Towards the end of The Beatles’ reign, John Lennon started to check out the band emotionally, and the passion he felt during the earlier days of their tenure deserted him.
When it came to creating their penultimate album, Abbey Road, in 1969, for the first time in his career, The Beatles were no longer the only vessel that Lennon had at his disposal to express him creatively. After forming The Plastic Ono Band, he became slightly disenfranchised with life in the Fab Four, and he stopped putting his foot down as authoritatively. Instead, he chose to let McCartney take the lead on the project.
Apart from ‘Come Together’, Lennon’s contribution to the record was minimal compared to other albums. He’d later disregard the second half of the creation, which contains a medley of previously unused songs the group had accumulated that he referred to as “junk”.
“I liked the A-side,” Lennon told Rolling Stone. “I never liked that sort of pop opera on the other side. I think it’s junk. It was just bits of song thrown together. And I can’t remember what some of it is. Come Together’ is all right, that’s all I remember. That was my song. It was a competent album, like Rubber Soul. It was together in that way, but Abbey Road had no life in it.”
Furthermore, the adoration that Abbey Road received bemused Lennon. He later claimed that “none of the songs had anything to do with each other, no thread at all, only the fact that we stuck them together”. Contrastingly, some years later, Ringo Starr would name the album as his favourite piece of work by the group. Unlike Lennon, he appreciated the medley too, although the drummer still admitted they “weren’t songs”.
“The second side of Abbey Road is my favourite. I love it,” he professed in 1976. “‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,’ and all those bits that weren’t songs … I mean, they were just all the bits that John and Paul had around that we roped together”.
With a back catalogue as heavenly as The Beatles’, it would be understandable if Ringo’s opinion has flickered since he made that statement.
In 2012, Rock Cellar Magazine probed him once more on the topic, and Ringo stayed loyal to his prior statement. “For me, that would be the second side of Abbey Road,” he said. “That one is my favourite because I just love all those bits and pieces that weren’t full songs that John and Paul had been working on and pulled all together — ‘Mean Mr. Mustard,’ ‘Polythene Pam,’ and ‘She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.'”
However, it is not only Lennon and Ringo who disagree about the final tracks on Abbey Road. The medley on the second side is one of the most polarising offerings in The Beatles’ vast repertoire of material due to the slapdash approach the band adopted while making it.
It might not be The Beatles at their fluent best, but there remains an undeniable beauty to be uncovered amid the madcap hodgepodge assortment of tracks that combine to create the surrealist Abbey Road medley.