Thursday, December 29, 2005

"Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End"

There's not nearly enough Beatles in this blog.

If you have a spare afternoon, write a list down of those artists that have substantially, irrevocably and completely changed the nature of popular music. I can come up with about five: Robert Johnson - the touchstone and the source, Elvis - the first taste of the social impact of music and its performers, Hendrix - for bringing the counter-culture into the fold, Eminem - for making music that cut across all manner of social divides, and the Beatles - the ultimate marriage of songwriting and musicianship.
I'm sure that most of us of a certain age can name more Beatles songs than we can songs by any other artist. Most of us can hum or sing along to each one of those songs as well. And for the generation that grew up in the 60s and 70s I don't think you really need to say much more than that. The Beatles redefined songwriting, stretched the boundaries of what was possible more than anyone else. If you think Pink Floyd's tape loops were something new, listen to Revolution No 9. If you think heavy metal was Hendrix's love-child, listen to Helter Skelter. Etc etc.
I'm blogging this suite of songs off the Abbey Road album because it has just about everything in five short minutes. Golden Slumbers is as gorgeous a melody as you could hope to find, a lullaby to moisten the eye and bring a lump to the throat. Carry That Weight is a curious two-part invention that starts off as a football chant, morphs back into Golden Slumbers for a moment and then -- I think -- rocks out before it turns into The End. I say "I think" because I've never owned the CD and so can't tell when one track ends and the other starts...
I'm constantly amazed by the inventiveness, the sheer other-worldiness of the talent involved here. To be able to turn from heart-melting sweetness into downright funk and then, as if it were a throwaway moment, to write one of the greatest lyrics ever: "And in the end/The love you take/Is equal to the love/You make," just takes the breath away.
I know it's not an obvious choice for a Beatles blog, but it's the one that always sits at the back of my mind. Comforting, really.


Cocaine Jesus said...

funny thing is that lennon didn't like the 'B' side of Abbey Road at all, prefering the first side. the melody on side two is virtually all Macca's work. employing lennon's genius to fit around his overall scheme.
good choice for a beatles 'song'. very unusual to see it reviewed.

Evil Minx said...

"There's not nearly enough Beatles in this blog"

Too damn right.

But what a great choice to make in order to redress the balance.

I count "The End" as one of my all-time Beatles favourites... for posterity (last words, of last song, on last Beatles album yada yada) and for the combined beauty of the lyrics and music that made the Beatles what they were.

You're such a star, Londinium, you always know how to perk up a Minx in the wee small hours of the night (when i'm blogging, keep your mind out of the gutter pleeeeeease).