Hear the Isolated Vocal Tracks for The Beatles’ Climactic 16-Minute Medley on Abbey Road

I have many mem­o­ries grow­ing up of gin­ger­ly plac­ing my father’s Abbey Road LP on the turntable and spend­ing the after­noon lying on the floor and peer­ing at the pho­tos inside the album cover’s gatefold—trying to wrap my head around what kind of hairy genius­es could make music like this. I had no inkling that this was their final record­ing togeth­er, that the band was about to come apart. None of that mat­tered to me. I didn’t quite grasp how this band evolved from the teen pop sen­sa­tions in iden­ti­cal suits and hair­cuts with their legions of flail­ing school­girl fans and goofy com­e­dy troupe ban­ter. This seemed like an entire­ly dif­fer­ent entity—and the par­tic­u­lar sub­lim­i­ty of the med­ley on side 2 (lis­ten to it here) had me lift­ing up the nee­dle and drop­ping it back at the intro to “You Nev­er Give Me Your Mon­ey” over and over.

That med­ley is such an impres­sive demon­stra­tion of The Bea­t­les’ range of voice and sen­si­bil­i­ty that it almost func­tions as a cap­sule for the sound of their whole lat­er career—all the weird nar­ra­tives, blues, bal­lads, and gor­geous­ly lush hymns and lul­la­bies. What remains con­stant through­out every Bea­t­les’ record—even before George and Ringo’s song­writ­ing contributions—is the vocal and lyri­cal inter­play of Lennon/McCartney, and it’s all on fine dis­play in the med­ley.

George Har­ri­son described side 2 in 1969 as “a big med­ley of Paul and John’s songs all shoved togeth­er.” Lennon gave George and Ringo more cred­it for the med­ley in an inter­view that same year:

We always have tons of bits and pieces lying around. I’ve got stuff I wrote around Pep­per, because you lose inter­est after you’ve had it for years. It was a good way of get­ting rid of bits of songs. In fact, George and Ringo wrote bits of it… lit­er­al­ly in between bits and breaks. Paul would say, ‘We’ve got twelve bars here– fill it in,’ and we’d fill it in on the spot. As far as we’re con­cerned, this album is more ‘Beat­ley’ than the dou­ble (White) album.

How­ev­er it all came about, it’s the med­ley’s strange lyri­cal twists, mélange of vocal styles, and pow­er­ful har­monies that stay with me, and that I find myself singing soft­ly, even after hav­ing gone sev­er­al years with­out hear­ing the album in full. Per­haps you do this too. Now we can hear what The Bea­t­les’ them­selves sound­ed like in the stu­dio sans instru­ments with the iso­lat­ed vocal tracks for the side 2 med­ley at the top of the post. Hear the full album ver­sion here and see the Med­ley track­list below.

You Nev­er Give Me Your Mon­ey

Sun King

Mean Mr. Mus­tard

Poly­thene Pam

She Came in Through the Bath­room Win­dow

Gold­en Slum­bers

Car­ry That Weight

The End

via Eric Alper

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Short Film on the Famous Cross­walk From the Bea­t­les’ Abbey Road Album Cov­er

John Lennon’s Raw, Soul-Bar­ing Vocals From the Bea­t­les’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ (1969)

The 10-Minute, Nev­er-Released, Exper­i­men­tal Demo of The Bea­t­les’ “Rev­o­lu­tion” (1968)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (47)
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  • LubecLou says:

    Look on the works of the mighty and despair, mere boy bands

  • cfo says:

    Such a well-writ­ten arti­cle that per­fect­ly high­lights the mag­ic that was The Bea­t­les. Har­monies were always such a key part of their sound. From ear­ly on, when they would sing some­thing like “This Boy” — in beau­ti­ful, per­fect, 3‑part har­mo­ny — all the way through a tune like “Because” from their swan song, Abbey Road, one always knew har­mo­ny was part of their dna. And they did it so well.

  • Franz Gruber says:

    Paul’s voice on Gold­en Slum­bers is just aston­ish­ing.

  • Marc Lanthier says:

    Nice sto­ry. How­ev­er, Abbey Road was nev­er pub­lished in a gate­fold pack­ag­ing.

