Thursday, June 30, 2011

Come Together: The Abbey Road Show

Provo Rooftop Concert Series
Friday, June 1st 8:00 p.m.
Provo Town Square Parking Terrace Rooftop

1969. It was a very good year. The year 1969 gave the world Sesame Street, Monty Python, the Apollo 11 moon landing—and me. And, more to the point here, the Beatles’ album Abbey Road.

Of course the Beatles split up while I was still a squalling infant, but thanks to their ubiquity and musical genius (and the tutelage of my sister’s high school boyfriend), I grew up to be a Beatles fan. Like, a really big Beatles fan.

Like, I own all the Beatles albums, films, anthologies, and special editions of Rock Band. I’ve seen both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr live in concert. I’ve seen Julian Lennon in concert. I’ve seen any number of Beatles tribute bands in concert. I’ve even made the pilgrimage to Liverpool.

Oh yes, and to Abbey Road itself—the now-famous street in London where the Beatles recorded at EMI studios.

Abbey Road has been ranked the 14th on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time list. Which is pretty good, especially considering it’s only the fourth or fifth best Beatles album of all time. And which is why, if you’re in the neighborhood, you won’t want to miss Downtown Provo’s free Rooftop Concert Series this Friday night.

(Oh, hey! Do you know who else enjoyed free rooftop concerts?)

If you’re a Beatles fan, you already know that John, Paul, George, and Ringo never performed the Abbey Road songs together in concert; they had long since quit touring by 1969. All the more reason to hear their music performed live this weekend!

And even if you’re not really a Beatles fan, you still know the songs from Abbey Road: Come Together. Something. Octopus’s Garden. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Here Comes the Sun. You’ll be singing along, trust me. (You might not be singing along throughout the less-familiar Side Two epic medley, but you’ll enjoy it. Trust me.)

To get you primed for the Abbey Road Show, here are some of my favorite insider tidbits about Abbey Road. Now you can be a Road-ie too:

- Abbey Road is a very busy street. If you go there and if you insist upon recreating the album cover photo in that famous zebra crossing, be prepared to cross quickly and get a few grumpy looks from passing motorists—not to mention interference from other tourists there ruining your shot. (“Zebra crossing” is what the British call crosswalks. You are not likely to spot any actual zebras in one.)

- Take a closer look at that album cover. Notice that Paul is the only Beatle crossing the street barefoot. This is allegedly one of the clues that contributed to the whole “Paul Is Dead” conspiracy theory. Also, do you see that man standing on the right-hand pavement, next to the black taxi? Turns out that guy was a passing American tourist who had no idea he was photographed until he saw the album cover. Well, that’s the official story, anyway; I think maybe he is the Angel of Death, stalking Paul.

- “Something,” one of two George Harrison classics on Abbey Road, so impressed Frank Sinatra that he hailed it as “the greatest love song ever written.” Sinatra may just be right about that.

- John Lennon hated “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” (written by Paul) and refused to participate in recording the song. I kind of don’t blame him.

- “Because” features producer George Martin on the harpsichord and George Harrison on the Moog synthesizer. Moog is a funny word.

- The translation of John’s chorus in “Sun King”? “Mundo paparazzi mi amore chicka ferdy parasol”? Yeah, it’s gibberish. A faux mix of Romance languages and Liverpuddlian nonsense.

- Nobody really has an explanation for “Octopus’s Garden.” Not even Ringo, and he wrote the blooming thing.

- “Her Majesty” is the shortest song in the Beatles repertoire at 23 seconds long. (Tip: Try singing it in the shower. Hair care experts recommend massaging your scalp for 30 to 60 seconds while shampooing. Sing “Her Majesty” through twice and you’re pretty much on the money. You’re welcome.)

- “The End” was, appropriately enough, the last song recorded collectively by all four Beatles. And in the end, the love you take / is equal to the love you make….

One more thing. If the Abbey Road Show only whets your appetite, there’s more where that came from. Southern soul band Booker T. & the MG’s recreated Abbey Road (with Moog!) as an R&B album, McLemore Avenue (1970)—McLemore Avenue being the street in Memphis where the legendary Stax recording studios were located.

P.S. I’ve made a pilgrimage there too.


  1. As a side note: 1696 also gave you ME!

    You're welcome.

  2. er...1969, I'm old, but not THAT old!

  3. Cim! You look GREAT for 315!

  4. I just learned more about the Beatles than I thought possible in one blog post! I also learned a lot about YOU! Awesome.