- Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK
More from year 1969
Some songs from this session appear on:
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GEORGE: — I think I’ll be leaving the band now.
GEORGE: Now.From a moral to this song — January 10th, 1969: Following an (unrecorded)… (tumblr.com)
This was the seventh day of rehearsals at Twickenham Film Studios. As often in those days at Twickenham, Paul McCartney was the first of The Beatles to arrive and sit down at the piano, playing solo version of “I’ve Got A Feeling” and “Get Back” among others.
The morning was spent working on “Get Back” and “Two Of Us” to a lesser extent. They also had a visitor in music publisher Dick James.
During lunch, an argument between John Lennon and George Harrison led the latter to walk out of the studio and (temporarily) quit The Beatles.
From Doug Sulpy:
The tensions of the past week come to a head on the 10th. In the morning, The Beatles socialize with visiting music publisher Dick James, run through some of their recent numbers, and extensively work on “Get Back” and, to a
lesser extent, “Two Of Us.”
Lunch, however is a different story, and an argument between George and John results in George walking out of the sessions and quitting The Beatles immediately returning to the studio. The other Beatles, well aware that they’re being filmed, defer discussion about this problem, but take out their anger and frustration in a loud jam session,
with Yoko Ono taking center stage on vocals. Not surprisingly, the rest of the afternoon is a wash, and they leave early, after spending an hour or two jamming and chatting. Needless to say, January 10th marks the dramatic highlight of the “Get Back” sessions.
Following several attempts at working ‘Get Back’ into shape, The Beatles moved onto ‘Two Of Us’. After breaking for lunch, however, George Harrison walked out of the studio.
Whether in denial or disbelief, the remaining three Beatles carried on rehearsing without Harrison. Just as they’d worked on ‘Back In The USSR’ and ‘Dear Prudence’ without Starr, here John Lennon led the others through The Who’s ‘A Quick One, While He’s Away’ – the title a clear reference to Harrison. At one point he was heard to sarcastically call out “OK George, take it!”
Yoko Ono positioned herself on Harrison’s blue cushion, and wailed over the top of a series of barely-listenable, blues-based jams. The three Beatles joined together in the harshness of the music, possibly finding it cathartic amid the uncertainty of the day.
The aggressive tone carried through to the proper work, when it continued. The group performed jagged versions of ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, with Lennon screaming during parts of the latter. He also sang ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ in an exaggerated German accent.
After some half-hearted runs through cover versions The Beatles largely stopped work to discuss the future of the Get Back project with the crew, although McCartney returned to his piano. As he did, Yoko Ono began wailing to his accompaniment, seemingly oblivious to the tensions in the room.
The Nagra reel-to-reel tapes that were recording audio for the cameras captured Lennon in conversation with director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Lennon at one point suggested replacing Harrison with Eric Clapton if he didn’t return within a few days.
A series of jams took place towards the end of the day, again with Ono moaning or screaming largely wordless vocals. Finally, McCartney moved to drums, Lennon played guitar and Starr took the microphone for some improvised spoken lines, words which summed up their aimless desperation at this time.
The following day at Twickenham, January 10th, 1969, saw the most substantial work on “Get Back” yet. Paul rehearsed the song himself on piano before the others arrived and were ready for work, as was his habit during these sessions, but then he showed himself eager to solidify a band arrangement for the tune. He instructed them to begin the song with a crashing chord (not unlike “A Hard Day’s Night”) followed by a drum fill from Ringo before the first verse began. A practice of this intro is featured on the “Fly On The Wall” bonus disc contained with the 2003 released “Let It Be…Naked” album as well as on Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” series.
“Get Back” was practiced a total of 22 times on this day, three vocal verses being sketched out in a preliminary way at this point but not solidified. George was delegated to perform one guitar solo after which another chorus was performed immediately afterward, Ringo then adding in another two measure drum solo before the third verse was performed. Lyrically, the “Sweet Lorreta…but whe was another man” verse was in place at this point, although it appeared as the first verse. The second verse wasn’t complete yet, but did include the line about “California grass” as we’ve become familiar with in the first verse (and not “blast from the past” as Ringo suggested). The third verse about “Pakistanis living in a council flat,” as detailed above, was in place at this time.
