- Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK
More from year 1969
Some songs from this session appear on:
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This was the eighth day of rehearsals at Twickenham Film Studios.
From Doug Sulpy:
On January 13th The Beatles are nearer to breaking up than they had ever been
before. A board meeting had been held at Ringo’s house the previous day which only
made matters worse, as George walked out in disgust, and returned to Liverpool, where
he’d remain for the next week.
Since George refuses to appear for this day’s session, John sees no reason to show up
either, and takes his phone off the hook. Consequently, no one is able to contact him until
early afternoon, and he doesn’t show up until lunch. While the others wait they engage in
a series of revealing conversations regarding John’s relationship with Yoko and the future
of the band. The discussions around the lunch table (evidently taped without The Beatles’
knowledge) are even more revealing, as John and Paul examine the rift that’s grown
between them and George.
With the status of the band in doubt, Paul eventually agrees to push the date of the
live show back one week.
The remaining three Beatles spend some time working on the lyrics to “Get Back,”
but, understandably, little is accomplished and the session breaks up early, shortly before
five o’clock. John, Paul and Ringo agree to return again the following day, although they
can hardly hope to accomplish much without George.
They did run through “Get Back” 15 times on this day as a trio, John taking on the role of lead guitarist in George’s absence. More refinements were made lyrically, discussions about Loretta’s last name being batted around. John suggested “Meatball,” but Paul favored either “Marsh” or “Marvin.” The timing of Ringo’s drum breaks habitually disoriented his band-mates, while John added guitar fills in the open spaces where no vocals were present and provided solos that were not very coherent, borrowing from Dale Hawkins version of “Suzie Q.” Obviously, George Harrison was missed.From beatlesebooks.com
The meeting was not a success, but in the absence of any other ideas, the three remaining Beatles regrouped at Twickenham Film Studios to continue work on the project.
Unsurprisingly, Harrison didn’t show up, and John Lennon too was absent for much of the day. The bulk of the recordings made, therefore, featured conversations rather than music, and reveal much about the prevailing thoughts within the group at the time. A lunchtime conversation, in particular, has proved particularly valuable in understanding how McCartney, Starr and Lennon were feeling.
Lennon is heard wondering aloud whether he wants Harrison to be a part of the group any more, and agrees with McCartney that he had drifted away from the others in recent months. McCartney, ever the diplomat, admits that there had been a pecking order since they were school-age, and that he and Lennon had always been The Beatles’ leaders.
Lennon admits that their music has become formulaic, and contrasts it with the excitement of making Revolver in 1966. Presciently, he remarks that the only challenge left for them is to go solo, although he is uncertain about stepping away from The Beatles.
McCartney offers encouraging phrases towards Lennon and Starr, and says they should stop worrying about minor details in the songs and concentrate instead on performing to the best of their abilities. He also wonders what would be the best way to steer Harrison towards a particular way of playing.
The day also allowed Lennon and Paul McCartney to refine some of their songs, particularly ‘Get Back’. McCartney settled on Tucson, Arizona for Jo Jo’s hometown, and Harrison’s absence allowed Lennon greater freedom to work up some lead guitar parts.
The three Beatles spent another day at Twickenham before giving up and relocating to Apple Studios in London.
January 13th, 1969: After George’s departure from the band on the 10th (Friday), Paul, Linda, Ringo, and Neil Aspinall start their morning in the studio discussing a band meeting held at Ringo’s house over the weekend, where John’s willful deference to Yoko drove George to walk out of the room, leaving matters amongst the group unresolved. Neil reassures Paul and Ringo that George still cares about the band, and only wants to settle everything equally and honestly amongst the four of them, without any outsiders.
Amidst everyone’s comments about Yoko’s over-involvement (ergo John’s recalcitrance), Paul admits that the protective seal the band formed around themselves over the years has made it difficult for them to regard anyone unfamiliar into their faction without some measure of hostility and paranoia – especially if they have been asserted into a creative and professional position equal to their own, as Yoko has by John.
PAUL: Waiting for you, ooh… Why don’t you know… what it could be…
LINDA: It’s a good thing if all four of you just got together – and nobody else. You know, it’s alright when we’re all just sitting around now.
RINGO: Did you go last night, Neil?
NEIL: Um – this is, um, just something I was talking to George about last night. And that was what he was saying, too.
NEIL: What he means. [About] just the four of you.
LINDA: Yeah, it’s—
NEIL: That’s what he means, you know. Nothing else.
PAUL: Yeah, I’m for that, you know.
NEIL: So am I.
LINDA: It’s the only way you’re gonna—
NEIL: That’s why he didn’t – that’s why he said, “I don’t believe you,” to John. Yesterday.
PAUL: Yeah… Key moment, that, wasn’t it?
NEIL: [wry] Yes. But he meant it. And I think John knew what he was talking about, too.
PAUL: Oh, John. [laughter] Sure he did.
NEIL: And that’s why George said it twice. When John said, “I don’t understand you, George,” and George said, “I don’t believe you. Forget it.” ‘Cause he thought [John] did understand him.
PAUL: [unsurprised] Of course he did.
LINDA: [wry] It was great.
NEIL: You know, and it’s that. It’s like the bullshitting bit where, like, that can go on, is silly.
PAUL: Yeah. But I think the thing is, like, we – John does bullshit, I bullshit, Ringo bullshits, George bullshits. You know, we bullshit. The problem is that it’s only John— [inaudible; Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s voice recording a phone call] —trying to be more influencing, and they’re thinking past it. And so you start to sort of give him more credit than he’s – than he’s due for, you know. And, like, with Yoko, you know – they’re real. They mean it.
LINDA: [laughs] I don’t dig that, though.
PAUL: Him and Yoko, you know, they – they—
LINDA: [pretends to sneeze] Go away!
PAUL: You know, they do mean it. But…
NEIL: [playing along] Everybody cough. Heeueck.
LINDA: [playing along] Heuuuueck go away. Heeueck.
PAUL: [sober] You know?
LINDA: [sincere] Yeah, I know what you mean. You know what you mean.
PAUL: But you know, I – I tend to think that about them, too. Like I was saying, you know. “Well, I’d rather write without Yoko, thank you.” Just because it’s – that’s the way I write. If I – like, if I was in Tunisia, I’d go up to the bathroom to write a song, and then come back when it was done to show it to you. And to sort of say, “Let’s do a couple more words, now that’s it all there, you know, now that there’s only a little…”
PAUL: But it’s difficult starting right from scratch with Yoko there, ‘cause you start off on a – well, I do. I start off on a Yoko beam, you know. I start off sort of writing songs about white walls. [laughter] Just ‘cause I – you know, just ‘cause I think she – John and Yoko would like that. And they wouldn’t, you know. I mean, I give them too much credit for – for what I think they’d like. But that’s not true. They wouldn’t. They’re very straight. […] I mean, you know, it’s just like—
LINDA: It’s all about being away from each other, aren’t they?
