Saturday, May 28, 2011

"I Want You (She's So Heavy)"

"I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is a song by The Beatles, from their album Abbey Road. It was written by John Lennon, with some creative input from Yoko Ono, although it is credited as a Lennon/McCartney collaboration.

The song is an unusual Beatles composition for a variety of reasons, namely its length (nearly eight minutes), its disproportionately small number of lyrics (only fourteen different words are sung), its three-minute descent through the same repeated guitar chords (a similar arpeggiated figure appears in other Lennon contributions to the album, "Because" as well as McCartney's "Oh! Darling"), its hard rock sound, and for its instantaneous and unanticipated end. It is also one of the last songs that the Beatles mixed as a group, on 20 August 1969.

David Gates writes of the song, "The hypnotically repeated guitar figure in 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' is suddenly, arbitrarily cut off, jolting us into embarrassed awareness that we've let a mere recording carry us away."


The song was rehearsed several times during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions; the basic track and John's guide vocal (which is used in the master) were recorded at Trident Studios on 22 February 1969, shortly after filming for the film project ended. John and George overdubbed multi-tracked heavy guitar overdubs on 18 April 1969, and Billy Preston overdubbed keyboards, and conga drums were also added on 20 April 1969. "I Want You", then received the "she's so heavy" vocals on 11 August 1969 and thus, the title was changed into "I Want You (She's So Heavy)".

Three takes from 22 February were edited into a master (2nd generation), which was overdubbed, mixed down on 18 April (3rd generation), and overdubbed on 18 April, 20 April and 11 August. Different overdubs were made to the 2nd generation tape on 8 August. The mix is the 3rd generation for 4:37 (up to "she's so") and then the 2nd generation tape, which has a white noise and additional drums added on 8 August.

Mark Lewisohn wrote in The Complete Beatles Chronicle that there was a version of the song with Paul McCartney on lead vocals instead of John Lennon. There is a McCartney version circulating around in bootlegs and it is subject to debate whether or not the bootlegged version is authentic. Many writers speculate that Lennon chose to record several takes with McCartney on lead vocals because of the general experimental nature of the song (one of the Beatles' heaviest songs along with "Helter Skelter", abrupt cutoff, limited number of words, etc.)


* John Lennon: lead and harmony vocals; multi tracked rhythm guitar; Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer and white noise generator.
* Paul McCartney: bass and harmony vocal.
* George Harrison: multi tracked lead & rhythm guitar and harmony vocal
* Ringo Starr: drums and congas.
* Billy Preston: Hammond organ.


Numerous bands and solo artists have covered "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" in live performance. The following artists have released recordings of the song:

* Soda Stereo in the 9 de Julio avenue, Argentina, in 1991.
* Motley Crue copy the 6 note riff at the end of their Dr. Feelgood song "Slice Of Your Pie".
* Eddie Hazel on his solo-debut Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs.
* George Benson on his 1969 album The Other Side Of Abbey Road
* Coroner on their 1991 Mental Vortex album.
* Divididos In the Ultra Rare Tracks album (Bootleg)
* Alvin Lee (formerly of Ten Years After) on his album 1994, accompanied by George Harrison on slide guitar.
* Type O Negative on the album World Coming Down as part of a medley with "Day Tripper" and "If I Needed Someone."
* Booker T. and the MGs on their album McLemore Avenue, the cover of which also mimicked the Abbey Road album cover.
* Noir D├ęsir on the live album Dies Irae (Days of Wrath)
* Beatallica merged the song with Metallica's "The Call of Ktulu" to create "Ktulu (He's So Heavy)" on their album Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band.
* Steel Train on the cover album 1969.
* R&B artist John Legend has included the song in his set on his "Show Me" tour.
* British group Kaiser Chiefs used segments of the song on "Born to Be a Dancer" from their album Employment.
* Progressive rock supergroup Transatlantic covers the song in part in the closing number on the live album Live in America.
* A cover of the song performed by cast members Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, and T.V. Carpio is featured in the 2007 Julie Taymor film Across The Universe
* Groove Collective released a cover of the song as a single, which charted in the US in 1996.
* Umphrey's Mcgee have covered the song numerous times, including a performance at the Orpheum Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin, 13 September 2007.
* John Legend released a cover of this song on his "Live in Philadelphia" album (2008)
* During a tribute to 40th Anniversary celebration of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band which also included a medley of hits, Cheap Trick was joined by Al Jourgensen and Sin Quirin of Ministry for a cover of the song on 10-11 August 2007 at the Hollywood Bowl.
* The Last Shadow Puppets covered the song in the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall for the BBC1 Electric Prom session held on 25 October 2008 and again at most of their gigs throughout October.
* The Hellacopters used segments of the song, including the guitar riff, as an outro on their farewell tour in 2008, also known as "the tour before the fall".
* George Lynch, recorded on his 2004 cover album Furious George
* Montreal-based Les Boreades recorded an instrumental version on their 2006 album Beatles Baroque III.
* Panic at the Disco played this song as a medely just after But It's Better if you Do during their Rock Band Live Tour.

Album: Abbey Road
Released: 26 September 1969
Recorded: 22 February – 11 August 1969
Genre: Progressive rock, hard rock, blues-rock
Length: 7:47
Label: Apple Records
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


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