Carry That Weight

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Abbey Road LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1969

Master release


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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

“Carry That Weight” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1969 album Abbey Road. Written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney, it is the seventh and penultimate song in the album’s climactic side-two medley. It features unison vocals in the chorus from all four Beatles, a rarity in their songs. It is preceded by “Golden Slumbers” and segues into “The End“.

The middle bridge, featuring brass instruments, electric guitar and vocals, and reprises the beginning of “You Never Give Me Your Money“, but with different lyrics. The ending also reprises the arpeggiated guitar motif from the end of that track, which is itself reminiscent of the figure featured prominently in the George Harrison–written track “Here Comes the Sun“, which opens side two of Abbey Road.

Interpretation

Music critic Ian MacDonald interpreted the lyric as an acknowledgement by the group that nothing they would do as individual artists would equal what they had achieved together, and they would always carry the weight of their Beatle past. McCartney said the song was about the Beatles’ business difficulties and the atmosphere at Apple at the time. In the film Imagine: John Lennon, Lennon says that McCartney was “singing about all of us”.

Recording

The Beatles began recording “Golden Slumbers”/”Carry That Weight” as one piece on 2 July 1969. McCartney, Harrison and Ringo Starr recorded 15 takes of the two songs while Lennon was in a hospital recovering from a car accident in Scotland.

The rhythm tracks featured McCartney on piano, Harrison on bass guitar and Starr on drums. The best were takes 13 and 15, which were edited together on 3 July. That day and the next, McCartney overdubbed his lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Harrison added lead guitar, and all three sang the chorus.

On 30 July, they added more vocals, including Lennon, who had rejoined the sessions on 9 July. More vocals, timpani and drums were overdubbed on 31 July. The orchestra that marked 30 musicians altogether was recorded on 15 August. […]


It’s like a story. A bit like ‘Act Naturally’, where a tag line keeps coming up, you know, ‘So and so and so and so,’ but all he said was ‘Act naturally’. It’s like your troubles, but it was like a comedy when I first heard it. There was a verse about a drunkard who got drunk, got in trouble with the wife, and, ‘I woke up the next morning with a weight upon my head and found it was my head.’ It’s like the normal kind of trouble that everyone has. It’s one of those songs where you’ve got everything and you’ve got everything going great but, you know, ‘This morning, one of my eggs broke.’ It’s just so trivial. ‘My bright shoes are a bit tight.’

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

I’m generally quite upbeat but at certain times things get to me so much that I just can’t be upbeat any more and that was one of the times. We were taking so much acid and doing so much drugs and all this Klein shit was going on and getting crazier and crazier and crazier. Carry that weight a long time: like for ever! That’s what I meant.

Paul McCartney – From “Many Years From Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

There was what my Aunty Jin would have called a bad atmosphere “Oh, I can feel the atmosphere in this house, love.” It wasn’t difficult, she wouldn’t have liked it there. It was “heavy”. “Heavy” was a very operative word at that time “Heavy, man” but now it actually felt heavy. That’s what “Carry That Weight” was about: not the light, rather easy-going heaviness, albeit witty and sometimes cruel, but with an edge you could exist within and which always had a place for you to be. In this heaviness there was no place to be. It was serious, paranoid heaviness and it was just very uncomfortable.

Paul McCartney – From “Many Years From Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

The whole period [of the business problems at Apple Record] weighted on me to such an extent that I even began to think it was all tied in with the idea of original sin. Even though my mum had christened me as a Catholic, we weren’t brought up Catholic, so I didn’t buy into the concept of original sin on a day-to-day basis. It’s really very depressing to think that you were born a loser.

The idea of carrying a weight may have been influenced by The Band’s song ‘The Weight’, which had appeared on Music From Big Pink in Juy 1968.

