Sunday, July 25, 2010

September 26, 2009: 20 Things You May Not Know About 'Abbey Road'

Today is the 40th Anniversary of the release of Abbey Road, the last album The Beatles recorded. This means it’s also the 40th Anniversary of the day The Beatles ceased to be a functioning band. By sheer coincidence, it’s also the day I’m delivering a hot, steaming pile of 20 Things You May Not Know About Abbey Road!

1. Abbey Road was the first Beatles album to be recorded on an 8-track machine. Obviously, it was also the last.

2. Sides A and B of Abbey Road were almost reversed, which means the album would have begun with “Here Comes the Sun” and ended with “I Want You (She’s so heavy)”.

3. Abbey Road contains the most audacious examples of The Beatles’ thievery. George pulled the opening line of “Something” from label-mate James Taylor’s “Something in the Way She Moves”. Paul nicked the lyrics of “Golden Slumbers” from a public domain lullaby by Elizabethan poet Thomas Dekker. John borrowed the line “Here come ol’ flat top” from hero Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me”. Berry sued Lennon for his sticky fingers, but the pair settled out of court. As part of the settlement, Lennon happily recorded “You Can’t Catch Me” for his 1975 album Rock ‘N’ Roll, which was made up of covers of classic Rock & Roll songs.

4. The BBC banned “Come Together”, but not because of the song's thinly concealed references to sex and violence. Rather the British Broadcasting Company, which has a long-standing policy forbidding advertising, took issue with John’s mention of Coca Cola.

5. Frank Sinatra once declared that “Something” was his favorite Lennon and McCartney song. Unfortunately, it was written by George Harrison.

6. Jimmy Page composed “The Rain Song” after George told him that Led Zeppelin should do more ballads. Page included the first two chords of “Something” in the song in honor of the man who inspired it.

7. At “The Concert for George”, an all-star tribute show performed after George Harrison’s death in 2001, Paul McCartney sang “Something” with Eric Clapton. Pattie Boyd, who was married to both George and his best friend—Eric Clapton—claims the song was written about her.

8. In interviews Lennon contended that Paul should have allowed him to sing the fiery retro-rocker “Oh! Darling”, but it is unknown whether or not he ever actually made this request of the song’s composer.

9. Although Ringo received his second solo-writing credit for “Octopus’s Garden”, the song was co-written by George. The pair also collaborated on two of Ringo’s biggest solo hits: “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Photograph”.

10. Paul was so taken with John’s “I Want You (She’s so heavy)” that he attempted a lead vocal to the song.

11. “Sun King” and “Mean Mr. Mustard” were recorded as a single song. The same thing goes for the “Polythene Pam”/ “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” combo, and “Golden Slumber”/ “Carry That Weight”.

12. According to several sources, the original title of “Sun King” was “Los Paranoias”. An improvised song with this title was recorded during the “White Album” sessions and was included on the third installment of The Beatles Anthology.

13. As the song was originally written, “Mean Mr. Mustard” had a sister named Shirley, not Pam. Lennon changed the lyric after the song was coupled with “Polythene Pam” in the Side B medley. Several outtakes of “Mean Mr. Mustard” with its original lyric exist.

14. “Polythene Pam” was inspired by a polythene-wearing girl that beat poet Allen Ginsberg introduced to John during a visit to New Jersey.

15. In the “Lisa’s Pony” episode of “The Simpsons”, a muzak version of “Golden Slumbers” plays as Homer Simpson falls asleep at the wheel of his car. The piece was replaced with a slightly different piece of music when the show was aired in syndication for copyright reasons.

16. Ringo’s solo on “The End” is the only time his drum kit was ever recorded in stereo on a Beatles album.

17. “Her Majesty” was originally part of the medley, sitting between “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam”. Paul felt it disrupted the medley’s flow (he was right) and cut the song from the album. However, after hearing an acetate of Abbey Road with “Her Majesty” tacked onto the end, he decided that it worked as a nice antidote to the pomposity of “The End” and included it on the official album.

18. Abbey Road was originally going to be called Everest, and the band was to take a trip to the Himalayas to shoot the cover photo.

19. Inspired by the medley on Side B of Abbey Road, The Pretty Things pieced together a similar medley on Side A of their album Parachute released in 1970.

20. Paul and George both named John’s “Because” as their favorite song on Abbey Road, while John preferred George’s “Something”. Producer George Martin rated Abbey Road as his overall favorite Beatles album.
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