The Beatles song Ringo Starr considered their “finest piece”

Towards the end of The Beatles’ career, it didn’t look like most people were having any fun. After trying to get back to their roots on albums like Let It Be, the constant business meetings amongst the big wigs at their record company left them either uninspired, interested, or working on their solo material instead. As the band returned to Abbey Road Studios for one last time, all of the bad blood began fading away when they started working on the music.

Crafted as a true labour of love, Abbey Road became The Beatles’ final artistic statement, showing each songwriter operating at the peak of their powers. Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney may have offered up some of their best material, George Harrison also came into his own as a songwriter, penning two iconic tracks in ‘Something’ and ‘Here Comes the Sun’, which both Lennon and McCartney considered a favourite.

The best moments in The Beatles were about each member working as a tight group, though, and Ringo Starr considers their greatest achievement to be the entire second side of the record, a collection that has been affectionately dubbed ‘The Long One’. Bringing together some odds and ends from their recording sessions, there isn’t a minute of letup for the back half, bringing together different pieces of songs into one grand medley.

Although there is no linear storyline connecting all of these songs together, Starr always considered them to be the highlight of his recording career, once telling Rolling Stone: “Out of the ashes of all that madness, that last section for me is one of the finest pieces we put together”. Despite Starr’s praise, John Lennon was less enthused about the final half, explaining: “None of the songs had anything to do with each other, no thread at all, only the fact that we stuck them together”.

Even if the band assembled the sequence purely by chance, the result boasted some of their greatest musicianship, including going through multiple key changes within a matter of seconds on ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ and delicately balancing the tone of every song, from the serene atmosphere of ‘Sun King’ to the raucous energy of ‘Polythene Pam’.

Towards the end of the medley, Starr also lays down his only drum solo to make it onto a Beatles record, leading the rest of the band into the song ‘The End’, which also features McCartney, Harrison and Lennon respectfully trading guitar licks between each other before leaving McCartney to deliver the final line of their career: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”.

Although the songs may have had little to do with each other, each Beatle knew the significance of what they were putting together, with George Martin recalling the band playing through the entire medley for the hell of it in between proper takes of the song. While The Beatles may have been at each other’s throats only a few months before working on the album, Martin identified the joyful atmosphere coming from the sessions, saying, “It was a very happy record. I guess it was happy because everybody thought it was going to be the last”.

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