More on Abbey Road

As Kara mentioned this morning, Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of the taking of the iconic photo that graced the cover of the Beatles' Abbey Road album and it was celebrated with all the crazed enthusiasm that a band that once claimed they were bigger than Jesus can still inspire.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to head down there for the mayhem "“ I was engaging in another British passion, "walking," and was out in the country on a 10-mile hike "“ but I have been able to catch up on some of the goings on. According to published reports, it was a madhouse: Hundreds of Beatles fans, some in costume, flocked to the famous crosswalk (called, quaintly enough, a "zebra crossing" here), singing along to the St. Pepper's Only Dartboard Band covers and stopping traffic for a few hours. From photos and TV news coverage, it looked to be an awesome party and no doubt the remaining Beatles are still smiling.

In honor of the occasion, here's a bit of Abbey Road trivia, of all sorts:

The album was originally going to be called Everest, after the brand of cigarettes the band's sound engineer, Geoff Emerik, smoked. That idea was nixed when they realized that actually going to the Himalayas to do the photo shoot would be a bit prohibitive, and they tried to think of something closer to home. Ultimately, Paul McCartney sketched out a picture of four little stick figures in the zebra crossing, and the idea was born.

Abbey Road was the final album recorded by the band, though not the final one released (that would be Let It Be).

The album, in order, included:
- John Lennon's "Come Together," which was inspired by a campaign song he wrote for Timothy Leary's bid for governor of California

- George Harrison's "Something," one of his first successful songwriting efforts

- Paul McCartney's "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"

- "Oh! Darling" also by McCartney

- The trippy "Octopus's Garden," written by Ringo Starr

- "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is one of the Beatles' longest songs "“ it cuts out at 7:44, leading some people to believe there was actually something wrong with the recording

- "Here Comes the Sun," also by Harrison

- "Because" by Lennon and inspired by Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata"

- The medley "“ it's a collection of several short songs, strung together. There's "You Never Give Me Your Money," "Sun King," "Mean Mr. Mustard," "Polythene Pam," "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight" and "The End."

- "Her Majesty", which was originally part of the medley

It was recorded mainly on an 8-track tape, featured the Moog synthesizer, and the was one of the most successful Beatles' album ever, debuting at number one on the UK charts. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Abbey Road the 14th greatest album of all time.

The Tributes

biggerthanjesusVirtually every tourist who crosses Abbey Road has had their photo taken in the pose (much to the chagrin of drivers), but there have been other, more famous folks, who have imitated the famous photo: The Red Hot Chili Peppers for their Abbey Road EP, naked, but for a few strategically placed (and somewhat optimistically large) socks; Homer Simpson's barbershop quartet The Be Sharps, with their album, Bigger Than Jesus; The Simpson family on the cover of Rolling Stone; Benny Hill, for his Best of Benny Hill album; Booker T and the MG's; Kanye West's Live Orchestration DVD; even SpongeBob SquarePants did it, with an episode called "Krabby Road."

The Road

Abbey Road is in NW8, the St. John's Wood section of town, and northwest of Regent's Park. There are rumors that the original zebra crossing, the one the actual Beatles' touched with their actual feet, has been removed and is now in some bunker somewhere for safekeeping. How this would even be possible is unclear, but hey, the album inspired even stranger rumors than that (see "Paul is dead").

But it is true that because of the crossing's popularity with tourists, officials have long been trying to move the crossing, claiming that it's a "death trap." Councillors from the neighborhood have cited the 22 accidents at the crosswalk since 2000 and say that it would be safer to move the crossing to a less auspicious location; fans have vowed to protest.

You can watch the crossing, any time, night or day, via the Abbey Road webcam. It's a bit weird to watch an intersection, no matter how famous, but keep your eyes peeled for tourists re-enacting the photo and angry cab drivers cursing at them.

See Also: Miss Cellania's 'Many Views of Abbey Road'


How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?

Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

TAKWest, Youtube
Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]


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