Celebrating The 50-Year Anniversary of The Last Beatles Album, “Abbey Road”

Who knew that a zebra crossing in London would still be famous to this day? 

On Sept. 27, the “Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition” was released, 50 years later to its original release date in 1969, to show original takes and 2019 remastered editions of the last album from The Beatles.

Featuring some famous songs by The Beatles, such as “Come Together,” “Something,” “Oh Darling” and the famous medley starting with “You Never Give Me Your Money” to “The End,” this album is known to be one of the greatest rock albums, going from No. 71 on the Billboard 200 chart to No. 3 that same day.

Background and Success

According to a Billboard article, “Abbey Road” was released on Sept. 26, 1969 and was No. 1 on Billboard charts for 11 consecutive weeks, and it also sold 4 million copies within the first 2 months of its release.

The original title for the album was supposed to be “Everest,” after the brand of cigarettes that sound engineer Geoff Emerick smoked. Paul McCartney, however, was not particularly fond of that title and one day had an idea to name the album after the studio they recorded the album in, saying it “sound like a bit of a monastery.” 

On the hot and sunny day of August 8, 1969, The Beatles had a 30-minute photography session for the cover photo.

They stepped outside the studio wearing Tommy Nutter suits (except Harrison) and crossed the zebra crossing numerous times while the photographer, Iain Macmillan, stood on a stepladder and the police halted traffic. The cover photo was taken about six times.

McCartney was so hot that day that he wore sandals the first two shots and took them off for the rest, and this contributed to the widespread “Paul is Dead” rumor on college campuses at the time.

Highlights of the Super Deluxe Edition

This edition includes the 2019 remastered version of all the songs on the album along with various takes from the studio, in which you can hear The Beatles talking to one another through recordings and you can even hear their mistakes while playing.

Something significant about any deluxe edition is hearing the humanity of the music. Usually in released albums, there is a long process to make the song sound perfect and multiple sound mixing tools to change the sound that is produced so that it sounds more voluminous and wholesome.

However, this edition features both the version that went through that long process and also the versions that were the foundation to the sound mixing, in which it even shows the personality of The Beatles themselves. 

1. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy) Trident Recording Session & Reduction Mix”

The beginning of the takes show McCartney holding a note to the word “she” in “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” in the Trident recording session. 

They speak to each other about possible sound mixes while George Harrison is practicing guitar riffs for the song in the background. When listening to them play the song, the guitar part sounds very different and more complex than the edited version. 

Another significant part of hearing “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is listening to John Lennon’s voice breaking as he is singing the higher notes, which contributes to the humanity aspect.

2. “Goodbye (Home Demo)”

This song was written by McCartney and performed by Mary Hopkin, a teenage singer who was one of the first signed onto Apple Records.

McCartney described this song as a “sailor’s farewell” and as a “leaving-the-port song.”

Although this song may be sweet and simple, it resembles greatly his famous hits “Blackbird” and “Yesterday” with its simple meaning that resonates with you personally.

3. “Something (Studio Demo)”

“Something” was originally released in “Anthology 3” and shows that similar humanity in his recording. 

The song, however, is different from the Anthology version since it has a restored piano part and restored heftiness in the guitar’s weight during the chorus. This song was mixed in a heartfelt and personal way through this version. 

Along with this, the melodic tone that is truly presented beautifully in this version makes it a lot more emotional.

He originally wrote the song during the recording session for “The White Album.” However, upon hearing the song, all The Beatles agreed it was the best song on the album.

“I thought it was George’s greatest track -- with Here Comes The Sun and While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” McCartney said in an interview on the Anthology series. “Until then he had only done one or two songs per album. I don't think he thought of himself very much as a songwriter, and John and I obviously would dominate… But he finally came up with Something and a couple of other songs that were great, and I think everyone was very pleased for him.”

Lennon also regarded this song very highly and praised Harrison for his songwriting skills upon hearing it. 

“I think that’s about the best track on the album,” Lennon said reflecting upon the album.

4. “Octopus’s Garden (Take 9)”

Ringo is not known for his voice or for his composition of songs as well as Harrison in The Beatles; however, this song’s lovely and heartwarming melody changes this perspective through a light and fluffy tone. 

