Sunday, November 29, 2015

God Save the Queen

So I was listening to the AlphaBeatical podcast last night on the drive home and I learned multiple things that I immediately wanted to discuss with you; like that there's a 26-minute take of Helter Skelter or do you remember the "007" opening to HELP! that was on the "Blue" album (1967-1970)?  I had totally forgotten about it.  

These things are certainly interesting, but I genuinely had my mind blown during the Her Majesty episode.  I do not say "mind blown" without thought as I think it is overused and under-meant, but, in this case, I was driving down the road literally thinking how mind blowing what I just heard was.

I should warn you that learning what I learned last night might change how you think of the Abbey Road B-side medley forever.  Please do not read further if you'd like things to stay how they are, but I think it's incredibly interesting.  

That which I'll reveal below explains things that were mysterious and ingenious to me before...And by removing the mystery and ingenuity, it has rendered it mysterious and ingenious in a wholly different way.

Stop reading now if you don't want to know.  As one of the hosts put it, and I'm paraphrasing, sometimes I get so used to the skip in the record or the scratch on the cd that I miss them when I don't hear it.

Perhaps you have already heard or read this story and it's not news.  I'm honestly astonished that a detail this enormous had escaped my interest up to this point considering the amount of Beatles insignifica I have ingested in my life.  But here goes; Her Majesty was originally conceived and recorded to follow Mean Mr. Mustard and precede Polythene Pam in the Abbey Road: B-side Medley.  

I'll give you a second.  

That seems ridiculous, right?  It's a silly, throwaway acoustic ditty/demo that was tacked on to the end of the album as a lark, right?  It's a nice little Macca musing that was proffered, but never fleshed out because Abbey Road was the last album recorded before the Beatles dissolution and it just didn't make it in time, right?  It was just too good not to make the cut anyway, right?  It's a cute palette cleanser for the ambitious and orgiastic finale to the album (read: band) and that's all it is, right?  Paul just had to get in the last word and that's that, right? 

As such; it starts with a quick full-band stinger and ends just as abruptly on the finger-picked 5th almost as if George Martin ran out of tape.  But in actuality, that's the last hit of Mustard and the first pulse of Pam respectively.

Yeah.  I know.  

Even lyrically, there's context: "His sister Pam" "takes him out to look at the queen."  Mean Mr. Mustard views Her Majesty with his sister Polythene Pam.  Jeez, it's just so literal.

Apparently (and as a sidenote, the hosts do not present any of this as apocryphal (my one wish for this podcast is that it'd have footnotes and attributions)), Paul pulled the track out of the medley because he (understandably) didn't like the flow in the context of the medley and was going to "throw it out."  

As in, lose the tape.  
86 it.  
File 13.

The story goes that a forward thinking EMI executive with eyes on The Beatles's inevitably lucrative legacy held on to the tape and it was eventually tacked on to the end of the album as we know it today.  

What's crazier? 
  1. The story I've outlined above.
  2. The fact that Macca would (presumably) routinely throw away gems that I'd be proud to have penned once.
  3. The untold hundreds of other throw-aways that stayed thrown away.
  4. The decision to so "sloppily" leave the opening stinger and the button on the end once it was decided to put it on the album on its own as a hidden track.
I'd love to know your thoughts.  Had you heard about this?

Take a listen to this clip wherein Her Majesty has been edited back to its original position.