When The Beatles began to record one of their longest songs, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, they didn’t know it would be their last. Nor did the world. How was it possible that the 1960s’ most revered foursome could come to an end? But shortly after work on the track was completed, in August 1969, just that happened: John Lennon left the band. He, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr never met at EMI’s Abbey Road studios again.
This book tells the extraordinary story of how the track was made. No Beatles song had taken so long – eight months – to put together, though of course many other extraordinary things were going on in and around the group at the same time. Not the least of these was the making of their last LP, Abbey Road.
Yet track six on it was and still is a big ask for fans. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is fierce, minimalist – and huge. James Woodall argues that had circumstances for the quartet in 1969 been otherwise, this is the kind of music The Beatles might have gone on to make. He also shows how the challenges swirling around the band at the time – a management crisis, chaotic finances, hard drugs, the constant presence of a woman who believed herself to be the “fifth” – can be heard on and behind the track.
Built on extensive scholarship, The Story of The Beatles’ Last Song tells one of the most compelling, and at times saddest, tales in the history of entertainment.
James Woodall (born 1960) is a writer and editor, based in Cambridge UK. His first book, In Search of the Firedance, was published in 1992; his second, a biography of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, in 1996. His third, A Simple Brazilian Song (1997), was an autobiographical account of time spent in the 1990s in Rio de Janeiro and of his friendship with one of Brazil’s greatest singer-songwriters – turned novelist – Chico Buarque. It is now available as an updated digital book from Hachette and on Amazon.
Living for over a decade in Berlin from his mid-thirties, James wrote a book there for the publishers Rowohlt about John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was translated into over a dozen languages. This Kindle Single is an entirely new narrative.