The Beatles had discussed radically changing their approach on the potential follow-up album to Abbey Road.
Lennon had suggested the proposed LP more fairly showcase each of the band's principal composers, giving George Harrison equal footing for the first time. Harrison would have had the opportunity to contribute four songs to the album, the same as Lennon and McCartney, with Ringo being offered two "if he wants them".
Thanks to Beatles expert Mark Lewisohn, a tape from the Beatles meeting held on September 8th 1969 at Apple Headquarters on London's Savile Row was unearthed, giving the details. The recording was made while Ringo was hospitalised with stomach problems. Lennon says at the beginning of the tape:
Ringo – you can't be here, but this is so you can hear what we're discussing
"It's a revelation. 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. 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?" Lewisohn said.
- This is how 'Hey Jude' was created by the Beatles
- Beatles fans celebrate 'Abbey Road' cover photo anniversary
McCartney still seems taken aback by Harrison's recent songwriting successes in the recording, which included the chart-topping 'Something' and 'Here Comes the Sun,' a key album track. "I thought until this album that George's songs weren't that good," McCartney said on the tape, despite the fact that Harrison's 'Taxman' opened the Beatles' 1966 masterpiece Revolver.
However, some tensions have remained from the responses to this swipe.
"That's a matter of taste," Harrison fires back on the recording. "All down the line, people have liked my songs." Lennon then openly complains about "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," a McCartney contribution from the soon-to-be-released Abbey Road that began with 21 gruelling takes.
Lennon suggested that McCartney give things like that to other artists, including Mary Hopkin – who had just scored a No. 2 UK hit with a discarded McCartney tune. He stands firm: "I recorded it because I liked it," says McCartney of 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer'.