It is clear that they were narrowing down what the final arrangement would be, this being a fast-moving rocker at this point with a standard 4/4 drum beat from Ringo and a wah-wah guitar solo from George. One version performed on this day has John singing lead vocals in unison with Paul, suitably recapturing their early rock and roll days with apparent enthusiasm from all involved.
It appears, however, that George was not sharing the comradarie of the others on this day because, sometime during their lunch break, George announced that he was leaving The Beatles for good and walked out. The others continued with the rehearsal after his lunchtime departure, Yoko Ono sitting in George’s seat screaming out vocals at one point, although no other noteworthy progress was made on this day.From beatlesebooks.com
George Harrison decides to quit the Beatles
They were filming us having a row. It never came to blows, but I thought, ‘What’s the point of this? I’m quite capable of being relatively happy on my own and I’m not able to be happy in this situation. I’m getting out of here.’ Everybody had gone through that. Ringo had left at one point. I know John wanted out. It was a very, very difficult, stressful time, and being filmed having a row as well was terrible. I got up and I thought, ‘I’m not doing this any more. I’m out of here.’ So I got my guitar and went home and that afternoon wrote ‘Wah-Wah’.
It became stifling, so that although this new album was supposed to break away from that type of recording (we were going back to playing live) it was still very much that kind of situation where he already had in his mind what he wanted. Paul wanted nobody to play on his songs until he decided how it should go. For me it was like: ‘What am I doing here? This is painful!’
Then superimposed on top of that was Yoko, and there were negative vibes at that time. John and Yoko were out on a limb. I don’t think he wanted much to be hanging out with us, and I think Yoko was pushing him out of the band, inasmuch as she didn’t want him hanging out with us.
It’s important to state that a lot of water has gone under the bridge and that, as we talk now, everybody’s good friends and we have a better understanding of the past. But talking about what was happening at that time, you can see it was strange.George Harrison – Anthology
That period was the low of all time. In normal circumstances, I had not let his attitude bother me and, to get a peaceful life, I had always let him have his own way, even when this meant that songs, which I had composed, were not being recorded. In front of the cameras, as we were actually being filmed, Paul started to get at me about the way I was playing. Everybody had left at one time or another, but I left during Let It Be. When I left, there’s a scene where Paul and I are having an argument and we’re trying to cover it up. Then, the next scene, I’m not there and Yoko’s just screaming, doing her screeching number. Well, that’s where I had left, and I went home and wrote ‘Wah Wah’. It’d given me a wah-wah, like I had such a headache with that whole argument. It was such a headache.George Harrison – From Badman, Keith. The Beatles: Off the Record . Music Sales. Kindle Edition.
George had to leave because he thought Paul was dominating him. Well, he was because Michael Lindsay-Hogg liked Paul, I would think, more than the rest of us. So, it’s like Paul’s film, actually.Ringo Starr – From Badman, Keith. The Beatles: Off the Record . Music Sales. Kindle Edition.
In order to get things together, Paul would organise everyone and be rather bossy, which the other boys didn’t like. But, it was the only way of getting it together. John would drift away with Yoko and George would say he wouldn’t be coming in the following day. It was general disenchantment.George Martin – From Badman, Keith. The Beatles: Off the Record . Music Sales. Kindle Edition.
At Twickenham, The Beatles, Yoko, and I, often joined by our cameraman Tony Richmond, would have a proper lunch in the small dining room up a flight of stairs, adjoining a bar where some crew members and studio office workers would be sinking their couple of pints of beer before going off to their own lunch…
George was usually with us, joining in the conversation, affable and friendly and interested in the give-and-take, but on the day of the Tunisian discussion, he wasn’t with us as the meal started. At the morning rehearsal, I could tell by his silence and withdrawal that something was simmering inside him, and so in my role as documentarian, I’d asked our soundman to bug the flower pot on the lunch table.
We’d finished the first course when George arrived to stand at the end of the table.
We looked at him as he stood silent for a moment.
“See you ’round the clubs,” he said.
That was his good-bye. He left.
John, a person who reacted aggressively to provocation, immediately said, “Let’s get in Eric [Clapton]. He’s just as good and not such a headache.”
