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Lecture 12

MUS321H1 Lecture 12: Abbey Road

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University of Toronto St. George
James Kippen

MUS321 Lecture 12: 1965-95 Abbey Road • Basic sessions early in 1969 • McC persuaded George Martin to produce, Geoff Emerick to be sound engineer o But they do their own thing anyways [e.g., the White album] but George Martin came back to work on this album but GM said “I’ll work with you but you do it my way” ▪ that he makes the final decisions about the sound production • More sessions July/August • Less tension than with Let it Be Sessions o because of GM • More studio effects, Moog synthesizer • This was the last album to be recorded • Album cover is iconic: walking across Abbey road • The concept o Disagreement ▪ McCartney and Martin wanted extended rock opera style of production • Tommy –The Who and McCartney song them as rivals and wanted to outduel them • Wanted to outduel Tommy which was really big and successful at the time but the others didn’t ▪ Lennon wanted to write separate songs, like before: Lennon had little energy for the collective endeavour ▪ Final product was a compromise: mainly individual songs plus a medley of fragments to end • because the concept fizzles but the B side of the album has medley of songs strung together • The End –they knew this was the end and no other album after this • McCartney’s songs were kind of weird because he threw himself into this rock concept [Maxwell’s Silver Hammer] • “Come Together” o Lennon: written for campaign of Timothy Leary (1920-96), LSD king, for California governor o Campaign slogan ▪ which combines political unity with sexual ▪ Lennon wrote this song as a campaign song for him but kept it o kept by Lennon o Great opening innovative sound (shoot me, McCartney’s bass, reverb clapping, and Ringo’s descending drum pattern) ▪ weird combination but comes together nicely • Double – A single o Paired with Harrison’s “Something”, released October 31, 1969 o Lawsuit: Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me” ▪ Lennon: Here come ol’ flattop, he come groovin’ up slowly ▪ CAB: Here come up flattop, he was groovin’ up with me o Settled out of court with Morris Levy (publisher) o 1975 album Rock n’ Roll ▪ he did a cover of this song too ▪ Lennon finds his groove towards the ends of the Beatles years • “Something” o James Taylor song: “Something in the way she moves” o Harrison’s love song to Pattie Boyd, and after Yesterday probably mot covered Beatles song o Frank Sinatra: the greatest love song in 50 years o Lennon and McCartney are reported to have thought this was the best song on AR o Proves Harrison’s ability as a songwriter; shows increasing distance from Indian music ▪ no attempt to create Indian structure o He’s picked up so much going on that his melody writing has become similar to McCartney’s melody writing o He also thinks about words and meanings is also similar to Lennon [investing the word with musical colour]—word painting ▪ expressing himself through words • “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” o McCartney oddity: ▪ granny shit –according to Lennon ▪ catchy, happy tune ▪ Story about a psychopathic medical student who smashes in the skull of his victims with his silver hammer! • “Oh! Darling” o McCartney at his most virtuoso as a singer o 1950s early R&R style ▪ Fats Domino ▪ Louisiana swamp blues/pop o Lennon wished he could have sung this • “Octopus’s Garden” o Ringo’s best song: very simple, simple harmonies, plodding accompaniment o Ringo’s temporary absence from the band in August 68 o Undersea utopia came to him as a likely place to hide away from the rest of the band (Yellow Submarine) o The magic of the song is contained in the instrumental playing, particularly the GH opening guitar lines o GH and McCartney give strong backing vocals • “I Want You” (She’s So Heavy)” o Lennon’s avant garde ode to Ono: innovative song of massive proportions, yet based on the simple text lines: “I want you so bad it’s driving me mad and she’s so heavy” o Two fragments ▪ five bar refrain on a bass riff in 6/8 time ▪ bluesy verse in 4/4 (with odd bars thrown in) o Long swelling fade out increases in power: more guitars are overdubbed with each repeat o Synthesizer sounds, and white noise add to the cosmic feel, then Lennon suddenly cuts out ▪ the whole thing cycles and build like it never ends ▪ a depiction of Lennon’s session with Yoko Ono ▪ Lennon said to leave it as utter silence [ends at A] Abbey Road –B side • Some regard the entirety of B side as the medley most think it begins with “You Never Give Me your Money” • Key relationships that link the entire side: hovers in A major or A minor, with excursions to the III chords (C#minor or C major) and to the V (E major) • B side keys o Here comes to sun: A major o Because: C# minor o You never give me your money: A minor o Sun King: E major (C major) o Mean Mr. Mustard: E major o Polythene Pam: E major o She came in through the bathroom window: A major o Golden slumbers: A minor (C major) o Carry that weight: C major (a minor…a major) o The end: A major (c major) • “Here Comes The Sun” o One of GH’s best songs…optimistic arrival of spring o simple, direct, beautiful, fresh, confident, catchy ideas and tune like McCartney, innovative instrumentation and arrangement like McCartney, great rhythmic and metric variety lik
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