The Beatles - Abbey Road
“Once there was a way, to get back homeward…”
The scariest thing in life is not pain; it is not death; it is not weakness; no, the scariest thing in life is change. Change isn’t always for the better but always happens. You can either embrace change and hurt, or try to get back to before and stagnate. In Abbey Road, The Beatles decided to do both.
While Let it Be—the attempted return to roots—was released as their last album, it was recorded as their penultimate record. It’s angry, frustrated, and sad. The desire for simpler times is now infamous for showing the deep gashes in the heart of the Beatles. Abbey Road, while released as second to last, was, in fact, their final album. Unlike Let It Be, it embraces change.
I love this record like few others for its production, weight, musicality, dynamics, melody, harmony, complexity, and simplicity. This album is the Beatles being the Beatles in truth. Not the four boys from Liverpool who played skiffle, R&B and rock n’ roll, but the four men they had grown into.
The sounds vary from straightforward rockers like “Oh Darling, to psychedelic proto-doom in “I want you (she’s so heavy)” to Frank Sinatra-style crooners with “Something.” Each era of their career is represented, and then cut down to its essential elements. The result is an album with the musical richness and variety of The White Album, but with the restraint of Revolver, and the finesse of a group ten years into its existence. It’s powerful.
The achievement was only possible because the Beatles accepted they were no longer the Beatles. It was the moment they realized they could no longer function but didn’t want to end in the miasma of their own hatred for each other. It’s four individuals coming together one last time, and putting together something special, out of love for their fans, and each other. The result is balanced, rich and diverse statement on who they were, and where they were headed.
This album is the Beatles being the Beatles in truth. Not the four boys from Liverpool who played skiffle, R&B and rock n’ roll, but the four men they had grown into.
In 2015, in the snowiest winter in Boston’s history, unemployed, and in virtual poverty, I was without purpose; I was lost, and tired, and living in perfect isolation. One day, I took a walk, amongst snow drifts impossibly high, in too cold to think weather, on a sunny day downtown. I was despairing, purposeless, and lost.
Then “Here Comes the Sun” came. I thought of Beatrice, who was directly in my life at the time, and I let my feet take me where they would. I drifted along cobbled streets, falling in line with the medley. Something clicked. Then that final line of the album “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make”—one syllable shy of a haiku—came on, amidst the sun, and my spirit was renewed. I was changing, and it sucked, but I had to change, to become me.
Change never stops, but it is up to you as to whether it takes you where you need to go, or not. It doesn’t care regardless.
I love this album, and I love you, reader, for taking this journey with me.
Until the sun comes.