So how many times does George repeat the same guitar riff at the end of the song? I remember trying to count this as a kid and really getting into the song and losing count. One of the Beatles best!
"I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is one of the most complex studio recordings the Beatles would ever make. The song, which began recording in February of 1969 in Trident Studios, was not full completed until August following a multitude of edits and various overdubs. "I Want You" is a prime example of the group's insatiable appetite for digesting the latest recording techniques in a constant search for new sounds in the rapidly changing world of studio recording technology. Lennon seemed bent on matching some of the heavier sounds of the day, such as Jimi Hendrix and Cream, using a rather sinister blues-soaked riff with thick layers of guitar, Moog synthesizer effects, and a minimalist, soul-searching vocal melody. After 35 takes of the basic track, an edit was made of the best three portions of the song, which feature a number of tempo changes, swinging alternately from a slower, plodding, dense riff to a light almost jazz lounge feel and tempered by a repeated staccato break. Lennon mimics his own vocal melody with clear, bending notes from his guitar. Lennon's voice shifts in intensity, ranging from an aching croon to gruff soul-bearing screams, repeating the song's few simple lyrics, "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." Guest keyboard player Billy Preston adds the appropriate textures through the many changes, from a laid-back cool bed of organ notes in the lighter jazzy sections to a gospel swagger during the song's heavier moments. The band displays an impressive fluidity, particularly Paul McCartney, showing considerable chops on bass, pulsing a steady flow of notes from his instruments through these various changes. It wasn't until an August 11th session that Lennon introduced the "She's so heavy" backing line, powerfully sung by Lennon, McCartney, and George Harrison, appearing during the song's heavy circular guitar riff sections and leading into the song's extended finale. The last three minutes of the song are consumed by a droning swirl of guitars, overdubbed by Lennon and Harrison in many layers using newly expanded studio tracking capabilities. Lennon also built a monstrous swirl of dense sound using one of the first Moog synthesizers, a then cumbersome machine requiring extensive wiring, just purchased by George Harrison, combined with a white noise generator. As the churning guitars hammer away, the wall of white noise eventually begins to swallow the rest of the music before the plug is pulled in dramatic fashion, leaving a deafening silence. It had been rumored in the past that the tape had simply run out, creating this unique ending, but it has since been refuted by session engineer Alan Parsons in Mark Lewisohn's detailed book, The Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes, recalling, "We were putting the finishing touches to that side of the LP and we were listening to the mix. John said 'There! Cut the tape there.' Geoff Emerick cut the tape and that was it. End of side one!"
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