When was it recorded? Aug. 1-5, 1969
When was it first released, and on which album? Sept. 26, 1969 on “Abbey Road”
Who wrote it? Lennon (possibly with noteworthy contribution from Yoko Ono)
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
“Because” has the distinction of being the final song recorded for “Abbey Road” and therefore the last song recorded by all the Beatles members (though Ringo doesn’t really appear on the recorded version… see more below). It was written by Lennon and features a cool three-part vocal harmony of John, Paul, and George, which was then dubbed twice to make it sound like nine voices. (Nine was kind of an arc number in their work, so that’s groovy.) Quoth Wikipedia, “McCartney and Harrison both said it was their favorite track on Abbey Road.”
If you have or are going to read anything about this song, you’re gonna hear the story about how “Because” is supposed to be Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” backwards. It’s not an exact reversal. That isn’t really possible in Western-reading music (see the Snopes article in Sources for more info); here’s John’s version of events.
“Yoko was playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano. She was classically trained. I said, ‘Can you play those chords backward?’ and wrote ‘Because’ around them. The lyrics speak for themselves; they’re clear. No bullshit. No imagery, no obscure references.” — John Lennon (David Sheff, All We Are Saying)
For reference, here’s “Moonlight Sonata” in full (since the articles I read didn’t specify which movement she was playing). It’s only 15 minutes so don’t have a cow.
Additionally, Paul noted in a different biography, “I wouldn’t mind betting Yoko was in on the writing of that, it’s rather her kind of writing.” Hence my inclusion of her under the writing credit above.
While recording “Because,” Ringo performed (quote Wikipedia) “a basic hi-hat rhythm, but this was for guide purposes only and wasn’t recorded.” Sorry, Rings. “Because” was, however, one of the Beatles’ only songs to feature a Moog synthesizer, an instrument that was really coming into vogue at the end of their era. George was the one rocking it on this recording.
I don’t know about “Moonlight Sonata” backwards, but I’m definitely hearing the first 20-30 seconds of “Ave Maria” in there.
If a capella is your thing, you’re in luck. Those groovy vocal harmonies were isolated and released on “Anthology 3.” It’s pretty freakin’ awesome.
David Sheff, All We Are Saying
Barry Miles, Many Years From Now