Paul McCartney – From “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present” book (2021)

The business problems at Apple Records […] really were horrible. The business meetings were just soul-destroying. We’d sit around in an office, and it was a place you just didn’t want to be, with people you didn’t want to be with. There’s a great picture that Linda took of Allen Klein, in which he’s got a hammer like Maxwell’s silver hammer. It’s very symbolic. And that’s why we have the little nod and a wink in the middle section to “You Never Give Me Your Money”, in the lines “I never give you my pillow / I only send you my invitations”

Paul McCartney – From “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present” book (2021)
From INACTIVE BLOG (tumblr.com) – Photo by Linda McCartney

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] stereo 18 Aug 1969. crossfaded 19 Aug 1969.
UK: Apple PCS 7088 Abbey Road 1969.
US: Apple SO-383 Abbey Road 1969.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46446 2 Abbey Road 1987.

The 2d generation was an edit of two takes.

The crossfade joins this to the following song, The End; the join is in the guitar work after the last “carry that weight a long time”.

Last updated on December 31, 2021

The book "The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present", published in 2021, covers Paul McCartney's early Liverpool days, the Beatles, Wings, and solo careers, by pairing the lyrics of 154 of his songs with first-person commentaries of the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what he thinks of them now.

"Carry That Weight" is one of the 154 songs covered.

Lyrics

Once there was a way to get back homeward,
Once there was a way to get back home,
Sleep little darling, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby.

Golden slumbers fill your eyes,
Smiles awake when you rise,
Sleep little darling, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby.

Once there was a way to get back homeward.
Once there was a way to get back home,
Sleep little darling, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby.

Boy, you're gonna carry that weight,
Carry that weight a long time.
Boy, you're gonna carry that weight,
Carry that weight a long time.

I never give you my pillow,
I only send you my invitations.
And in the middle of the celebrations
I break down.

Boy, you're gonna carry that weight,
Carry that weight a long time.
Boy, you're gonna carry that weight,
Carry that weight a long time.

Oh yeah, alright,
Are you gonna be in my dreams tonight.
Love you, love you, love you, love you.
Love you, love you, love you, love you.

And in the end the love you take
Is equal to the love you make.

You never give me your money
You only give me your funny paper
And in the middle of negotiations
You break down

I never give you my number
I only give you my situation
And in the middle of investigation
I break down

Out of college, money spent
See no future, pay no rent
All the money's gone, nowhere to go
Any jobber got the sack
Monday morning turning back
Yellow lorry slow nowhere to go
But oh, that magic
Feeling, nowhere to go
Oh, that magic feeling
Nowhere to go

I never give you my pillow
I only send you my invitation
And in the middle of the celebrations
I break down

Boy, you gotta carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you gonna carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time

You never give me your money
You only give me your funny paper
And in the middle of negotiations
You break down

Variations


A Stereo version • From "Abbey Road"


B 2019 Stereo Mix • From "Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)"

C Takes 1-3 - Medley with "Golden Slumbers" • From "Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)"

D From the original mix of "The Long One" • From "Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)"

E Take 17 - Instrumental - Strings & Brass only - Medley with "Golden Slumbers" • From "Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)"

L1 Live version • Toronto • SkyDome • Canada • Dec 07, 1989 • From "Tripping The Live Fantastic"

L2 Live version • Tampa • Ice Palace • USA • May 15, 2002 • From "Back In The U.S."

Officially appears on


Abbey Road

LP • Released in 1969

1:37 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Harmony vocal, Lead vocal, Piano, Rhythm guitar
Ringo Starr :
Chorus vocal, Drums, Timpani
George Harrison :
Bass, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Unknown musician(s) :
Four cellos, Four horns, Four violas, One bass trombone, One double-bass, One trombone, Three trumpets, Twelve violins

Session Recording:
Jul 02, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
3, 4, 30, 31 Jul, 15 Aug 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 18, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Tripping the Live Fantastic: Highlights!

