The influence of soul music, jazz, and Tin Pan Alley in the songs of Lennon and McCartney is well documented. However, when it comes to the influence of classical music on the Beatles’ music, most people attribute this to the work of their producer, George Martin. After all, it was Martin who provided the string quartet arrangement for “Yesterday,” the orchestral crescendo of “A Day In The Life,” and the woodwind, brass, and string arrangements throughout Abbey Road. Yet, there is at least one Beatles song that was based on a classical sonata – and it was written by John Lennon.
On Abbey Road’s second side, tucked between George Harrison’s remarkable “Here Comes the Sun” and the famous medley, is one of the Beatles’ less analyzed compositions, “Because.” Written almost entirely by John Lennon, it features an electric harpsichord and a three-part vocal arrangement that was realized with significant help from George Martin. But, it is Yoko Ono who deserves a good portion of the credit for “Because.” It is most obvious in the song’s lyrics which call to mind poems that might be found in her book Grapefruit. Less obvious is Ono’s help in the genesis of the song’s music thanks to her classical piano training and her love of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
In his latest TikTok video, Deconstructing the Beatles’ Scott Freiman explains how Ono — and Beethoven — helped in the creation of “Because.” In the first part, Scott examines the musical side, and the Beethoven connection:
In the second part, Scott dives into the hugely-inventive lyrics:
Taken together, it’s a master class in composition, and one of many high points on the sublime “Abbey Road.” (You can also watch the full video on YouTube if you prefer.)
-The CS Team
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