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