Her Majesty (song)
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album Abbey Road|
|Released||26 September 1969|
|Recorded||2 July 1969|
|Genre||Music hall, folk|
"Her Majesty" is a song written by Paul McCartney (although credited to Lennon–McCartney) that appears on the Beatles' album Abbey Road. It is a brief tongue-in-cheek music hall song. "Her Majesty" is the final track of the album and appears 14 seconds after the song "The End", but was not listed on the original sleeve. As such, it is considered one of the first examples of a hidden track in rock music.
The song is notably one of the few tracks by the Beatles to directly refer to Queen Elizabeth II, the others being "Penny Lane" (released as a single and later included on the U.S. Magical Mystery Tour album) and "Mean Mr. Mustard" (also from Abbey Road).
The song was recorded in three takes on 2 July 1969, prior to the Beatles beginning work on "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight". McCartney sang and simultaneously played a fingerstyle acoustic guitar accompaniment. The decision to exclude it from the Abbey Road medley was made on 30 July.
The song runs only 23 seconds, but the Beatles also recorded a longer version of the song during the "Get Back" sessions.
Structure and placement
The song was originally placed between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam"; McCartney decided that the sequence did not work and the song was edited out of the medley by Abbey Road Studios tape operator John Kurlander. He was instructed by McCartney to destroy the tape, but EMI policy stated that no Beatles recording was ever to be destroyed. The fourteen seconds of silence between "The End" and "Her Majesty" are the result of Kurlander's lead-out tape added to separate the song from the rest of the recording.
The loud chord that occurs at the beginning of the song is the ending, as recorded, of "Mean Mr. Mustard". "Her Majesty" ends abruptly because its own final note was left at the beginning of "Polythene Pam". McCartney applauded Kurlander's "surprise effect" and the track became the unintended closer to the LP. The crudely edited beginning and end of "Her Majesty" shows that it was not meant to be included in the final mix of the album; as McCartney says in The Beatles Anthology, "Typical Beatles – an accident." The song was not listed on the original vinyl record's sleeve as the sleeves had already been printed; on reprinted sleeves, however, it is listed. The CD edition corrects this.
The CD version also mimics the original LP version in that the CD contains a 14-second long silence immediately after "The End" before "Her Majesty" starts playing.
At 23 seconds long, "Her Majesty" is the shortest song in the Beatles' repertoire (contrasting the same album's "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", their longest song apart from "Revolution 9", an 8:22 avant-garde piece from The Beatles). Both of the original sides of vinyl close with a song that ends abruptly (the other being "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"). The song starts panned hard right and slowly pans to hard left. It is one of three Beatles songs to make reference to (but not specifically name) Queen Elizabeth II – the others being "Penny Lane" ("In Penny Lane there is a fireman with an hour glass, and in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen") and "Mean Mr. Mustard" ("Takes him out to look at the Queen").
In October 2009, MTV Networks released a downloadable version of the song (as well as the entire album) for the video game The Beatles: Rock Band that gave players the ability to play the missing last chord. Apple Corps granted rights to this and to other changes to Harmonix Music Systems, which developed the game. The alteration garnered controversy among some fans who preferred the recorded version's unresolved close.
- Paul McCartney – lead vocals, acoustic guitar
The song has been covered by:
- Chumbawamba (with a length of 1:48, including new lyrics critical of the British Royal Family and a new bridge, in 2002)
- Peter Combe (with a length of 2:19)
- Tok Tok Tok
- Zip Code Rapists
- Dave Matthews (with a length of 0:29 including the recital of several lines from Come Together)
- Twilight Singers
- The Low Anthem
- Bruce Coffin
- Beatallica (with a length of 1:20 including several references to Lou Reed and Metallica's "The View".
- Eddie Vedder performed the song live on 10 April 2008 at Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara, CA, and on 16 April 2008 at Spreckels Theater in San Diego, California.
- McCartney performed the song live at the Party at the Palace concert from the Garden at Buckingham Palace in 2002, as part of the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
- Comedian Dennis Miller did a cover of the song at the end of the HBO special The 13th Annual Young Comedians Special. After the credits the screen went black for 14 seconds, and he came back with a recital of the song before the video abruptly ended.
- Great Big Sea performed the song live on 17 June 2012 in Cambridge, Ontario. Remaining members spontaneously broke into the song (as an interlude) when Alan Doyle's electric guitar kept cutting out a few notes into a song he was trying to begin. There were 3 repetitions as Alan's guitar would repeatedly be fixed by a roadie, and then cut out again seconds into the intended song. This caused the other band members to revise the "Her Majesty" lines more humorously each time the roadie came back on stage, e.g. "Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl, but he's got no guitar to play..."
- Everett 1999, p. 271.
- Allmusic review, "A slightly hammy folk song"
- "The Beatles Bible: Her Majesty". Retrieved 28 October 2008.
- Turner, Steve. A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song. New York: Harper Paperbacks. p. 195. ISBN 0-06-084409-4.
- Kane, Yukari Iwatani (21 October 2009). "Finding Closure in The Beatles: Rock Band". Wall Street Journal Blogs: Technology News and Insights. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
- Everett, Walter (1999). The Beatles As Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195129415.