I Want You (She's So Heavy)

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"I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
THE BEATLES I+WANT+YOU+(SHES+SO+HEAVY)-.jpg
Cover of the song's sheet music
Song by the Beatles
from the album Abbey Road
Released26 September 1969
Recorded22 February, 18 & 20 April, 8 & 11 August 1969
Studio EMI and Trident Studios, London
Genre
Length7:47
Label Apple
Songwriter(s) John Lennon
Producer(s) George Martin
Audio sample
"I Want You (She's So Heavy)"

"I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon [5] (credited to Lennon–McCartney). The song closes side one on their 1969 album Abbey Road . The song is an unusual Beatles composition for a variety of reasons, namely its length (nearly eight minutes), few lyrics (the title makes up most of the lyrics, aside from two more phrases; only 14 different words are sung), a three-minute descent through repeated guitar chords (a similar arpeggiated figure appears in another Lennon contribution to the album, "Because"), and abrupt ending. It was the first song recorded for the Abbey Road album but one of the last songs to be finished, on 20 August 1969, the last time all four Beatles were together in the studio. [6]

The Beatles English rock band

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The line-up of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr led them to be regarded as the most influential band of all time. With a sound rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form, and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated elements of classical music, older pop, and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and they experimented with a number of musical styles in later years, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's socio-cultural movements.

John Lennon English singer and songwriter, founding member of The Beatles

John Winston Ono Lennon was an English singer, songwriter and peace activist who co-founded the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He and fellow member Paul McCartney formed a much-celebrated songwriting partnership. Along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the group achieved worldwide fame during the 1960s. In 1969, Lennon started the Plastic Ono Band with his second wife, Yoko Ono, and he continued to pursue a solo career following the Beatles' break-up in April 1970.

Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership

Lennon–McCartney was the songwriting partnership between English musicians John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles. It is one of the best known and is the most successful musical collaboration ever by records sold, with the Beatles selling over 600 million records worldwide as of 2004. Between 5 October 1962 and 8 May 1970, the partnership published approximately 180 jointly credited songs, of which the vast majority were recorded by the Beatles, forming the bulk of their catalogue.

Contents

Composition

Lennon wrote the song about his love for Yoko Ono. [5] It begins in 6
8
time
, with an arpeggio guitar theme in D minor, progressing through E7(9) and B7 before cadencing on an A augmented chord. In this chord sequence, the F note is a drone. The bass and lead guitar ascend and descend with a riff derived from the D minor scale. As the last chord fades, a verse begins in 4
4
time, based on the A and D blues scales, with Lennon singing "I want you / I want you so bad . . ." The two blues verses alternate, before the reappearance of the E7(9) chord, and McCartney playing a notably aggressive bass riff. This would function, throughout the song, as a transition to the main theme. The main theme repeats with Lennon singing "She's so heavy", with a long sustain on the last word. The second set of verses are rendered instrumentally with lead guitar. Another repeat of the "She's So Heavy" theme (this time featuring harmonies) is followed by Lennon singing a livelier repeat of the "I Want You" verse. During the next E7(9) transition, Lennon lets loose a primal scream of "Yeah", until his voice breaks. The song's coda consists of a three-minute repetition of the "She's So Heavy" theme, with the arpeggios double tracked, intensifying with "white noise" fading in as the theme continues; this consists of multi-tracked guitars from Lennon and Harrison, Moog white-noise from Lennon, and drums and bass from Starr and McCartney respectively. In the middle of the fifteenth repetition of the theme, the song abruptly ends. [7]

Yoko Ono Japanese artist, author, and peace activist

Yoko Ono is a Japanese-American multimedia artist, singer, songwriter and peace activist. Her work also encompasses performance art, which she performs in both English and Japanese and filmmaking. She is known for being the wife of English singer-songwriter John Lennon of the Beatles from 1969 until his murder in 1980.

The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats (pulses) are contained in each measure (bar), and which note value is equivalent to a beat.

A broken chord is a chord broken into a sequence of notes. A broken chord may repeat some of the notes from the chord and span one or more octaves.

Recording

The song was rehearsed several times during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions; the basic track and Lennon's guide vocal (which is used in the master) were recorded at Trident Studios on 22 February 1969, shortly after shooting for the Let It Be film ended. Lennon played the lead guitar, as George Harrison stated:

<i>Let It Be</i> (Beatles album) 1970 studio album by the Beatles

Let It Be is the twelfth and final studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. It was released on 8 May 1970, almost a month after the group's break-up. Like most of the band's previous releases, it was a number one album in many countries, including both the US and the UK, and was released in tandem with the motion picture of the same name.