  • redhand126 says:

    Why they were the best, tru­ly amaz­ing

  • redhand126 says:

    Can hear some ear­ly Queen-like sounds in there.
    a lit­tle bit of track bleed as well.

  • tone says:

    Ah yes, the Abbey Road gate­fold, I remem­ber it as well as disc 2 of the Sgt Pep­per’s dou­ble album and the bonus EP of all George songs when the Let It Be album was released. nev­er let the facts get in the way of a good sto­ry. Still these boys could do no wrong. Superb



  • John Spidaliere says:

    Aston­ish­ing. This was the sound­track of my youth. I wore out LP after LP of this album.

  • Kevin J. O'Brien says:

    She Came In Through The Bath­room Win­dow, was writ­ten about a groupie who broke into Paul’s house through the bath­room win­dow.

  • Alice Enland says:

    Starr and Har­ri­son were 2 of the luck­i­est peo­ple of the 20th cen­tu­ry. They were mere­ly jour­ney­man qual­i­ty musi­cians who were in the right place at the right time. Their major con­tri­bu­tion to the Bea­t­les was to keep out of the way.

    • sokolowmus says:

      sure­ly you jest…George’s songs are some of the best Bea­t­les songs (some­thing, here comes the sun) plus post-bea­t­les (all things must pass, isn’t it a pity)…and how many times in the stu­dio dur­ing the 70s & 80s did I hear a pro­duc­er tell a drum­mer “think like Ringo”..because he sup­port­ed a singer and a song so well, & swung so hard w/out get­ting in the way

      • jon says:

        tho alice is severe­ly doing an injus­tice to the two , ringo and George did hit the lot­tery in a way(lol)…George is a great gui­tarist, part of the wit of the bea­t­les, a great voice, his song­writ­ing was late in bloom­ing and he nev­er real­ly became a “great songwriter”…really more of a great musi­cian with some great songs, but it was all a team effort, martin,emoerick too
        ringo is sore­ly underrated…a great great drum­mer, per­fect for that band
        its doubt­ful we would have heard of George or ringo oth­er­wise, but that’s what life is, mak­ing the most of ur chances…they did

    • Penny Will White says:

      Don’t you dare diss my favorite Bea­t­le, Ringo Starr … I loved his solo stuff .… espe­cial­ly the stuff he did with Har­ry Nils­son ..

    • Frank Elliott says:

      As a drum­mer, I nev­er ful­ly appre­ci­at­ed Ringo’s con­tri­bu­tions until I was in a band that wrote its own songs — some of them pret­ty off-the-wall. Try­ing to fig­ure out how to drum to these songs was the biggest chal­lenge of my musi­cal life. This is what Ringo faced as the Bea­t­les repeat­ed­ly ven­tured into unchart­ed ter­ri­to­ry. Imag­ine hav­ing to come up with the drum part for “Fix­ing a Hole” or “Being for the Ben­e­fit of Mr. Kite.” Ringo clear­ly was not tech­ni­cal­ly a great drum­mer, but artis­ti­cal­ly, he’s at the top of my list.

    • stsk says:

      Well, John dis­agreed. In an inter­view I read years ago he opined that Ringo (and Char­lie Watts) were both unfair­ly unap­pre­ci­at­ed for their tal­ent. He called Ringo’s abil­i­ty to keep a steady beat and sol­id foun­da­tion a rare trait that was much more impor­tant than he got cred­it for.

    • Tone says:

      You obvi­ous­ly know noth­ing of The Bea­t­les. I sup­pose it’s a bit like peo­ple pan­ning Dylan. With The Bea­t­les and Dylan, you either get it or you don’t. No amount of expla­na­tion will do. With all due respect, you just don’t ‘get it’. The first ex- Bea­t­le to have a num­ber 1 sin­gle and num­ber 1 album on both sides of the Atlantic at the same time was Har­ri­son.

  • Karen says:

    One of my favorite Bea­t­les songs…although its real­ly is so hard to pick one. I love them all!

  • Jason Wright says:

    Oh well. It looks like the iso­lat­ed tracks have been replaced with the reg­u­lar med­ley. That’s a shame.