PAUL: I think it’s—
NEIL: No, I don’t – I don’t think it’s that.
RINGO: Did you get in touch with John?
NEIL: Um, Mal did. This morning, in fact.
LINDA: That was the answering service.
RINGO: [to Neil] Oh, you guys – I thought you were, later on. [Ringo thought Neil contacted John after the band meeting, the previous night.]
NEIL: I couldn’t get him.
MICHAEL: Is he join – is he joining us?
RINGO: We don’t know.
NEIL: I suppose [John and Yoko] might, but nobody can expect as much.
RINGO: ‘Cause Mal couldn’t get him either, you know. He may be up now.
NEIL: So – nobody’s spoken to him?
RINGO: No no no. You can only get the machine. So someone should try again.
NEIL: [inaudible] But nobody’s answering it.
LINDA: [to Paul] Yeah, but it’s hard having a meeting, and everybody putting their two cents in and none of you all saying – anything.
PAUL: But that’s the other thing, having the meeting, you know. You came with me, and Heather came, and the animal—
LINDA: Yeah, I was going to say I shouldn’t go, but then…
PAUL: Yeah… [lighthearted] It’s such a temptation going out to Ringo’s for the afternoon.
LINDA: [laughs] Exactly.
RINGO: [bemused] What?
LINDA: Heather could play with Zak.
PAUL: It feels like a family outing. [Ringo laughs] Don’t really just want to go on my own.
LINDA: [sheepish] Yeah, I was going to say, “We really shouldn’t go,” but then I thought – well.
LINDA: Well, it should’ve been—
PAUL: Well, it should have been the four of us, you know.
RINGO: Oh— [to Linda; reasonable] Well, you were out of the way.
PAUL: Oh, yeah, sure.
RINGO: I mean— [inaudible]
LINDA: Oh yeah, but you know, it’s just like…
PAUL: It’s – it’s still, it’s that thing, you know.
LINDA: When there’s something serious, and you have other people there talking about it, you get off the track.
PAUL: You know, it really is – it really is like a board meeting going on.
RINGO: [mock-stern; to Linda] If you would’ve just kept quiet, it could’ve all gone well.
LINDA: [playing along] Well, I had to talk every two minutes. [laughs]
PAUL: Ol’ Sir Joberry and his wife…
RINGO: [playing along] Damn Yankee. [laughter]
PAUL: You know, but that’s it. It’s like that. The board meeting with ICLI, and all the government bringing all the wives, [laughs] and mates, and kids, and animals – and everything.
NEIL: But it turns – it turns into— [inaudible]
LINDA: Well, Yoko is doing all the talking.
NEIL: But that’s – that’s the point, you see. You know that he’s going to, and you know that Yoko’s going to be sitting there, and so everybody else is like, “Fuck it.” You know it’s not going to be a [proper] board meeting, so…
PAUL: Yeah, right.
NEIL: “Let’s make it a party.”
PAUL: Sure, that’s – that, really, that—
LINDA: But she does so much talking for [John], now.
PAUL: But see, now, so what do you do about that? That’s what I was saying about songs, yesterday, you know. I’m – I know that if – to write any more with John, I’ve just gotta, like, figh– [faltering] you know, forget it.
LINDA: But I think that whole—
PAUL: See I think it’s – it’s us, uptight about that. I really do – I think, uh…
LINDA: The king.
PAUL: See, it’s like – the trouble with us – like, John said it yesterday – it’s like, anything that comes up on all of our little egos, we try and push out. And anybody – it’s always been that. Anybody who’s come in, like Michael Braun – who was writing that book – came in for a while, within the circle for a while, but then he gets pushed out. ‘Cause, you know, we don’t want him in the inner circle. He’s got to stay on the edges, while the four of us get on with – you know.
(Note: As suggested above, John and Yoko are late to the studio – which is not uncommon, as far as the entire sessions are concerned, but this time no one is even sure they’re going to show up, especially when George isn’t here, and rehearsals aren’t likely to progress. It is later discovered that they had disconnected their phone lines; when they finally get through, after more than a hour, it’s only because John calls the studio first. It may or may not be significant that John calls specifically to speak to Paul – and after speaking with him, decides to come to the studio after all.
It is the popular opinion – and indeed, the members themselves have claimed the same – that George initially quit the band following a tense exchange with Paul. Definitively, however, George actually quit following an unrecorded argument with John; that oft-discussed scene between George and Paul from the Let It Be documentary happened four days before the fact. Which isn’t to say that Paul is any less responsible for George’s emotional state than John is; there had already been years of interpersonal band dynamics before Yoko ever got into the picture. That John was determined not to speak for himself, and considered Yoko’s opinion above George’s in matters related to the band, was probably a tipping point.
Yoko speaking on behalf of John has the further implication of passive-aggressive inaction on John’s part – at this time, he didn’t want to be actively involved in the band anymore; he didn’t want to forfeit his symbolic position as a “leader” of having the final say, but he didn’t want to be the bad guy and call it off, either. Hence the entitled deference and exchangeability and establishment of symbiosis, to oust the old out with the new – until the boat called Paul sank, and he could set sail on the boat called Yoko.)
‘Yoko’s very much to do with it and she’s very much to do with it from John’s angle,’ McCartney declared in a hushed conversation with ‘Get Back’ director Michael Lindsay-Hogg during a break in the session. ‘There’s only two answers. One is to fight it and fight her and try to get The Beatles back to four people without Yoko and ask Yoko to sit down at [Apple] board meetings. Or the other thing is just to realise she’s there and he’s not to split with her for our sakes. But it’s really not that bad, they want to stay together, so it’s alright, let the young lovers stay together, you know. But it shouldn’t be “can’t operate under these conditions, boy”. It’s like we’re striking because work conditions aren’t right. Fuck that then. And John knows that. If it came to push between Yoko and The Beatles, it’s Yoko . . . okay, so they’re going overboard but John always does. But maybe if I can compromise they will compromise and maybe bend towards me a bit. But it’s silly neither of us compromising.’
McNab, Ken; McNab, Ken. And in the End (p. 18). Birlinn. Kindle Edition.
January 13th, 1969: As everyone waits for John and Yoko to arrive at the studio, Paul talks about John’s uncommunicativeness, and how he uses it as a defense to avoid speaking honestly or decisively about his own feelings. While Paul is convinced that Yoko provides something for John that The Beatles (read: Paul) can’t anymore, and hedgingly defends the couple to do what they will, the others suggest John doesn’t really want to sever his partnership with Paul, either.
NEIL: I’d just rather not say anything. It’s one of those situations.
