George Harrison Would Have Gotten More Songs on Next Beatles LP
John Lennon suggested the proposed recording more fairly showcase each from the group's principal composers, giving George Harrison equal footing for the first time. He would have the opportunity to contribute four songs, the same as Lennon and Paul McCartney. (Ringo Starr, Lennon added, could have two – "If he wants them.")
The news comes courtesy of Beatles expert Mark Lewisohn, who unearthed a tape from a meeting the Beatles held on Sept. 8, 1969, at Apple headquarters on London's Savile Row. The recording was made while Starr was hospitalized with stomach problems. "Ringo – you can't be here, but this is so you can hear what we're discussing," Lennon says at the beginning of the tape.
"It's a revelation," Lewisohn told The Guardian. "The books have always told us that they knew Abbey Road was their last album, and they wanted to go out on an artistic high. But no – they're discussing the next album. And you think that John is the one who wanted to break them up but, when you hear this, he isn’t. Doesn't that rewrite pretty much everything we thought we knew?"
McCartney still seems taken aback by Harrison's recent songwriting successes, which included the chart-topping "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun," a key album track. "I thought until this album that George's songs weren't that good," McCartney said on the tape, despite the fact that Harrison's "Taxman" opened the Beatles' 1966 masterpiece Revolver.
The responses to this swipe, however, showed that some tensions remained.
"That's a matter of taste," Harrison fires back on the recording. "All down the line, people have liked my songs." Lennon then openly complains about "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," a McCartney contribution from the soon-to-be-released Abbey Road that began with 21 grueling takes.
Lennon suggested that McCartney give things like that to other artists, including Mary Hopkin – who had just scored a No. 2 U.K. hit with a discarded McCartney tune. He stands firm: "I recorded it," McCartney says of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," "because I liked it."
An expanded 50th-anniversary reissue of Abbey Road is due on Sept. 27. Lewisohn will also debut a stage production focusing on this era later in September at the Royal and Derngate in Northhampton, then begin a U.K. tour that lasts through December. Hornsey Road features rare recordings like this one, along with film, photographs, remastered and remixed audio, memorabilia and Lewisohn's personal anecdotes.
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