Paul and Ringo would not be drawn in, and after lunch we went back to the studio where Paul, John, and Ringo improvised a ferocious riff, half an hour of anger and frustration expressed with guitars and drums. Yoko sat on the edge of the rostrum on the blue cushion which had been George’s and howled into his mike.
(My bug had only picked up the sounds of cutlery banging on china plates, obscuring what the muffled voices had said.)Michael Lindsay-Hogg – Luck and Circumstance
We know that George Harrison temporarily quit the Beatles while you were filming, but that didn’t end up in your movie. Peter Jackson has said his version will include it. What was behind your choice not to put all that in?
Well, I didn’t have a key piece of information, which Peter now has. We used to have lunch together every day in the little commissary in Twickenham [Studios, where the first segments of the film were shot], and I got our sound guy to bug the flowerpot. George wasn’t there at the beginning of the lunch, and then he came up and stood at the long end of the table. He’s wearing this beautiful black corduroy hat, and he said, “See you around the clubs.” Meaning, I’m off. And so I’ll see you in the Scotch Club or the Ad Lib, but I’m gone [from the Beatles]. And John always reacted to provocation very quickly, and so he said, “Oh, well, you know, let’s get in Eric Clapton, he’s not such a headache.” But when I played back the audio, all I got was the clatter of cutlery and plates and [inaudible] voices. Peter has access to this extraordinary new audio technology that can separate the audio within a track, and so he’s got some of that lunch, I think.Michael Lindsay-Hogg – From Rolling Stone, November 2, 2021
John “I think, if George doesn’t come back by Monday or Tuesday, we’ll ask Eric Clapton to play. Eric will be pleased … He’d have enough scope to play the guitar. The point is, George leaves and do we want to carry on The Beatles? I certainly do.”
Hogg “For the show, you could say George was sick.”
John “If he leaves, he leaves, you know.”
Hogg “But, what’s the consensus, do you want to go on with the show and the work?”
John “Yes. If he doesn’t come back by Tuesday, we get Clapton.”
Hogg (in reference to this now ill-fated Beatles show) “We could get Ike &Tina Turner over.”
John “Instead of George?”
Hogg “I was going to say, if George comes back, we go away and if Clapton comes in, we stay here.”
John “We should go on as if nothing’s happened.” Hogg “Yeah.”From Badman, Keith. The Beatles: Off the Record . Music Sales. Kindle Edition.
January 10th, 1969: George has just left the studios after deciding to quit The Beatles; George Martin, Neil Aspinall, and Let It Be director Michael Lindsay-Hogg discuss why. In the meantime, John, Paul, and Ringo jam through a dramatic, shrieking rendition of ‘It’s Only Make Believe’. (If you’re wondering: they’re a little drunk.)
MICHAEL: The trouble is, once you leave, it’s very hard to come back.
NEIL: Not really. We’ll all have to meet him on Sunday, anyway. So he could be back, then. No, really, the box that George is in is, um – it’s him versus John and Paul when it comes to what he’s got to do and what he has to play.
GEORGE M.: And there’s the songwriting. Because they’re a songwriting team, and he’s – he’s his own team. And [inaudible] it’s tough.
MICHAEL: Yes, but – John and Paul aren’t writing together much anymore, are they, really?
GEORGE M.: No, but nevertheless, they’re still a team.
January 10th, 1969 (Twickenham FIlm Studios, London): After George’s walk-out of the studios (and the band), Paul, Ringo, Maureen, Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, George Martin, and Michael Lindsay-Hogg sit around telling each other knock-knock jokes and facetiously discussing the band’s forthcoming live concert/television special plans. John and Yoko (who have been in another room doing an interview) return to the studio when the group is reading the day’s spread of newspapers.
GEORGE M.: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…
MICHAEL: So at the moment, how’s America looking? Where’s, uh—
RINGO: America doesn’t… it isn’t nice at all.
MICHAEL: Doesn’t look nice at all. [pause] Where’s he gone?
GEORGE M.: John?
RINGO: He’s most probably off painting somewhere.
PAUL: [snorts] Yeah, yeah. Sketching.
MICHAEL: Sketching, or writing a quick poem. Or a book. Or a diary.
PAUL: Probably in a bag in his dressing room with Yoko, you know. [general laughter] They brought their own bag with ‘em today.
MICHAEL: Hence the expression…
GEORGE M.: “Papa’s got a—“
MICHAEL & GEORGE M.: “—brand new bag.”