PAUL: Yeah. [pause] Well, that’s – that’s the trouble you see, there, ‘cause that’s it. It’s like, with our – heightened awareness, the answer is not to say anything, you know. But it isn’t. ‘Cause I mean, we screw each other up totally if we don’t do that. ‘Cause we’re not ready for your heightened… vows of silence. [laughs; hapless] We’re really not! Like, we don’t know what the fuck each other’s talking about, when that – we all just sort of get—
NEIL: I think it’s just between the four of you, that get it. That’s what I’d pretend.
PAUL: Oh yeah, right, yeah. But you see, that’s it, that’s why John doesn’t say anything. ‘Cause he, you know, he just… There was something the other day, when I said, “Well, what do you think?” And he just stood there and didn’t say anything. And then – and I know exactly why, you know. I mean, I wouldn’t, if… [long pause] Somehow. You know, there’s nothing really much to be said about it. You just – we all just have to do it, and all that, instead of like talking about it. But – but if one of us is talking about it, it’s a drag if the other three aren’t. Because then it sort of throws you off. [inaudible; voice marking tape slate] I mean, we’ve just been talking about it now for a few years, you know. Like this…
MICHAEL: How long has this been around? Like a year?
LINDA: But that’s not it, anyway. It’s the four of them just getting together.
PAUL: [hesitating] But that’s – that’s not far off it, you know. I mean…
PAUL: I mean, Yoko’s very much to do with it.
PAUL: ‘Cause she’s very much to do with it from John’s angle, that’s the thing, you know. And I – the thing is that I – there’s— Again, like, there’s always only two answers. One is to fight it, and fight her, and try and get The Beatles back to four people without Yoko, and sort of ask her to sit down at the board meetings. Or else, the other thing is to just realize that she’s there, you know. And he’s not gonna sort of – split with her, just for our sakes.
And – but then it’s not even so much of an obstacle, then, as long as we’re not trying to surmount it. And while we’re still trying to get over it, it’s an obstacle. [trying] But it isn’t, really. It’s not that bad, you know. They want to stay together, those two. So it’s alright. Let the young lovers stay together. [pause] But it shouldn’t be, “We can’t operate under these conditions, boy. You know, we’re coming out.” It’s like – it feels like we’re striking. That’s what it is. It’s like a strike, ‘cause work conditions aren’t right, you know. But… it’s not that bad.
MICHAEL: But, he – he knows that, doesn’t he?
PAUL: John knows that, sure. But he’s—
MICHAEL: Does he talk about it at all?
PAUL: No. But he’s – I mean, he’s— See, we’ve done a lot of Beatles now, we’ve had a lot of Beatles, you know, and we’ve got a lot out of Beatles. So that it – I think John’s saying now that honestly, if it came to a push between Yoko and The Beatles, it’s Yoko, you know.
MICHAEL: Who’d stay.
PAUL: Oh, sure.
MICHAEL: But funny enough, the other day, when we were talking, he said that he really did not want not to be a Beatle. He said he really looked forward – not, you know. Meaning he didn’t want that screwed up.
PAUL: Hm. [pause; unconvinced] Yeah, but it’s a difficult one, that, you know.
LINDA: I think in their discussions, though, when as soon as you brought that up, John turned to her and said, “See, I told you.” I think it’s one of those things where he—
PAUL: They do it. They tell each other, you know, when they get back home—
LINDA: Yeah, but I bet he said to her, you know, “When I write, just sort of go away, when I’m with Paul.” But she said, “Oh, I don’t know…” [trailing off] It’s that kind of thing.
PAUL: [quiet] I don’t know.
(Note: Paul is certainly right, here, but that doesn’t discredit Linda’s or Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s views. John’s unwillingness to declare the dream is over has as much to do with still wanting Paul to come round to his side, as with John’s own insecurities and preternatural connive. But the breakup is inevitable no matter what anyone does, and John’s reticence is double-edged – with Paul, now desperately overreaching, prime to take the fall either way.)
From A Moral To This Song:
January 13th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): After waiting for John (and Yoko) to arrive for over an hour, Neil Aspinall returns to inform Paul that their continued attempts to call John have been unsuccessful. This prompts filmmaker Michael Lindsay-Hogg to make an uncharitable joke about removing Yoko to solve John’s unresponsiveness (John letting Yoko speak for him even during band meetings being one of the topics Paul, Linda, Neil, Ringo, and Michael have been discussing all morning). Paul wonders darkly if John has followed George’s example and gone on strike.
NEIL: Mal’s trying to ring him.
NEIL: We found [the phone] engaged.
PAUL: Found engaged?
NEIL: [inaudible] —they have it off the hook.
RINGO: Send him a telegram.
LINDA: Tell him [Paul]’s on pins and needles, wondering what’s happened to him. [Paul laughs bleakly] Yeah, I thought of that last night, sending him a telegram.
MICHAEL: Did anybody speak to him last night? Does that—
NEIL: No, it was the same last night.
MICHAEL: Maybe if [Yoko] stayed in the black bag, that would count as— [inaudible; drowned out by voice marking tape slate] But not talking. [laughs] Putting that lid on the parrot’s cage. [long pause; Paul whistling; Michael sighing]
PAUL: … And then there were two. [laughs]
January 13th, 1969: While waiting for John and Yoko to arrive at the studio, Paul explains (to Let It Be director Michael Lindsay-Hogg) why it’s difficult for him to get round to talking to John alone anymore, without Yoko around.
LINDA: I think he’d do it but I don’t think she’d do it.
PAUL: See, but their point is, they’re – they’re trying to be as near together as they can.
MICHAEL: For their own truth, and everything jazz.
PAUL: Yeah, for everything like – so that if she sits over here, then it’s just slightly less good than if she’s sitting that near, very near to him. And if she’s touching him, then that’s even better, you know. And it’s like that. So that, okay, she’s prepared to sit here, but that’s – then there’s the beginning of the rock down. Then she’ll stay at home the next day, while he comes [to the studio], you know. And they see it like that. They see it that the more that they can stay together – and it’s right, in a way. I – you know. If that’s how you see it, then you can see that it would be a drag for that for people to start saying, “Well, come to the meeting without her,” you know, “I’d rather talk without her,” ’cause it starts separating you again, from her. Which is like, see, it’s very ideological. Which is, you know, it’s probably how it should be.
MICHAEL: I’m all for that. I mean, if that’s what they want to do. But then if it screws everything up for everybody else, then they’ve got to think about it.
PAUL: [reserved] Well. I don’t know, you know. You see, they – they’d say that the other way, that—
MICHAEL: That you’d have to adjust to them.
PAUL: [weary] —that the other way is true, yeah. You know, that if they do what we want to do, then it might screw it up for them, you know. And they don’t want to be screwed up.
