Why John Lennon Thought 15 Words Were Enough for The Beatles’ ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’

by Jeremy Spirogis
Why John Lennon Thought 15 Words Were Enough for The Beatles’ ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’

You by no means knew the place a John Lennon lyric may take you. Even within the early, easy days of The Beatles, John may threaten a lover that he’d “let you down and leave you flat” for disappointing him.

Within just a few years, John would take listeners upstream on psychedelic journeys (“Tomorrow Never Knows”) or paint “like a watercolor” (“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite“). By the mid-’60s, John had develop into a grasp of lyric-writing.

With “I Am the Walrus” (1967) and his White Album (1968) tracks, he stretched the bounds of Beatles lyrics additional. In ’69, whereas recording music for Let It Be and Abbey Road, John took a flip again towards uncooked, easy lyrics.

After “Don’t Let Me Down” (the B-side to “Get Back”), John went even easier and rawer with “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” In truth, you’ll solely discover a whole of 15 totally different phrases while you examine the lyrics.

John in contrast his easy lyrics to a ‘scream’ of affection

The Beatles carry out on the rooftop of the Apple constructing for ‘Let It Be,’ 30 January 1969. | Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You get six of the 15 phrases to “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” by wanting on the title. Another six (“so bad” and “it’s driving me mad”) come just a few strains into the tune. That leaves solely “know,” “babe,” and “yeah” to wrap up the listing of phrases John deployed on this observe.

Obviously, a tune of this nature lives and dies by the instrumental and vocal efficiency — and John and The Beatles succeed on each fronts. John’s vocal, specifically, sounds as if it comes from the depths of his soul. To hear him inform it, that was the precise supply of the eagerness in his voice.

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“When it gets down to it … when you’re drowning, you don’t say ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’” he instructed Rolling Stone the next yr. “You simply scream.”

If the main points of John’s biography, he’s referring to drowning in love for his spouse, Yoko Ono. After howling in angst about the identical topic on “Don’t Let Me Down,” John wished to get one other declaration of his emotions on document.

John and his bandmates went heavy on the ‘I Want You’ recording

John Lennon and spouse Yoko Ono in 1969 | ullstein bild by way of Getty Images

The easy lyrics and impassioned vocal supply solely inform half of the story of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Musically talking, the tune is about as darkish and heavy as The Beatles bought on document. The repetitive chord sequence appears to grind the listener alongside to its conclusion.

Meanwhile, the usage of a Moog synthesizer and sound results take the observe just a few steps additional. Though the band’s engineer recalled Paul McCartney fretting over John’s use of a wind machine on the observe, John stored pushing the envelope.

As a result, the white noise threatens to overpower the devices within the ultimate minutes. By that time, the repetition of the outro sounds as if it would go on without end. But it doesn’t — the tape involves a sudden halt.

While it’s a wonderful strategy to shut the primary facet of Abbey Road, the impact will need to have been jarring. That appears to be John’s intention. When engineers moderately requested if he wished the tune to fade out, John ordered the tape be minimize with scissors. There was no query at that time.

Also seeWhy The Beatles Knocked George Harrison’s Guitar Solo Off ‘Mr Moonlight’

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