The End (Beatles song)
|Song by the Beatles from the album Abbey Road|
|Released||26 September 1969|
|Recorded||23 July–18 August 1969|
|Genre||Hard rock, art rock, heavy metal|
|Abbey Road track listing|
"The End" is a song by the Beatles composed by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) for the album Abbey Road. It was the last song recorded collectively by all four Beatles, and is the final song of the medley that comprises the majority of side two of the LP version of the album.
Composition and recording
McCartney said, "I wanted [the medley] to end with a little meaningful couplet, so I followed the Bard and wrote a couplet." In his 1980 interview with Playboy, John Lennon acknowledged McCartney's authorship by saying, "That's Paul again ... He had a line in it, 'And in the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give,' which is a very cosmic, philosophical line. Which again proves that if he wants to, he can think." Lennon misquoted the line; the actual words are, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."
Recording began on 23 July 1969, when the Beatles recorded a one-minute, thirty-second master take that was extended via overdubs to two minutes and five seconds. At this point, the song was called "Ending." The first vocals for the song were added on 5 August, additional vocals and guitar overdubs were added on 7 August, and bass and drums on 8 August, the day the Abbey Road cover picture was taken. Orchestral overdubs were added 15 August, and the closing piano and accompanying vocal on 18 August.
All four Beatles have a solo in "The End", including a Ringo Starr drum solo. Starr disliked solos; he preferred to cater drumwork to whoever sang in a particular performance. The take in which he performed the solo originally had guitar and tambourine accompaniment, but other instruments were muted during mixing giving the effect of a drum solo. The additional instruments were restored for a remix on the Anthology 3 compilation album. The drum solo was also later used at the beginning of "Get Back" on the 2006 album Love.
McCartney, Harrison, and Lennon perform a rotating sequence of three, two-bar guitar solos. The solos begin approximately 53 seconds into the song and end just before the final piano part. Lennon described it in his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone: "There's a nice little bit I played on Abbey Road. Paul gave us each a piece, a little break where Paul plays, George plays and I play." The first two bars are played by McCartney, the second two by Harrison, and the third two by Lennon, then the sequence repeats. Each has a distinctive style which McCartney felt reflected their personalities: McCartney's playing included string bends similar to his lead guitar work on "Another Girl" from the Help! album and the stinging style he had first perfected on "Taxman" from Revolver; Harrison's solo incorporated the melodic yet technically advanced slides that were becoming his trademark; lastly Lennon's contribution was rhythmic, snarling, and had the heaviest distortion, echoing his lead work in "Revolution". Immediately after Lennon's third solo, the piano chords of the final line "And in the end..." begin. Then the orchestration arrangement takes over with a humming chorus and Harrison playing a final guitar solo that ends the song.
"The End" was initially intended to be the final track on Abbey Road, but it is followed by "Her Majesty". In the first practice mix of the medley, constructed on 30 July, "Her Majesty" followed "Mean Mr. Mustard" (on the released version of the album, "Her Majesty" begins with the excised final chord of "Mean Mr. Mustard"). According to sound engineer John Kurlander, McCartney said, "I don't like 'Her Majesty,' throw it away." Kurlander cut it out, but said, "I'd been told never to throw anything away, so after he left I picked it up off the floor, put about 20 seconds of red leader tape before it, and stuck it onto the end of the edit tape." When McCartney heard "Her Majesty" in its new position he liked it and decided that it should remain on the album.
The song commences in A Major, with an initial I-IV-II-V-I structure matching the vocals on "Oh, yeah, All right!" This is followed by a #ivdim-I pattern (D#dim chord to A chord) on "dreams tonight." During this, the accompanying bass and one guitar move chromatically from A to B and D#, while the second guitar harmonises a minor third higher to reach F#. An eight bar drum solo as a final statement of recognition to their "steady, solid drummer"  ends with a crescendo of eighth-notes and bass and rhythm guitar in flat 7 chords to the chant "Love you." The sequential three guitar solos rotate through I7 (A7 chord)-IV7 (D7 chord) changes in the key of A in a mix of "major and minor pentatonic scales with slides, doublestops, repeated notes, low-bass string runs and wailing bends". Gould terms these live studio takes "little character sketches":
- "Paul opens with a characteristically fluid and melodically balanced line that sounds a high A before snaking an octave down the scale; George responds by soaring to an even higher D and sustaining it for half a bar before descending in syncopated pairs of 16th notes; John then picks upon the pattern of George's 16ths with a series of choppy thirds that hammer relentlessly on the second and flattened seventh degrees of the scale. The second time through, Paul answers John's blusey flattened 7ths with bluesy minor thirds and then proceeds to echo George's earlier line, spiraling up to that same high D; George responds with some minor thirds of his own, while mimicking the choppy rhythm of John's part; John then drops two octaves to unleash a growling single-note line. On this final two-bar solo, Paul plays almost nothing but minor thirds and flattened sevenths in a herky-jerky rhythm that ends with a sudden plunge to a low A; George then reaches for the stars with a steeply ascending line that is pitched an octave above any notes heard so far; and John finishes with a string of insistent and heavily distorted 4ths, phrased in triplets, that drag behind the beat and grate against the background harmony".
The final "Ah" is in C with a spiritually evocative Plagal cadence IV-I (F-C chord) on piano while the voices do an F to E shift. "And in the end the love you take" is in A major, but the G/A chord supporting the word "love" begins to dissolve our certainty that we are in A, by adding a ♭VII. The next line shifts us to the fresh key of C, with a iv (F) chord that threatens the dominance of the departing A key's F#: "Is eq-ual" (supported successively by iv (F) -iii (Em) chords with an A-G bass line) "to the love" (supported successively by ii (Dm) vi (Am) ii7 (Dm7) chords with a F-E bass line) "you make" (supported by a V7 (G7) chord). The final bars in the key of C involve a I-II-♭III rock-type progression and a IV-I soothing cadence that appear to instinctively reconcile different musical genres.
Richie Unterberger of Allmusic considered "The End" to be "the group's take on the improvised jamming common to heavy rock of the late '60s, though as usual The Beatles did it with far more economic precision than anyone else." John Mendelsohn of Rolling Stone said it was "a perfect epitaph for our visit to the world of Beatle daydreams: "The love you take is equal to the love you make.".
The song is included as the encore on The Beatles: Rock Band. McCartney's second guitar solo, Lennon's last guitar solo and Starr's drum solo were used in the intro to "Get Back" in the Beatles' Love.
In Ralph Bakshi's 1972 film Fritz the Cat, Fritz quotes the line "the love you give is equal to the love you get" when deciding not to plant a bomb in a nuclear power plant and rejecting violent revolutionary politics. The character's creator, Robert Crumb, denounced this dialogue as "red-neck and fascistic".
Chris Farley famously asked McCartney on the "Chris Farley Show" skit on Saturday Night Live, whether it was true that "the love you take is equal to the love you make." McCartney replied, to Farley's delight, that, in his experiences, it was, saying "the more you give, the more you get." This explanation recalled Lennon's misquote in his 1980 interview.
- Paul McCartney – lead and backing vocals, bass guitar, piano, guitar solo
- George Harrison – backing vocals, rhythm and lead guitar, guitar solo
- John Lennon – backing vocals, guitar solo
- Ringo Starr – drums, backing vocals on the "Love you" chorus
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