January 13th, 1969: As Paul and Neil Aspinall discuss John and Yoko’s persistently conjoined state and how difficult it is to speak with John on a personal level, Paul brings up a failed attempt to write ‘I Will’ alone with John – and Yoko. While Paul contends that Yoko didn’t interfere with them at all, he admits that the very fact of her being there affected his ability to work and engage with John. Deflecting, Paul maintains that he is no position to tell John what he can or can’t do within their partnership, and explains that they’ve been falling out of tandem with each other since The Beatles stopped touring. (Note: This dialogue follows directly after this post.)
LINDA: I don’t know, but that’s what I—
NEIL: Yes, I think a lot of people get to have the impression that whenever John talks these days, it’s like, oh – Yoko’s talking to [for] him.
NEIL: Or he shuts up, and that’s it, he doesn’t do it for you. And then that becomes a dream. [inaudible]
NEIL: Not ever, like, talking to him – like I’m talking to you now. Like now I’m talking to Paul, I’m not talking to Linda.
NEIL: But when you’re talking to John, you always – these days, anyway – tend to think that you’re talking to Yoko more than you’re talking to John. And that’s when it becomes a drag.
PAUL: [furtive] That’s why I say writing a song with him is a bit embarrassing, because I do think it sort of – I mean, I start examining my motives, with Yoko there… And it’s probably silly of me! It’s probably silly, because like, Yoko’s not what we’re all sort of thinking she is.
NEIL: You see, I wouldn’t mind if she would just… wouldn’t say as much. Otherwise.
PAUL: [weary] Well, that – of course that would be great, you know.
NEIL: [laughs; bleak] Yeah. ‘Cause I just feel that it’s like – it’s you and John that are writing the songs together. You know, I mean, I’m not, I’m not— [inaudible; Linda’s and Ringo’s voices]
NEIL: It’s just like, that – she’d start interjecting that you’d… hurt him, and—
PAUL: Yeah, no, she would—
NEIL: But you know, she probably wouldn’t—
PAUL: No, she isn’t—
NEIL: But that’s – you know.
PAUL: Yeah, see, that’s the thing. The only one time we’ve actually done it, she’s agreed. She really is alright. It’s like, it’s the thought of her being there when some of— [faltering] And then you don’t talk to John, so then he doesn’t talk to you, you know. And it’s like, you can screw it up just as much because she’s there, as – as John’s relying on her because she’s there. So that’s the thing. You know, but I mean, like, you’ll notice, if John – if you’re onto a beam with John about something, then he really isn’t, you know, he really won’t let Yoko talk about it. Because he knows when you’re on a beam, and he knows about it, and you’ll – you can talk straighter to him.
But it’s like, we did ‘I Will’. We tried, we were trying to get the last verse to ‘I Will’, and eventually I just ended up doing it, because it – we couldn’t actually do it. [pause; trying] But – I mean, Yoko really tried to stay out of it, [and] just sort of – got on with something, but she just really… you know. They’re onto that thing. They just want to be near to each other. So I just think it’s just silly of me, or of anyone, to try and say to him, “No, you can’t,” you know. It’s like, ‘cause – okay, they’re – they’re going overboard about it, but John always does! And Yoko probably always does. So that’s their scene. You can’t go saying – you know, “Don’t go overboard about this thing. Be sensible about it. Don’t bring it to meetings.” It’s his decision, that. It’s – it’s none of our business, to start interfering in that. Even when it comes into our business, you still can’t really say much, unless – except, “Look, I don’t like it, John.” And then he can say, well, “Screw you,” or, “I like it,” or, “Well, I won’t do it so much,” or blablabla. Like, that’s the only way, you know. To tell John about that.
MICHAEL: Have you done that already?
PAUL: Well, I told him I didn’t like writing songs… with him and Yoko.
MICHAEL: Were you writing much more before she came around—?
PAUL: Oh yeah, sure.
MICHAEL: Or had you – cooled it a bit, then? Before her.
RINGO: Before Yoko got there.
PAUL: [restrained] Yeah, cooled it, cooled it. Sure. We’d cooled it because… not playing together. Ever since we didn’t play together—
MICHAEL: Onstage, you mean.
PAUL: Yes. With the band. Because we lived together, and we played together. We were in the same hotel, up at the same time every morning, doing this all day. And this – I mean, this, you know, it doesn’t matter what you do, [but] just as long as you’re this close all day, something grows, you know. In some ways. And when you’re not this close, only, just physically… something goes.
PAUL: So then you can come together to record, and stuff, but you still sort of lose the… [hesitating] Actually, musically, you know, we really – we can play better than we’ve ever been able to play, you know. Like, I really think that. I think, like – [laughs; bleak] we’re – we’re alright on that. It’s just that – being together thing, you know.
(Note: Projections abound. Also note that John and Paul had in the past written several songs together in the crowded witness of rowdy tour vans, studios, et al, with no difficulty whatsoever – making Paul’s indefinable unease with Yoko’s presence all the more curious for what it implies. In direct relation to John, whatever Paul recognises of himself and his feelings is reflected back at him by Yoko, forcing him to confront these feelings in an explicitly manifested form. Paul’s consequent inability to write in the face of the matter is no wonder, then – especially for a musician whose lifelong efficiency in the writing process relies on steering very well clear of any introspective navel-gazing. And whose most arguably expressive lyrics are ingenuous efforts directed towards someone other than himself.
It is unspecified when this particular writing session for ‘I Will’ took place, but if John, Paul, and Yoko were entirely on their own, sans engineers, producers, etc., it is possible it occurred in Paul’s house, where John and Yoko were residing for a time in 1968.
As for what Paul and Neil are intimating about earlier on, and whether they’re only speculating from their impression of how Yoko feels about John and Paul’s partnership, or actually recalling something said outright in a past incident – my guess is as good as yours. It seems to echo Yoko’s cruelly-timed 1981 comment to Philip Norman: “John said that no one ever hurt him the way Paul hurt him.”)
January 13th, 1969: As everyone waits for John and Yoko to arrive at the studio, Paul talks disconsolately about John’s evasiveness, and how John’s habit of using Yoko as his mouthpiece drove George to walk out of a band meeting the previous day. Linda, Neil Aspinall, and Let It Be filmmaker Michael Lindsay-Hogg share their thoughts.
MICHAEL: But do you think if you put any, uh, pressure on him, that he’d – go your way a bit more?
PAUL: [guarded] Who’s this?
PAUL: I don’t know. [long pause] But I don’t know, you know, I can’t… [quiet] I just can’t be bothered doing all that.
MICHAEL: Hm. [awkward] Hm. [silence; fidgeting]
PAUL: [tired] Do you want to try and ring John? [long pause]
NEIL: Mal or I can do it.
PAUL: Try him.
LINDA: The thing is, the four of you. The four of them just talking.
