There are only a handful of moments in recorded musical history as near to an audio orgasm (“eargasm,” if you’re an Outkast fan) as those few unbearable seconds when “Polythene Pam” swells and swells and finally bursts into “She Came Into The Bathroom Window” on The Beatles Abbey Road, the band’s impeccable farewell statement to the world. Impeccable because they weren’t even a band anymore, yet knew that Let it Be (though eventually released as such) wasn’t good enough to be the last Beatles record. The moment, though more so the product of some amazingly clever editing than carefully wrought medley (Lennon’s Pam and McCartney’s Window were written separately and the decision to blend them came later) is nonetheless visceral, a perfect accident the likes of which only the Beatles were capable, and always rearranges my loose parts into something beautifully whole.
When I listen to Abbey Road, it owns me in a manner that should come with a warning label.
Recently, I was pulled away from a pan of touchy lobster risotto, for which I made the stock myself. Have you ever made lobster stock, by the way? We may have to move if the smell doesn’t. And risotto of any variety is a dish, which, once embarked upon requires constant stirring and attention and babying. But, see, I’d put on Abbey Road. And I couldn’t keep myself from invading the adjacent living room and dropping to my knees and cranking my stereo’s dial to better hear the aforementioned moment. For a few timeless seconds, I was absent from the waking world, lost in John Lennon’s punchy “Oh, Look Out!,”the beautiful ugliness of George Harrison’s string bend response, that barely noticeable pause, then the way Paul McCartney picks up the melody and runs with it like a giddy tight end with an interception.
The risotto, by the way, was ruined.
But have you ever listened to Abbey Road? Really listened, I mean. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to get out your copy of it and listen to it from start to finish.
You don’t have that kind of time?
Okay. Do this. Put on “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” turn off the lights, open your ears, turn the stereo really fucking loud, and tell me your face isn’t on the floor when it’s over.