Aaron, Christian, and Dan contributed to this post — which I know is Too Long, but we’re almost done here.

On this historic day in Beatle history I’m going to lean heavily on Geoff Emerick’s Here, There and Everywhere again, because he was there and he tells a good story. His publishers may not be too happy with me right now — let me encourage you to buy and read the whole book, there’s a lot more to it than what I’ve shared here — but once more into the breach:

For several weeks, the four Beatles had been engaged in an animated discussion about what to call the new album. There had been lots of suggestions — Four in the Bar and All Good Children Go to Heaven among them – but the name that seemed to have the most support was Everest, in honor of the brand of cigarette I was smoking at the time.

Here are a few more alternate titles that may or may not have been considered:

  • Can We Please Stop Now?
  • Paul’s Not Feeling All That Well
  • Yoko’s Husband and His Backing Band
  • What the Stones Will Sound Like Six Months from Now
  • Bigger than Jesus (cover art of Godzilla-size Beatles towering over the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio)
  • Hippie Wigs in Woolworths
  • Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and Other Hits
  • Paul Wants to Fuck the Queen, Apparently
  • Walrus Gumboots, Octopus’s Gardens and Other Aquatic Stories
  • Barefoot Means Dead
  • Take a Load Off, Abbey
  • Smell the Feet

It was a name that also conjured up an image of climbing the highest mountain. Perhaps in their minds that served as a metaphor for the difficult task they were undertaking – recording one last album together. The name also lent itself to a compelling visual image: the four Beatles posing in front of – or even on top of – the magnificent peak.

The idea was bantered about for a couple of weeks, with Paul getting increasingly excited about making a trip to Tibet, and Ringo growing increasingly unhappy; John and George Harrison seemed to blow hot and cold. The Beatles’ drummer suffered from a chronically finicky digestive system, and so he never enjoyed travel; he probably didn’t fancy the prospect of having to pack another suitcase full of tinned baked beans, as he had done when they had gone to India.

As the deadline for printing up the album sleeve drew near, John and George Harrison began to balk at the idea, too, taking Ringo’s side. They just couldn’t see having to make such a long journey for the sake of a photo shoot.

In one or more of the parallel universes, The Beatles do make this trip and their prop plane crashes into Mount Everest, providing a spectacular and definitive end to their career, and a clear punctuation mark at the end of the Sixties. I’m not saying those are better universes — what kind of a monster do you think I am? — just more poetic ones.

“Well, if we’re not going to name it Everest and pose for the cover in Tibet, where are we going to go?” a frustrated Paul announced one afternoon. John and George Harrison looked flummoxed. Finally Ringo chirped in.

“Fuck it; let’s just step outside and name it Abbey Road.”

And so it came to pass that The Beatles walked back and forth across Abbey Road several times this morning as photographer Iain Macmillan snapped away with his Hasselblad. To this day every visiting tourist is more or less required to do the same, annoying the local residents, tying up traffic, and occasionally endangering their lives.

Here in the future, a big crowd gathered to mark the the 50th anniversary, some of them in costume. (The Beatles Industrial Complex also chose this day to officially announce the release of the latest deluxe box set, their next-to-last chance to use a big Beatles anniversary to try and separate us from our money.) It was 75 degrees and rainy. In 1969, notes The Beatles Bible, “8 August was a hot day in north London, and for four of the six photographs McCartney walked barefoot; for the other two he wore sandals.” Adds writer Ryan Britt,

In 2018, CNN reported that McCartney showed up at Abbey Road and said “There was no special meaning,” to the fact he was barefoot that day. Instead, he claims it was hot and he kicked off his sandals. Why walking on the hot paved road in bare feet was more comfortable than wearing shoes/sandals is unclear, meaning McCartney has replaced one Beatles riddle with another.

When crossing the road that time, Paul stuck with the sandals, adding socks in a bold style move.

The photo shoot didn’t take long, and according to Emerick,

Everyone found himself with a few hours to kill before the session was due to start. George Harrison and Mal [Evans] spent their free time at the nearby London Zoo, while Ringo went shopping; Paul invited John round his house for a spot of tea.

We all know how much The Beatles loved their tea:

At the afternoon session, Paul recorded guitar and tambourine parts (ultimately unused) for “Oh! Darling” while, in another studio, John used George’s Moog to add white noise to the end of “I Want You” (still not yet officially subtitled “She’s So Heavy”). “We ended the session fairly early,” says Geoff Emerick. “There was a summer weekend ahead, and we all had plans.”

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