MICHAEL: Did you – did you not talk about it much, last night?
LINDA: Well, there was just too many…
PAUL: John didn’t talk. You see, Yoko talked… for John.
MICHAEL: Did George stay?
PAUL: Oh, well, then – in the middle of all that, actually—
LINDA: Hopefully. [Linda thought Michael was asking if George, who quit the band on January 10th, had decided in the meeting to stay in The Beatles.]
PAUL: George went. You know, “See ya.”
LINDA: But he was waiting for it to stop, you know. That’s why he was stepping out. But when he saw it wasn’t… The thing is like – a meeting without Yoko, just once, and she’d—
NEIL: I don’t think we’ll ever get that. [long pause]
PAUL: You see, that’s it, you know.
NEIL: That is.
PAUL: That is a big sort of crunch, that.
NEIL: You’d have to – you’d have to say it to John, then. And then it’s going to be like, “Well, I’m not doing it,” or, “I am doing it,” and whichever way it goes – but at least whenever John decides what he wants with that, that will be that.
January 13th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): Over lunch, the remaining Beatles touch on George’s resignation from the band on the 10th, as well as a group meeting held the previous day which ended in less than desirable circumstances (with George leaving the room, frustrated by John’s persistently Yoko-filtered standard of communication). While Yoko contends that it would be easy for John (and Paul) to regain George’s favour, John points out that this is a more deeply-rooted issue than it may seem, compounded over the years by John and Paul’s treatment of George and his defaulted status within the group. Upon this problem of overriding egos, however, Paul suggests (passive-aggressively) that it isn’t just the Lennon-and-McCartney tandem that is causing George upset and consternation.
PAUL: [bleak; joking] So where’s George?
RINGO: It smells like George is here.
YOKO: [to John] Well, you can get back George so easily, you know that. You know, Paul and—
JOHN: But it’s not that easy, because it’s a festering wound—
JOHN: —that we’ve allowed to – and yesterday we allowed it go even deeper, but we didn’t give him any bandages. And it’s only because George, uh, when he comes up, when he is that part of him… We have egos. We can’t help but have—
RINGO: Well, it can be a burden on him.
JOHN: I’ll have, you know—well, look, you do— [inaudible]
YOKO: Can I have one too [inaudible]? But if you wanted it badly enough, you have to, you know—
MAL: What do you want, uh, Paul?
PAUL: Rosé, please, for me. Linda?
LINDA: No thank you.
JOHN: [inaudible] I wouldn’t say it’s my ego. It was yesterday, really – or, or even the day before when we went to George’s—
PAUL: I sure as hell know I wouldn’t like you to.
PAUL: Dig in your heels.
YOKO: Your ego’s great, by the way.
PAUL: ’Cause if I’m to – if I’m to look at either of you, you know, I really don’t like to be smothered. You know—
YOKO: No, no no—
PAUL: You know, if I could – if you were in a shop on a shelf, I’d— [inaudible] —or whatever it is—
JOHN: I’m just trying to ask [inaudible] – do I want him back, Paul, I’m just asking, do I want it back? Whatever it is.
January 13th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): John contends with how the force of his partnership with Paul and his relationship with Yoko has negatively affected George and perhaps directly contributed to George’s walkout on the group three days prior. (Note: Follows shortly after this clip. My apologies for the vagueness; this is a very difficult excerpt to interpret, and I change my mind about it constantly, as the emotional nuances of what is being conveyed shift significantly depending on whom you presume John is speaking to (Paul or Yoko) about whom (Paul, George, or Yoko) and whom it is in reference to or is directed towards (Paul, George, or Yoko), word to word. I did initially try to indicate who’s who in brackets next to the relevant pronouns, but the transcript got dreadfully cluttered, and as I said, I have hardly nailed myself to a mast. Basically, this is a fannish Rorschach test and Your Mileage May Vary.)
JOHN: And it’s just that, you know. It’s only this year that you’ve suddenly realised, like who I am, or who he is, or anything like that. But the thing is—
PAUL: But I still haven’t realised that. What I’m – the process.
JOHN: Yeah yeah, but you realise that some – like you were saying, like George was some other part. But up till then, you’d had a – your thing that carried you forward. [pause; Yoko speaking?] I know, I’d adjusted before you. Alright, that would make me hipper than you, but I know that I’d adjusted to you before that – for selfish reasons, and for good reasons, not knowing what else to do, and for all these reasons. I’d adjusted to all these and allowed you [inaudible] – you know, if you wanted to let me— [inaudible] —very, very… whatever it is. But this year, you’ve seen, you’ve seen what you’ve been doing, and what everybody’s been doing, and not only did we feel guilty about it, the way we all feel guilty about our relationship to each other, because we could do more…
JOHN: I know, the thing is that I’m – I can’t – I’m not putting any blame on you for only suddenly realising it, see, because it’s [inaudible] our game, you know; it might have been masochistic, but the goal was still the same, self-preservation. And I knew what I liked about that. I know where the – even if I didn’t know where I was at, you know, the table’s there, and… let him do what he wants, and George too, you know…
PAUL: I know. I know—
JOHN: And I have won.
PAUL: But this thing has been—
JOHN: But I think you—
PAUL: You have—
JOHN: I feel it’s you.
PAUL: Whatever it is, you have. Yeah, I know. Well, I’ve had [inaudible]—
JOHN: Because you – ’cause you’ve suddenly got it all, you see.
JOHN: I know that, because of the way I am, like when we were in Mendips, like I said, “Do you like me?” or whatever it is. I’ve always – uh, played that one.
PAUL: [laughs nervously] Yes.
PAUL: Uh, I’d been watching, I’d been watching. I’d been watching the picture.
YOKO: Go back to George. What are we going to do about George?
JOHN: Yeah, I’m – yeah, sure. But this year, suddenly, it’s all happened to you, and you sort of go – you’re taking the blame, suddenly, as if, uh… Oh, he’d say, “Oh yeah, you know [inaudible],” as if I’ve never known it. And then he thought, “Fucking hell. I know what he’s like. I know he used to kick people. I know how he connived with Len, Ivan. I know him, you know? Fuck him.” And then, oh, but, but right, I’ve done such things… all that. So you’ve taken the five years that [inaudible], you’ve taken the five years of trouble, this year. So half of me says, alright, you know I’ll do anything to save you, to help you. And the other half of me says, well serves him fucking right. I’ve chewed through fucking shit because of him for five years, and he’s only just realised what he was doing [to her?]. So, and that’s something – we’ve both known it, you know? [laughs] And it is incredible. [pause]
January 13th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): During a discussion on how the rest of the group should move forward after George’s departure on the 10th, John wonders if they should get George back at all, suggesting his role as a Beatle is replaceable (unlike his own or Paul’s), and likens this unkindly to how Ringo first replaced Pete Best. Paul notes that John has been the top buck in getting himself heard (and getting his way) since the inception of the group (which John protests) and quickly reassures Ringo when he wryly declares himself to be little more than rabbit food for the group.
