I Want You (She's So Heavy)
|"I Want You (She's So Heavy)"|
|Song by the Beatles from the album Abbey Road|
|Released||26 September 1969|
|Recorded||22 February–11 August 1969,
EMI and Trident studios, London
|Abbey Road track listing|
This 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 is one of the last songs that the Beatles mixed as a group, on 20 August 1969. Josh Hart and Damien Fanelli, writing for Guitar World, placed the song 34th in their list of the 50 Heaviest Songs Before Black Sabbath, and said the song may "have inadvertently started doom metal". Similarly, Classic Rock magazine commented that "the song pre-dated Black Sabbath's creation of doom rock by several months".
The song 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 ascends 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 consisting of multi-tracked guitars from Lennon and Harrison, Moog white-noise from Lennon and drums and bass from Starr and McCartney respectively until an abrupt ending.
Lennon wrote the song about his love for Yoko Ono. 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 filming for the 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 keyboards 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 end. On Love, the three-minute stretch of repeated guitar chords that ends the song intercuts with elements of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" and "Helter Skelter", while retaining the abrupt cut to silence at the end.
- John Lennon – lead and harmony vocals, multi-tracked lead guitar, Moog synthesizer, screaming
- Paul McCartney – harmony vocals, bass
- George Harrison – harmony vocals, 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)" in the studio and live, in particular the following:
|Alvin Lee||Nineteen Ninety Four||1994||Accompanied by George Harrison on slide guitar|
|Beatallica||Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band||2007||Merged with Metallica's "The Call of Ktulu" to create "Ktulu (He's So Heavy)"|
|Bee Gees||–||1978||Performance for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie, with Peter Frampton, Frankie Howerd, Dianne Steiberg and Stargard|
|Blackmail||Science Fiction||1999||Usage of part of the lyrics ("I want you so bad") and part of the tune for the song "3.000.000 Years From Here"[original research?]|
|Booker T. and the MGs||McLemore Avenue||1969||Album cover also mimicks the Abbey Road album cover|
|Earth to Andy||Simple Machine||1998||As hidden track at the end of the album that features a "talking guitar" effect|
|Eddie Hazel||Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs||1977||Eddie Hazel's solo debut album|
|Eric Gales Band||Picture of a Thousand Faces||1993|
|The Flaming Lips||-||2011||15-minute performance of the song at NYE Freakout in Oklahoma City, in honour of the special guest performance by The Plastic Ono Band|
|George Benson||The Other Side of Abbey Road||1970|
|George Lynch||Furious George||2004||Cover album|
|Groove Collective||-||1996||Single, which charted in the US|
|Halestorm||ReAniMate: The CoVeRs eP||2011|
|Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs and T.V. Carpio||-||2007||Performance by cast members for Julie Taymor's film Across the Universe'|
|John Legend||Live in Philadelphia||2008|
|The Last Shadow Puppets||-||2008||Performance during the BBC Electric Proms|
|Ministry||Cover Up||2008||track only on Japanese issue of the album|
|Noir Désir||Dies Irae||1994||Live album; the title means The Day of Wrath (Lat.)|
|Robyn Hitchcock||CD: Various Artists – Abbey Road Now!||2009||Album of covers of songs from Abbey Road|
|Sarah Vaughan||Songs of the Beatles||1981||Omits any "She's So Heavy" vocals|
|Soda Stereo||-||1990–91||Covered song in several live performances during that time|
|Soulive||Rubber Soulive||2010||Beatles cover album|
|Soundgarden||-||1994-97||Covered the song multiple times, usually to close their performances in their Superunknown and Down on the Upside tours.|
|Steel Train||1969||2004||Cover album|
|Thrice||-||2010||Released as download track for their label Vagrant Records|
|Transatlantic||All of the above||2000||Live album, cover appears as last segment of the closing medley|
|Type O Negative||World Coming Down||1999||As part of a medley with "Day Tripper" and "If I Needed Someone"|
|Phillips, Grier & Flinner||Looking Back||2002||Instrumental version, with David Grier on acoustic guitar, Todd Phillips (musician) on acoustic bass, and Matt Flinner on mandolin|
|Umphrey's McGee||The London Session||2015||Recorded at Abbey Road studios in London|
- Professor Allan F Moore. Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song.
that borderline between nascent progressive rock and heavy metal.
- Tom Moon. 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die.
the most convincing exploration of blues and progressive rock the Beatles ever attempted, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
- "59 – 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' -". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- The Beatles. J Lennon, P McCartney, G Harrison… – John Lennon – books.google.com
- "The 50 Heaviest Songs Before Black Sabbath: #40-31". guitarworld.com.
- Classic Rock Magazine, September 2014
- http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/iwyssh.shtml Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
- "George Harrison interview with Ritchie Yorke, September, 1969". Ottawa Beatles Site. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
- Voice Leading and Harmony as Expressive Devices in the Early Music of the Beatles:'She Loves You'W Everett – College Music Symposium, 1992 – JSTOR
- "Mixing, editing: I Want You (She’s So Heavy)". beatlesbible.com.
- "The Final Days of The Beatles". Mental Floss.
- Willman, Chris (26 December 2006). "peace". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
- "The Beatles: LOVE". Yahoo!. 20 November 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
- MacDonald 2005, p. 342.
- "Last Shadow Puppets cover The Beatles in Liverpool". NME. 25 October 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
- "Competition to win Thrice songs for download". Vagrant Records. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
- MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3.