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"I Want You (She's So Heavy)"

Categories: Beatles songs

"I Want You (She's So Heavy)" brought together two Johnsongs for Yoko, weighing in at a hefty three-forty-seven to close the first side of Abbey Road.

The minimalist jazz-blues of "I Want You" had begun to freeform itself jamming with Billy Preston right after Get Back, back at the start of '69.

'It's very heavy. John plays lead guitar and sings the same as he plays' commented George, as he helped to work still more guitars onto the tapes in April.

As with "Yer Blues" on The White, the effect is chilling; though here, the writhing contortions of the vocal/string synching make for still more unsettling listening — particularly after that incongruously curtailed grand intro. Whilst "Yer Blues" had been, well, his blues, "I Want You" was JL's own thing entirely. Not to be taken lightly, it presaged "Cold Turkey" and much of his POB LP — and plenty of other people's seventies' rock sound into the bargain.

I want you.
I want you so bad,
It's drivin' me mad...

Nobody in the inner circle was questioning the obsessive nature of the Lenono love affair (though it does — surprisingly — seem that Paul took the vocal on the earliest takes). Oh No Yoko's omnipresence during The White Album sessions had made the situation pretty damn clear; and her continuing degree of influence over John was enough to convince them all that he was, indeed, going crazy. If not way gone.

There was little doubt in anyone's minds that:

She's so HEAVYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was into August, with John recuperated from his car roll and AR largely completed, when he decided to bracket in the second part. The organ flails and clanging guitars at the close of the verse do serve as kind of a warning, but — once again — it's Ringo who actually schwips in the switch, as that Beatlehoven intro progression returns with a vengeance to bring it in as a refrain.

Lennon goes into vocal freefall, Maccason 'harmonies' tumbling in alongside. Preston's keyboards here were surely what inspired The Abominable Dr Phibes. The ominous, hypnotic cymbal clanking and shivery bass chase-ups take it far further out. Take note, most of the subsequent generations of so-called heavies — while almost anybody can play the same chord sequence over and over (and over) again, it's never doin' it the same way twice that makes it truly Heavy.

So to the solo: a feedback breeze wafting it along into conga-cool, jazz-bass cabaret — with an icy cold heroin edge.

So bad.

It's that good ol' play-the-vocal trick again, but this time it's some real clean stuff he's doin'.

Drivin' me mad flashes things up again, bass retorting impatiently; and back come them keys to dirty it up a bit more for another Heavy interlude.

"I Want You" (Slight Return): the voice edgier, more desperate than ever. More instrumental fills and frills to build the claustrophobic paranoia. That primal pleasure/pain scream that had someone in the background flapping about the levels.


She's So, to the final assault. Whereas Paul had opted for the all-out bombardment tactic for "Helter Skelter", here Lennon stays with the war of attrition, that mashed-up moonlight motif marching on inexorably. The final overdub sessions were the last on which The Four collaborated. The build is impeccable, all Five of them chiming together as they re-recorded multiple overdubs onto countless playbacks.

Field Marshall Martin re-recognized the equally devastating impact of both songs' strategies when he brutally combined their forces for the Heavy Kite attack on LOVE.

Though George H was reputed to be the main Moog man and Paul clearly liking a finger or two in every pie; and despite the fact that Ringo was well-known as the button-pusher of the band, it was — perhaps inevitably — Mr Lennon who actually stumbled upon the white noise setting on the synth, and duly proceeded to spray it all over and in and out of the extended outro grind. 'Well, we've got eight tracks, ain't we? Might as well use 'em...'

Oh where was a camera to catch him in the act, grinning manically and freaking himself out as much as everyone else as he summoned up those squealing, hissing demons?!!

But how to put an end to such a beast? A long, slow Jude-style fade was quickly counted out, so John and Geoff Emerick sat and played it back in the control booth; the latter wielding a big pair of scissors. A nodded 'Now!' from the maestro, and — snip — so endeth Side One.

Don't matter how many times you listen to it, the reality shock still gets you every time.

It's also pretty clear that in that same instant — aside from a few loose ends to be attended to — John Lennon was effectively severing his ties with The Bea
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