Paul admits that both he and John have done one over on George, albeit unconsciously as an effect of the competition and unaware of how it may have hurt George in the process, but John argues that he’s known since early childhood how manipulative he himself can be, and has tried to curb it to little avail.
PAUL: See, I’m just assuming he’s coming back, you know. I tell you, I’m just assuming he’s coming back.
RINGO: If he wants—
JOHN: What if he isn’t?
PAUL: If he isn’t, then… if he isn’t, then it’s a new problem.
RINGO: He would like the four of us to sit down.
JOHN: It’s like we’ve said—
RINGO: He wants the four of us to actually—
JOHN: See, if we want it – if we do want it, I still won’t tour, man, but I do want to—
PAUL: But you seem to – you seem to think—
JOHN: But if we do end up deciding we want it, as a policy, I can go along with that. Because the policy has kept us together.
RINGO: But the thing is that if we want him—
JOHN: If we want him, because we want him – but the thing is, like George said, it’s that The Beatles, to me, isn’t just limited to the four of us. I think that I, alone, could be a Beatle. [to Paul] I think you could. [to Ringo] I’m not sure whether you could, because you’re doing… Well, like, but I’m just telling you what I think! I don’t think The Beatles revolve around the four people! It might be like a job—
PAUL: But you know what, John, I’ll tell you one thing—
JOHN: [to Ringo] It’s like you joining the band instead of Pete. It’s like – to me, it is like that.
PAUL: Tell you what— [inaudible] Let me tell you what I think. [pause; inaudible] —thing is this. [to John] You have always been at the front of the chute. Now, there have been some secondary rungs, but George has been third rung—
RINGO: And I’ve been the cabbage.
PAUL: [immediately] Never.
JOHN: [dismissive] No, we haven’t—
PAUL: No, just, no – listen here. You’re the rabbit, he’s right.
JOHN: But not always, though—
PAUL: [anxious] No, listen here – listen – always! But! But! [pause] I do think – no, I do think that as grim as it all is, that [George]’s right. And I do think that like our sole approach is exactly what he’s been saying. And that our brains sort of… con him. It’s all nothing. I do think that is a – I mean— [stumbling] As a first way out, I can’t really even say that, but I do think, you know, that when you get right down to it—
PAUL: ’Cause the moments of clarity, that I’ve just been – are just so innocent, and so simple, that all my connive, and all my – urge, or— [inaudible]
JOHN: But don’t give me like – ’cause I’ve at least been aware of my conniving since fourteen. Real aware of it.
JOHN: And before that. You realize that I’ve known I’ve been conniving from – from Dovedale, you know that. I’ve been aware of that. Just because – I don’t know whether it’s him. It’s not him. It’s just me. That I’ve realized where it’s nowhere – but the thing is, I only know where it is when I’m in the middle of all of it—
JOHN: —that I am sort of at it again. And that’s why I’ve had to fight for the last three years. And I’ve done it – the other way. Just – rather than allow myself to connive, I thought, “Stop it now. Stop it.”
January 13th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): In the middle of a personal discussion with John and Ringo about the band, its tenuous future, and their relationships with one another, Paul (in response to John’s admission of insecurity in the face of external pressures from the public and media to perform) is emphatic about his faith in them and their abilities and contends that whatever interpersonal problems they have can be resolved, for what their music is worth. (Note: I am sheepishly and frustratedly uncertain of my transcription. And yes, Yoko and Linda seem to be having a fascinating conversation about Paul and George.)
PAUL: [trying] If all of you were for sale on a shop, I’d want you as, you know, that, but I really don’t want you as that!
PAUL: But I want you as that! I don’t want him as that. You see, I want you to want yours. You’re [inaudible]. Ringo wanted— When I say those things, you know, I can hear myself sort of – but I don’t know what it is you want me to do! In period and in fact, I want you all for whatever you are. Because I’m placing it – after all the bests, and all it bloody does, and what’s best, is that what you are is alright. Because if it isn’t, then it’s just stupid of me [inaudible], you know? Because it’s what you are, and I would [inaudible] anywhere! So I’m placing all the money, all the fame, and everything, on what you are. So if this is what you two are, then get on with it.
January 13th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): While Yoko and Paul conduct their own conversation with each other, Linda talks to John about the inevitable difficulties any relationship faces – even in the context of a musical partnership – and why it doesn’t prove the relationship itself is an expired one. John (inexplicably or not) laments the the White Album doesn’t sound like the genuine, inspired band collaboration they achieved in the past.
LINDA: You were saying that—
JOHN: [pained] It’s like George said. It just doesn’t give me the same sort of satisfaction anymore. Because of the compromise we’d have to make, to be together. [long pause] You know, it’s that the end result of the records now aren’t… enough. Because now, we – we know it so clearly, how we arrived at it, and for what it was and all. Before, it was always a surprise when we – you know. We weren’t so aware of how we reacted to it. When the – something came out, like Revolver or Pepper or whatever, there was still that element of surprise that we didn’t know where it came from. But now we know exactly where it came from, and how we arrived at that particular noise, and how it could have been… much better. Or it needn’t have been at all. The only way to do it – satisfactory, for y– yourself – is to do it on your own. And then that’s fucking hard.
LINDA: But you were saying yesterday, you know. And you know something, you – you’ve always been sort of thinking that it can’t be any better than it was; you’re not just a studio musician. You always say it. I mean, [inaudible] – I’m saying, hey, you make good music together. And you like it or not, you know.
JOHN: [furtive] I like it.
LINDA: And making good music is also—
JOHN: But it’s just—
LINDA: It’s really hard working at a relationship.
JOHN: I – I know.
LINDA: Of course! That’s what you said yesterday. It happens all the time, you know. And you also said you wanted [inaudible] The Beatles—
JOHN: It’s like all of us are dissatisfied with The Beatles LP. Now, it’s not because the way we got on doing it, because the end result was – was as good as it could’ve been. And – I don’t know what the reason could be. [offhand] Mal, could you get a little glass of wine?
MAL: Yeah. Red, or—?
JOHN: If I get down to my contributions, then I’m satisfied, you know. But the whole thing is less satisfactory.
RINGO: But I enjoy it more.
JOHN: But individually. Name any of them! There is no [inaudible]. Even George’s numbers are more satisfactory than any numbers we’ve done before. But as a whole thing, it’s just not satisfactory to me.
