As The Beatles approached the end of their career, it became evident that the joy they once experienced had faded. Despite their efforts to reconnect with their musical roots on albums like Let It Be, the constant string of business meetings with record company executives left them uninspired, disengaged, and focused on their individual endeavors. However, when the band reunited for their final session at Abbey Road Studios, a shift occurred as they immersed themselves in the music.
Abbey Road, a true labor of love, emerged as The Beatles’ ultimate artistic statement, showcasing each songwriter at the peak of their creative abilities. While John Lennon and Paul McCartney contributed some of their finest work, it was George Harrison who truly blossomed as a songwriter, penning two iconic tracks, “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun,” which were cherished by Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Yet, the most remarkable moments in The Beatles’ legacy were a testament to their close collaboration. Ringo Starr considers the entirety of the album’s second side, affectionately known as “The Long One,” to be their greatest achievement. This collection, comprising various fragments from their recording sessions, maintains an unwavering momentum, skillfully weaving together different song sections into a grand medley.
Although these songs lack a linear narrative connection, Starr has always regarded them as the pinnacle of his recording career. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he expressed, “Amidst all the chaos, that final section stands as one of the finest compositions we ever created.” Conversely, John Lennon was less enthused about the latter half, explaining, “The songs had no thematic connection or common thread, except for the fact that we merged them together.”
Nevertheless, even if the band arranged the sequence by chance, the result showcases their exceptional musicianship. Notably, they effortlessly navigate multiple key changes within seconds on “You Never Give Me Your Money” and adeptly balance the atmosphere of each song, ranging from the serene ambiance of “Sun King” to the energetic vigor of “Polythene Pam.”
Towards the end of the medley, Starr delivers his sole drum solo to be featured on a Beatles record, leading the band into the final track, “The End.” Here, McCartney, Harrison, and Lennon take turns exchanging guitar riffs, culminating in McCartney delivering the closing line of their career: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
Although these songs may lack thematic connections, each Beatle recognized the significance of their collective creation. George Martin, the band’s producer, recalls them performing the entire medley for pure enjoyment, in between proper takes of the songs. Despite the interpersonal tensions that plagued The Beatles just months before working on the album, Martin observed an overwhelming sense of happiness during the recording sessions, stating, “It was a joyous record. I believe everyone was happy because they thought it would be their last.”