The nightmare of recording The Beatles song ‘Because’

No artist can claim to get everything right in the studio. Although some songs might lend themselves well to being recorded live, other tracks can take months before coming to fruition, usually testing the artist’s patience in the process. The Beatles were known for making the most outlandish music of their time, but one of their most delicate songs tested their tolerance to the limit.

Then again, every single band member’s patience was wearing thin towards the end of their career. Following the maligned sessions for The White Album, the group’s attempt to reconcile by getting back to their roots on the Get Back project was marred with controversy, including George Harrison quitting halfway through before being coaxed to come back to the fold.

Even though the band could still play better than they ever could, their creative differences led to them hunkering down to give one final album to the fans. Across Abbey Road, every musician would play to the best of their abilities, resulting in some of the most adventurous material they had ever created. These ranged from Paul McCartney’s contributions to the medley on side two to Harrison coming up with his best songs yet on ‘Something’ and ‘Here Comes the Sun’.

For all of the avant-garde music that John Lennon was making with his wife, Yoko Ono, he still knew how to play rock and roll when he wanted. Although the album would kick off with the massive rocker ‘Come Together’, Lennon had something more complex when approaching the ballad ‘Because’.

Written after hearing Ono play the chords to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata backwards, Lennon wrote lyrics about the natural elements of life and how they affect the world around him. Although the group decided that they wouldn’t need any drums on the final recording, the piece’s highlight would be their vocal chemistry, with Lennon, McCartney and Harrison layering multiple tracks on top of each other to create nine-part harmony.

Even though the song would be known as the most daring vocal showcase for the group, it didn’t come without a fair bit of squabbling. Despite spending hours on the piece, the session would be marred by McCartney’s perfectionism, convincing the trio that they didn’t have the final track and pressing on to create something even better.

As engineer Geoff Emerick recalled in Here There and Everywhere, the band would continue to press on with the vocals before being deflated when they went into the control room, saying, “They laboured for a long time in their backing track. Paul was pushing them too hard that night, having them do take after take, playing way past their peak.”

By the time they got back to the control room, Lennon was infuriated at what he heard. Emerick explained, “When the exhausted trio finally came up to have a listen, they realised that they had laid down a perfectly good take an hour before. John didn’t say anything, but he shot an embarrassed Paul a dirty look. Fortunately, they seemed too tired to make an issue out of it.”

Even though the song would test everyone’s collective patience, ‘Because’ would become a favourite of everyone once the album was finished, with Harrison and McCartney calling it one of the best on the album. As much as the band had grown collectively as musicians and songwriters, ‘Because’ brought them back to what they did best: singing in harmony together.

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