving he was every bit as good a songwriter as John and Paul with two #1 hits by him: "Something" and "Here Comes The Sun". John Lennon had a chart topper himself, "Come Together", while Paul McCartney arranged the perfect Grand Finale for the band on side B and Ringo Starr created a children's classic and hit with "Octopus's Garden."

Although it received mixed reception upon its initial release it became one of the most acclaimed albums of the band, being often at or near the top spot in "Best Albums of All Time" lists. It remains their best selling album to date. Time Magazine included the album in their 2006 list of 100 timeless and essential albums and it was listed at #14 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.


Side One

  1. "Come Together" (4:20)
  2. "Something" (3:03)
  3. "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" (3:27)
  4. "Oh! Darling" (3:26)
  5. "Octopus's Garden" (2:51)
  6. "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" (7:47)

Side Two

  1. "Here Comes The Sun" (3:05
  2. "Because" (2:45)
  3. "You Never Give Me Your Money" (4:02)
  4. "Sun King" (2:26)
  5. "Mean Mr. Mustard" (1:06)
  6. "Polythene Pam" (1:12)
  7. "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" (1:57)
  8. "Golden Slumbers" (1:31)
  9. "Carry That Weight" (1:36)
  10. "The End" (2:05)
  11. "Her Majesty" (0:23)

Principal Members:

  • George Harrison - lead vocals, guitar, bass, organ, harmonium, synthesizer, percussion
  • John Lennon - lead vocals, guitar, piano, organ, synthesizer, percussion, sound effects
  • Paul McCartney - lead vocals, bass, guitar, piano, organ, synthesizer, percussion, sound effects
  • Ringo Starr - drums, backing and lead vocals, piano, percussion

"Boy, you're gonna carry that trope, carry that trope a long time":

