My affinity for the Beatles’ harmonies is no secret at this point, and “Because” is one of the most stunning examples on record. John, Paul, and George blend together so beautifully here, and major kudos to whoever decided to include an a capella rendition on Anthology 3, because it allows listeners to appreciate their incredible vocals absent of the unsettling, sparse instrumentation found on Abbey Road. It truly transforms the lyrics from ominous to optimistic.
That said, I don’t dislike the original version by any means. It’s kind of creepy but also calming. Despite John Lennon’s claim that “Because” is Continue reading “#104: Because”
Another beneficiary of a prime spot in the Abbey Road medley, “Mean Mr. Mustard” is a lumbering and nonsensical but undeniably catchy ditty clocking in at just over a minute. Written in Rishikesh alongside many of the tracks that made up the White Album–check out the bizarre acoustic demo–“Mean Mr. Mustard” got a decidedly glossier treatment when it eventually showed up on vinyl. That didn’t stop John Lennon from Continue reading “#110: Mean Mr. Mustard”
As a self-professed music junkie, I must confess to having a mixed relationship with albums. While I love engaging in passionate debates about full-length records (shoutout to my podcast partner and loyal reader Eric Nyberg), the truth is…I rarely listen to albums in full. I would estimate that about 90% of the albums in my collection I’ve played from start to finish just one time. I’m all about individual songs. When I’m in the mood to hear a particular track, I’ll play it out of context. I’m not like those radio stations that always pair up playing Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions,” or Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” and “Living Loving Maid.” I’m my own man, and I don’t need society to tell me how to play my music.
Telling me how to play my music is like telling Winnie the Pooh to put on some pants. It’s not going to happen.
But there is at least one brutally clear exception: Continue reading “#114: Carry That Weight”
Here it is, Ringo Starr’s last hurrah on the countdown. His second songwriting contribution to the group, “Octopus’s Garden” might not rank all that high, but everything about it is really a testament to how determined the group was to step it up for their recorded swan song Abbey Road as opposed to the “let’s get this over with” feel of recording Let it Be a few months earlier.
It was during those sessions that Ringo introduced the song to the group, and there’s even a scene where George helps him compose it in the Let it Be movie. (George probably should have been given a co-writing credit, and there’s also reason to believe that Continue reading “#116: Octopus’s Garden”
It’s really difficult for me to switch allegiances once I discover a song. By that I mean I become so accustomed to the first version I hear that, most of the time, any other version or cover (or original) just sounds wrong to me. I can appreciate and often even enjoy different renditions, but I’ll usually return to my initial introduction. It’s why I always get stoked when one of my favorite artists releases a massive box set filled with demos and alternate takes, which I subsequently listen to one time and then disregard in favor of the album versions I’ve known all along.
Ah, but there are exceptions, and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is very much one of them. I blame Continue reading “#132: Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”
After making a cameo appearance in Abbey Road‘s previous song, “Mean Mr. Mustard,” the sister of that title character gets her own track, and it’s a doozy. The three jarringly sharp guitar chords that kick off “Polythene Pam” are a pretty good indication that this song isn’t Continue reading “#155: Polythene Pam”
The much-loved medley that makes up the bulk of side two of Abbey Road is comprised of eight songs (well, technically there are two medleys, but that sounds much less impressive than “THE MEDLEY” in all-caps and big bold letters as per the rules of AP style. Look it up). Taken as a whole, they represent one of the Beatles’ finest hours. Taken as individual songs, some clearly stand up better than others. But I’m not going to Continue reading “#167: Sun King”
This is a tricky one. There are so many elements of “I Want You” that I really do love, but John Lennon didn’t seem to know when enough was enough: Continue reading “#186: I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”
The Beatles’ success was based on a lot of things, one of the most critical being a stubborn refusal to act predictably. So while most bands would fall victim to the poetry of concluding their final recorded album with a song called “The End,” the Beatles were too cool for that. Enter “Her Majesty,” the shortest song in their catalog, an unlisted surprise that pops up after several seconds of silence following “The End.” Granted, it was the result of Continue reading “#191: Her Majesty”