Abbey Road

The Beatles

album cover

". . .In the End, the Love You Take Is Equal to the Love You Make"

The sixteen-minute medley that closes Abbey Road is arguably the most resourceful act of scrap-scavenging in pop music history. A parade of discards and song fragments waiting to be finished, it presents the Beatles cleaning out the cupboards, and tossing anything once deemed workable—a neglected bit of Lennon psychedelia ("Sun King"), an unfinished music-hall production number by McCartney ("Carry That Weight")—into one last meal.

The group had just endured two fractious recording projects (The White Album, see previous page, and Let It Be, which was mostly recorded before Abbey Road but released after). The breakup was a foregone conclusion, but somehow they were still "together" enough to do justice to these short, cannily sequenced vignettes. The tunes of the medley wander all over the musical map, as do the many songs on the two-disc White Album. But unlike that sprawling set, each theme here is a perfect miniature that lasts just long enough to convey a single crystalline thought. Some episodes unfold in seconds. "The End," the final punctuation mark, consists of a single Zen-koan couplet: "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." Could there be a better epitaph for the band that taught the world all you need is love?

Recorded in a month during the summer of 1969, Abbey Road offers plenty more than just the medley. Two of George Harrison's most illuminated melodies are here—the idyllic ballad "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun." Also here is the most convincing exploration of blues and progressive rock the Beatles ever attempted, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." And then there's "Because." Another of the band's hazy acid-dream moments, its nine swooning vocal parts (three each for McCartney, Lennon, and Harrison) align into a spine-tingling, lighter-than-air sound. Like much of Abbey Road, it's a stupendous display of pop imagination that evaporates immediately, leaving you at once immensely satisfied and yearning for more. Sort of like the Beatles themselves.

Genre: Rock
Released: 1969, Apple/EMI
Key Tracks: "Come Together," "Something," "Because," side two medley
Catalog Choice: The Beatles (The White Album)
Next Stop: There is none.
Book Page: 62

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#1 from Retro Keith, West Virginia - 02/13/2009 11:10

Easily my favorite album of all-time! Abbey Road has a special feel to it since it was The Beatles’ last recordings. The harmonies in “Because” may be the best of any rock track on any rock album ever made. Also gotta love how George Harrison shows off his song writing talent with “Something” and “Here Comes The Sun”. My favorite part of this album is the medley of songs that fills up the better half of the song list.

#2 from Beatle Mark, Pensacola, Florida - 05/28/2009 4:55

Yes, the BEST sounding version is the “Original Master Recording” or MFSL version of this album.  The sound really magnifies during the “Your asking me will my love grow?” part in “Something”.  Sounds like it is being performed live right in front of you.  Even George’s strums on “Here Comes The Sun” are so crystal clear you can actually here his guitar pick hitting the strings.  Love to turn the lights out, lay on my bed, and give myself 45 minutes to just sit and listen to this record at high volume from start to finish.  Quite possibly, there is no better sound.

#3 from blueser, edm.ab. - 09/19/2009 9:34

Elvis was great;Janis Joplin,Roy Orbison,Led zepplin,Jeff Healey,Michael Jackson and,oh,so many others were unbelievably talented but for anyone to achieve so many #1 hits as the Beatles is crazy!

#4 from Jake, U.S. - 04/18/2010 8:51

The music of “Abbey Road” doesn’t evaporate immediately, it sticks to the ribs, if singing it and humming it for days after is any indication. The album wasn’t recorded in one month, the work stretched in fits and starts over the spring and summer of ‘69, as Mark Lewisohn has amply chronicled. To describe the Side Two medley as “scrap-scavenging” is to give it short shrift, always a sign of lazy writing, produced by someone in search of something that sounds snappy and insightful but failing in said search.

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