George Harrison wrote 22 of The Beatles’ 200+ songs and they run the gamut from totally forgettable (‘Blue Jay Way’) to some of the best songs in the catalog (‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps,’ ‘Here Comes the Sun’). He introduced the sitar into the band’s tool kit, putting it to good use on his own ‘Within You Without You’ and ‘The Inner Light’ and making John’s ‘Norwegian Wood‘ possible.
Now, as with all things Beatles, this isn’t as simple as it sounds. A strong argument could be made that Let it Be, not Abbey Road, is The Beatles’ final album. It was, in fact, the last album released by the band. However, I prefer to go by the last album The Beatles recorded, and that was quite definitively Abbey Road.
I suppose it’s easy for me to make that distinction, having discovered all of the band’s albums at once years after they were recorded and released. For somebody alive at the time, Let it Be must have felt newer than Abbey Road no matter when it was recorded simply by virtue of its release date. But time irons out those wrinkles.
Is there any area in which The Beatles don’t stand head and shoulders above their peers? It occurs to me as I look at the iconic image to the right that this is only the band’s second-most famous album cover.
Abbey Road is an odd and wonderful album. Most of the second half is dedicated to a seven-song medley introducing such characters as Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam before launching into the anthemy singalong of ‘Carry That Weight’ and culminating in the symbolic finish of ‘The End,’ in which each Beatle trades off a solo on guitar or drums before capping off the album, and their career, with the profoundly simple phrase: ‘And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.’