The Beatles released Abbey Road on September 26, 1969 in the United Kingdom, and on October 1, 1969 in the United States. Even though Let It Be was the final album to be released by The Beatles, Abbey Road was the last album to be recorded by the band. Abbey Road was ranked at number fourteen on Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” and a 2009 readers’ poll named Abbey Road as the best Beatles album.
Abbey Road opens with “Come Together,” which was released as a double A-side with “Something.” It’s been said that the song was inspired by Timothy Leary’s failed campaign for California governor. The lyrics feature the “walrus” from “I Am the Walrus” and “Glass Onion.” Musically, this song features a heavy bass riff, which really makes the song stand out, and this is one of the songs that I really enjoy listening to on Abbey Road. “Something” was written by George Harrison; the song has been covered by over 150 artists, and is the second-most covered Beatles song. It’s a ballad, and it picks up in intensity as the song progresses. It also features a string arrangement by George Martin and Billy Preston on the Hammond organ.
The next song on Abbey Road is “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” which was written by Paul McCartney. It’s an upbeat song about a serial murderer who kills people with his silver hammer. However, in interviews, McCartney has claimed that the song is simply an epitome of the downfalls of life. This is followed by “Oh! Darling.” Musically, the song has a strong influence from the New Orleans rhythm and blues sound from the 1950s and 1960s.
“Octopus’s Garden” was written and sung by Ringo Starr. This song has an almost innocent, child-like quality to it, which picks the mood of the album back up after “Oh! Darling.” This song isn’t my all-time favorite from the album, but it ranks rather high. This is followed by “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” which was written by John Lennon and runs for almost eight minutes. The song slows the pace of the album back down, and it also ends rather abruptly.
“Here Comes the Sun” is a song written and sung by George Harrison. It’s said that Harrison wrote the song in Eric Clapton’s garden after skipping out of an Apple Records board meeting. Musically, the song has a “light” and upbeat feel to it, and features an acoustic guitar. “Here Comes the Sun” is one of my favorite songs on Abbey Road.
“Because” is a ballad that was written by John Lennon, and features a three-part harmony with Paul, John, and George. It’s one of the few songs in the Beatles’ catalog to include an analogue synthesizer arrangement. Apparently, “Because” was inspired by Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” Lennon was quoted as saying the lyrics speak for themselves, and that there is no imagery or obscure references involved.
Next on Abbey Road is a sixteen-minute medley that consists of eight songs, both finished and unfinished: “You Never Give Me Your Money,” “Sun King,” “Mean Mr. Mustard,” “Polythene Pam,” “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.” The final song on Abbey Road is “Her Majesty.” It was originally intended to be part of the medley, but McCartney didn’t like the sound of the medley with it in there, so it was edited out. Instead, the song ended up being tacked on to the end of the album.
Although a lot of different musical sounds and styles appear on Abbey Road, it still works well and flows together perfectly as one cohesive unit. After listening to this album, you can understand why it’s so highly regarded, by both the critics and the listening public.