<i>Let It Be</i> (1970 film) 1970 documentary by Michael Lindsay-Hogg

Let It Be is a 1970 British documentary film starring the Beatles and directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. The film documents the group rehearsing and recording songs for their twelfth and final studio album Let It Be, in January 1969. The film includes an unannounced rooftop concert by the group, their last public performance. Released just after the album in May 1970, Let It Be is the final original Beatles release.

George Harrison British musician and lead guitarist of the Beatles

George Harrison was an English musician, singer-songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Sometimes called "the quiet Beatle", Harrison embraced Indian culture and helped broaden the scope of popular music through his incorporation of Indian instrumentation and Hindu-aligned spirituality in the Beatles' work. Although the majority of the band's songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, most Beatles albums from 1965 onwards contained at least two Harrison compositions. His songs for the group included "Taxman", "Within You Without You", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something".

It's very heavy. John plays lead guitar and sings the same as he plays. It's really basically a bit like a blues. The riff that he sings and plays is really a very basic blues-type thing. But again, it's very original sort of John-type song. [8]

Lennon and Harrison overdubbed multi-tracked heavy guitars on 18 April 1969. Billy Preston's Hammond organ and Ringo Starr's congas were added on 20 April 1969. "I Want You" received the "She's So Heavy" vocals on 11 August, and thus the title became "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". [9] "'She's So Heavy' was about Yoko," Lennon told Rolling Stone . "When you're drowning, you don't say, 'I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me.' You just scream." [5]

Billy Preston American singer-songwriter, musician, bandleader

William Everett Preston was an American musician whose work encompassed R&B, rock, soul, funk, and gospel. Preston was a top session keyboardist in the 1960s, during which he backed artists such as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Rev. James Cleveland and The Beatles. He went on to achieve fame as a solo artist, with hit singles such as "That's the Way God Planned It", "Outa-Space", "Will It Go Round in Circles", "Space Race", "Nothing from Nothing" and "With You I'm Born Again". Additionally, Preston co-wrote "You Are So Beautiful", which became a number 5 hit for Joe Cocker.

Hammond organ electric organ

The Hammond organ is an electric organ, invented by Laurens Hammond and John M. Hanert and first manufactured in 1935. Various models have been produced, most of which use sliding drawbars to specify a variety of sounds. Until 1975, Hammond organs generated sound by creating an electric current from rotating a metal tonewheel near an electromagnetic pickup, and then strengthening the signal with an amplifier so it can drive a speaker cabinet. Around two million Hammond organs have been manufactured. The organ is commonly used with, and associated with, the Leslie speaker.

Ringo Starr British musician, drummer of the Beatles

Sir Richard Starkey, known professionally as Ringo Starr, is an English musician and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for the Beatles. He occasionally sang lead vocals with the group, usually for one song on each album, including "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Yellow Submarine", "Good Night", and their cover of "Act Naturally". He also wrote and sang the Beatles' songs "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden", and is credited as a co-writer of others, including "What Goes On" and "Flying".

Three takes from 22 February were edited into a master (second generation), which was overdubbed, mixed down on 18 April (third generation), and overdubbed on 18 April, 20 April, 8 August and 11 August. Different overdubs were made to the second generation tape on 8 August. The mix is the third generation for 4:37 and then the second generation tape, which has white noise produced by the Moog synthesizer played by Lennon and additional drums added on 8 August. The final overdub session for "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", which included the final mixing and editing, was the last time all four Beatles worked in the studio together. [10] [11]

White noise random signal having equal intensity at different frequencies, giving it a constant power spectral density

In signal processing, white noise is a random signal having equal intensity at different frequencies, giving it a constant power spectral density. The term is used, with this or similar meanings, in many scientific and technical disciplines, including physics, acoustical engineering, telecommunications, and statistical forecasting. White noise refers to a statistical model for signals and signal sources, rather than to any specific signal. White noise draws its name from white light, although light that appears white generally does not have a flat power spectral density over the visible band.

Moog synthesizer analog synthesizer created by Robert Moog

Moog synthesizer may refer to any number of analog synthesizers designed by Robert Moog or manufactured by Moog Music, and is commonly used as a generic term for older-generation analog music synthesizers. The Moog company pioneered the commercial manufacture of modular voltage-controlled analog synthesizer systems in the mid 1960s. The technological development that led to the creation of the Moog synthesizer was the invention of the transistor, which enabled researchers like Moog to build electronic music systems that were considerably smaller, cheaper and far more reliable than earlier vacuum tube-based systems.

The final master lasted 8:04, but Lennon decided on a surprise ending. During the final edit with the guitars, drums and white noise climaxing endlessly, he told recording engineer Geoff Emerick to "cut it right there" at the 7:44 mark, bringing the song (and Side 1 of Abbey Road) to an abrupt end.

