The Paul McCartney Project

The End

Written by Lennon - McCartney

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

The End” is a song by the Beatles composed by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) for the album Abbey Road. It was the last song recorded collectively by all four Beatles, and is the final song of the medley that comprises the majority of side two of the album.

Composition and recording

McCartney said, “I wanted [the medley] to end with a little meaningful couplet, so I followed the Bard and wrote a couplet.” In his 1980 interview with Playboy, John Lennon acknowledged McCartney’s authorship by saying, “That’s Paul again … He had a line in it, ‘And in the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give,’ which is a very cosmic, philosophical line. Which again proves that if he wants to, he can think.” Lennon misquoted the line; the actual words are, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Recording began on 23 July 1969, when the Beatles recorded a one-minute, thirty-second master take that was extended via overdubs to two minutes and five seconds. At this point, the song was called “Ending.” The first vocals for the song were added on 5 August, additional vocals and guitar overdubs were added on 7 August, and bass and drums on 8 August, the day the Abbey Road cover picture was taken. Orchestral overdubs were added 15 August, and the closing piano and accompanying vocal on 18 August.

All four Beatles have a solo in “The End“, including a Ringo Starr drum solo. Starr disliked solos; he preferred to cater drumwork to whomever sang in a particular performance. The take in which he performed the solo originally had guitar and tambourine accompaniment, but other instruments were muted during mixing giving the effect of a drum solo. The additional instruments were restored for a remix on the Anthology 3 compilation album. The drum solo was also later used at the beginning of “Get Back” on the 2006 album Love.

McCartney, Harrison, and Lennon perform a rotating sequence of three, two-bar guitar solos. The solos begin approximately 53 seconds into the song and end just before the final piano part. Lennon described it in his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone: “There’s a nice little bit I played on Abbey Road. Paul gave us each a piece, a little break where Paul plays, George plays and I play.” The first two bars are played by McCartney, the second two by Harrison, and the third two by Lennon, then the sequence repeats. Each has a distinctive style which McCartney felt reflected their personalities: McCartney’s playing included string bends similar to his lead guitar work on “Another Girl” from the Help! album and the stinging style he had first perfected on “Taxman” from Revolver; Harrison’s solo incorporated the melodic yet technically advanced slides that were becoming his trademark; lastly Lennon’s contribution was rhythmic, snarling, and had the heaviest distortion, echoing his lead work in “Revolution“. Immediately after Lennon’s third solo, the piano chords of the final line “And in the end…” begin. Then the orchestration arrangement takes over with a humming chorus and Harrison playing a final guitar solo that ends the song.

The rough version of “The End” that concludes the Anthology 3 is followed by a slow fade-in and fade-out of a piano chord, which acts as a mirror to the long chord that ends “A Day in the Life“.

The End” was initially intended to be the final track on Abbey Road, but it ended up being followed by “Her Majesty“.

Although “The End” stands as the last known new recording involving all four members of the Beatles, one additional song, “I Me Mine“, would be recorded by three members of the group (Lennon being absent) in January 1970 for the album Let It Be.

Musical structure

The song commences in A Major, with an initial I–IV–II–V–I structure matching the vocals on “Oh, yeah, All right!” This is followed by a #ivdim–I pattern (D#dim chord to A chord) on “dreams tonight.” During this, the accompanying bass and one guitar move chromatically from A to B and D#, while the second guitar harmonises a minor third higher to reach F#. An eight bar drum solo as a final statement of recognition to their “steady, solid drummer” ends with a crescendo of eighth-notes and bass and rhythm guitar in flat 7 chords to the chant “Love you.” The sequential three guitar solos rotate through I7 (A7 chord)–IV7 (D7 chord) changes in the key of A in a mix of “major and minor pentatonic scales with slides, doublestops, repeated notes, low-bass string runs and wailing bends”. Gould terms these live studio takes “little character sketches“:

Paul opens with a characteristically fluid and melodically balanced line that sounds a high A before snaking an octave down the scale; George responds by soaring to an even higher D and sustaining it for half a bar before descending in syncopated pairs of 16th notes; John then picks upon the pattern of George’s 16ths with a series of choppy thirds that hammer relentlessly on the second and flattened seventh degrees of the scale. The second time through, Paul answers John’s blusey flattened 7ths with bluesy minor thirds and then proceeds to echo George’s earlier line, spiraling up to that same high D; George responds with some minor thirds of his own, while mimicking the choppy rhythm of John’s part; John then drops two octaves to unleash a growling single-note line. On this final two-bar solo, Paul plays almost nothing but minor thirds and flattened sevenths in a herky-jerky rhythm that ends with a sudden plunge to a low A; George then reaches for the stars with a steeply ascending line that is pitched an octave above any notes heard so far; and John finishes with a string of insistent and heavily distorted 4ths, phrased in triplets, that drag behind the beat and grate against the background harmony.

