I Want You (She's So Heavy)

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"I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
Northern Songs sheet music cover
Song by the Beatles
from the album Abbey Road
Released26 September 1969 (1969-09-26)
Recorded22 February, 18 & 20 April, 8 & 11 August 1969
StudioEMI and Trident, London
Producer(s)George Martin
Audio sample

"I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon[6] (credited to Lennon–McCartney). The song closes side one of their 1969 album Abbey Road. It is an unusual Beatles composition for a variety of reasons: its length (nearly eight minutes), minimal lyrics, a three-minute descent through repeated guitar chords over a rising background of synthesized white noise, and an abrupt ending. It features Billy Preston on organ. 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.[7]


Lennon wrote the song about his love for Yoko Ono.[6] It begins in 6
, with an arpeggio guitar theme in D minor, progressing through E7(9) and B7 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
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. That functions as a transition to the main theme throughout the song. 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, which consists of multi-tracked guitars from Lennon and George Harrison, Moog white-noise from Lennon, and drums and bass from Ringo Starr and McCartney respectively. In the middle of the 15th repetition of the theme, the song abruptly ends.[8]


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 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.[9]

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)".[10] "'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."[6]

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.[11]

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 one of Abbey Road) to an abrupt end.

On the 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.[12][13] The mix also included the organ solo and the guitar solo from the Trident studio outtake.

Influence and legacy[edit]

Pitchfork's Jillian Mapes describes "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" as a song in which Lennon "predates heavy-metal transcendence".[14] In 2015, Josh Hart and Damian Fanelli, writing for Guitar World, placed it 34th in their list of the "50 Heaviest Songs Before Black Sabbath", and called the track a "bluesy rocker" that "might have inadvertently started doom metal".[15]

Jo Kendall of Classic Rock magazine similarly states that "I Want You" predated "Black Sabbath's creation of doom rock by several months" and comments on its "Santana-like Latin blues section".[16] James Manning of Time Out London recognises the song as the foundation for stoner rock.[17]

The song is featured in the movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band during the scene where Big Deal Records president B.D. Hoffler (Donald Pleasence) negotiates the contract with the band over a sex-and-drug-induced dinner.


Personnel per Ian MacDonald.[18]


  1. ^ a b Moon, Tom (2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Workman Publishing. p. 62. the most convincing exploration of blues and progressive rock the Beatles ever attempted, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
  2. ^ Perone, James E. (2012). The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations. Praeger. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-313-37907-9.
  3. ^ Sander, Ellen (25 October 1969). "The Beatles: "Abbey Road"". Saturday Review. Vol. 52. p. 69. ISSN 0036-4983.
  4. ^ Kirkpatrick, Rob (2011). 1969: The Year Everything Changed. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-61608-055-6.
  5. ^ "The 50 Best Beatles songs". Time Out London. 24 May 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "59 – 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' -". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  7. ^ The Beatles. J Lennon, P McCartney, G Harrison… – John Lennon – Google Books
  8. ^ "Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"". Icce.rug.nl. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  9. ^ "George Harrison interview with Ritchie Yorke, September, 1969". Ottawa Beatles Site. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  10. ^ Voice Leading and Harmony as Expressive Devices in the Early Music of the Beatles:'She Loves You'W Everett – College Music Symposium, 1992 – JSTOR
  11. ^ "The Final Days of The Beatles". Mental Floss.
  12. ^ Willman, Chris (26 December 2006). "peace". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  13. ^ "The Beatles: LOVE". Yahoo!. 20 November 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  14. ^ Mapes, Jillian (22 August 2017). "The 200 Best Albums of the 1960s: 16. The Beatles Abbey Road". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  15. ^ Hart, Josh; Fanelli, Damian (11 October 2015). "The 50 Heaviest Songs Before Black Sabbath: #40-31". Guitar World. Archived from the original on 24 April 2018.
  16. ^ Classic Rock Magazine, September 2014
  17. ^ "The 50 Best Beatles songs". Time Out London. 24 May 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  18. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 342.

Other sources

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