I Want You (She's So Heavy)

Written by Lennon - McCartney

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

Master album


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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney). The song closes side one on their 1969 album Abbey Road.
The song is an unusual Beatles composition for a variety of reasons, namely its length (nearly eight minutes), minimal lyrics, a three-minute descent through repeated guitar chords over a rising background of synthesized white noise, and an abrupt ending. It was the first song recorded for the Abbey Road album but one of the last songs to be finished, on 20 August 1969, the last time all four Beatles were together in the studio.

Composition

Lennon wrote the song about his love for Yoko Ono. It begins in 68 time, with an arpeggio guitar theme in D minor, progressing through E7(♭9) and B♭7 before cadencing on an A augmented chord. In this chord sequence, the F note is a drone. The bass and lead guitar ascend and descend with a riff derived from the D minor scale. As the last chord fades, a verse begins in 44 time, based on the A and D blues scales, with Lennon singing “I want you / I want you so bad …” The two blues verses alternate, before the reappearance of the E7(♭9) chord, and McCartney playing a notably aggressive bass riff. This would function, throughout the song, as a transition to the main theme. The main theme repeats with Lennon singing “She’s so heavy”, with a long sustain on the last word. The second set of verses are rendered instrumentally with lead guitar. Another repeat of the “She’s So Heavy” theme (this time featuring harmonies) is followed by Lennon singing a livelier repeat of the “I Want You” verse. During the next E7(♭9) transition, Lennon lets loose a primal scream of “Yeah”, until his voice breaks. The song’s coda consists of a three-minute repetition of the “She’s So Heavy” theme, with the arpeggios double tracked, intensifying with “white noise” fading in as the theme continues; this consists of multi-tracked guitars from Lennon and Harrison, Moog white-noise from Lennon, and drums and bass from Starr and McCartney respectively. In the middle of the 15th repetition of the theme, the song abruptly ends.

Recording

The song was rehearsed several times during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions; the basic track and Lennon’s guide vocal (which is used in the master) were recorded at Trident Studios on 22 February 1969, shortly after shooting for the Let It Be film ended. Lennon played the lead guitar, as George Harrison stated:

“It’s very heavy. John plays lead guitar and sings the same as he plays. It’s really basically a bit like a blues. The riff that he sings and plays is really a very basic blues-type thing. But again, it’s very original sort of John-type song.”

Lennon and Harrison overdubbed multi-tracked heavy guitars on 18 April 1969. Billy Preston’s Hammond organ and Ringo Starr’s congas were added on 20 April 1969. “I Want You” received the “She’s So Heavy” vocals on 11 August, and thus the title became “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. “‘She’s So Heavy’ was about Yoko,” Lennon told Rolling Stone. “When you’re drowning, you don’t say, ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me.’ You just scream.”

Three takes from 22 February were edited into a master (second generation), which was overdubbed, mixed down on 18 April (third generation), and overdubbed on 18 April, 20 April, 8 August and 11 August. Different overdubs were made to the second generation tape on 8 August. The mix is the third generation for 4:37 and then the second generation tape, which has white noise produced by the Moog synthesizer played by Lennon and additional drums added on 8 August. The final overdub session for “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, which included the final mixing and editing, was the last time all four Beatles worked in the studio together.

The final master lasted 8:04, but Lennon decided on a surprise ending. During the final edit with the guitars, drums and white noise climaxing endlessly, he told recording engineer Geoff Emerick to “cut it right there” at the 7:44 mark, bringing the song (and side one of Abbey Road) to an abrupt end.

On the Beatles’ remix album Love, the three-minute guitar coda from “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is attached to “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!“, and snippets of that song and “Helter Skelter” are mixed in with the repeated guitar riff. The abrupt ending of the original is retained, but it cuts to wind-like white noise, not to silence as on the original. The mix also included the organ solo and the guitar solo from the trident studio outtake.

Influence and legacy

Pitchfork‘s Jillian Mapps describes “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” as a song in which Lennon “predates heavy-metal transcendence”. In 2015, Josh Hart and Damian Fanelli, writing for Guitar World, placed it 34th in their list of the “50 Heaviest Songs Before Black Sabbath”, and called the track a “bluesy rocker” that “might have inadvertently started doom metal”.

Jo Kendall of Classic Rock magazine similarly states that “I Want You” predated “Black Sabbath’s creation of doom rock by several months” and comments on its “Santana-like Latin blues section”. James Manning of Time Out London recognises the song as the foundation for stoner rock. […]

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] stereo 20 Aug 1969. edited.
UK: Apple PCS 7088 Abbey Road 1969.
US: Apple SO-383 Abbey Road 1969.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46446 2 Abbey Road 1987.

Three takes from Feb 22 work were edited into a master (2d generation), which was overdubbed, mixed down on Apr 18 (3d generation), and overdubbed on Apr 18 and 20 and Aug 11. Different overdubs were made to the 2d generation tape Aug 8. The mix is the 3d generation for 4:37 (up to “she’s so”) and then the 2d generation tape, which has a white noise added Aug 8.