GEORGE M.: Snap.
MICHAEL: Snap. [laughs] “Papa’s got a brand new bag-snap.” Or a zip. So, uh… [long pause] The seven men are going out to Africa on Monday, right? [uproarious laughter] We’ve got a reconnaissance team.
PAUL: Seven Zulus going to Willesden on Monday. [laughter] To check it out.
MICHAEL: No, we keep adding all the time.
PAUL: Or Paddington Town Hall.
RINGO: A special hired jet Boeing 707 is taking a full haul to Constaninopole. To see what the weather’s like.
MICHAEL: [laughs] And the show will be done in Ethiopia.
RINGO: That’s a nice place. Did someone say that before?
MICHAEL: Ethiopia? Oh, that’s my joke! Do you remember my joke of Haile Selassie?
GEORGE M.: The Abyssinian?
RINGO: Isn’t he Brazilian?
MICHAEL: No, no – the punchline is “Haile Selassie”.
RINGO: Then what’s the bit before?
MICHAEL: And the bit before is, “Do you want to buy my tomatoes?” Do you want to buy my – it’s a queer Moroccan joke which I made up.
RINGO: “Do you want to buy my tomatoes?” “Haile Selassie.” [laughs]
PAUL: Very good joke.
GEORGE M.: Did you tell it to anyone here? Have we heard it yet?
MICHAEL: Well, some of them heard it on the first day, and rejected it. “Haile Selassie.” See, I thought it was a kind of nice rough trade, New York joke. “Haile Selassie.” But it goes through a list of things you would sell for money. [laughter] I find this very funny! I—
RINGO: Do you want to buy my potatoes?
RINGO: Princess Margaret. [Michael laughs]
RINGO: Knock knock.
MICHAEL: Who’s there?
MICHAEL: Charlie who?
RINGO: Elizabeth Harden. [long pause; general laughter]
MICHAEL: I love knock-knocks. We were going to do one for the [Rock ‘n’ Roll] Circus, we were gonna have “Knock knock, who’s there?” and someone was gonna say, “That’s right.” And then, “What do you mean, ‘That’s right?’”
RINGO: [in background; to Maureen] I stole it from you, my dear, I know that. [Maureen laughs]
PAUL: [laughs] I don’t get it!
PAUL: “Charlie Elizabeth Harden”? [general laughter]
MICHAEL: The “who”, the “who” is there.
MAL: [laughs] That’s what you do!
RINGO: “Michael.” “Michael who?” “Bill and Ben.” [general laughter]
MICHAEL: I love knock-knocks.
GEORGE M.: I like the song ones.
MICHAEL: Who’s there?
GEORGE M.: Knock knock.
RINGO: Arthur. Is that?
MICHAEL: Is that who?
RINGO: Is that your Cornetto? [Michael laughs]
RINGO: Hiawatha who?
MICHAEL: Hiawatha good little boy till I met you.
GEORGE M.: Knock knock.
MICHAEL: Who’s there?
GEORGE M.: It is Simon.
MICHAEL: Simon who?
GEORGE M.: Simon chanting evening… [general laughter]
PAUL: [to John and Yoko?; Cockney accent] Get in your bag! Get in here boy and get in your bloody bag! Go on! [long pause; rustling; thick Northern accent] The Mersey Beat Awards for Couple of the Year goes to John and Yoko. [long pause] Irritant of the Year. [pause; nervous laughter]
MAL: Is he the Irritant of the Year?
PAUL: Private Eye. On the paper.
RINGO: Oh, that’s – I did see that, I apologise.
PAUL: Lying again.
RINGO: [referring to newspaper] See, I want that curly hair.
PAUL: Yeah, great, isn’t it? Bernard Levin.
RINGO: Bernard, that’s the one. I don’t want to say his name in case he sees me. [reading] “Yes, we’ve done it again!” says the Daily Mirror.
PAUL: “Yes, they’ve done it again!” says the Daily Mail.
RINGO: “Yes, we’ve—” [inaudible]
PAUL: “Well, we’ve missed it again!” says the daily work. [bleak; laughs]
MICHAEL: Would anybody like a cup of tea?
RINGO: No thank you.
