The Beatles

Her Majesty

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Song Review by

"Her Majesty" is the briefest Beatles song, lasting a mere 23 seconds. On its own, it would have been judged as one of the group's least substantial tracks, though it had a throwaway charm. In its context, however, it was very effective and memorable. For "Her Majesty" was the track that ended the Abbey Road album, in a manner that ensured that people never forgot its existence. Most of side two of Abbey Road (or most of the last half of the CD) is taken up by a long medley of segued-together brief songs, ending with, appropriately, "The End." The grand fanfare of "The End" settles on an appropriate sustained chord for the finale, and when that chord fades away -- at least the first time you hear the album -- it seems that the record's done. However, after a very, very long gap of silence -- much longer than the customary gap of silence separating most album tracks -- a chord clangs with such force that it's apt to wake up the dozing cat in the corner. It's the beginning of "Her Majesty," and though that first chord is a full-band bash, otherwise it's a folky acoustic guitar ballad, sung by primary composer Paul McCartney. McCartney here sounds like he's busking between takes, with this pleasant if slightly jokey ditty about how he's gonna make her majesty his, though he'll have to get a bellyful of wine. After a standard slightly hammy folk song ending where he repeats his determination to pursue her majesty a couple of times, a low note sounds and the track suddenly stops, as if someone's pulled the plug on the stereo equipment. To add to the surprise false ending of the album itself that "Her Majesty" supplied, the track was not listed on the first pressings of the LP, though it soon was added to the sleeve, perhaps so that DJs didn't suddenly have the track jolt into their announcing after they thought "The End" had brought side two of Abbey Road to a close. It was eventually determined that "Her Majesty" has such a quirky beginning and ending because it was originally supposed to be a part of the regular Abbey Road medley, between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam." McCartney asked for it to be removed, and an engineer put it onto the end of a tape of the medley, after a long gap of silence, rather than throwing it out. When McCartney heard it in this context, he liked how it sounded. The reason it starts with that bashing chord is that it's the chord that originally ended "Mean Mr. Mustard." A "full" version of "Her Majesty," believe it or not, has been bootlegged, which is missing that opening chord, but restores a conventional acoustic guitar chord at the very end, after the low chopped-off-sounding note that ends the actual album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Abbey Road 1969 Apple Records / Capitol 0:27
No Image 1991 Yellow Dog Records
No Image 1993 Big Music 0:27
The Ultimate Box Set 1995 Capitol 0:23
No Image 199? VigoTone
The Beatles: Stereo Box Set 2009 Capitol 0:27
The Beatles USB 2009 Capitol / EMI 0:27