Released: 26 September 1969 (UK), 1 October 1969 (US)
A lament about The Beatles’ business wranglings of early 1969, You Never Give Me Your Money was written by Paul McCartney and was the genesis of the ‘long medley’ that dominated the second half of the Abbey Road album.
This was me directly lambasting Allen Klein’s attitude to us: no money, just funny paper, all promises and it never works out. It’s basically a song about no faith in the person, that found its way into the medley on Abbey Road. John saw the humour in it.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
The song is made up of a number of disparate parts, joined together in the manner of Lennon’s Happiness Is A Warm Gun. The first part begins with a thinly-veiled protest at the influence of Allen Klein, whom McCartney profoundly distrusted.
‘Funny paper’ – that’s what we get. We get bits of paper saying how much is earned and what this is and that is, but we never actually get it in pounds, shilling and pence. We’ve all got a big house and a car and an office, but to actually get the money we’ve earned seems impossible.
The second part is a fondly nostalgic look back to The Beatles’ earliest days, with a boogie-woogie backing led by McCartney on piano. Wistfully recalling the days when the group yearned to be “toppermost of the poppermost”, having left college with no money and few job prospects, it describes “that magic feeling: nowhere to go.”
The Beatles’ future may be gone, but McCartney is determined to salvage their spirit, and that of the Sixties, for his future. You Never Give Me Your Money marks the psychological opening of his solo career.
A lengthy guitar solo acts as a bridge to the penultimate part of the song (“One sweet dream, pick up the bags and get in the limousine”). This section was written while McCartney was in New York with his wife Linda, and referred to their fondness for getting purposefully lost in the countryside.
The climax of You Never Give Me Your Money is the repeated chant: “One two three four five six seven, all good children go to heaven”. It is backed by a motif of guitar notes that would later return as the bridge between Carry That Weight and The End.
The song plays out with a selection of tape loops, with which the song segues into Sun King.
That’s Paul. Well, that’s not a song, you know. Abbey Road was really unfinished songs all stuck together. Everybody praises the album so much, but none of the songs had anything to do with each other, no thread at all, only the fact that we stuck them together.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
In the studio
The Beatles began recording You Never Give Me Your Money on 6 May 1969. They laid down 36 takes of the song, which at this point ended abruptly immediately before the “One two three four five six seven” refrain.
On this day the line-up was McCartney on piano and guide vocals, Lennon on distorted guitar, Harrison on another guitar, fed through a revolving Leslie speaker, and Starr played drums.
McCartney alone returned to it on 1 July, overdubbing his lead vocals onto take 30. Two weeks later, on 15 July, more vocals were added, as were chimes – heard towards the end of the song.
On 30 July, when The Beatles prepared a rough mix of the long medley, they tried various ways to merge You Never Give Me Your Money into Sun King. At this point they settled upon a long organ note. More vocals were also recorded.
These vocals were scrapped the next day, and McCartney completed the song with the addition of bass and piano. The crossfade into Sun King, meanwhile, was finally settled on 5 August, when he assembled a collection of tape loops containing the sounds of bells, birds, bubbles and insects.