On George Martin's Beatles remix album Love , the three-minute guitar coda from "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is attached to "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!", and snippets of that song and "Helter Skelter" are mixed in with the repeated guitar riff. The abrupt ending of the original is retained, but it cuts to wind-like white noise, not to silence as on the original. [12] [13]

Reception and legacy

Josh Hart and Damian Fanelli, writing for Guitar World , placed the song 34th in their list of the 50 Heaviest Songs Before Black Sabbath, and called the song a "bluesy rocker" that "might have inadvertently started doom metal." [14] Similarly, Jo Kendall of Classic Rock magazine commented that the song pre-dated "Black Sabbath's creation of doom rock by several months" and noted the "Santana-like Latin blues section" in the song. [15] James Manning, of Time Out London, describe the song as the foundation for stoner rock. [16]

Personnel

Personnel per Ian MacDonald. [17]

Covers

Numerous bands and solo artists have covered "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" in the studio and live, in particular the following:

PerformerAlbumYearComment
Alvin Lee Nineteen Ninety-Four 1994Accompanied by George Harrison on slide guitar
Beatallica Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band 2007Merged with Metallica's "The Call of Ktulu" to create "Ktulu (He's So Heavy)"
Bee Gees 1978Performance for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie, with Peter Frampton, Frankie Howerd, Dianne Steiberg and Stargard
Blue Öyster Cult Rarities Vol. 22018Live rendition, recorded a few weeks after the murder of John Lennon
Earth to Andy Simple Machine1998As hidden track at the end of the album that features a "talking guitar" effect
Eddie Hazel Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs 1977Founding lead guitarist for Parliament-Funkadelic. Eddie Hazel's solo debut album
The Eric Gales Band Picture of a Thousand Faces 1993
The Flaming Lips 201115-minute performance of the song at NYE Freakout in Oklahoma City, in honour of the special guest performance by The Plastic Ono Band
George Benson The Other Side of Abbey Road 1970
Groove Collective 1996Single, which charted in the US
Halestorm ReAniMate: The CoVeRs eP2011
Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs and T.V. Carpio 2007Performance by cast members for Julie Taymor's film Across the Universe
John Legend Live in Philadelphia2008
The Last Shadow Puppets 2008Performance during the BBC Electric Proms [18] Regularly performed as part of their setlist.
Noir Désir Dies Irae (Noir Désir album) 1994
Robyn Hitchcock CD: Various Artists – Abbey Road Now!2009Album of covers of songs from Abbey Road
Steel Train 19692004Cover album
Thrice 2010Released as download track for their label Vagrant Records [19]
Type O Negative World Coming Down 1999As part of a medley with "Day Tripper" and "If I Needed Someone"
Phillips, Grier & Flinner Looking Back2002Instrumental version, with David Grier on acoustic guitar, Todd Phillips (musician) on acoustic bass, and Matt Flinner on mandolin

Notes

  1. 1 2 Moon, Tom (2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. p. 62. the most convincing exploration of blues and progressive rock the Beatles ever attempted, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
  2. Perone, James E. (2012). The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations. Praeger. p. 213. ISBN   978-0-313-37907-9.
  3. Sander, Ellen (25 October 1969). "The Beatles: "Abbey Road"". Saturday Review . Vol. 52. p. 69. ISSN   0036-4983.
  4. Kirkpatrick, Rob (2011). 1969: The Year Everything Changed. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. p. 27. ISBN   978-1-61608-055-6.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "59 – 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' -". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  6. The Beatles. J Lennon, P McCartney, G Harrison… – John Lennon – Google Books
  7. "Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"". Icce.rug.nl. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  8. "George Harrison interview with Ritchie Yorke, September, 1969". Ottawa Beatles Site. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  9. Voice Leading and Harmony as Expressive Devices in the Early Music of the Beatles:'She Loves You'W Everett – College Music Symposium, 1992 – JSTOR
  10. "Mixing, editing: I Want You (She's So Heavy)". beatlesbible.com.
  11. "The Final Days of The Beatles". Mental Floss.
  12. Willman, Chris (26 December 2006). "peace". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  13. "The Beatles: LOVE". Yahoo!. 20 November 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  14. Hart, Josh; Fanelli, Damian (11 October 2015). "The 50 Heaviest Songs Before Black Sabbath: #40-31". Guitar World . Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  15. Classic Rock Magazine, September 2014
  16. "The 50 Best Beatles songs". Time Out London. 24 May 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  17. MacDonald 2005, p. 342.
  18. "Last Shadow Puppets cover The Beatles in Liverpool". NME. 25 October 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  19. "Competition to win Thrice songs for download". Vagrant Records . Retrieved 6 January 2012.

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References