The Beatles. What could I possibly say about the Beatles. Well from a critical point of view, nothing. Everything that could ever be originally said about The Beatles has, at one point or another, been said. That well is dry. I can, however, write about them on a personal level. You see, The Beatles are the most important band to ever come into my life. They represent a musical turning point. They are the codifier of my musical learning. The keystone by which I can trace nearly all of my musical roots. I have so many great memories tied into music from The Beatles that I don’t find it an exaggeration to say that they are a part of me.
One of the most commonly debated topics in music discussion is “Which Beatles Album Is the Best?” They made so many classics that there is a variety of different answers. I’d like to cast my vote for Abbey Road. The last true thing The Beatles ever did. Now, Abbey Road isn’t my favorite Beatles album. I attribute so much to Magical Mystery Tour that I couldn’t betray it like that. It is my pick for their best, however. Reasons? Well let me tell you.
We start out our trip with Come Together. It is something of a precursor to the hard bass-heavy rock of the 70′s. Except, this song isn’t boring. Most of those bands were. The lyrics really don’t make sense but they don’t have to. It is really just a steam of vague slogan after vague slogan. Groovy. Something is one of the greatest love songs ever to be sung. Astoundingly, it’s actually the weaker of the two George Harrison penned songs on the album. We’ll get to the other one in a little bit. Trust me, it’s worth the wait. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer is ridiculous. That’s OK, though. My favorite movie is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I have a high tolerance for ridiculous. MSH is catchy but those lyrics are a bit, shall we say, off. Such a cheery song about Hammer murder. Thanks Paul. We needed one of those. Oh Darling is a really tender and touching song. John Lennon stated that he thought he would have been better suited to sing it but I disagree with Ol’ Johnny boy. Paul McCartney’s vocals strain with the grief of having to face your lover going away. It’s quite affecting.
Sadly, things hit a bit of a speed bump with the obligatory Ringo track, Octopus’ Garden. Sure, it’s not as bad as Yellow Submarine but it could not have been put at a worse place on the album. Oh Darling is so emotional and Octopus’ Garden virtually destroys the mood it crafted. Come on now, where is the quality control? I would just like to point out that I am being sarcastic. Not about Octopus’ Garden but about the quality control. We end the first side with the near eight minute minimalist classic I Want You. Some think that this song is boring. I couldn’t disagree more. The repeated instrumental score and the anguished vocals convey the obsession one can have with their object of affection It is actually a bit unnerving.
Now we get to the other George Harrison song. boy is it a doozy. In case you don’t know, I’m talking about Here Comes The Sun. If you needed any proof that George Harrison could hold his own with the twin titans of Lennon and McCartney, this is it. That jangle guitar, that chorus, the vocal performance. You can feel the warmth of the sun on your skin as the song plays. Extraordinary. One of the legendary aspects of Abbey Road is that the final tracks are a medley. This makes them a bit hard to talk about. I’ll just say that two are eerie, pretty much all of the rest are supremely catchy, Golden Slumbers is beautiful and The End is the perfect note to finish the career of the greatest band the world has ever known.
Abbey Road is simply amazing. If you want to know where to start with the Fab Four, look no further. There is most likely never going to be a band that will have the world-changing effect the Beatles had. Abbey Road is the final testament to that power. Simply essential for any person with even a remote interest in music.
And in the end,
The love you take,
is equal to,
The love you make.