The final “Ah” is in C with a spiritually evocative Plagal cadence IV–I (F–C chord) on piano while the voices do an F to E shift. “And in the end the love you take” is in A major, but the G/A chord supporting the word “love” begins to dissolve our certainty that we are in A, by adding a ♭VII. The next line shifts us to the fresh key of C, with a iv (F) chord that threatens the dominance of the departing A key’s F#: “Is eq-ual” (supported successively by iv (F)–iii (Em) chords with an A–G bass line) “to the love” (supported successively by ii (Dm)–vi (Am)–ii7 (Dm7) chords with a F–E bass line) “you make” (supported by a V7 (G7) chord). The final bars in the key of C involve a I–II–♭III rock-type progression and a IV–I soothing cadence that appear to instinctively reconcile different musical genres.

Reception

Richie Unterberger of Allmusic considered “The End” to be “the group’s take on the improvised jamming common to heavy rock of the late ’60s, though as usual The Beatles did it with far more economic precision than anyone else.” John Mendelsohn of Rolling Stone said it was “a perfect epitaph for our visit to the world of Beatle daydreams: ‘The love you take is equal to the love you make.’

Legacy

  • Paul McCartney performed the closing couplet of “The End” at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony just prior to closing the event with a performance of the song “Hey Jude.
Paul McCartney in “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn:

Ringo would never do drum solos. He hated drummers who did lengthy drum solos. We all did. And when he joined The Beatles we said, “Ah, what about drum solos then?”, thinking he might say, “Yeah, I’ll have a five-hour one in the middle of your set,” and he said, “I hate ’em!” We said, “Great! We love you!” And so he would never do them. But because of this medley I said, “Well, a tokensolo?” and he really dug his heels in and didn’t want to do it. But after a little bit of gentle persuasion I said, “Yeah, just do that, it wouldn’t be Buddy Rich gone mad,” because I think that’s what he didn’t want to do.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] stereo 19 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.
  • [b] stereo 1996.
    CD: Apple CDP 8 34451 2 Anthology 3 1996.

The crossfade joins this to the preceding song, Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight. A few seconds were edited off the album master, so the master tape of the song differs from the album. Lewisohn does not specify what was cut, but a version with a longer sustained final note has turned up on bootleg; whether it is on any legitimate release is unknown.

The deliberately different Anthology remix has “considerably more guitar” and brings up the orchestra more at the end. It then edits hard into a sound processed from “A day in the life”, 22 Feb 1967, which is arguably a separate item.

Last updated on November 29, 2016

Lyrics

Oh yeah, all right
Are you gonna be in my dreams tonight?

Love you, love you
Love you, love you
Love you, love you
Love you, love you
Love you, love you
Love you, love you
Love you, love you
Love you, love you
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

Officially appears on


Abbey Road

Official album • Released in 1969

2:22 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Lead guitar, Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Rhythm guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Phil McDonald:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 23, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
5, 7, 8, 15, 18 Aug 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 19, 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 / Carry That Weight"

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 / Carry That Weight"

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


Anthology 3

Official album • Released in 1996

2:51 • OuttakeA • Stereo • No other group has delivered such an apt farewell as the Beatles: except for the brief Her Majesty, thrown into the Abbey Road master tape almost as an afterthought, the last song on the Beatles recorded it, only one of the seven basic track takes of this piece has vocals - the master, Take 7. The version presented here is a new remix, however, embracing numerous elements omitted during the mix sessions for Abbey Road. In particular, there is considerable more guitar, and a further appreciation of the "sparring" section can be gained - from 19 until 55 seconds in, Paul, George and John, in that order, take turns to play two-bars (about four seconds) of the guitar solo. The 30-piece orchestral overdub, taped at tremendous cost considering it lasts less than 20 seconds, also appears more prominently in this new mix.

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Lead guitar, Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Rhythm guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Phil McDonald:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 23, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
5, 7, 8, 15, 18 Aug 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Back In The U.S.

Official live • Released in 2002

4:40 • LiveL2 • Medley with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

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

Concert From the concert in Ft. Lauderdale, USA on May 17, 2002


Good Evening New York City

Official live • Released in 2009

4:39 • LiveL3 • Medley with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Could have been recorded on 17, 18 or 21 July 2009

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Performed by:
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
Geoff Emerick:
Audio mixing
Paul Hicks:
Audio mixing
Jonas Westling:
Additional engineering
Richard Lancaster:
Additional engineering
John Henry:
Recording

Concert From the concert in New York, USA on Jul 17, 2009

Live performances

“The End” has been played in 504 concerts and 1 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where “The End” has been played




Krakow • Tauron Arena

Dec 03, 2018 • Part of Freshen Up Tour


Copenhagen • Royal Arena

Nov 30, 2018 • Part of Freshen Up Tour




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