New Audio Reveals The Beatles Were Planning Another Record After ‘Abbey Road’
Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press
At the time of the Abbey Road sessions, creative tensions within the Beatles were well past the point of boiling over.
With George Harrison entering one of his most prolific creative periods and John Lennon returning to form, both were frustrated by the prospect of creating albums on which each Beatle only contributed a handful of songs.
A new recording from 1969 sheds new light on how the group’s key songwriters may have proceeded had they not decided to go their sperate ways.
Dated September 8th, 1969, two weeks before Abbey Road was released in England, the tape reveals a conversation between John, George and Paul McCartney at Apple Music.
With Ringo Starr absent due to health issues, the three talk shop.
The plan was to record new material for a Christmas album. (The Beatles were desperate for a cash influx as this point and knew that when they had wanted to they had traditionally dominated the Christmas market.)
The tape was played to Guardian reporter Richard Williams by Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn. By the paper’s account, it goes like this.
“Ringo, you can’t be here, but this is so you can hear what we’re discussing,” Lennon starts off. He then proposes each songwriter – McCartney, Harrison and himself — provide four songs each. (By this point the Lennon-McCarney songwriting partnership had well and truly concluded, in fact, John references this, calling out the famed creative pairing as a “myth”). Generously, John also suggests Ringo be given two songs “if he wants them.”
Paul, in response, challenges the idea that George should be given an equal share. “I thought until this album that George’s songs weren’t that good,” McCartney casually remarks.
“That’s a matter of taste,” George fires back. “All down the line, people have liked my songs.”
Lennon is not above taking a dig either. Dismissing McCartney’s overwrought Abbey Road contribution ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ he instead urges Paul to contribute something more along the lines of outsider Welsh folkie artist Mary Hopkin. McCartney defends the song, he “liked it.”
The tape challenges the narrative that Abbey Road was the Fab Four bowing out on a high. They often openly stated in press interviews around the time that despite their solo releases, the band could very well continue. This new audio shows just how on the fence they truly were.
The tape also showcases the growing animosity George and John had begun holding towards Paul. John had come to view his fellow Beatle as increasingly controlling. George believed Paul was dismissive of his talents as a songwriter and musician.
“Ringo`s got the best backbeat I`ve ever heard… I’d join a band with John Lennon any day,” George later told Sounds magazine in 1974, “but I couldn’t join a band with Paul McCartney, but it`s nothing personal. It`s just from a musical point of view.” John would express similar sentiments throughout the 1970s.