Mark Lewishon writes “…a number of [Abbey Road’s] songs were well under way by that time. One was ‘I Want You,’ a fine John Lennon song…” A “fine” John Lennon song? And, “…begun now with 35 takes of the basic track and John’s guide vocal (one experimental take was sung by Paul McCartney)…” Is there a McCartney vocal bootleg somewhere? [from The Beatles Recording Sessions, Harmony Books, 1988.] Kevin Howlett writes, “…in a session produced by George Martin, ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ was recorded from eight o’clock on a Saturday evening through to five on Sunday morning at Trident Studios….” And, “During that night in Soho, there were 35 takes (many of them breakdowns) recorded on three reels of eight-track tape.” [from Abbey Road Anniversary Edition, Apple Corps Limited, 2019.]
Consider the nature of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”: lyrically simple / repetitive and musically repetitive (you might object to repetitive; the music changes quite a lot); what would it be like to work on 35 basic rhythm tracks?
When the session was over, did McCartney, the only Beatle still living in London, step out into the brisk air—it was in the mid-30s but with clear skies in London on February 23, 1969—and contemplate a walk back to Cavendish Avenue? It’d be a long walk—52 minutes. Too bad, he might’ve thought, we weren’t at Abbey Road, just a 10-minute walk from his place.
Coming out into the city so early on a Sunday morning, high from a productive session of artistic collaboration with friends—McCartney surely looked up at the sky, smelled the air, wondered if he ought to go straight to bed, or locate a bakery, or if he could find some way to ride the high a little longer—why not walk toward St. John’s Wood?
# # #
Posted to YouTube in 2011 by Astrid Shapiro is “Paul’s house” a 1:42 video that shows “my best friend” (in purple, with a slightly downcast expression) outside the gates at 7 Cavendish Avenue, where McCartney lived in ’69 (and he still owns the house). Their timing is good. The gate is opened for a messenger by someone who works for McCartney, and he’s very friendly. As they’re talking, the front door opens, and another employee steps out, and Astrid and her pal are simply beside themselves.
# # #
And, you can walk with “American drummer Marty Richards” from 7 Cavendish to Abbey Road Studios (posted to YouTube by ursulageorge in 2010). A familiar walk.