Carry That Weight - The Beatles

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"Carry That Weight" - The Beatles (1969)

Lennon said that in "Carry The Weight", “McCartney was singing about all of us.”

McCartney remembers:

“I’m generally quite upbeat, but at certain times things get to me so much that I just can’t be upbeat anymore and that was one of those times. Carry that weight a long time - like forever! That’s what I meant... in this heaviness there was no place to be. It was serious, paranoid heaviness and it was just very uncomfortable.”

The track picks up on and extends the majestically fervent gesture of “Golden Slumbersmid-section to provide one of the single most “symphonic” moments in the Beatles cannon. Unusually, the song featured vocals and harmony from all four Beatles - fittingly, as the chorus anticipated the shadow that the group would cast upon their subsequent solo years.

Musicologist Tim Riley points out that the simple groove that the drum solo sets in motion is as enticing as any rock ‘n’ roll track the Beatles have ever delivered. He says they sound like they’re enslaved by the beat, responding to the repetition’s natural currents of tension and relief.

He writes:

“The jam itself is a three-way conversation between the three guitarists with Paul’s lines being typically melodic; George’s as soaring and virtuosic; and John’s intensely rhythmic.”

Riley remarks that when all the elements- orchestra, guitar, and vocals- combine for the final cadence, the concluding line has enough veiled irony to bring these conflicting tensions together, if only to admit their existence. He points out how it’s sung both from Paul to the other Beatles and from the Beatles to their audience.

He insists thatCarry That Weight” deals with the larger implications of fame and notoriety- obligation and commitment- that weigh in the singer’s heart. In reference to the final chorus, he says that the love song Paul sings to the Beatles spells out the price that fame has extracted from their friendship. McCartney himself is addressing his own culpability in the Beatles’ rapidly encroaching dissolution.

“Carry That Weight”opens and closes with what are essentially two-line textual phrases. The first seems to suggest that the preceding melody has taken place in a dream state that involved both performer and listener. The first couplet poses the question of whether this relationship can once again be resumed in slumber. Oh yeah, all right/Are you going to be in my dreams tonight?

The song could be interpreted as about a relationship that went bad. The narrator realizes he screwed it up and how much he misses the girl. He has this deep feeling of regret that he’s going to carry for a long time- the weight.


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