I Want You (She's So Heavy)
|"I Want You (She's So Heavy)"|
Cover of the song's sheet music
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album Abbey Road|
|Released||26 September 1969|
|Recorded||22 February, 18 & 20 April, 8 & 11 August 1969|
|Studio||EMI and Trident Studios, London|
"I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
"I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney). The song closes side one on their 1969 album Abbey Road. The song is an unusual Beatles composition for a variety of reasons, namely its length (nearly eight minutes), few lyrics (the title makes up most of the lyrics, aside from two more phrases; only 14 different words are sung), a three-minute descent through repeated guitar chords (a similar arpeggiated figure appears in another Lennon contribution to the album, "Because"), and abrupt ending. It was the first song recorded for the Abbey Road album but one of the last songs to be finished, on 20 August 1969, the last time all four Beatles were together in the studio.
Lennon wrote the song about his love for Yoko Ono. It begins in 6
8 time, with an arpeggio guitar theme in D minor, progressing through E7(♭9) and B♭7 before cadencing on an A augmented chord. In this chord sequence, the F note is a drone. The bass and lead guitar ascend and descend with a riff derived from the D minor scale. As the last chord fades, a verse begins in 4
4 time, based on the A and D blues scales, with Lennon singing "I want you / I want you so bad ..." The two blues verses alternate, before the reappearance of the E7(♭9) chord, and McCartney playing a notably aggressive bass riff. This would function, throughout the song, as a transition to the main theme. The main theme repeats with Lennon singing "She's so heavy", with a long sustain on the last word. The second set of verses are rendered instrumentally with lead guitar. Another repeat of the "She's So Heavy" theme (this time featuring harmonies) is followed by Lennon singing a livelier repeat of the "I Want You" verse. During the next E7(♭9) transition, Lennon lets loose a primal scream of "Yeah", until his voice breaks. The song's coda consists of a three-minute repetition of the "She's So Heavy" theme, with the arpeggios double tracked, intensifying with "white noise" fading in as the theme continues; this consists of multi-tracked guitars from Lennon and Harrison, Moog white-noise from Lennon, and drums and bass from Starr and McCartney respectively. In the middle of the fifteenth repetition of the theme, the song abruptly ends.
The song was rehearsed several times during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions; the basic track and Lennon's guide vocal (which is used in the master) were recorded at Trident Studios on 22 February 1969, shortly after shooting for the Let It Be film ended. Lennon played the lead guitar, as George Harrison stated:
It's very heavy. John plays lead guitar and sings the same as he plays. It's really basically a bit like a blues. The riff that he sings and plays is really a very basic blues-type thing. But again, it's very original sort of John-type song.
Lennon and Harrison overdubbed multi-tracked heavy guitars on 18 April 1969. Billy Preston's Hammond organ and Ringo Starr's congas were added on 20 April 1969. "I Want You" received the "She's So Heavy" vocals on 11 August, and thus the title became "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". "'She's So Heavy' was about Yoko," Lennon told Rolling Stone. "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.' You just scream."
Three takes from 22 February were edited into a master (second generation), which was overdubbed, mixed down on 18 April (third generation), and overdubbed on 18 April, 20 April, 8 August and 11 August. Different overdubs were made to the second generation tape on 8 August. The mix is the third generation for 4:37 and then the second generation tape, which has white noise produced by the Moog synthesizer played by Lennon and additional drums added on 8 August. The final overdub session for "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", which included the final mixing and editing, was the last time all four Beatles worked in the studio together.
The final master lasted 8:04, but Lennon decided on a surprise ending. During the final edit with the guitars, drums and white noise climaxing endlessly, he told recording engineer Geoff Emerick to "cut it right there" at the 7:44 mark, bringing the song (and Side 1 of Abbey Road) to an abrupt and much remarked on end.
Until 2006, this track did not appear on any compilation albums or the Anthology CD series. On George Martin's Beatles remix album Love, the three-minute guitar coda from "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is attached to "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!", and snippets of that song and "Helter Skelter" are mixed in with the repeated guitar riff. The abrupt ending of the original is retained, but it cuts to wind-like white noise, not to silence as on the original.
Reception and legacy
Josh Hart and Damian Fanelli, writing for Guitar World, placed the song 34th in their list of the 50 Heaviest Songs Before Black Sabbath, and called the song a "bluesy rocker" that "might have inadvertently started doom metal." Similarly, Jo Kendall of Classic Rock magazine commented that the song pre-dated "Black Sabbath's creation of doom rock by several months" and noted the "Santana-like Latin blues section" in the song. James Manning, of Time Out London, describes the song as the foundation for stoner rock.
- John Lennon – lead and harmony vocals, multi-tracked lead guitar, Moog synthesizer
- Paul McCartney – harmony vocals, bass guitar
- George Harrison – harmony vocals, rhythm guitar, multi-tracked lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums, congas, wind machine
- Billy Preston – Hammond organ
Numerous bands and solo artists have covered "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". Among the most notable are the following:
|Alvin Lee||Nineteen Ninety-Four||1994||Accompanied by George Harrison on slide guitar|
|Bee Gees||–||1978||Performance for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie, with Peter Frampton, Frankie Howerd, Dianne Steiberg and Stargard|
|Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs and T.V. Carpio||–||2007||Performance by cast members for Julie Taymor's film Across the Universe|
- Moon, Tom (2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. p. 62.
the most convincing exploration of blues and progressive rock the Beatles ever attempted, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
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- Voice Leading and Harmony as Expressive Devices in the Early Music of the Beatles:'She Loves You'W Everett – College Music Symposium, 1992 – JSTOR
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- Hart, Josh; Fanelli, Damian (11 October 2015). "The 50 Heaviest Songs Before Black Sabbath: #40-31". Guitar World. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
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- "The 50 Best Beatles songs". Time Out London. 24 May 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
- MacDonald 2005, p. 342.
- MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3.