or The Inside Scoop on the Breakup of the Greatest Band in the World
For a time, we thought we were the greatest band in the world; and because we did, we were. – Ringo Starr
The Beatles are bigger than Jesus Christ right now. – John Lennon
The following is an interpretation of the songs of the Abbey Road album as a psychological justification for the breakup of the Beatles, or why it had to happen, in their own words:
Here Comes the Sun – Finally, things are looking up for George Harrison. He?s had a creative breakthrough, probably due to the new vegetarianism and positive outlook on life. Plus, he?s hanging out with other Musicians like Eric Clapton and having a bit of fun. He never seemed to have too much, you know, and was always so damned depressing.
Something – But all good things must come to an end. She is the Beatles, and while George loves her, he just doesn’t know about the future. He’s undecided, as well; does he side with John or Paul? That’s always been his question, I think.
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – I think Maxwell is Allen Klein, the doctor they all brought in to fix up the Beatles. Maybe they should have considered Doctor Robert. This one is obviously about litigation and the courts, and Paul’s never-ending battle to prove he wasn’t the one who broke up the band. Further, I think he’s making a comment on his recent drug busts, and John?s forays into obscenity with Yoko Ono (i.e., Two Virgins, etc.).
Oh! Darling – Paul’s frantic plea to John: Don’t leave me. You seem to have it all together, but I need you as a foil to spur my creativity.
Octopus’ Garden – This is Ringo’s attempt to reconcile all the involved parties. But he’s drowning, and the ship’s sinking, and everybody knows it. Meanwhile, he’s getting drunk with Keith Moon and playing Frank Zappa in the movies. He’s ready to move on, just like the rest, and he’s getting tired of being “the funny one.”
I Want You (She?s So Heavy) – John wants to move beyond the Beatles. The social and emotional responsibility of fronting the world’s most popular band has gotten a bit much. Further, he wants to play styles of Music that the Beatles could never get away with (i.e., biting social Commentary and the blues). Further, he wants to distance himself from the hippie movement and free love; he’s more into revolution and visible social change at this point (witness his “Power to the People”) demeanor that follows shortly hereafter, etc. Witness John’s disillusionment with the flower power movement (i.e., Strawberry Fields Forever). He doesn’t want to be anybody’s guru…his whole “bag” has been for people to think for themselves. It’s easy to see misunderstanding with your eyes closed, he says. Let me drag you down with me. If I say jump, does that mean you do it?
Come Together – The visible exponent of the sentiment expressed in I Want You (She’s So Heavy). John is not only writing a campaign slogan for Timothy Leary and San Francisco, showing his affinity for the intellectual revolution over the non-violent peacenik thing, but he’s saying, “Look, people, if you let me do this, the Beatles might still work.”
Because – Why do shitty things happen? Why do bands like the Beatles break up? It’s nobody’s fault, regardless of what they say in Melody Maker. Just because, baby, just because.
You Never Give Me Your Money – Paul’s most direct statement to date on the fact that the other Beatles sued him. Paul obviously wants to keep the band together, but they keep serving him summons (“funny paper”) and breaking off the negotiations. He doesn’t want it to be about money, but he’s trying to keep his shirt and forget the Apple fiasco. In the beginning, he says, we were unemployed, undereducated. If not for this band, we’d be driving trucks. This was our dream, guys, he’s saying. Now, with the dream come true, I think Paul realizes that the dream has got to die. It’s just not working anymore. Like Albert King said, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.” And that hurts Paul like nothing else could.
Sun King – What’s all the nonsense, says John. Why should anybody care but us, says Paul. It?s our business. Lead your own lives – we can’t protect you forever. Further, the whole thing has gotten a bit ridiculous. No matter what we say, it is interpreted as something “deep” and “cryptic.” Check out Charlie Manson’s take on what we did in 1968, for example. John says, “All I want to do is play the blues.” Paul says, “I want to write Musical theater.” George says, “Hare Krishna.” Ringo says, “Where is Buck Owens playing tonight?” The press says, “Paul is dead.” Go figure.
Mean Mr. Mustard – Another interpretation of Allen Klein, I think.
Polythene Pam – Look, everyone, it’s the incredible marketable Beatles, shrink-wrapped in plastic and ready for distribution! Where’s Colonel Tom Parker when you need him?
She Came In Through the Bathroom Window – “She” is the Beatles. She’s come up on the Fab Four by surprise, with her silver lining exposed, and now they all just sit around and wonder what the Hell they’re going to do about it. Further, I think Paul is tired of being the “policeman” and trying to get everybody together and play. Another interpretation might be that “she” is Apple Records. After all, she could “steal, but she could not rob.” They were all losing a lot of money in that little venture, you know. Interpretation #3: “She” is Phil Spector, and she couldn?t really do much to save the sinking ship. Plus, Paul didn’t really appreciate the external input and loss of creative control.
Golden Slumbers – Finally, I think Paul just comes out and says it. This used to be a great band, we used to have a lot of fun, and each of us achieved somewhat of our own Nirvana when it worked. However, the real good thing is about to come to an end. This is also could be seen as a farewell to Brian Epstein, who’d been with them since they were “home” at the Cavern, and always seemed to be a link with their roots.
Carry That Weight – And of course, it’s easy for the rest of the boys (and the media, and the fans) to blame Paul. He seemed to be the most realistic (therefore, the most calculating, cold and cynical) about the Beatles’ situation. And he got most of the heat in the press. Nobody took him seriously as a solo artist until “Band On the Run” took off so splendidly. Plus, he lost his best friend in the bargain. In another view, he’s also the one who had to perform most of the Beatles’ repertoire throughout the following decades. This, of course, has its benefits.
The End – And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. And they weren’t making love anymore; so it was only fair that they stopped taking it. They weren’t even sleeping in the same room at that point. Witness the angry solos from George, Paul and John.
Her Majesty – Paul, of course, was desperate to have the last word. He was going to get the brunt of the blame, after all. Once he made the decision to quit, there was nothing else to do but crawl away and get drunk. She (the Beatles) was a pretty nice girl, but there was no way she was going to put out again. Someday, however, Paul was hoping, it might all work out again.