Stand Out Albums has been a showcase for my favorite albums across the vast performers that I love. Covering a little bit of everything from classic rock to country hits, much like Key Movies of My Life, it has been the albums that shaped me. This year, I am going to take a slightly different approach by discussing the discographies of my favorite musicians, album by album, in release order.
Today we come to an interesting one as it is both the penultimate and final album in the Beatles catalogue. How can that be so, you ask, doesn’t penultimate mean next to last? Well yes it does and that is what makes this album so unique. Abbey Road was the final Beatle album to be recorded marking the end of an era from a band that changes music in ways that are still being realized today, however it was not the final album released. The final album released, which we will be talking about next week was the aptly named Let it Be. So, lets discuss the final/penultimate album that was Abbey Road.
Why This Album?
I can not think of a better representation of the term Swan Song than that of Abbey Road. If you dont know what a Swan Song is, it is an ancient Greek term meaning a final meaningful gesture or performance before the end. Typically this gesture is an incredible one, the single most beautiful moment in the swan’s life. In a way this is the perfect description for Abbey Road, the single most beautiful album in the Beatles discography.
Now, I know, that’s a pretty grandiose statement but hear me out. While the Beatles produced a plethora of incredible albums in their lifetime, each album, no matter how perfect they were, had a sense of continuous evolution, that in this evolution there would be another not far behind. In the late 60’s The Beatles had retreated into their recording studio leaving live concerts behind in order to do one simple thing, write music. As with any creative endevour made up of very opinionated and artistic individuals, this collaboration was fraught with hardship and bruised egos. As the story goes, it was clear to everyone that the end was nigh and so the fab four created an album that felt like a thank you and goodbye to everyone who ever loved them.
There is something magical about this album that defies words, each track is a beautiful song in and of itself but combined it forms the single most poignant collection that you will ever year. From the opening track Come Together that seemingly tells both The Beatles and the listeners that they will indeed be coming together for a final hurrah, to the second to last track The End with the lyrics ‘and in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make’ saying farewell as they put their love into the world one final time, this album is a truly self aware collection of songs that know that it is indeed the end. I can’t even imagine how the fans felt back in 1969 when they first heard this album. In a time before the internet, before blogs, before instant news, the rumors that swirled had to be palpable. Anyone listening to this album now, knowing the fate of this band, can tell that it indeed is them saying farewell, but I have to wonder if those listening to it then could tell as well. I imagine that those tuned in to the Beatles, those that really listened to the tracks and their worlds wept as the final notes of Her Majesty ended in an abrupt and sudden stop. I imagine tears welling up and a sense of finality that sat with the sudden interrupted end.
The album itself is filled with some of The Beatles finest efforts. From the individual tracks that make up the first half of the album allowing each of the Beatles to give one final statement to the incredible medley that makes up the back half building to a track that is literally called The End, there is not a dead or wasted moment in the entire experience. Every note, every nuance, every lyric is perfection, even the subtle moments like Paul slightly chuckling during Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, serve as a moment that shows that for one album the four lads from Liverpoole came back together to say goodbye in only the best way possible, through a perfect album.
Yet Again, I find myself unable to select a single track to showcase as this is an album than needs to be listened to in it’s entirety to really feel what it has to offer. Sure I could break out I want You or Hear Come’s The Sun but to do so would deny you the full experience that is Abbey Road. Do yourself a favor and listen to this album from start to finish without interruption. Abbey Road is a piece of art that should not be broken up like a puzzle even though each piece is beautiful on their own, but should be enjoyed as an image in and of itself.
Ok, Where do I get it?
Buy your copy here and listen to it over and over. Trust me, if there is any single Beatles Album you should have in your collection, it is this one. Until that disc arrives, give it a listen here on Spotify and just let the music take you away. You’ll thank me later.
Late to the Game 3/23/2021
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also check out some retro tv goodness with the ongoing series Retro TV Reviews here. You can also find a few of my other Music Reviews Here.
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