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The End by the Beatles

The history of this classic Beatles song


The End by the Beatles

Art inspired by the final couplet of the Beatles' "The End"


The End

Working title: Ending
Written by: Paul McCartney (100%)
(credited as Lennon-McCartney)

Recorded: July 23, August 5, 7-8, 16 and 18, 1969 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: July 30, August 18-19 and 21, 1969
Length: 2:16
Takes: 7


John Lennon: harmony vocals, lead and rhythm guitar (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino)
Paul McCartney: lead and harmony vocals, lead and rhythm guitar (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino), bass guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S), piano (1905 Steinway Vertegrand "Mrs. Mills"), electric piano (Fender Rhoads)
George Harrison: harmony vocals, lead guitar (1968 Fender Rosewood Telecaster)
Ringo Starr: drums (1968 Ludwig Hollywood Maple), tambourine
Unknown: violins, violas, cellos, double bass, French horns, trumpets, trombone, bass trombone

Available on: (CDs in bold)

  • Abbey Road, (US: Apple SO 383, UK: Apple PCS 7088, Parlophone CDP 7 46446 2)


    • After the Let It Be debacle, when it became obvious to the Beatles that they couldn't work together as a unit anymore, Paul McCartney designed the Abbey Road album as a farewell to their fans -- albeit a unspoken one, as the band at first never intended to issue a formal statement of their dissolution. As such, Paul also designed the medley that ends Abbey Road's Side Two as a statement of sorts that would sum up the band, its history, and its philosophy. (The album was originally planned with its sides switched, but the medley was moved to the end when it was agreed that it was a perfect finale.)
    • "The End" was designed, right down to the title, as that final statement within the larger one; McCartney's intention was to build it around a rhyming couplet like those found in the works of Shakespeare, where it serves as a combination summary and explanation of the whole. To this end, Paul wrote these famous lines: "And in the end, the love you take / is equal to the love you make." He also opened with a fanfare, designed to take listeners out of the sadness that was "Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight" and carry them through to the finale: "Oh yeah / All right / Are you gonna be in my dreams tonight?"
    • Recording began on July 23rd, by which time Paul had also come up with the idea of giving Ringo, the most lovable and long-suffering Beatle, a chance to finally take center stage with an extended drum solo. Neither Ringo nor the other Beatles were particularly fond of extended drum solos, but Starr was eventually convinced to lay down a straight tom-tom beat with fills, with guitar and tambourine accents. (Cleverly, Paul eventually removed the overdubs to let Ringo shine.) Seven takes of this was done on the 23rd, with John and George on guitar, Paul on bass, and Ringo's drum solo improving each time. At some point, likely that same day, the climactic part of "The End" which begins with Paul's piano was recorded separately.
    • On August 5, after the tape loops were added to the end of "You Never Give Me Your Money" and the Moog was added to "Because," Paul cut his lead vocal, and he, John, and George recorded the "love you" backing vocals, repeating the phrase two dozen times, a section which originally led directly into the climax. On August 7, Paul and George redid their guitar tracks and Paul added some electric piano bass notes to beef up the intro. At that point John came up with his main contribution to "The End": the idea of dueling guitar solos, two bars at a time, from each of the other three Beatles. This was by far the most enjoyable part of the recording -- Paul, George, and John can be heard in turn, going through the cycle three times in all, playing their guitar solos in very unique, even immediately identifiable, styles. In order to accommodate the guitar solos, the "love you" section, originally 10 bars, was extended to 28. More guitar overdubs were added the next day. On August 15, "The End" was one of several Abbey Road songs to receive an orchestral score by George Martin (mixed low this time, as to not overshadow Harrison's arpeggios at the very end). Finally, Paul recut his climactic piano on August 18.


    • A sample of the guitar solos section, with overdubs from the drum solo, was used, along with a loop from "When I'm Sixty-Four," in the Beastie Boys song "The Sounds of Science."
    • John Lennon once misquoted the song's famous closing line as "the more you give, the more you get," a distillation repeated by Paul when Chris Farley conducted one of his famous parody interviews of McCartney on Saturday Night Live.
    • Ringo's drum solo was originally longer, but in the final edit was reduced by 36 seconds.
    • Paul played "The End" on several dates during his 1989-1990 world tour.
    • Engineer Geoff Emerick realized the import of the dueling guitar solos, and how much it freed the band members up to just be a band for once: "...all the bad blood, all the fighting, all the crap that had gone down between the three former friends was forgotten. 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," he said later, adding "One take was all we needed. The musical telepathy between them was mind-boggling."
    • John loved Paul's famous rhyming couplet, calling it "cosmic" and "philosophical" and claiming that it "proves that if he wants to, he can think."

    Covered by: Booker T. and the MGs, Neil Diamond, Air, Armin Electric Strings and Ofra Harnoy, Dr. Fink and the Mystery Band, Atrium Vocal Ensemble, Dark One Lite, Willy Chirino

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