Log #149 — Where The Rubber Soul Meets The Abbey Road
When you’ve been playing weird music for weeks you just want to hear some songs after a while. Hence I’m dipping back in time to the ultimate song-writing of The Beatles this week with a spin of Rubber Soul and Abbey Road.
William Basinski Disintegration Tapes III
Nils Frahm All Melody
The Beatles Rubber Soul
The Beatles Abbey Road
Metallica St. Anger
The Black Keys El Camino
For me, particularly where The Beatles’ single hits and compilations have become ubiquitous (and now on Spotify too), an actual review of their proper original chronological album discography and each album’s contents is enlightening:
Please Please Me (1963)
With the Beatles (1963)
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Beatles for Sale (1964)
Rubber Soul (1965)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
The White Album (1968)
Yellow Submarine (1969)
Abbey Road (1969)
Let It Be (1970)
And as for these two records, their track listings were:
Drive My Car
You Won’t See Me
Think for Yourself (Harrison)
What Goes On (Lennon–McCartney–Starr)
I’m Looking Through You
In My Life
If I Needed Someone (Harrison)
Run for Your Life
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
Octopus’s Garden (Starr)
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
Here Comes the Sun (Harrison)
You Never Give Me Your Money
Mean Mr. Mustard
She Came In Through the Bathroom Window
Carry That Weight
(All songs Lennon-McCartney except as marked).
Rubber Soul is the more straight forward album packed full of hits. There is already a maturity to the songs despite this album (albeit already their 6th studio production) coming only 2 years after their debut.
In My Life sometimes tops polls of the greatest Beatles song of all but to be honest there are 100s that could claim that accolade (personally it’s A Day In The Life for me) — their consistency was astonishing.
Abbey Road is more experimental and heavier moving on from the previous year’s The White Album and side two even branches off into concept with mixed results. Perhaps the best songs are actually George Harrison’s Something and Here Comes The Sun.
Oddly Abbey Road was actually the true Beatles swansong being recorded after Let It Be which had a delayed release.
THE PAUL IS DEAD RUMOURS
Interesting to note that both album covers did not display the name of the group (at least on the front cover) such was the fame of the fab four — a concept of self sabotage that was unheard of in those days and rarely adopted even later (with the notable exception of Led Zeppelin).
There are also some fascinating conspiracy theories all over The Beatles myth but many originating from outlandish interpretations of the album covers especially Abbey Road. Most of these centre around the rumour that Paul McCartney had actually been killed in a road accident (“he blew his mind out in a car”) and replaced by a look-a-like (“so let me introduce to you the one and only Billy Shears”).
Note the following from an over analysis of the Abbey Road cover:
A funeral procession
Lennon wears white, Ringo black and Harrison denim. All colours associated with mourning in some countries. Other interpretations say that Lennon represents the preacher, Ringo Starr is the mourner and George Harrison is the grave-digger.
McCartney holds a cigarette in his “wrong hand”
Paul held his cigarette in his right hand, even though he is left handed. A cigarette was also known as a coffin nail in slang. [This is ridiculous Ed.]
McCartney is bare footed
In some cultures the dead are buried without their shoes but:
I was walking barefoot because it was a hot day.
McCartney is out of step with the others
The car license plate
In the background we see a Volkswagen Beetle with the plate “LMW 28IF”. Conspiracists claim this to mean that McCartney would be 28 IF he were still alive, oh and LMW stands for “Linda McCartney Weeps”.
The police van
Parked on the side of the road is a black police van, which is said to symbolize authorities who kept silent about McCartney’s fatal crash. The picture was said to be a thank you from the Beatle’s manager Brian Epstein who bought the police silence [he died 2 years earlier so not sure this one adds up. Ed]
In the background, a small group of people dressed in white stand on one side of the road, while a lone person (Paul) stands in black on the other.
The line of cars
A line can be traced from the VW Beetle to the three cars in front of it. If it is drawn connecting their right wheels it runs straight through Paul’s head, with theorists suggesting that means Paul sustained a head injury in the car crash.
On the Australian version (only?) of the album, the cover showed what could be a bloodstain splattered on the road between Ringo and John, supposedly backing claims of a road accident.
The girl in the blue dress
On the night of McCartney’s supposed car accident, he was believed to have been driving with a fan named Rita. Theorists say the girl in the dress featured on the back cover was meant to be her, fleeing from the car crash.
Connect the dots
Also on the back cover are a series of dots. Join some of them together and you can make the number three — the number of surviving Beatles [please stop, Ed.]
Broken Beatles sign
On the back cover the band’s name is written in tiles on a wall and there’s a crack running through it. This was to symbolise the imminent break up of the band presumably under the pressure of keeping up the pretence.
If the back cover is turned 45 degrees anticlockwise a crude image of the Grim Reaper appears in the shadows thrown by the trees, from his skull to his black gown.
Paul’s final resting place
If the writing on the wall on the back cover is split into sections, it conveys the cryptic message, ‘Be at Les Abbey’. In numerology the following two letters, R and O, are the 18th and 15th letters in the alphabet. By adding these together (33) and multiplying by the number of letters (2), we get 66, the year Paul is supposed to have died.
On the other hand 3 also represents the letter C so 33 could also stand for CC. Cece is short for Cecilia, with theorists claiming Paul final resting place was St Cecilia’s Abbey in Ryde, Isle of Wight. [Didn’t the Beatles also pen a song Ticket to Ryde and sing about being on the Isle of Wight when they were 66, or was it 64? Ed.]
Paul McCartney parodied the cover for his 1993 Paul Is Live album (I guess it may have been tempting to call it Paul Is Alive or Very Much Alive!).
The location continues to draw fans. You can even view a live webcam which shows traffic waiting as tourists try to snap a shot while crossing the zebra.
This was much the case for the real shoot back in 1969. Six hasty shots were snapped in between the traffic. The Beatles chose the one where all their legs were astride and that was it.
Imagine arranging all the above conspiracy stuff too (I believe actually planning a conspiracy would often be more difficult than actually doing the thing for real eg. landing on the moon, 9/11 etc).
Incidentally I did enjoy the recent Danny Boyle rom-com film Yesterday although I’d been playing these albums before seeing it to be fair. There are many amusing scenes including the record companies disdain at the lead artist suggesting his debut album of “unknown” Beatles songs be called a very politically incorrect The White Album, or perhaps even Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for some reason, and a hapless Ed Sheeran suggesting Hey Jude should be retitled Hey Dude.