RINGO: Well, I mean, I dig it far more than Sgt. Pepper or anything—
LINDA: You know, it really—
JOHN: And I dig it too. I dig it, individually, far more than Sgt. Pepper. But as a whole – as a Beatles thing, I think it didn’t – it couldn’t work as a Beatles thing. I think it’s one of the best Beatles work we could have, you know, but as a – as an entity, as a whole coming out of all of us here – no.
January 13th, 1969 (Twickenham Studios, London): As Paul encourages an unconfident Ringo to go ahead with his plans to record a solo LP, John hedgingly brings up his own apprehensions about following his instincts (especially when he’s not even sure what he really wants to do). In their inimitable and emotionally non-committal fashion, John and Paul engage in metaphors about intentions, conveying these intentions in actions, and how these actions may be conveyed by those who see it. (Basically: what John and Paul talk about when they talk about love.)
PAUL: [to Ringo] The great thing is that you singing like how you really sing – will be it. It will be!
RINGO: Yes, but the only way is to do it on your own.
PAUL: Until then – yeah, sure. Until then – until you reach how you really sing, you’ll sing your half-soul.
PAUL: And it’s probably when we’re all very old, that we’ll all sing together.
PAUL: And we’ll all really sing, and we’ll all show each other how good we are, and in fact we’ll die, then, I don’t know. [Linda laughs; diffident] Probably, you know, probably something sappy or soft like that… I don’t know, but really, I mean, i– it’s really down to all those sort of simple, silly things to me.
YOKO: But those are the important things, you know.
PAUL: It’s got to be simple. It’s got to be simple. It can’t be A plus B equals X plus Y plus Z, because that’s them, you know. And it couldn’t be—
JOHN: [quiet] Maybe that’s what’s evading me.
PAUL: Yes. [sincere] But it’s okay, that, you know.
JOHN: [hesitating] I just, uh… because I’m not really sure what or how I feel about it.
PAUL: No, but you’re—
JOHN: Because any time—
PAUL: You’re unsure because you’re not sure whether to go left or right on an issue. You’ve noticed the two ways open to us. You know the way we all want to go. And you know the way you want to go. Which is positive! ‘Cause you want to go – now, okay. So your positive thing might actually be to kick that telephone box in. It might occasionally be to do that. So you know that’s the way you’ve gotta go.
YOKO: Everybody would want to see that, actually.
PAUL: But you don’t want to actually look like you’re kicking the telephone box in. So you have to sort of say to everyone, “Look at that over there, everyone!” And while they’re not looking, you’ll kick the telephone box in, and sort of— [whistles innocently]
JOHN: I don’t think that’s a fair representation. [laughs]
PAUL: [conceding] Oh, well, it involves me, that’s me. I do that, too. And I think we all do that. But I think the answer is, that – while you’ve got us all looking at nothing over there, and you’ve thrown us for a minute, we would actually all have dug to see you kick that telephone box in. Because we wanna see you do it.
YOKO: But we’d have to say it too, though. That’s another thing.
PAUL: We would actually want to watch the Steve McQueen film, where he kicks the telephone box in. We all want to see that. You know. And I really think that’s—
YOKO: Yes, but sometimes it’s very—
JOHN: But it must be our own faults, that we’ve built it up that I can’t kick the telephone box – apart from it being my fault—
PAUL: You can. You could.
JOHN: But – the feeling that, that – that I – like Ringo said about his album, that what – we’re – you know. I won’t do it, ‘cause I’m gonna let us down, or – look a fool.
JOHN: You know, and we’ve each done that to each— That bit.
PAUL: We all know we can do that, you know. I mean, I’m really trying to sort of learn, really— [inaudible] —meaning.
JOHN: Well, it’s like – we’ve all found – we can do it on our own.
PAUL: But on our own, I’m just gonna have to sort of just say it to you all. Through the song. Now I know if I – when I’m saying to you all, “Listen, this is how this song goes,” you know, then I know if I half-tell you how it goes, that there’ll be two of you who’ll like it, and then there’s only [inaudible]. You know.
PAUL: A certain amount of you will like it, and some of you won’t. Because, and I know – and you know, this is where it gets heavy. Because you’ve got to blame yourself, for that. Because I know I half-sang it.
PAUL: And I know that if – say I’m pissed, at the end of an evening, and I just, and I get on a piano because I really just want to get on a piano. And I’m singing because I don’t particularly want to show off, too. I want to really sing this song, now, and say what I wanna say, and so on and so on and so on. I’ll do it, and everyone in that room will dig it, because it’s me really doing it. And I know that we all have this. [inaudible] And everyone will be really crazy about it. Now if I were really doing it, everyone will listen, and everyone will dig it, and no one will go against it. It’s when I half-mean it, or it’s when I nearly mean it, but there’s – there’s always that one person that can spot that – that—
PAUL: Spot them doing a mistake. You know, there’s always someone who can spot that little bit where Charlie Chester didn’t quite mean it, or Charlie Drake, when he didn’t quite mean the joke. You know, it’s all in that.
YOKO: But then sometimes it doesn’t matter to you, so.
PAUL: It’s like if we could really… See, that’s why I think this is where we’ve got a problem now, you know.
(Note: Significant – and frustrating, and hilariously sad – in hindsight, for reasons that are obvious. Paul: “I’m telling you to leave me in the hopes that you’ll tell me you won’t, because it’ll prove you still care about me and want to stay.” John: “I’m telling you I’m moving on in the hopes that you’ll tell me not to, because it’ll prove you still care about me and want me to stay.”)
January 13th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): John and Paul have an obfuscating conversation about their songwriting partnership and creative process, which has been incapacitated by a lack of direction, misplaced (misread) intentions, and the unmet (unrealised) expectations they’ve inflicted upon each other. (In other words: issues. And some projecting of issues onto George, for good measure.)
PAUL: That’s why I think this – we’ve got this problem now, you know. What I’d like to do, is for the four of us – and you know, we’ve all have done [inaudible] things – to different degrees, I see it as you go one way, you go one way, George goes one way, and me another. But I know it will apply to all us, if one day, we can all be singing like we’re singing, [to Ringo] you can be drumming like you’re drumming, George can be really playing – I mean, like he plays, not as if I’m trying to make him play like me. But now it’s like I keep trying to make him play like – how I’ve played guitar—
JOHN: But you don’t, you see. The point – the point that we both – or, mainly me—
PAUL: Back up, back up.
JOHN: Yeah, okay. Is that you try and make George play… competently, because you’re afraid that how he’ll play won’t be like you want him to play. And that’s what we did. And that’s what you did to me. [pause]
JOHN: And – I – that’s the difference with you saying that the competen— —so annoyed by the conniving on The Beatles album, was that I’d—
JOHN: I got to a bit where I thought – it’s no good, me telling you what or how to do it, you know? All I tried to do on that album was just sing it to you like I was drunk, you know.
JOHN: Just did me best to say, “Look, this, this stands up on its own.”
