Last year I used movies for my A-Z Theme. This year it's music, and to kick off the letter A, I'm focusing on The Beatles (specifically their final studio album, Abbey Road, for you letter police).
You can’t deny that The Beatles had a strong influence on rock and roll. Well, you could, but you’d be waaay wrong. So don’t go there.
The Beatles covered such a vast range of styles it’s difficult to find genres they didn’t touch. The Gregorian chant, maybe, but even that is probably backwards-masked onto The White Album.
Abbey Road was their final studio effort (even though Let It Be was released later), and it’s one of the finest albums ever produced. From their roots in German bars to being “bigger than Jesus,” The Beatles grew as musicians, even as they grew apart as bandmates. No one was expecting another record, but they plunged the depths of their talent for one final go, putting down the boxing gloves and collaborating the way they used to, with George Martin (the 5th Beatle).
Even Abbey Road’s cover is iconic and enigmatic, perpetuating the “Paul is Dead” mythos that started with Sgt. Pepper and a whole lot of weed, or something stronger. John is dressed all in white, looking very Jesus-like and leading the procession across the street. Paul—the dead man—is barefoot and out of step with the others. Ringo follows as a pallbearer, and George is dressed in denim as the gravedigger. Or so goes the conspiracy theory, at least. The band denies starting the whole “Paul is Dead” legacy, but it’s not hard to imagine them playing along and poking fun at it.
The track list on Abbey Road is eclectic, and it plays well to the A-Side / B-Side groupings that are absent from today’s world of CDs and a la carte song downloads. “Come Together” opens the album with a good rock groove, and “I Want You” rounds out Side A with an extended prog rock jam. The B-Side montage that closes the album flows with symphonic grace and poetic meaning. It’s really deep shit.
Abbey Road also contains some great contributions from George Harrison, “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun.” It even has a Ringo song, “Octopus’s Garden.” Like I said, The Beatles all worked together to bring their tenure as a band to a fitting close.
“And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make.”