The End is a song by The Beatles composed by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon/McCartney) for the album Abbey Road. It was the last song recorded collectively by all four of The Beatles, and is the final song of the medley that dominates side two of the LP version of the album.
Composition and recordingEdit
McCartney said, "I wanted [the medley] to end with a little meaningful couplet, so I followed the Bard and wrote a couplet." In his 1980 interview with Playboy, John Lennon acknowledged McCartney's authorship by saying, "That's Paul again ... He had a line in it, 'And in the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give,' which is a very cosmic, philosophical line. Which again proves that if he wants to, he can think." Lennon misquoted the line slightly; the actual words are, "And, in the end, the love you take/ Is equal to the love you make."
Recording began on 23 July 1969 when The Beatles recorded a one-minute, 20-second master take that was extended via overdubs to two minutes and five seconds. At this point, the song was called "Ending." The first vocals for the song were added on 5 August, additional vocals and guitar overdubs were added on 7 August, and bass and drums on 8 August, the day the Abbey Road cover picture was taken. Orchestral overdubs were added 15 August, and the closing piano and accompanying vocal on 18 August.
All four Beatles have a solo in "The End", including Ringo Starr's only drum solo for The Beatles. Starr disliked solos; he preferred to cater drumwork to whoever sang in a particular performance. The take in which he performed the solo originally had guitar and tambourine accompaniment, but other instruments were muted during mixing giving the effect of a drum solo. The additional instruments were restored for a remix on the Anthology 3 compilation album.
McCartney, Harrison, and Lennon perform a rotating sequence of three, two-bar guitar solos. The solos begin approximately 53 seconds into the song and end just before the final piano part. Lennon described it in his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone: "There's a nice little bit I played on Abbey Road. Paul gave us each a piece, a little break where Paul plays, George plays and I play."
"The End" was initially intended to be the final track on Abbey Road, but it is followed by "Her Majesty". In the first practice mix of the medley, constructed on 30 July, "Her Majesty" followed "Mean Mr. Mustard" (on the released version of the album, "Her Majesty" begins with the excised final chord of "Mean Mr. Mustard"). According to sound engineer John Kurlander, McCartney said, "I don't like 'Her Majesty,' throw it away." Kurlander cut it out, but said, "I'd been told never to throw anything away, so after he left I picked it up off the floor, put about 20 seconds of red leader tape before it, and stuck it onto the end of the edit tape." When McCartney heard "Her Majesty" in its new position he liked it and decided that it should remain on the album.
The song commences in A Major key, with an initial I-IV-II-V-I structure matching the vocals on "Oh, yeah, All right!" This is followed by a #ivdim-I pattern (D#dim chord to A chord) on "dreams tonight." During this, the accompanying bass and one guitar move chromatically from A to B and D#, while the second guitar harmonises a minor third higher to reach F#. The sequential three guitar solos rotate through I7 (A7 chord)-IV7 (D7 chord) changes in the key of A in a mix of "major and minor pentatonic scales with slides, doublestops, repeated notes, low-bass string runs and wailing bends". The final "Ah" is in C with a spiritually evocative Plagal cadence IV-I (F-C chord) on piano while the voices do an F to E shift. "And in the end the love you take" is in A major, but the G/A chord supporting the word "love" begins to dissolve our certainty that we are in A, by adding a ♭VII. The next line shifts us to the fresh key of C, with a iv (F) chord that threatens the dominance of the departing A key's F#: "Is eq-ual" (supported successively by iv (F) -iii (Em) chords with an A-G bass line) "to the love" (supported successively by ii (Dm) vi (Am) ii7 (Dm7) chords with a F-E bass line) "you make" (supported by a V7 (G7) chord). The final bars in the key of C involve a I-II-♭III rock-type progression and a IV-I soothing cadence that appear to instinctively reconcile different musical genres
- Paul McCartney - lead vocals, bass (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S), lead guitar (1965 Epiphone 230TD Casino), piano
- John Lennon - lead guitar (1965 Epiphone 230TD Casino), backing vocals
- George Harrison - lead guitar (1957 Gibson Les Paul Standard), backing vocals
- Ringo Starr - drums, backing vocals