  • Abbey Road Crossing: The Trope Maker. It was a quick photo session, with the photographer snapping a half-dozen pictures over about 10 minutes while the band walked back and forth across the street outside their studio. It resulted in a trope and one of the most famous album covers of all time.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam".
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The last verse of "Sun King", which is Lennon singing vaguely Romance language-sounding gibberish. Interestingly, the lyrics are made up of actual words from Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and a stray bit of Liverpool schoolyard slang ("chicka ferdy"), but put together in a sufficiently nonsensical way to sound like As Long as It Sounds Foreign gibberish.
  • Bifauxnen: "Polythene Pam"
    Well you should see Polythene Pam
    She's so good-looking but she looks like a man...
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Paul wrote "You Never Give Me Your Money" to voice complaints about the financial practices of Apple Records and Allen Klein.
  • Bolero Effect and Broken Record: "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" ends with several minutes of the same guitar riff repeated over and over. It also has a similar build up comparable to a bolero.
  • The Bus Came Back: This album saw the return of Geoff Emerick, the band's recording engineer since Revolver, after he'd previously walked out of The White Album sessions in protest at the constant arguments and tensions. (He had previously returned to engineer the "The Ballad of John and Yoko" single.)
  • Call Back: In the middle of "Carry That Weight" they break into a new verse of an earlier '"Abbey Road'' track, "You Never Give Me Your Money", then they switch back to "Carry That Weight".
  • Captain Obvious: "Come Together" informed us that "One and one and one is three" and "He got feet down below his knee".
  • Continuity Nod: When the band was running through "Mean Mr. Mustard" during the Get Back sessions, Mean Mr. Mustard's sister ("she never stops, she's a go-getter") was named Shirley. When they reconvened to record Abbey Road and John Lennon revived the song, he changed Shirley's name to Pam to go along with another new song of his, "Polythene Pam".
    • "Here Comes The Sun" has a call back in the song "Sun King", right to the line "here comes the sun... king". Interestingly enough, just like in "Here Comes The Sun", where "smiles are returning to the faces", everyone in "Sun King" is also "happy and laughing".
    • Mr. Mustard in "Mean Mr. Mustard" is taken out "to look at the queen". The song "Her Majesty" is a description of the Queen.
  • Cue the Sun: "Here Comes The Sun".
    Here comes the sun, it's alright
  • Cut Short: "I Want You, She's So Heavy" is abruptly cut short near the end, surprising every listener who hears it the first time.
  • Dirty Old Man: "Mean Mr. Mustard", who "always shouts out something obscene".
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Paul is walking barefoot on the album cover. He told journalists that he just did this because it was hot that day, but some believers in the "Paul Is Dead" theory believed it was a reference to a Mafia symbol for "death".
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Future leader of The Alan Parsons Project and future Pink Floyd producer Alan Parsons first worked on this album as a tape operator.
  • The End: "The End". Duh? Subverted, really, as "Her Majesty" is the actual last song on the album (it was a Hidden Track on the original release). This occurred because it was cut out of the song medley on the second half and the Beatles' engineers didn't want to throw away any of their music.
  • Enter Stage Window: She came in through the bathroom window.
  • Epic Rocking: "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", nearly eight minutes long.
  • Excited Show Title!: "Oh! Darling"
  • Face on the Cover: The band members crossing a street.
  • Fading into the Next Song: The famous medley, which starts from "You Never Give Me Your Money" and goes through "The End", with only one clean break between songs. "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" comes to a full stop before "Golden Slumbers" starts. However, some of these are also Siamese Twin Songs.
  • Failed a Spot Check: No one in the court noticed Maxwell getting the murder weapon and stalking the judge in the courtroom? Rose and Valerie must have been making a hell of a commotion for no one see what Max was doing with his silver hammer.
  • Grand Finale: The Long Medley on Side Two of Abbey Road, ending with, well, "The End". Abbey Road as a whole was intended to be this for the band, though the release of Let It Be (which was begun first) ended up being pushed back long enough to cause an accidental subversion of the trope.
  • Gratuitous Panning: "Her Majesty" starts entirely on the right, and moves until it's entirely on the left by the end of the song. The trope is otherwise averted, as this is the only Beatles album where the members were actually present and supervised the production of the stereo version, which on previous albums had been left to various engineers with little oversight or input from the band or George Martin, who focused more on the mono versions.
  • Hidden Track: "Her Majesty". Originally, this was meant to be part of the 'medley' between 'Mean Mr. Mustard' and 'Polythene Pam'. The chord at the beginning is the ending note to the former track. Paul McCartney didn't like the way it sounded, and so it was cut off from the album. The tape operator, John Kurlander, followed the record company's guidelines of never throwing anything recorded by The Beatles out, and secretly snuck the song back onto the album after "The End". Paul liked it. So it stayed.
    • Originally it was a true Hidden Track, not listed with the other tracks on the back album cover. Later pressings of Abbey Road list "Her Majesty", making it more like The Stinger.
  • In the Style of...: George Harrison admitted in a 1987 interview that "Sun King" was inspired by Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross".
    Harrison: At the time, "Albatross" was out, with all the reverb on guitar. So we said, "Let's be Fleetwood Mac doing 'Albatross', just to get going." It never really sounded like Fleetwood Mac... but that was the point of origin.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Her Majesty", which comes in 20 seconds after "The End" and starts off with a DUNN chord, surprising a lot of listeners. It's also so short that it's over before the listener knows what is happening.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "I Want You, She's So Heavy" has only a few lines, but goes for about 7:47 minutes.
  • Location Song: The album title refers to a real life London street. "Octopus' Garden" is a Ringo Starr song about an undersea wonderland.
