- 12 Sep 19
The newly surfaced Beatles recording "rewrites pretty much everything we thought we knew".
Abbey Road was the last album recorded by the Beatles and for decades we thought it was always supposed to be the last piece of music the legendary band intended to write. However, as an unearthed tape now reveals, the Fab Four actually discussed recording another album.
Yesterday, The Guardian released an interview with historian Mark Lewisohn, during which the Beatles expert played them a tape recorded on September 8, 1969, two weeks before Abbey Road saw the light of day. The recording features a conversation between John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison and was made for Ringo Starr, who was hospitalised due to intestinal complaint at the time.
The three Beatles talk about recording another album - possibly for a christmas release - and against popular belief that John Lennon wanted to end the band, he is actually the one suggesting the idea for their new record: Either one of the three should contribute four songs, while Ringo Starr could hand in two tracks, "if he wants them". Lennon also talks about "the Lennon-McCartney-myth", referring to the authorship of their songs and implying that the tracks the two write should be individually credited.
Paul McCartney then chimes in, remarking: "I thought until this album that George's songs weren't that good", to which Harrison responds: "That's a matter of taste. All down the line, people have liked my songs". Stating that noone in the band "dugs" McCartney's 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' (from Abbey Road), Lennon suggests to his songwriting partner that he should give these kind of songs away to other artists. "I recorded it because I liked it", Paul McCartney says.
Lewisohn calls the tape "a revelation", highlighting the significance of the recorded conversation: "The books have always told us that they knew Abbey Road was their last album and they wanted to go out on an artistic high", he explains, "but no – they're discussing the next album. And you think that John is the one who wanted to break them up but, when you hear this, he isn't. Doesn't that rewrite pretty much everything we thought we knew?"
The Beatles broke up not even one year after the conversation was recorded. The tape is a testament to the tension between the group, that ultimately caused the split.
Back in July, Lewisohn announced that he will go on tour with Hornsey Road, a two-hour live theatre presentation, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road and which will include the aforementioned tape.