Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Carry That Weight"

"Carry That Weight" is a song by The Beatles. Released on Abbey Road and part of the long, climactic medley that closes the album, it features vocals from all four of The Beatles (a rarity in their songs). It is preceded by "Golden Slumbers," and segues into "The End."

The middle bridge, featuring brass instruments, electric guitar and vocals, reprises the beginning of "You Never Give Me Your Money", but with different lyrics. The ending also reprises the arpeggiated guitar motif from the end of that track, similar to the figure featured prominently in the George Harrison written tracks "Here Comes the Sun" and "Badge" (co-written by Harrison and Eric Clapton).


In his book Revolution in the Head, Ian McDonald interprets this lyric as an acknowledgment by the group that nothing they would do as individual artists in the future would ever equal what they had achieved together as The Beatles. In other words, that they would always carry the weight of their Beatle past. In the film Imagine: John Lennon, Lennon says that McCartney was "singing about all of us."


The Beatles began recording "Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight" as one on 2 July 1969. McCartney, Harrison and Starr recorded 15 takes of the two songs while Lennon was in hospital recovering from a car accident in Scotland.

The rhythm tracks featured McCartney on piano, Harrison on bass guitar and Starr on drums. The best were takes 13 and 15, which were edited together on 3 July. That day and the next, McCartney overdubbed his lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Harrison added lead guitar, and all three sang the chorus.

On 30 July, Lennon rejoined the group and all added more vocals. The following day more vocals were recorded, and Starr overdubbed timpani and extra drums. The orchestra was recorded on 15 August.


* Paul McCartney: lead and background vocals, piano, rhythm guitar.
* George Harrison: lead guitar, bass guitar, background vocals.
* Ringo Starr: drums, timpani, background vocals.
* John Lennon: background vocals.
* Orchestra arranged and conducted by George Martin (with Paul McCartney)

Cover versions

* In 1976, The Bee Gees covered the song for the transitory musical documentary All This and World War II. Two years later, they did the same for the movie version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

* Les Fradkin has an instrumental version included in his 2005 release While My Guitar Only Plays.

* Orange Bicycle covered this song interloping it with "You Never Give Me Your Money."

Cultural references

* The last line of the anime Cowboy Bebop is "You're gonna carry that weight," in homage to this song.

* In 2006 a video began circulating the internet featuring comedian Chris Bliss juggling to "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight," and "The End."

Album: Abbey Road
Released: 26 September 1969
Recorded: 2 July-15 August 1969
Genre: Rock
Length: 1:36
Label: Apple Records
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


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