  • Long Title: "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", a cheery ditty about a violent Serial Killer.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Most of Side B is this. Six of the songs therein are not even two minutes long, with "Her Majesty" running 23 seconds.
  • Mood Whiplash: Listening to "I Want You (She's So Heavy) after "Octopus's Garden".
    • "Because" after "Here Comes the Sun".
    • The band saying goodbye with their final medley, "Golden Slumbers" to "Carry That Weight" to "The End", and the listener has got be sitting there thinking OMG it's all over... and then "Her Majesty" comes up as a hidden track, a sweet little snippet of a song that comes across as a lark, with a smile on the lads' faces, and you realise they're leaving but they're leaving on a happy note.
  • Monster Fangirl: Rose and Valerie in "Maxwell's Silver Hammer".
    Maxwell must go free!
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • The album cover. It's just the band crosswalk/zebra crossing and still it looks awesome enough to be imitated, parodied and referenced by people all across the world.
    • Paul's passionate yelling in "Oh! Darling" and "Golden Slumbers," to some.
    • "Here Comes The Sun'', where the sun rising suddenly makes everybody happy again and hopeful for the future.
  • Murder Ballad: "Maxwell's Silver Hammer".
    Bang Bang! Maxwell's Silver Hammer came down upon his head
    Bang Bang! Maxwell's Silver Hammer made sure that he was dead
  • Named After Somebody Famous: One track is named the "Sun King", which was Louis XIV's nickname.
  • New Sound Album: Part of the album's Lighter and Softer sound compared to The White Album was the result of Abbey Road Studios replacing its thermionic valve-based mixing desk with a solid state transistor mixing desk, the TG Mk 1. Engineer Geoff Emerick commented that the TG Mk 1 produced a "softer" sound compared to earlier valve-based desks, and recalled the group being frustrated by the thinner, less "punchy" sound that resulted. (Compare Ringo's drum sound to the one on the previous album for the best example, especially the snares.)
  • No Ending: Both sides of the album. "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" ends abruptly in the middle of a riff, after three minutes of repeating the same sequence of chords. John Lennon told engineer Geoff Emerick to "cut it right there", and Emerick did. "Her Majesty" was originally slated between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam", but the band decided to delete it. Tape engineer John Kurlander clipped it out of the master, cutting out the last crashing guitar chord of "Mean Mr. Mustard" along with "Her Majesty", but missing the last note of "Her Majesty", which was left at the beginning of "Polythene Pam". Though told to discard it, EMI's policy was to never throw away a Beatles recording, so Kurlander then spliced "Her Majesty" onto the end of the master tape after 14 seconds of silence, creating a Hidden Track that ends one note too soon. The band liked the effect and left it that way. (The cut was a test-run of the cross-fading and editing sequence, on rough mixes, not the final edit - if you notice, in the album version the final chord of "Mean Mr. Mustard" is also missing but because the new sequence makes it redundant; the final chord of "Her Majesty" is totally absent though. The "Her Majesty" part, however, is the original clip tacked on to the final master just the same it was in the rough edit.)
  • Obsession Song: "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and these are the only lines throughout the entire song.
  • One Woman Song: "Polythene Pam", "Her Majesty".
  • One-Word Title: "Something", "Because".
  • Pep Talk Song: "Carry That Weight", with the uplifting message that despite carrying your heavy past along with you one should still carry on.
    Boy, you're going to carry that weight
    Carry that weight a long time
  • The Power of Love:
    • "Because"
    Love is all, love is you
    • "The End"
    And in the end the love you take
    Is equal to the love you make
  • The Power of the Sun: "Here Comes The Sun", in which the returning sun cheers up everybody, including the protagonist and his girlfriend.
  • Pun: "Because"
    Because the world is round/ it turns me on
    Because the wind is high/ it blows my mind.
  • Record Producer: George Martin, who told the Beatles he would work on the project if he was "actually allowed to produce it", as he had been estranged from involvement in their affairs lately. They deferred to his judgement in the studio, leading to more productive if not necessarily more harmonious sessions than the torturous birth of Let It Be.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Siamese Twin Songs:
    • "Polythene Pam" and "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" were recorded together as a single performance. You can hear John Lennon saying "Oh look out!" right before the change.
    • "Golden Slumbers" and "Carry That Weight" were also recorded together. "The End" was recorded separately, but you wouldn't think that listening to the album.
  • Single Stanza Song: "Her Majesty".
  • Smarter Than You Look: George felt that Ringo's second song, "Octopus's Garden", was this. He described it as accidentally deep and spiritual.
    • John and Paul finally realised George's potential as a songwriter, praising "Something" and calling it one of the best songs on the album.
  • Studio Chatter:
    Well listen to that Mal... hehehe. Oh look out! You should... SHE CAME IN THROUGH THE BATHROOM WINDOW.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: "Because" intentionally shares a similar chord progression to Ludwig van Beethoven 's "Moonlight Sonata". John said about this:
    "[Yoko] trained as a classical musician. I didn't know that until this morning. In college she majored in classical composition. Now we stimulate each other like crazy. This morning I wrote this song called "Because." Yoko was playing some classical bit, and I said "Play that backwards," and we had a tune."
  • Take That: "You Never Give Me Your Money" is Paul's swipe at manager Allen Klein, specifically his frustration over Klein's empty promises and refusal to give the Beatles a straight answer about their financial situation.
  • Textless Album Cover
  • Three Chords and the Truth: John used this to justify the lyrics of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" in a Rolling Stone interview after criticism that they were too simplistic.
    John: 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.
  • Uncommon Time: The bridge of "Here Comes The Sun" rotates between 11/8, 4/4, and 7/8.
  • Ur-Example: It's commonly believed that "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" started the genre of doom metal, which would become made and codified by Black Sabbath on their debut album the following year. Harrison's long hair and denim outfit on the cover also codified the classic metalhead look.

"And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make"