TBT – The Beatles Gave Us the Future with “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”
Editor’s Note: This week, Throwback Thursday looks at a piece of music that is important for a number of reasons. We will look at some of those reasons here. As usual, The Beatles were ahead of their time. That is one of the reasons they were so great: consistency. That’s one reason the band has sold between 600 million and one billion records to date.
The Beatles do not necessarily come to mind when one thinks of blues, or metal music. Sure, they approached blues and dabbled with blues on occasion, but it was not a clear staple of their body of work. Songs like “For You Blue,” “One After 909,” “Yer Blues,” and “Dig A Pony” were certainly blues inflected, as is “Don’t Bring Me Down.” As to metal music, there is a definite argument to be made that “Come Together” was a precursor to the metal sound that Black Sabbath and others would come to embrace, and expand upon.
There are a number of reasons that “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is special. For starters, this is the last time that all four lads would be in the studio together. This was also the last song mixed for the Abbey Road album. In one of the first instances of the use of a Moog synthesizer, George Harrison plays one that was built specially for him. There are only 14 different words sung throughout the song’s duration. Apart from the 8’22” “Revolution 9,” “I Want You…” is the next longest playing song in their catalog at 7’47”.
Written by John Lennon, although credited to both he and Paul McCartney, Lennon had said that it was about Yoko Ono. There are several aspects of the work that make it interesting. There are multiple time changes throughout the piece, including 6/8 and 4/4. The arpeggiated D minor guitar theme adds to the tension and “gloom” of the piece.
Certainly the guitar work by Lennon and Harrison is deeply persuasive, and the bass lines that McCartney play are brilliantly progressive and groundbreaking. This piece is deep, dark, brooding, creating tension even as it stockpiles pent up desire, despair, and longing, searching for resolution and release.
“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” may not be blues in the “purest” sense, but it is an absolutely pioneering, fearless, forward looking performance.
You can find this song on the classic Beatles album, Abbey Road, as it closes out side one. As you revisit this work, remember that it is before Black Sabbath, The Scorpions, Rush, Metallica, and even before Robin Trower’s Bridge of Sighs. This is a truly remarkable work of art. Share it with a friend. It’s only right.