A great Throwback Thursday edition…
Last night, August 7, I was sitting in a music studio during my daughter’s piano lesson.
While the teacher went over all the scales, notes, rests, measures, and other musical jargon with my daughter, I began to focus on the huge “Abbey Road” poster hanging above the piano. Of course I’ve seen the image before. It’s obviously iconic. I’ve even noticed the poster in the studio before. But tonight I really noticed it.
I vaguely recalled hearing stories about Paul. And wasn’t he barefoot? From where I sat it looked like he probably was. Or were those just light colored shoes? Maybe I was just bored with listening to the lesson but I let my mind wander even more.
Why were they walking in the order they were? Did Ringo really want to walk behind John? Wasn’t Paul concerned with possibly stepping on the backs of Ringo’s shoes with his bare feet? Did the photographer call out John for walking too fast and having to make the others hurry to catch up? Why were they wearing the clothes they were wearing? Whose decision was it to have them walk across the street? Had they each made their own decision on what to wear or was it a managerial decision? Other than the Abbey Road studio being on the same street, why this street? Why a street at all? Who owned the VW? What was each one thinking as they crossed the street? In scrutinizing the photo from where I was sitting, they didn’t look very happy. Then again, I knew “Abbey Road” was recorded near the end. So maybe that was it.
When I arrived home like any curious bugger would, I jumped online and found an article written in 2016 about the story behind the album’s artwork. Ironically, the photo for “Abbey Road” was one of six shot by photographer Lain Macmillan at 10 in the morning on August 8, 1969. Fifty years ago this very day.
I read on about how traffic had been stopped for ten minutes while this photographer stood on a stepladder to get shots. Of course I’d heard the stories about Paul being “dead” and many had a theory that the Paul in the photo really wasn’t Paul. There’s a VW allegedly depicting a license plate that read “28IF” indicating to some theorists that Paul would have been 28 “if he lived” (but who can read the plate?). Interesting but kind of far-fetched. Also many believe that the members are wearing the clothes they are wearing as a representation of Paul being “dead”: John is in white representing Jesus, Ringo, in black, is the undertaker, Paul is barefoot and allegedly walking with his eyes closed (who can tell?) because he’s “dead”. He’s also holding a cigarette in his right hand, although he is left-handed. But who holds a cigarette in their hand at all if they’re dead? Finally, George is all in denim because he’s the gravedigger. It’s an interesting theory and it very well may have been the band’s way at playing one final game with their fans before their split. But even Paul has dismissed it. Or was it really Paul?
Anyway, here we are on August 8, 2019 to celebrate fifty years of one of the most iconic album covers of our time. May it still intrigue music lovers fifty years from now and leave them wondering as much as it has made me wonder.