Monday, 10 January 2011

12:14 The End (is nigh - only 160 songs to go)

The End is a collection of 4 fairly unrelated sections. The first two would make a decent moment in a live show (shame the Beatles hadn't done one for 3 years) like Moby Dick or Eruption but don't really work on record. (I guess Eruption is the exception because Eddie Van Halen is a slightly better guitarist than John Lennon!)

In section three the band drops out, bar slightly flat piano track (which George Martin uncharacteristically missed) to emphasis “and in the end...” (Ticket 30). For a few seconds we get the Abbey Road Beatles at their best. The arrangement is rich (check out the way the strings continue the descent that the chord progression started after the words “equal to the love”. The chord progression itself emphasises the lyrics by changing with every syllable (Ticket 11)

That final line is another case of the 3 over 4 hemiola “LOVE YOU make is E – QUAL TO THE” (Ticket 29) we saw in Polythene Pam and includes an extra bar or two, (in 6/8 or 2/4 depending which way you slice it) which you could look at as either a very short time change (Ticket 15) or a Lennon Edit (Ticket 37).

The lyrics are deep and meaningless in the way only the Beatles can pull off.

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make

So wise, so insightful. If only I could work out what it means.

(BTW it's kind of cool how it starts with “and” rather than just “In the end”. It does make it seem like the last word and makes it feel connected to the rest of the Long One).

The final section is the 5 beautiful ascending chords. Having been in A major then slickly transposing into A minor the final coda takes an odd but logical wander through some out of key chords to arrive at a final triumphant C major (Ticket 18). The chords are

C D7/C Cm7 F C

What's happening is a simple triad pattern over a constant C bass note – the chords could also be viewed as

C D Eb F C

Though the finale is beautiful the fragmented nature of the song means it doesn't stand up as a song in it's own right at all.

Hmmm. The last two song have been a bit disappointing. Next week that will all change!


  1. Hemiola? Can you buy those in a garden centre? There is a hemiola in Mean Mr Mustard, in fact, after rereading that post I understand what you mean.

  2. @Rob - I think you're confusing that with a Herniola - which is a groin strain that comes from lifting heavy plant pots.

  3. I always found it to be extremely obvious what McCartney is saying in The End. The love you get is equal to the love you give. Even Lennon thought it was a great line, and he's probably McCartney's worst critic.

  4. Thanks for the comment Phillip. It IS a good line and that part is probably the highlight of the song. But it is the kind of deep sounding lyrics that don't really mean anything, or mean whatever you want them to mean that the Beatles loved.

    "The love you get is equal to the love you give" I agree - that's what they mean. But is it true? really? For everyone? How do we know? Doesn't anyone ever get more love? or less? That's kind of what I mean.

    I guess I want things to be true as well as sounding good...


  5. True, it is left ambiguous, but I have to admire the way they ended their career (citation needed) with such a simple and beautiful statement, however childlike that assertion may be.

  6. Yep true. Glad they flipped the 'sides' and didn't end with She's so Heavy...

  7. ***The love you TAKE is equal to the love you MAKE... you have those two words flipped, which kind of screws up the overall meaning of it ;p

  8. @ Derek - thanks so much, that was an epic fail on my part. Corrected.