The End (Beatles song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"The End"
The end beatles.PNG
Cover of the song's sheet music
Song by the Beatles
from the album Abbey Road
Released26 September 1969 (1969-09-26)
Recorded23 July – 20 August 1969
StudioEMI, London
Producer(s)George Martin

"The End" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1969 album Abbey Road. It was composed by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was the last song recorded collectively by all four Beatles,[2] and is the final song of the medley that constitutes the majority of side two of the album. The song features one of the few drum solos recorded by Ringo Starr.

Composition and recording[edit]

McCartney said, "I wanted [the medley] to end with a little meaningful couplet, so I followed the Bard and wrote a couplet."[3] 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."[4] Lennon misquoted the line; the actual words are, "And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make..."[5]

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".[6] 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.[7] Orchestral overdubs were added on 15 August, and the closing piano and accompanying vocal on 18 August.[8][9]

The closing lyrics of "The End" inspired this plaque.

All four Beatles have a solo in "The End", including a Ringo Starr drum solo. Starr disliked solos, preferring to cater drum work to whoever sang in a particular performance.[10] His solo on "The End" was recorded with twelve microphones around his drum kit; in his playing, he said he copied part of Ron Bushy's drumming on the Iron Butterfly track "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida".[11] The take in which Starr performed the solo originally had guitar and tambourine accompaniment,[6] but other instruments were muted during mixing, giving the effect of a drum solo.[12]

McCartney, George Harrison and Lennon perform a rotating sequence of three, two-bar guitar solos.[2][13] The idea for a guitar instrumental over this section was Harrison's, and Lennon suggested that the three of them each play a section.[14] The solos begin approximately 53 seconds into the song. Geoff Emerick, the Beatles' recording engineer, later recalled: "John, Paul and George looked like they had gone back in time, like they were kids again, playing together for the sheer enjoyment of it. More than anything, they reminded me of gunslingers, with their guitars strapped on, looks of steely-eyed resolve, determined to outdo one another. Yet there was no animosity, no tension at all – you could tell they were simply having fun."[15]

The first two bars are played by McCartney, the second two by Harrison, the third two by Lennon, and then the sequence repeats twice.[2][16] Each has a distinctive style which McCartney felt reflected their personalities. 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 ended up being followed by "Her Majesty". Although "The End" stands as the last known new recording involving all four members of the Beatles, one additional song, "I Me Mine", was recorded by three members of the group (Lennon being absent due to having privately left in September 1969) in January 1970 for the album Let It Be.

The 1996 compilation album Anthology 3 contains a remixed version of "The End", restoring tambourine and guitar overdubs mixed out of the original, and edited to emphasise the guitar solos and orchestral overdub.[9] The track is followed by a variant on the long piano chord that ends "A Day in the Life", concluding the compilation.[9] The drum solo was later used at the beginning of "Get Back" on the 2006 album Love.

Musical structure[edit]

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 iv dim–I pattern (Ddim 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.[17] An eight-bar drum solo as a final statement of recognition to their "steady, solid drummer"[18] ends with a crescendo of eighth notes and bass and rhythm guitar in seventh chords to the chant "Love you."[19] 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, double-stops, repeated notes, low-bass string runs and wailing bends".[20] 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 bluesy 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.[19]

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.[21] "And in the end the love you take" is in A major, but the G/A chord supporting the word "love" begins to dissolve the listener's certainty that the chord is 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).[22] 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.[23]

Critical reception[edit]

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."[24] 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.'"[25]

In 2007, "The End" was ranked at number 7 on Q magazine's list "The 20 Greatest Guitar Tracks".[26]


Cover versions[edit]


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[2] and Kenneth Womack:[36]


  1. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "The Beatles Abbey Road". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 29 May 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d MacDonald 2005, p. 361.
  3. ^ Miles 1997, p. 558.
  4. ^ Sheff 2000, p. 204.
  5. ^ Hal Leonard 1993, pp. 252–253.
  6. ^ a b Lewisohn 1988, p. 181.
  7. ^ Lewisohn 1988, pp. 185–186.
  8. ^ a b Lewisohn 1988, p. 190.
  9. ^ a b c Winn 2009, p. 317.
  10. ^ Larry King Show 2007.
  11. ^ Womack 2014, pp. 258, 259.
  12. ^ Apple Records 1996.
  13. ^ The Beatles 2000, p. 337.
  14. ^ "100 Greatest Beatles Songs: 23. 'Abbey Road Medley'". Rolling Stone. 19 September 2011. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  15. ^ Womack 2014, pp. 258–59.
  16. ^ Winn 2009, p. 316.
  17. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. pp. 392–394
  18. ^ Jonathan Gould. Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. Piatkus 2007 pp. 589–590.
  19. ^ a b Gould, p. 590
  20. ^ Pedler, p. 669
  21. ^ Pedler, p. 33
  22. ^ Pedler, pp. 669–670
  23. ^ Pedler, p. 671
  24. ^ Unterberger 2007.
  25. ^ Mendelsohn 1969.
  26. ^ Womack 2014, p. 259.
  27. ^ Maremaa, Thomas (2004) [1972]. "Who Is This Crumb?". In Holm, D. K. (ed.). R. Crumb: Conversations. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 28. ISBN 1-57806-637-9.
  28. ^ "Search". Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  29. ^ "KMET Rides The Wave, Becomes KTWV" (PDF). Radio and Records. 20 February 1987. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  30. ^ "KMET Becomes Smooth Jazz 94.7 The Wave KTWV". Format Change Archive. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  31. ^ Larsen, Peter (16 November 2017). "The Sound of silence: Classic rock station The Sound FM 100.3 played its final songs and left the air on Thursday". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  32. ^ "KLOVE Comes To SoCal As 'The Sound' Is Silenced". RBR. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  33. ^ Collins, Glenn (14 September 1999). "WNEW-FM, Rock Pioneer, Goes to All-Talk Format". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  34. ^ Martin, Roy (3 March 2023). "It's The End for Ken Bruce as he says goodbye to BBC Radio 2". RadioToday. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  35. ^ Shaffer, Claire (1 July 2021). "Tenacious D Cover the Beatles' 'You Never Give Me Your Money' and 'The End'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  36. ^ Womack, Kenneth (2019). Solid State: The Story of "Abbey Road" and the End of the Beatles. Cornell University Press. p. 169.
  37. ^ a b c Babiuk, Andy. "The Beatles' Casinos".
  38. ^ a b The Abbey Road (Super Deluxe Book). Apple Corps. 2019. p. 55.


External links[edit]