Last updated on May 14, 2021

Lyrics

I want you
I want you so bad
I want you
I want you so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad

I want you
I want you so bad, babe
I want you
I want you so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad

I want you
I want you so bad
I want you
I want you so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad

I want you
I want you so bad, babe
I want you
I want you so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad

She's so heavy
Heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy

I want you
I want you so bad
I want you
I want you so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad

I want you
I want you so bad, babe
I want you
You know I want you so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad

Yeah, she's so heavy

Officially appears on


Abbey Road

LP • Released in 1969

7:47 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums
John Lennon :
Lead guitar, Moog synthesiser, Organ, Vocals
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Tony Clark :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Chris Thomas :
Producer
Barry Sheffield :
Recording engineer
Jeff Jarratt :
Recording engineer
Glyn Johns :
Producer
Billy Preston :
Hammond organ

Session Recording:
Feb 22, 1969
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Overdubs:
Apr 18 and 20 and Aug 11, 1969
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK & EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 20, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Love

Official album • Released in 2006

3:22 • Studio versionB • As the title suggests, the track contains the whole of "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite", the guitars from "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and heavily delayed vocals from "Helter Skelter". This track also contains horse sounds from "Good Morning, Good Morning", harmonium and other elements from "Cry Baby Cry" and laughter from "Piggies".

George Martin :
Producer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Paul Hicks :
Remix engineer
Sam Okell :
Remix engineer assistant
Chris Bolster :
Remix engineer assistant
Mirek Stiles :
Remix engineer assistant

Session Mixing:
Circa 2004-2006
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Abbey Road (Stereo - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

7:47 • Studio versionA2009 • Stereo • 2009 stereo remaster

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums
John Lennon :
Lead guitar, Moog synthesiser, Organ, Vocals
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Tony Clark :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Chris Thomas :
Producer
Barry Sheffield :
Recording engineer
Jeff Jarratt :
Recording engineer
Glyn Johns :
Producer
Billy Preston :
Hammond organ
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Steve Rooke :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
Feb 22, 1969
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Overdubs:
Apr 18 and 20 and Aug 11, 1969
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK & EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 20, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Abbey Road (2019)

Official album • Released in 2019

7:47 • Studio versionC • Stereo • 2019 Stereo Mix

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr :
Congas, Drums
John Lennon :
Lead guitar, Moog synthesiser, Organ, Vocals
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Tony Clark :
Recording engineer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Chris Thomas :
Producer
Barry Sheffield :
Recording engineer
Jeff Jarratt :
Recording engineer
Glyn Johns :
Producer
Billy Preston :
Hammond organ
Sam Okell :
Mix engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 22, 1969
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Overdubs:
Apr 18 and 20 and Aug 11, 1969
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK & EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 20, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Abbey Road (2019)

Official album • Released in 2019

7:00 • Alternate takeD • Trident Recording Session & Reduction Mix. For an overnight session on February 22, 1969, The Beatles were joined at London’s Trident Studios by producer George Martin and engineer Glyn Johns to record “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Abbey Road’s new edition combines a take from that session with the concluding part of the Trident master’s eight-track reduction mix made later at the EMI studios, revealing for the first time Billy Preston’s thrilling overdubbed organ solo.

Giles Martin :
Mix engineer, Producer
Sam Okell :
Mix engineer
Chris Sheldon :
Mix engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 22, 1969
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Bootlegs


Complete Home Recordings 1968-69

Unofficial album • Released in 2002

0:52 • Demo • 1


Complete Home Recordings 1968-69

Unofficial album • Released in 2002

1:01 • Demo • 2


A/B Road Complete Get Back Sessions - Jan 28th, 1969 - 3 & 4

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

3:52 • Rehearsal • Jan.28 - D4-14 - I Want You (She's So Heavy) 28.64

Session Recording:
Jan 28, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London


A/B Road Complete Get Back Sessions - Jan 28th, 1969 - 3 & 4

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

5:54 • Rehearsal • Jan.28 - D4-15 - I Want You (She's So Heavy) 28.65

Session Recording:
Jan 28, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London


A/B Road Complete Get Back Sessions - Jan 28th, 1969 - 5 & 6

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

14:21 • Rehearsal • Jan.28 - D6-12 - I Want You (She's So Heavy) 28.92

Session Recording:
Jan 28, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London


Live performances

“I Want You (She's So Heavy)” has been played in 1 concerts.

Latest concerts where I Want You (She's So Heavy) has been played


The rooftop concert

Jan 30, 1969 • United Kingdom • London • The rooftop of the Apple building, 3 Savile Row

Contribute!

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Cornbread 3 years ago

Wrong lyrics, mate!
:-)


The PaulMcCartney Project 3 years ago

Thanks Cornbread ! Being fixed !


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