    • John Wilkins says:

      I think it’s when the piano is played at the same time as the vocals by Paul. Some­one is using a tam­borine in one of them.

  • billiewillieme says:

    The voice of MY gen­er­a­tion „„„„„„„„„peace

  • Robert Clark says:

    Bril­liant record­ing and sound engi­neer­ing with ana­log equip­ment .George Mar­tin and the Bea­t­les with each of their musi­cian tal­ents made a mas­ter piece that showed the end of their time togeth­er. They made musi­cal instru­ments part of the songs first then the vocials.The best har­mo­ny of their careers. Com­pare the ear­ly Bea­t­les to the last record­ings it would have hard to repro­duce live. It shows how great they were in the ear­ly years when they played live.

  • Judy Reach says:

    Wow besides the mem­o­ries evoked from these blend­ed voic­es it proves their musi­cal and writ­ing genius. I am just glad I was in the era when they emerged and blew music apart with their British tunes and tones. This Acapel­lo ren­di­tion is sweeeeet!

  • Marcus Scottus says:

    Won­der­ful. I man­aged to sync the two youtube streams so I could fade the fin­ished ver­sion in and out. The sec­ond video is around nine­teen sec­onds ahead of the first.

  • Tone says:

    The Bea­t­les had nailed three part har­monies many years before they had ever heard Bri­an Wil­son doing Chuck Berry. If you’re look­ing for influ­ences for The Bea­t­les you’ll have to stay in the 50’s. Lit­tle Richard, Everlys, Bud­dy Hol­ly, Perkins, Elvis etc, etc.

  • Sam Wallace says:

    im tak­en with a feel­ing on sad­ness when i hear them nowadays,in many ways they rep­re­sent the prime peak of west­ern civalisation,and now we seem on this unstop­pable slide,everything we held so dear is failing.nand just hear­ing the bea­t­les makes me think of a time when it all seemed so posible.nnnmaybe its just nos­tal­gia on my part,i hope so

    • PaulScott58 says:

      Sam, I know what you mean, but I encour­age you to fight back all the way to the end. The bad guys want you to give up. Don’t.nnnDo some­thing every day to make the world a bet­ter place. Might be trite, but it works. The mark of a suc­cess­ful per­son is one who, after death, leaves a bet­ter world.

  • joemichaels says:

    Per­haps, Anne. But I doubt it. Seems The Bea­t­les were doing inter­est­ing har­monies before the Beach Boys, me thinks.

  • dmpartners says:

    Sweet Bea­t­les What a group

  • Stephan Gregor says:

    Here I am, all excit­ed, and it’s blocked. Shoul­da got here soon­er, eh?

  • flash087 says:

    Thanks Sony. Came back to lis­ten to this and its blocked. That teach­es me to down­load it if I like it. Does­nt pay to be hon­est. Every­one who likes the Bea­t­les has the album. How much extra mon­ey does that put in their pock­ets?

  • Ivan Obregon says:

    EMI, like Capi­tol did to dylan a few years ago, is lit­er­al­ly wip­ing away the bril­liant lega­cy of visu­al video- trib­utes to the Bea­t­les’ great music on youtube, as stu­pid and short-sight­ed a kor­po­rate deci­sion as David Bowie’s refusal to let hip hop sam­ple any of his songs to.…future gen­er­a­tions.

  • Linda says:

    When you hear any of the Bea­t­les’ songs with either voice, or bass iso­lat­ed for exam­ples; you real­ize how much is going on in songs you real­ly thought you knew inside out. Then you real­ize that once you hear a song with­out iso­la­tion, after hear­ing just the voic­es in that same song you’ll nev­er not hear the mag­ic. You can’t unknow some­thing. There is no one who com­pares to The Bea­t­les.

  • blanny says:

    Is that a female voice singing “love you” at the end?

    • Johannes says:

      I believe it’s sim­ply Paul or John or George record­ed at a slow­er speed, thus mak­ing it sound high­er on play­back.

  • Barry says:

    Incred­i­ble! Is there a site with Dylan vocals only?

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