When was it recorded? Jul. 2 & 30-31 and 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? Yes
What my research dug up:
“Golden Slumbers” is the beginning of the end – as I’ve mentioned on Day 33: “Carry That Weight” and Day 60: “The End,” this song kicks off a medley that closes the album “Abbey Road.”
“I was playing the piano in Liverpool in my dad’s house, and my stepsister Ruth’s piano book was up on the stand. I was flicking through it and I came to ‘Golden Slumbers.’ I can’t read music and I couldn’t remember the old tune, so I just started playing my own tune to it. I liked the words so I kept them, and it fitted with another bit of song I had.” — Paul McCartney (Anthology)
The album notes don’t credit or even mention the writer of said work; fortunately I have a wealth of experience researching long-dead writers. Born 1572 and died 1632, Dekker was, quoth Wikipedia, “an English Elizabethan dramatist and pamphleteer, a versatile and prolific writer whose career spanned several decades and brought him into contact with many of the period’s most famous dramatists.” His contact with such writers wasn’t quite close enough – due to his “disordered life” (Wiki) and lack of contacts in the publishing industry (like Shakespeare), most of Dekker’s work has been lost. His existing plays – excluding The Shoemaker’s Holiday — aren’t particularly well known today either. Sorry, Dekks.
That’s OK – the only play of his we need to talk about is “Patient Grissel.” Well, he co-wrote it with Henry Chettle, and William Haughton. Crediting issues all around with this number. This 1603 play includes a ballad I’ve seen called both “Cradle Song” and “Golden Slumbers.”
Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise;
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby,
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.
Inferring from Paul’s quote above, this song was written with an already-drafted “Carry That Weight” in mind. Naturally, the two songs were recorded together.
To quote Wikipedia, “The main recording session for ‘Golden Slumbers’/’Carry That Weight” was on 2 July 1969.” As I’ve mentioned before, John was in the hospital due to a car accident and thus isn’t featured on this number. George Martin, as always, arranged the orchestra part added on Aug. 15. Worth noting: George [Harrison] plays bass on this song.
Sounds kind of lame on its own like that, but now, I finally get to post this!
Can I get a “hell yeah?” Sorry, I just really like the end of “Abbey Road.” I was thinking the other day of albums that have great closing numbers. This one is definitely on the shortlist. I don’t like “Golden Slumbers” solo nearly as much as I like the complete medley, which makes a lot of sense after learning it was never supposed to stand alone.