Because (Beatles song)

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"Because"
Song by the Beatles from the album Abbey Road
Released 26 September 1969
Recorded 1–5 August 1969,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Rock
Length 2:45
Label Apple Records
Writer Lennon–McCartney
Producer George Martin
Abbey Road track listing
Music sample

"Because" is a song written by John Lennon[1] (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and recorded by the Beatles in 1969. It features a prominent three-part vocal harmony by Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, overdubbed twice to make nine voices in all. It first appeared on Abbey Road (1969), immediately preceding the extended medley on side two of the record.

Composition[edit]

The song begins with a distinctive electric harpsichord intro played by producer George Martin. The harpsichord is joined by Lennon's guitar (mimicking the harpsichord line) played through a Leslie speaker. Then vocals and bass guitar enter.

"Because" was one of few Beatles recordings to feature a Moog synthesiser, played by George Harrison. It appears in what Alan Pollack refers to as the "mini-bridge",[2] and then again at the end of the song. The group were among the first in contemporary rock and roll to experiment with a Moog, though the instrument had been used before (notably by bands such as the Byrds, the Doors, Simon & Garfunkel and the Monkees, whose "Daily Nightly" was the first rock recording to feature the Moog).[citation needed]

According to Lennon, the song's close musical resemblance to the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata was no coincidence: "Yoko was playing Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' on the piano ... I said, 'Can you play those chords backwards?', and wrote 'Because' around them. The lyrics speak for themselves ... No imagery, no obscure references."[1][3]

Musical structure[edit]

With regard to the controversy Lennon initiated by citing Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" as an inspiration, musicologist Walter Everett notes that "both arpeggiate triads and seventh chords in C# minor in the baritone range of a keyboard instrument at a slow tempo, move through the submediant to ♭II and approach vii dim 7/IV via a common tone."[4] But while acknowledging the unusual shared harmonies, Dominic Pedler notes that the relationship is not the result of reversing the order of the chords as Lennon suggested.[5]

"Because" concludes with a vocal fade-out on D dim, which keeps listeners in suspense as they wait for the return to the home key of C#. Mellers states that: "causality is released and there is no before and no after: because that flat supertonic is a moment of revelation, it needs no resolution."[6] The D dim chord (and its accompanying melodic F natural) lingers until they resolve into the opening Am7 chord of "You Never Give Me Your Money".

Recording[edit]

George Martin on "Because": "Between us, we also created a backing track with John playing a riff on guitar, me duplicating every note on an electronic harpsichord, and Paul playing bass. Each note between the guitar and harpsichord had to be exactly together, and as I'm not the world's greatest player in terms of timing, I would make more mistakes than John did, so we had Ringo playing a regular beat on hi-hat to us through our headphones." [7] The main recording session for "Because" was on 1 August 1969, with vocal overdubs on 4 August, and a double-tracked Moog synthesiser overdub by Harrison on 5 August.[8] As a result, this was the last song on the album to be committed to tape, although there were still overdubs for other incomplete songs. This approach took extensive rehearsal, and more than five hours of extremely focused recording, to capture correctly. McCartney and Harrison both said it was their favourite track on Abbey Road. "They knew they were doing something special," said engineer Geoff Emerick, "and they were determined to get it right." [9] Versions of the song without instrumentation can be found on 1996's Anthology 3 and 2006's Love. Both versions highlight the three-part harmony by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, though the Love version is slowed down and includes overdubbed birdsong.

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[10]

Cover versions[edit]

Year Artist Release Notes
1969 Gary McFarland Today
1971 John Williams Off the Record
1976 Lynsey De Paul All This and World War II
1977 Devo The Truth About De-Evolution (soundtrack) The song is performed (and distorted highly) during the film's closing credits.
1978 Alice Cooper & The Bee Gees Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (soundtrack)
1981 Shampoo In Naples 1980–81 Lyrics rewritten in Neapolitan.
1982 Pedro Aznar Pedro Aznar
1987 Mike Marshall Gator Strut
1994 The Nylons The Nylons
1998 Vanessa-Mae George Martin's In My Life She performed the song on a solo violin with a background choir singing the lyrics.
1999 Elliott Smith American Beauty (soundtrack)
2004 Alejandro Dolina Tangos del Bar del Infierno Also used as the opening theme for his radio show La Venganza Será Terrible.
2005 George Clinton How Late Do U Have 2BB4UR Absent?
2005 Negativland No Business A complete deconstruction of the song on "Old is New" and "New is Old", adding voice effects and additional track overlaying
2005 Ná Ozzetti & André Mehmari Piano e Voz
2007 Solveig Slettahjell Domestic Songs
2007 Various artists Across the Universe The six main characters and three minor characters in the film combined to perform the nine vocal parts.
2009 Nyoy Volante
2009 Martin John Henry Abbey Road Now!
2009 Gerry Rafferty Life Goes On
2013 Al Di Meola All Your Life
2013 Rachel Zeffira

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sheff 2000, p. 191.
  2. ^ Pollack.
  3. ^ Snopes.com 2009, pp. 1.
  4. ^ Walter Everett. The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology Oxford University Press, Oxford 1999. pp. 259–260
  5. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. pp. 428–433
  6. ^ Wilfred Mellers. Twilight of the Gods: The Music of the Beatles. Schirmer/Macmillan 1973. p. 118
  7. ^ Buskin, Richard, insidetracks, p. 64-65
  8. ^ Lewisohn 1988, pp. 184–185.
  9. ^ "77 – 'Because'". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  10. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 365.

References[edit]

External links[edit]