In the penultimate song on the Beatles’ album Abbey Road, the Fab Four sing “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.” The song was called “The End” and although Let It Be was released later, the fact is that Abbey Road was the last album the band recorded and, as Beatles lore has told us for the past five decades, it was consciously designed to be the last Beatles album ever.
Except, maybe it wasn’t? A historian has unearthed a lost interview tape featuring a conversation that seems to indicate that the Beatles were at one point considering recording an album to be released after both Let It Be and Abbey Road. It’s a kooky, alternate 1970s fever dream, that might have almost happened. On Wednesday, the Guardian published a story in which music historian Mark Lewisohn says a long-forgotten recording of Beatles chatter proves John Lennon and Paul McCartney were kicking around the idea of another album beyond Abbey Road.
“The books have always told us that they knew Abbey Road was their last album and they wanted to go out on an artistic high,” Lewisohn tells the Guardian. “But no – they’re discussing the next album. And you think that John is the one who wanted to break them up but when you hear this, he isn’t. Doesn’t that rewrite pretty much everything we thought we knew?”
The article also makes it clear that this next album would have been another collaborative effort — meaning that, like on Abbey Road, the songs would have been written by all four Beatles. But instead of the “Lennon-and-McCartney myth” — dual credits on songs written by one man or the other — the band would use a new formula proposed by John: “four songs apiece from Paul, George and himself, and two from Ringo…”
Obviously, nothing came of these loose plans and the Beatles broke-up not long after the release of Abbey Road. But in another twist, Lewisohn also points out that much of Abbey Road might not have been recorded at Abbey Road. “In fact, Abbey Road was not the only recording location for the album: earlier sessions were held at Olympic in Barnes and Trident in Soho.” This has led Lewisohn to dup a hypothetical alternate name for the album: “Hornsey Road.”
At present, “Hornsey Road” exists as a one-night upcoming presentation hosted by Mark Lewisohn at the Royal and Derngate theatre in Northhampton in the U.K on September 18, 2019.
Later this year, a newly remastered version of Abbey Road is set to be released by Apple Records.