Because

Abbey Road album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 1, 4, 5 August 1969
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Geoff Emerick, Phil McDonald

Released: 26 September 1969 (UK), 1 October 1969 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, lead guitar
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass
George Harrison: vocals, Moog synthesiser
George Martin: electric spinet Baldwin harpsichord

Available on:
Abbey Road
Anthology 3
Love

The final song to be recorded for Abbey Road was John Lennon’s Because. The song was inspired by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and featured The Beatles’ distinctive three-part vocal harmonies.

Abbey Road - The Beatles


Yoko Ono was a classically trained pianist whose interests had moved towards the avant garde. One day in 1969, however, she played Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2 – the Moonlight Sonata.

Lying on their sofa listening, John Lennon asked her to play the chords backwards, and wrote Because around the result. While not an exact reversal of Beethoven’s piece, it contains a number of musical similarities.

Yoko was playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano. She was classically trained. I said, ‘Can you play those chords backward?’ and wrote Because around them. The lyrics speak for themselves; they’re clear. No bullshit. No imagery, no obscure references.
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The vocal harmonies are one of the most distinctive aspects of the much-admired Because. Lennon, McCartney and Harrison sang together, and overdubbed their voices twice more, giving the effect of nine voices.

John wrote this tune. The backing is a bit like Beethoven. And three-part harmony right throughout. Paul usually writes the sweeter tunes, and John writes the, sort of, more the rave-up things, or the freakier things. But John’s getting to where he doesn’t want to. He just wants to write twelve-bars. But you can’t deny it, I think this is possibly my favourite one on the album. The lyrics are so simple. The harmony was pretty difficult to sing. We had to really learn it. But I think that’s one of the tunes that will impress most people. It’s really good.
George Harrison, 1969

The vocal harmonies, isolated from their instrumental backing, can be heard on both Anthology 3 and Love. The Love album, however, features the sound of birds twittering in the background.

I wouldn’t mind betting Yoko was in on the writing of that, it’s rather her kind of writing: wind, sky and earth are recurring, it’s straight out of Grapefruit and John was heavily influenced by her at the time.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The instrumentation on Because was simple, with arpeggio accompaniment on harpsichord, guitar and Moog. Paul McCartney later bought the electric harpsichord, played here by George Martin, when EMI were reducing their instrument collection; it remains in his recording studio.

In the studio

On Friday 1 August Lennon, McCartney and Martin taped 23 takes of the basic track, with Lennon on electric guitar and McCartney on bass. Ringo Starr added a basic hi-hat rhythm, but this was for guide purposes only and wasn’t recorded.

Take 16 was the best of the 23 attempts. With the backing track in place, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison recorded the first of their harmony vocal tracks. Two more were added on 4 August

A final overdub was recorded on 5 August, when George Harrison taped a Moog part – the first time the synthesiser was used on the Abbey Road recordings. Harrison recorded it twice, filling up the last two available tracks on the tape.

19 responses on “Because

  1. Joseph Brush

    Of course Paul McCartney was never influenced by anyone. But don’t bet on it.
    Dear Prudence and Across The Universe preceded Because and both of those songs mention the sky and the sun and who wrote those songs?

    1. Elsewhere Man

      I don’t think Paul was knocking John when he said that. He’s just making an observation and a pretty apt one at that.

      Paul had nothing but positive things to say about John’s contributions to Abbey Road back when it was originally released and had stated that “Come Together” and “Because” were his favorite tracks on the album.

      Meanwhile, all John had to say about the album was mainly negative – calling the medley “junk” and stuff like that.

          1. robert

            There’s an interview of John done during the recording of Abbey Road where he talks very excitedly about the album and specifically about he and Paul working on the suite of songs on side two. That he was going over to Paul’s house to continue working on it.

            Also the day before his death producer Jack Douglas quotes John as being very excited to get the “boys back together” in order to work on Ringo’s new album. And in that John speaks with affection to the old sound.

            Point being that for every opinion John had, he had an equal and opposite opinion.

    2. CaroleTucson

      *sigh* … It gets so old when people bash Paul. Why? Because he lived and John didn’t? If it’s any other reason, then you don’t really know, unless you knew both of them personally. Otherwise, you don’t really know what went on between them, or what they were really like.

  2. LongLongLong89

    I honestly see this song as a masterpiece. The three part harmony being backed by Paul’s amazing bass, with John’s cleverly simple lyrics and arpeggio guitar and the Beethoven inspiration just makes this a perfect piece of music to relax your mind right before the Medley just blows it away.

    1. Harold Benson

      Reply to LongLongLong89: I agree 100%. For me, it’s the MUSIC. Personal lives? We all are human, I don’t really care. I love MUSIC. So much of it that if I tried to follow personal lives, I’d be following 100′s of thousands of people’s lives. JUST PLAY IT is the motto in my band…no “yap yap” about it………we JUST PLAY IT……..for the joy of it……….or whatever emotion the music conveys.

  3. Patrick Nance

    The version mastered for “Love!” should convince even the most elementry listener that the Beatles, by the end of their careers as a group, vocalized like no one else at the time and rarely ever since. If you have not seen the show and heard this in that venue, then you are missing a great work. It opens “Love!” and sets the entire tone for the show… just amazing…

  4. David Lee Fairey

    I was fortunate to hear this – just the three part harmonies – played over studio 2′s huge speakers in September 1983 when Abbey Road opened its doors to Beatles nutters like me.

    It was one of the most emotional and unbelievable experiences in my life! (This being well before the days of Anthology.)

    That a group disintegrating so rapidly could join forces and sing like this in such a heavenly manner – so together the voices become one – is incredible.

  5. albertozeta

    Am I wrong or “Because” in spite of the very melancholic melody, has quite ironic lyrics? I never read it anywhere so as I’m not englishspeaking, I really have the doubt that I’m misunderstanding a “double” meaning that doesn’t exist.

  6. brian

    I love this song. Probably one of the best compositions at least harmonically, and in terms of the harmonies. Though, I kind of wish I did not know that it was sort of just its ideas from backwards Beethoven. Don’t get me wrong! The results are the results. They sound great no matter how they were conceived. It’s just the egghead in me wants to be impressed by the idea of John or whoever just being able to naturally here this sort of complicated progression. Sort of like how he just was able to naturally come up with the odd measures in across the universe. Though it is funny to hear him talk about how he doesn’t even know what time it is in. But had he known, he may have been less intuitive and able to come up with it just by being true to the phrases and flow of the piece, which is a type of genius in a sense.
    But it is also said that this progression is not EXACTLY the backwards Beethoven. So I would like to know more about how it was flushed out and by who (if not just John, or if just John). I mean, it eventually had to be pretty arranged note for note with the pauses and such. How much did George Martin arrange this, and how much was it note for note transcribed before he started working on it etc.
    So like I am saying. Sounds great regardless, but I would have been a little more impressed had his mind been able to compose this progression by hearing it one chord/phrase at a time. And I am still impressed, since it is so beautiful, and obviously he must have made some decisions to change up some of the harmonies to fit with the lyrics and such.

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