PAUL: Yes, I’d like a cup of tea. With saffron.
(Note: Please feel free to correct me where I’m sorely mistaken or uncomprehending on the knock knock jokes front.)
Paul McCartney: “Lisp Of A Baby’s Prayer”… “Alphabet Song.” What’s that one?
Dick James: Oh, Christ, I don’t know the whole catalog yet. 4,000 songs is a lot to absorb.
Ringo Starr: “Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s Forty.” [laughs]
Paul McCartney: This is it? This is the lot?
Dick James: This is a very good list. That’s the entire catalog up to ’65.
Paul McCartney: All of these are ours?
Dick James: Yeah. Yeah.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg: Is this the catalog that’s just gone on sale?
Dick James: It’s the one we just bought.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg: You bought it. Oh, great.
Dick James: Yeah, Northern Songs… Which includes Paul and John. And…
Paul McCartney: Just about.
Dick James: What are you talking about, “Just about”?
Paul McCartney: Nothing. Uh, no comment.
Dick James: Very substantially, sir.
Paul McCartney: Yes, right. Okay.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg had organised a clandestine recording of John and Paul discussing why George had suddenly left the studio and potentially the Beatles:
John: Now the only regret about the past numbers is when, because I’ve been so frightened, I’ve allowed you to take it somewhere I didn’t want…
John: … and then my only chance was to let George take over, or interest George in it, because I knew he’d…
Paul: ‘She Said She Said’…
John: ‘She Said She Said’.From “Revolver (2022)” book
Last updated on November 12, 2023
The performances are sequentially numbered using the nomenclature from the book "Drugs, Divorce and a Slipping Image" by Doug Sulpy. DDSI 2.01 is, for example, the first performance from January 2nd, while DDSI 31.65 is the sixty-fifth performance from January 31st. This numbering is at times different from the DDSI numbers used on the bootleg collection "A/B Road Complete Get Back Sessions", likely because "Drugs, Divorce and a Slipping Image" was updated since the release of this collection.
Recording • DDSI.10.01 • 1:36
Recording • DDSI.10.02 • 0:38
Recording • DDSI.10.09 • 2:22
Recording • DDSI.10.28 • 1:35
Catch A Falling Star
Recording • DDSI.10.38 • 0:45
Recording • DDSI.10.42 • 3:29
George Leaves The Room
Recording • 1:20
A Quick One While He's Away
Recording • DDSI.10.50 • 1:27
A Quick One While He's Away / Improvisation
Recording • DDSI.10.51 • 1:45
Recording • DDSI.10.52 • 0:05
Recording • DDSI.10.53 • 4:02
Recording • DDSI.10.54 • 2:04
Recording • DDSI.10.55 • 0:43
Recording • DDSI.10.56 • 0:31
Recording • DDSI.10.57 • 5:15
Recording • DDSI.10.58 • 3:54
Recording • DDSI.10.60 • 3:49
Recording • DDSI.10.63 • 0:51
Recording • DDSI.10.64 • 0:06
Mack The Knife
Recording • DDSI.10.66 • 0:55
On A Sunny Island
Recording • DDSI.10.70 • 0:25
Through A London Window
Recording • DDSI.10.73 • 1:05
Recording • DDSI.10.77 • 0:35
Recording • DDSI.10.78 • 5:08
Recording • DDSI.10.79 • 6:42
Recording • DDSI.10.80 • 0:49
Recording • DDSI.10.81 • 0:48
Recording • DDSI.10.83 • 1:34
The definitive guide to the Get Back sessions, released in 1994 and updated in 2007. In the author's own words:
New, completely revised edition! This new volume isn t just a compilation of material from the 1994 book Drugs, Divorce and a Slipping Image (also later published as 'Get Back') and 'The 910's Guide To The Beatles Outtakes Part Two: The Complete Get Back Sessions' (2001). I've re-listened to the entire canon of available Get Back session tapes, come up with a bunch of new conclusions (and even a handful of new identifications!), and pretty much re-written half the book from scratch. In addition, great effort has been made to improve readability of the book. Songs have now been put into groups (generally by Nagra reel, or series of them), rather than describing each performance separately, as was done in the original. In every way, this is the book we wished we could have written in 1994.
As the paperback version is out of print, you can buy a PDF version on the author's website
If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.