When was it recorded? Jul. 2 to Aug. 15, 1969
When was it first released, and on which album? Sept. 26, 1969 on “Abbey Road”
Who wrote it? McCartney
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
I have a feeling listening to this one on its own is going to be weird since it segues out of and into two other songs…
“Carry That Weight” is about the struggles of being a Beatles. Paul is on record as saying the song is partly about difficulties they were having with their record label, Apple Corps. More importantly though, music critic Ian MacDonald “interpreted the lyric as an acknowledgment by the group that nothing they would do as individual artists would equal what they had achieved together, and they would always carry the weight of their Beatle past” (Wikipedia). Fittingly, this is one of the few songs all four Beatles recorded vocals on.
“Carry That Weight” is basically the second half of “Golden Slumbers,” which precedes it on “Abbey Road” and (as noted below) was recorded inn the same session. The song then segues into “The End” on the album. “Carry That Weight” also features elements of “You Never Give Me Your Money,” which appears earlier on “Abbey Road.” Quoth the online Beatles Bible, “McCartney’s weaving of elements from other songs in the Abbey Road medley gave a sense of continuity and completeness” to the album’s ending.
Recording for “Golden Slumbers” and “Carry That Weight” began on July 2 without John present as he had been in a car accident and was hospitalized. As a result, according to MacDonald, all John provided for this song was a vocal track. Bummer.
Paul, George, and Ringo recorded 15 takes of the two songs on July 2, and takes 13 and 15 were edited together the next day. John recorded his vocals – along with the other three adding more vocal parts – on July 30, and more drums were added the next day. It wasn’t until Aug. 15 that the orchestral part was recorded and added.
A number of commenters on the Beatles Bible article said they thought Ringo overpowered the other three on the chorus, and now I’m laughing because it’s kind of true. He just has a distinctive voice! Clipped ending aside, this song is great. I’ve always loved “You Never Give…” so I appreciated being able to recognize that part of the tune. I can’t wait until I get to “Golden Slumbers” and “The End” so I can return to and analyize how this song combines with them.