The last song The Beatles ever recorded was an attack on their egos
As the end of The Beatles began to seem inevitable, and their working relationships had gone beyond tattered and now seemed just a thread or two away from the chop, it would seem fitting that the final song they ever recorded, in the spring of 1970, would be George Harrison’s attack on the ego, ‘I, Me, Mine’.
There’s no doubt that the ego had hit the Fab Four like a ton of bricks. They were the most famous band in the world, they had countless hit records and were widely loved by critics too. It would have been a little stranger had they not had over-inflated egos. But for Harrison, it was all getting too much.
Much of the group travelled to and through India during 1966 as part of their transcendental meditation course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. With this trip, the group found a new sense of self and came back to England with a bunch of new songs under their arm and a new outlook on life.
For many of those on the course, this is where the spirituality ended, but for George Harrison, he kept those teachings in his heart forever. When he arrived back in London and began experimenting with psychedelics, the world, and what’s important in it, seemed to open up to the guitarist. Soon enough, he saw the power-hungry monsters that the Fab Four had become.
While his spirituality certainly helped guide him to this realisation, in his autobiography I, Me, Mine, the guitarist claims it was acid that pushed him over the edge: “Having LSD was like someone catapulting me out into space. The LSD experience was the biggest experience that I’d had up until that time.”
Adding: “Suddenly I looked around and everything I could see was relative to my ego, like ‘that’s my piece of paper’ and ‘that’s my flannel’ or ‘give it to me’ or ‘I am’. It drove me crackers, I hated everything about my ego, it was a flash of everything false and impermanent, which I disliked.”
The final song The Beatles recorded
It was something that was seemingly permanent in Harrison’s life at the time. During the time he wrote the song, The Beatles were quite literally falling apart. The group were recording for Get Back and the album wasn’t going well. By this time on Paul McCartney hadn’t quite the group for a small time and the tension was becoming unbearable, most notably surrounding George Harrison’s emergence as a fully-fledged songwriter.
Perhaps as the perfect combination of these things, ‘I, Me, Mine’ acted as a cathartic release for Harrison. Speaking as part of the Anthology release, Harrison said of the song: “‘I, Me, Mine’ is the ego problem. There are two ‘I’s: the little ‘i’ when people say ‘I am this’; and the big ‘I’ – ie duality and ego. There is nothing that isn’t part of the complete whole. When the little ‘i’ merges into the big ‘I’ then you are really smiling!”
The song didn’t get off to a great start though, recording for their documentary captured Harrison telling those in the studio, “‘I, Me, Mine’, it’s called. I don’t care if you don’t want it… It’s a heavy waltz.” But it did also garner a sweet moment as, after a few run-throughs, Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr played the track with Yoko Ono and John Lennon dancing in the middle.
The final song The Beatles ever recorded was, in fact, an attack on the very thing they had become—egos. For Harrison, life should have been a lot sipler for all those involved, as he says in his memoirs about the song,
“The truth within us has to be realised. When you realise that, everything else that you see and do and touch and smell isn’t real, then you may know what reality is, and can answer the question ‘Who am I?’”