This song is a very simple song, and in the take, The Beatles perform this song in its rawest form, in which Ringo does not have harmonies to back him up, the reverb is not as prevalent and the bubbling sound effects are not there. 

Although the song is a children’s song and is not meant to be personal, it is so simple and sweet that it is heartwarming to hear in its original take. 

5. “Her Majesty (Takes 1-3)”

This 23-second song was amusing to McCartney because he knew Queen Elizabeth would enjoy it.

These takes are especially adoring because you can hear the slight differences in the way McCartney says “wine” with each take.

Along with this, his simple melody and soft voice make the song heartwarming and lovely.

6. “Come Together (Take 5)”

One of the most famous songs by The Beatles, “Come Together” is shown in its rawest form without any guitar solos and with Lennon’s voice resonating as it naturally is.

Many fans theorize that this song has four verses to represent the four Beatles, but The Beatles have never confirmed this theory. However, it can be inferred based on the lyrics and the personification of the characters described, especially by referring to the walrus in one of the verses, in which Paul McCartney was said to be the walrus in the song “Glass Onion.”

Something specifically interesting was the ending of the take, in which he lowered his voice and then the music stopped, and he continued by singing “He’s got teenage lyrics/ He’s got hot rod bowling.”

7. “Mean Mr. Mustard (Take 20)”

In this take, you can hear how slow the song really is. It’s almost like you can actually visualize Mean Mr. Mustard as a grumpy old man.

Along with this, in one of the verses, the original song sings“His sister Pam works in a shop…,” but in this take its “His sister Shirley…” This is particularly interesting to show how The Beatles even change up the lyrics in their takes.

Fun Facts

A lot came behind making the “Abbey Road” album, especially with the making of the songs. This album had many aspects behind it that makes it so significant not only in rock ‘n’ roll, but in Beatles history.

1. Moog synthesizer

The album also uses the Moog synthesizer significantly through, and it was used to create the middle 8 on the song “Because.”

George Harrison was one of the first people to ever buy the Moog synthesizer and had one specially made for him.

It was also used in “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” along with the white noise generator. 

2. “Her Majesty” and its placement

Funny enough, “Her Majesty” was also not supposed to even be on the album.

Originally, “Her Majesty” was placed in between “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polytheme Pam,” which is why the chord that begins “Her Majesty” is the chord that ends “Mean Mr. Mustard.”

McCartney omitted the song from the album because he was not fond of it. John Kurlander, tape operator, stuck it to the end of the edit tape. When Malcolm Davies came in, he said that no tape should be left out and put it at the end. However, Paul liked the accidental ending.

3. Ringo Starr did not want to do the ending solo

“I don’t want no bloody solo!” Starr said until George Martin convinced him to do the drum solo.

“The End” was supposed to be the closing song for the album, hence its name, and that is why each Beatle had his own solo in the song. Starr, however, did not want that

The drums were able to have a lot more clarity since they had put more mics around it. 

4. Harrison landed two songs in the album

The dominant writers of The Beatles were always Lennon and McCartney, so Harrison having two songs on the final album was remarkable.

The two songs on that album that Harrison wrote were “Here Comes The Sun” and “Something.” 

Harrison said that winter in England is never-ending and his life was always about business. He went to Eric Clapton’s house one day and grabbed his acoustic guitar; while walking around the garden, he wrote “Here Comes The Sun” since he finally felt peace away from his annoyances of the world. 

Everybody thought Harrison wrote “Something” about his then wife, Pattie Boyd. Boyd claims that Harrison constantly told her it was about her. However, Harrison said otherwise in 1996.

According to author Joshua Green, Harrison told his friends from the Hare Krishna Movement that the song was directed to Krishna himself.

Along with this, Harrison also said when he wrote the song he had imagined Ray Charles doing a love song, and that helped inspire him.

5. There were three guitarists on “The End”

McCartney, Harrison and Lennon, respectively, did the three solos on the song.

The Beatles wanted this song to feature a solo from each one of them. They took turns to perform two-bar sequences over the backing vocal saying “Love you, love you.”

Closing Remarks

The Fab Four, even 50 years later, still has not failed their audience. The Beatles, to this day, are one of the most famous and most influential rock bands of all time.

Despite the remarkable history behind “Abbey Road,” the album encapsulated the overall progression The Beatles made in developing their characters and their music.