The End (The Beatles song)

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"The End"
Song by The Beatles

from the album Abbey Road

Released 26 September 1969 (1969-09-26)
Recorded 23 July–18 August 1969
Genre Hard rock, art rock, progressive rock
Length 2:20
Label Apple
Writer Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
Abbey Road track listing

"The End" is a song by The Beatles written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon/McCartney) for the album Abbey Road. It was the last song recorded by all four of the Beatles,[1] and is the final song of the medley that dominates side two of the LP version of the album.

Composition and recording[change | change source]

McCartney said, "I wanted [the medley] to end with a little meaningful couplet, so I followed the Bard [ Shakespeare ] and wrote a couplet."[2] In his 1980 interview with Playboy, John Lennon said, "That's Paul again ... He had a line in it, 'And in the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give,' which is a very cosmic, philosophical line. Which again proves that if he wants to, he can think."[3] Lennon misquoted the line slightly; the actual words are, "And, in the end, the love you take/ Is equal to the love you make."[4]

Recording began on July 23, 1969, when the Beatles recorded a one-minute, 20-second master recording that was extended via overdubs to two minutes and five seconds. At this point, the song was called "Ending."[5] The first vocals for the song were added on August 5, more vocals and guitar overdubs were added on August 7, and bass and drums on August 8, the day the Abbey Road cover picture was taken.[6] Orchestral overdubs were added August 15, and the closing piano and accompanying vocal on August 18.[7]

All four Beatles have a solo in "The End", including a Ringo Starr drum solo. Starr did not like solos. McCartney, Harrison, and Lennon perform a rotating sequence of three, two-bar guitar solos.[1][8] The solos begin 53 seconds into the song and end just before the final piano part. Lennon described it in his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone: "There's a nice little bit I played on Abbey Road. Paul gave us each a piece, a little break where Paul plays, George plays and I play."[9] The first two bars are played by McCartney, the second two by Harrison, and the third two by Lennon, then the sequence repeats.[1] Each has a style which McCartney felt reflected their personalities: McCartney's playing included string bends similar to his lead guitar work on "Another Girl" from the Help! album; Harrison's was melodic with slides yet technically advanced and Lennon's was rhythmic, stinging and had the heaviest distortion. Immediately after Lennon's third solo, the piano chords of the final line "And in the end...." begin. Then the orchestration arrangement takes over with a humming chorus and Harrison playing a final guitar solo that ends the song.

Paul and John's last guitar solos and the drum solo were used in the intro to "Get Back" in the Beatles' Love.

"The End" was at first intended to be the final track on Abbey Road, but it is followed by "Her Majesty". In the first practice mix, "Her Majesty" followed "Mean Mr. Mustard" (on the released version of the album, "Her Majesty" begins with the excised final chord of "Mean Mr. Mustard"). According to sound engineer John Kurlander, McCartney said, "I don't like 'Her Majesty,' throw it away." Kurlander cut it out, but said, "I'd been told never to throw anything away, so after he left I picked it up off the floor, put about 20 seconds of red leader tape before it, and stuck it onto the end of the edit tape." When McCartney heard "Her Majesty" in its new position he liked it and decided that it should remain on the album.[10]

Reception[change | change source]

Richie Unterberger of Allmusic said that "The End" was to be "the group's take on the improvised jamming common to heavy rock of the late '60s, though as usual the Beatles did it with far more economic precision than anyone else."[11] John Mendelsohn of Rolling Stone said it was "a perfect epitaph for our visit to the world of Beatle daydreams: "The love you take is equal to the love you make."[12].

In popular culture[change | change source]

Personnel[change | change source]

Personnel above per Ian MacDonald[1]

Notes[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

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  • The Beatles - Complete Scores. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. 1993. ISBN 0-7935-1832-6
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  • Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25464-4
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