Official live • Released in 1990

6:42 • LiveL1 • Medley with "Golden Slumbers / The End"

Performed by :
Paul McCartneyLinda McCartneyRobbie McIntoshHamish StuartPaul WickensChris Whitten
Paul McCartney :
Producer
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer
Peter Henderson :
Producer
Bob Clearmountain :
Mixing engineer, Producer
Jeff Cohen :
Recording engineer
Geoff Foster :
Assistant engineer
Scott Hull :
Assistant engineer
George Cowan :
Assistant engineer
Paul Rushbrook :
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Toronto, Canada on Dec 07, 1989


Tripping The Live Fantastic

Official live • Released in 1990

6:42 • LiveL1 • Medley with "Golden Slumbers / The End"

Performed by :
Paul McCartneyLinda McCartneyRobbie McIntoshHamish StuartPaul WickensChris Whitten
Paul McCartney :
Producer
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer
Peter Henderson :
Producer
Bob Clearmountain :
Mixing engineer, Producer
Jeff Cohen :
Recording engineer
Geoff Foster :
Assistant engineer
Scott Hull :
Assistant engineer
George Cowan :
Assistant engineer
Paul Rushbrook :
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Toronto, Canada on Dec 07, 1989


Back In The U.S.

Official live • Released in 2002

3:06 • LiveL2 • Medley with "You Never Give Me Your Money"

Paul McCartney :
Executive producer
Performed by :
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
David Kahne :
Producer
Michael Brauer :
Recording engineer
Ricardo Chavarria :
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Tampa, USA on May 15, 2002


Back In The World

Official live • Released in 2003

3:06 • LiveL2 • Medley with "You Never Give Me Your Money"

Paul McCartney :
Executive producer
Performed by :
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
David Kahne :
Producer
Michael Brauer :
Recording engineer
Ricardo Chavarria :
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Tampa, USA on May 15, 2002


Abbey Road (Stereo - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

1:37 • Studio versionA2009 • Stereo • 2009 stereo remaster

Paul McCartney :
Harmony vocal, Lead vocal, Piano, Rhythm guitar
Ringo Starr :
Chorus vocal, Drums, Timpani
George Harrison :
Bass, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Steve Rooke :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator
Unknown musician(s) :
Bass trombone, Cellos, Double bass, Horns, Trombone, Trumpets, Violas, Violins

Session Recording:
Jul 02, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
3, 4, 30, 31 Jul, 15 Aug 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 18, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2019

1:37 • Studio versionB • Stereo • 2019 Stereo Mix

Paul McCartney :
Harmony vocal, Lead vocal, Piano, Rhythm guitar
Ringo Starr :
Chorus vocal, Drums, Timpani
George Harrison :
Bass, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Sam Okell :
Mix engineer
Unknown musician(s) :
Bass trombone, Cellos, Double bass, Horns, Trombone, Trumpets, Violas, Violins

Session Recording:
Jul 02, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
3, 4, 30, 31 Jul, 15 Aug 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 18, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2019

3:21 • Alternate takeC • Takes 1-3 - Medley with "Golden Slumbers"

Paul McCartney :
Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
George Harrison :
Bass
George Martin :
Producer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Phil McDonald :
Engineer
Sam Okell :
Mix engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 02, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2019

Alternate takeD • From the original mix of "The Long One"

Paul McCartney :
Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
George Harrison :
Bass
George Martin :
Producer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Phil McDonald :
Engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 02, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jul 03, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jul 04, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jul 30, 1969


Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2019

3:17 • Alternate takeE • Take 17 - Instrumental - Strings & Brass only - Medley with "Golden Slumbers"

Unknown musician(s) :
Four cellos, Four horns, Four violas, One bass trombone, One double-bass, One trombone, Three trumpets, Twelve violins

Session Recording:
Aug 15, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


Friends Of The Earth

Unofficial live

4:35 • Live • Medley with "The End"

Concert From the concert in Hamburg, Germany on Oct 03, 1989


Let It Drivin'

Unofficial live

2:34 • Live

Concert From the concert in Oakland, USA on Apr 01, 2002


On the Run in Montreal

Unofficial live

0:00 • Live




Live performances

“Carry That Weight” has been played in 440 concerts and 4 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where Carry That Weight has been played


Glastonbury Festival

Jun 25, 2022 • United Kingdom • Pilton, Somerset • Worthy Farm


Live In Frome

Jun 24, 2022 • United Kingdom • Frome • Cheese & Grain





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