I Want You (She's So Heavy)

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"I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
Cover of the song's sheet music
Song by the Beatles
from the album Abbey Road
Released26 September 1969
Recorded22 February–11 August 1969,
EMI and Trident Studios, London
Label Apple
Songwriter(s) Lennon–McCartney
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 Beatles, written by John Lennon [4] (credited to Lennon–McCartney). The song closes side one on the Beatles' 1969 album Abbey Road . This 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. [5]

The Beatles English rock band

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became regarded as the foremost and most influential music band in history. Rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to pop music's evolution into an art form and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated classical elements, older pop forms and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and later experimented with several musical styles ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As the members continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they were seen as an embodiment of the era's sociocultural 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 would ascend to worldwide fame during the 1960s. After the group disbanded in 1970, Lennon pursued a solo career and started the band Plastic Ono Band with his second wife Yoko Ono.

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 most successful musical collaborations in history, with the Beatles selling over 600 million records, tapes and CDs 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.



Lennon wrote the song about his love for Yoko Ono. [4] It begins in 6
, 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
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 until an abrupt ending. [6]

Yoko Ono Japanese artist, author, and peace activist

Yoko Ono is a Japanese multimedia artist, singer, songwriter and peace activist. Her work also encompasses performance art, which she performs in both English and Japanese and filmmaking. Singer-songwriter John Lennon of the Beatles was her third husband.

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.

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." [7] 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. [8] James Manning, of Time Out London, describe the song as the foundation for stoner rock. [9]

<i>Guitar World</i> magazine

Guitar World is a monthly music magazine devoted to guitarists, published since July 1980. It contains original interviews, album and gear reviews, and guitar and bass tablature of approximately five songs each month. The magazine is published 13 times per year. Formerly owned by Harris Publications, Future US bought the magazine in 2003. In 2012, NewBay Media bought the Music division of Future US. The latter company also published a spin-off title, Guitar Legends, each issue of which typically combined past articles from Guitar World under a specific theme. The first Guitar Legends was on Eddie Van Halen. In 2018, Future acquired NewBay Media, returning Guitar World to Future US.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

Doom metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much "thicker" or "heavier" sound than other heavy metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom. The genre is strongly influenced by the early work of Black Sabbath, who formed a prototype for doom metal with songs such as "Black Sabbath", "Children of the Grave", "Electric Funeral" and "Into the Void". During the first half of the 1980s, a number of bands from England, the United States and Sweden defined doom metal as a distinct genre.


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> (1970 film) 1970 documentary film directed 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, lead guitarist of the Beatles

George Harrison was an English musician, singer-songwriter, music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Often referred to as "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. [10]

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)". [11] "'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." [4]

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, singer, songwriter and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for the Beatles. He occasionally sang lead vocals, usually for one song on an album, including "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Yellow Submarine", "Good Night", and their cover of "Act Naturally". He also wrote 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. [12] [13]

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 code 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. [14] [15]


(Personnel per Ian MacDonald) [16]


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

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
Blackmail Science Fiction 1999Usage of part of the lyrics ("I want you so bad") and part of the tune for the song "3.000.000 Years From Here"[ original research? ]
Booker T. and the MGs McLemore Avenue 1969Album cover also mimicks the Abbey Road album cover
Budka Suflera 1978
Coroner Mental Vortex 1991
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
Eric Gales Band Picture of a Thousand Faces1993
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
George Lynch Furious George2004Cover album
Groove Collective -1996Single, which charted in the US
Halestorm ReAniMate: The CoVeRs eP2011
Incubus (band) 2013Covered a small snippet of the song multiple times, usually to close their performances during the 2013 and 2014 tour
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 [17] Regularly performed as part of their setlist.
Ministry Cover Up 2008track only on Japanese issue of the album
Noir Désir Dies Irae 1994Live album; the title means The Day of Wrath (Lat.)
Robyn Hitchcock CD: Various Artists – Abbey Road Now!2009Album of covers of songs from Abbey Road
Sarah Vaughan Songs of the Beatles1981Omits any "She's So Heavy" vocals
Soda Stereo -1990–91Covered song in several live performances during that time
Soulive Rubber Soulive2010Beatles cover album
Soundgarden 1994–97Covered the song multiple times, usually to close their performances in their Superunknown and Down on the Upside tours.
Steel Train 19692004Cover album
Thrice -2010Released as download track for their label Vagrant Records [18]
The Dear Hunter 2017Transitioned into "She's so heavy" after performing their song "This Body", as a set closer during live shows
Transatlantic All of the above 2000Live album, cover appears as last segment of the closing medley
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
Umphrey's McGee The London Session2015Recorded at Abbey Road studios in London


  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. 1 2 3 4 "59 – 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' -". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  5. The Beatles. J Lennon, P McCartney, G Harrison… – John Lennon – books.google.com
  6. "Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"". Icce.rug.nl. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  7. Hart, Josh; Fanelli, Damian (October 11, 2015). "The 50 Heaviest Songs Before Black Sabbath: #40-31". Guitar World . Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  8. Classic Rock Magazine, September 2014
  9. "The 50 Best Beatles songs". Time Out London. May 24, 2018. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  10. "George Harrison interview with Ritchie Yorke, September, 1969". Ottawa Beatles Site. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  11. Voice Leading and Harmony as Expressive Devices in the Early Music of the Beatles:'She Loves You'W Everett – College Music Symposium, 1992 – JSTOR
  12. "Mixing, editing: I Want You (She's So Heavy)". beatlesbible.com.
  13. "The Final Days of The Beatles". Mental Floss.
  14. Willman, Chris (26 December 2006). "peace". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  15. "The Beatles: LOVE". Yahoo!. 20 November 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  16. MacDonald 2005, p. 342.
  17. "Last Shadow Puppets cover The Beatles in Liverpool". NME. 25 October 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  18. "Competition to win Thrice songs for download". Vagrant Records . Retrieved 6 January 2012.

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