Abbey Road: What is NYC's Version?

A remix of the Beatles' final album on its 50th anniversary sounds fresh, exciting and urgent

Aug 23 2019 | 01:20 PM

The Beatles' "Abbey Road" is one of the two most revered album covers in rock and roll history. The spectacle of John, Paul, George and Ringo sauntering across that infamous zebra crossing in London has captivated fans and journalists since the band's final work together came out 50 years ago.

Attending a media event to unveil the new remix of "Abbey Road" gave me two instant thoughts: The album sounds even better now than it did upon its release in September 1969. Producer Giles Martin - whose father, George, presided over the production of the original recordings - has done yet another sterling job at making a Beatles album sound fresh, exciting and urgent. George's vocals on "Here Comes the Sun" and Ringo's powerful drumming throughout are genuine revelations. If you're a Beatles fan, go out and buy the album and be thrilled all over again.

Iconic New York

My other reaction was the product of my living in Manhattan for most of my adult life. I started to wonder: What are the classic streets and intersections that define New York? If a band wanted to pay an homage to the shot in Abbey Road, where would it go? Here are a few proposals. Feel free to email us back with your ideas.

Strawberry Fields, on the Upper West Side. But, of course. John Lennon was murdered on Dec. 8, 1980, and to this day young people carrying acoustic guitars can be heard strumming "Imagine," "Give Peace a Chance," "In My Life" and, to John's ever-lasting chagrin, Paul's classic "Yesterday."

Broadway and West 42nd Street, aka Times Square, first comes to mind. It was the setting for many heartwarming pictures capturing the end of World War II. When people think of New York, Times Square usually comes up at the top of the list.

The entrance to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. The arch, especially at night, screams NEW YORK in all its glory and reminds us of everyone from the beat poets to the folkies of the 1960s, the loose-joints purveyors of the later years and the vaping-heads of today.

Just about anywhere in Grand Central Station would fit neatly. Unlike Penn Station, which continues to look like an eyesore and smell like one, Grand Central is a magnificent testimony to creativity, commerce and utility all rolled into one.

The intersection at Columbia University. There used to be a saying, "Who owns New York? We own New York!" Columbia students felt that way, even if they were too Ivy cool to proclaim it.

Special Status

Of course, we'd need to find one heck of a rock and roll band - or any other kind - to make it earn the iconic status of parroting "Abbey Road." Could any group today create magical music, which would last for half a century?

"Abbey Road," the final album that The Beatles made together, in 1969, stands out for a number of reasons. The guys sound happy to be back in the studio - named, of course, Abbey Road - after struggling through an acrimonious 1968 and an unhappy adventure making the "Let It Be" collection in January 1969.

You can hear clearly on the remix that they're having fun. John's wisecracks are evident, and that's always fun to hear. Giles Martin has managed to move Ringo's drumming up front without taking away any of the elements that we have come to love. Paul's vocal on "Golden Slumber" -- my favorite of his, on any album, sounds like it was recorded yesterday. Modern technology!

Oh, and what is my other favorite album cover, you may ask? "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," featuring The Beatles dressing up in those colorful clothes and sharing the cover with some of their favorite people.

I don't know if any band could re-create "Sgt. Pepper." I'm just thrilled to be able to enjoy a remix of "Abbey Road."