The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’: 5 Great Country, Americana Covers
Fifty years ago this week, the Beatles released Abbey Road, the result of the group’s final recording sessions together after nearly a decade of revolutionizing the music industry and popular culture throughout the world. Taking its name from the London thoroughfare running past the EMI Recording Studios (officially renamed Abbey Road Studios in 1970), the album celebrates its half-century mark with the release of deluxe and super-deluxe versions boasting new mixes and bonus tracks.
As influential as the Beatles’ music has been for generations of pop and rock artists, country acts have also been taken by the lyrical and melodic genius of the Fab Four, with Rosanne Cash scoring a Number One hit with the band’s 1964 Beatles for Sale album cut “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” in 1989. Abbey Road would provide a handful of memorable remakes by country and Americana artists from the time of its release until the present day. Here are five of our favorites.
“Something,” Johnny Rodriguez
“Something” was the most-covered song of 1969, but pioneering Latin country superstar Johnny Rodriguez waited five years before releasing his take on this romantic George Harrison classic. A single from the Texas-born singer’s My Third Album, his version became a Top Ten hit, reaching Number Six in 1974. Others who would cut it include Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee, and Tanya Tucker. Harrison’s demo version is included in the just-released box set.
“Come Together,” Delbert McClinton
In 1962, McClinton’s distinctive harmonica playing was heard on the global Bruce Channel hit “Hey! Baby.” During a U.K. tour that year, McClinton shared some of his blues harmonica tips with John Lennon, and in 1995 he contributed his bluesy rendition of Lennon’s “Come Together” to an LP of Beatles covers, which also featured Randy Travis, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.
“Here Comes the Sun,” Brad Paisley and Pharrell Williams
In a February 2014 telecast that commemorated another 50th anniversary, the Beatles’ 1964 debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, George Harrison’s tranquil and optimistic “Here Comes the Sun” teamed the “Happy” hitmaker and one of country music’s most accomplished guitarists for this irresistibly bright take on a song Harrison penned on acoustic guitar in the garden at Eric Clapton’s home in Surrey, England.
“She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” Ray Stevens
Fresh off his own sunny Number One pop hit “Everything Is Beautiful,” Ray Stevens released an LP by that title, which closes with two 89 tracks then less than a year old. One, “Something,” was already proving popular with many, but this key component of Abbey Road’s side two medley, save for a memorable hit version by Joe Cocker, was more rarely covered. Here, the perpetual funnyman — and recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee — delivers a raucous, fuzz-guitar-filled take on the McCartney-penned tune that was inspired by a theft at his London home.
“Old Brown Shoe,” Chuck Mead
Although not an official Abbey Road track, this bluesy rocker by George Harrison was recorded during the album’s sessions and preceded its release, having been tacked onto the flipside of the non-LP single “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” Although Harrison’s relegation as writer of just one or two cuts per Beatles album did the “quiet Beatle” a creative disservice, this fiery version by Mead and his Grassy Knolls Boys is a rollicking rockabilly tribute.