*10.38-BECAUSE (Beatles)




Because the world is round
It turns me on,
Because the world is round.

Because the wind is high
It blows my mind,
Because the wind is high.

     Love is old, love is new.
     Love is all, love is you.

Because the sky is blue
It makes me cry,
Because the sky is blue.


As the Beatles’ most popular and last recorded album, Abbey Road has been much written about from a myriad different angles besides that of the psychedelic. Though the famous medley that closes the second side (following Because) has much of the complex George Martin production values that had been used in Sgt. Pepper, the aesthetic for the piece is of later era, less to do with the psychedelia than progressive art rock suites that would dominate the early seventies recordings by the like of Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Pink Floyd. To my ears, only Because on this album has a contemplative, psychedelic approach to song, though it too gestures toward classical music as the progressive era would do.

Because was the last track recorded by all members of the Beatles. According to the Beatles Bible, Ringo Starr added a basic hi-hat rhythm, but this was for guide purposes only and wasn't left on the recording. The song begins with a distinctive electric harpsichord intro played by producer George Martin. The harpsichord is joined by Lennon's guitar (mimicking the harpsichord line) played through a Leslie speaker. Then the voices of Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison enter in harmony, overdubbed twice on an 8 track recorder and accompanied by McCartney’s bass guitar. (This technique to multiply voices would also be used, to a greater extent, in 10cc’s I’m Not in Love six years later.) In the B section, Harrison introduces the use of a Moog synthesizer for a sound similar to a brass ensemble. (Harrison also plays Moog synthesizer in his own Abbey Road song, Here Comes the Sun, as well as on McCartney’s Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.) Abbey Road is the only album recorded by the Beatles that uses a Moog or an 8 track machine.

Lennon told the press that the song was inspired by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, which Yoko Ono had been playing on the piano one night. He asked her to play the chords in reverse, and built the song from that. Though in the end, it wasn’t a strict adherence to Beethoven played backwards, musicologist Allan W. Pollack [in his Notes On website] confirms that, for the most part, Because does reverse the chord progression of Moonlight Sonata.

The simple lyrics communicate childlike wonder at natural phenomenon. The lyrics are sung from a Wordsworthian point of view of fresh perception that both Lennon and McCartney had previously shown to be one of the most positive effects of the psychedelic (LSD) experience. Embedded in the language is the double nature of such words as “high” and “blue”. David Bowie had used the word “blue” for similar effect in his recent Space Oddity, where Planet Earth is blue / And there’s nothing that I can do. The stately performance of the music and the group’s intricate harmonies are all geared to evoking psychedelic awe stripped of all the doubts that had accumulated in the two years since Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The lyrics of the B section bear a strong family resemblance to John Lennon’s song Love on the first studio album he released on his own in the following year.

Allan W. Pollack notes that in Because “The diminished chord left hanging unresolved [at the end of the song] suggests a kind of expectantly bedazzled, trance-like state of mind, the rather mystical eventuality of so much sustained contemplation…This same chord enharmonically resolves to the A-minor seventh which opens the next track, You Never Give Me Your Money,” the song that kicks off the aforementioned lengthy suite.