JOHN: And I’m not doing this quite well, ‘cause I – like even with ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, the first time I sang it. Because I hadn’t allowed meself to say it, as a whole song.
JOHN: I couldn’t work – it was only after we’d done it that I’d realised it was done. You know, and on The Beatles album, I just sort of said, “[inaudible] This is me singing it drunk, but I’m pretending as if I’m not. What would you do with it?”
PAUL: [laughs] Drunk.
JOHN: You know? “George, you play whatever you like.”
JOHN: You know, and that’s what it was. It wasn’t – it wasn’t the arrogance of, “Listen. This is it, baby.” It was that – I can’t tell you what to do because you won’t play, here, like how I think you should play.
PAUL: Yeah, right.
PAUL: You see, that’s – that’s the thing.
JOHN: I’m not going to tell you what to play—
PAUL: That seems to be the trouble, is that—
YOKO: It is. [pause]
PAUL: Okay. And that’s great, you know. And then – it’s just that being able to say that, on the occasion. I just mean to say, “Look, I’m not going to say anything about the song, because – really, I’m going to really try, now—”
JOHN: But we tried it—
PAUL: “—to sing it to you—”
JOHN: [exasperated] Yeah, I know, but you wouldn’t say—
PAUL: Listen to me— [inaudible]
JOHN: We arranged it, you know?
PAUL: I know, I know.
JOHN: You can’t see— Listen, uh, you— [inaudible]
PAUL: I say that, of course, when [inaudible] when you say that to me, because I haven’t got it off of you.
JOHN: Yeah, but the point is you—
PAUL: And you’ve sort of – I think—
JOHN: Well, I’m saying that ‘Dear Prudence’ is arranged. Can’t you hear bom, bom, bom, bom, bom…?
JOHN: That – that is the arrangement, you know.
PAUL: Yeah, well.
JOHN: But I’m too frightened to say “This is it,” I just sit there and say, “Look, if you don’t come along, and play your bit, I won’t do the song,” you know? I can’t do any better than that. Don’t ask me for what boogie you’re gonna play on it.
JOHN: Because… apart from not knowing, I can’t tell you better than you have, what grooves you can play on it. You know, I just can’t work. I can’t do it like that. ‘Course I could, you know! But when you think of the other half of it, just think: how much more have I done towards helping you write? I’ve never told you what to sing, or what to play.
JOHN: You know, I’ve always done the numbers like that. Now, the only regret, just for the past numbers, is when – because I’ve been so frightened, that I’ve allowed you to take it somewhere where 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: Like ‘She Said, She Said’?
LINDA: Yes, yes.
JOHN: ‘She Said, She Said’. Then he’d – he’d– ’cause he’d take it as is. You know? [inaudible; drowned out by voice marking] So on that last album— [inaudible] —arrangements on it— [inaudible] —it’s probably George, you know. If there’s anything wrong with it. Because I don’t want your arrangement on it. I only want your… If you give me your suggestions, let me reject them, or in the case there’s one I like – it’s when we’re writing songs.
JOHN: The same goes for the arrangement. I don’t want it – to… [sighs] I don’t know.
PAUL: No, I know. I know what you mean, yeah.
YOKO: I know exactly what you mean.
PAUL: Yeah, yeah—
JOHN: I want it to be like I’m just doing it, but—
January 13th, 1969 (Twickenham Studios, London): In the midst of a personal discussion about working together within the band, John tries to explain the disconnect in their process, and why he can’t envision their songs the way Paul can. As both John and Paul circle around the issues of honest communication and (living up to) each other’s expectations, they eventually project onto George bring George into the quandary of the Lennon-McCartney partnership.
JOHN: And that’s all I did on the last album was say, “Okay, Paul, you’re out to decide where my songs are concerned, arrangement-wise.” [exasperated] I don’t know the songs, you know. I’d sooner just sing them, than have them turn into – into ‘Mr. Kite’, or anything else, where— I’ve accepted the problem from you that it needs arrangement. And then, because I’m an ape, I don’t know. I don’t see any further than me, the guitar, and the drums, and – and George Martin doing the— I don’t hear any of the flutes playing, you know? I suppose I could hear ‘em if I sat down and worked very hard! I could turn out a mathematical drawing if you’d like, but I could never do it off me own backside, I always have to just – [brushing sound from strumming motion] do that, you know?
JOHN: I mean—
PAUL: [quiet] Yeah. Yeah. [pause] I’m onto the same thing, you know. That’s – that’s – we’re all at that. It is only, like, if you can just remember that we’re – you know. That the four of us are trying to do that. Because I mean, all of those things you say, you know, in some way, apply to me. Not all ways—
JOHN: Yes, yes, because everything applies a little bit to you, too.
PAUL: [inaudible] —it is just you saying it. They’re all – you know, in some way, to some degree, will apply to me.
JOHN: ‘Cause once there was a period where none of us could actually, uh, say anything, about your criticisms.
PAUL: [quiet] Yeah. Yeah.
JOHN: [bleak] ‘Cause you would reject it all.
PAUL: [quiet] Yeah, sure.
JOHN: And so George and I would just go – you know, “I’ll give you a line here,” “Okay,” you know, “We’ll do four in a bar, and I’ll do…” And a lot of the times you were right.
JOHN: But a lot of the times you were – [the songs were] the same as they always are. But I can’t see the answer to that.
PAUL: No, but – no, that’s good you see. The thing is, like, within each other, within ourselves, we reach something that’s nearly perfect. And everyone else who’s listening will think, “That’s it. They’ve got it.” You know – you know what I mean. So okay, we know we nearly made it, but we’ve really made it, for everyone else. ‘Cause it’s okay, we’re into the fine, finest, finest technicalities – I mean, that’s where it’s at, you know. If one day, we can even keep all – if all the people who are listening to this, nearly nearly made it, they’ll think we’ve made it, you know. They’ll think that’s it. So okay, if we can nearly, if we can creep up on it – and that’s, see, that’s what I’m trying to do. Like last week, yesterday [inaudible] doing alright for me, I was really trying to just say to George, “Take it there,” you know, whereas I wouldn’t have gone [inaudible] and said, “Take it there – with diddle-a-diddle-a-da.” But I was trying last week, to say, “Now, take it over there, and it needs to be like – but, oh, what, like, whatever you—”
JOHN: You see, the point is now – George – is we both did that to George, this time.
JOHN: And because of the build up to it, that – now he can’t even take that.
PAUL: Treating him a bit like a mongrel, yeah.
JOHN: He can’t even – you know. It’s like if I say, “Alright, take it,” he’ll say, “Well, look, I can’t take it. I’ll forget it.”
JOHN: I have to, uh—
PAUL: ‘Cause he knows what we’re all about.
PAUL: So he knows that when we say, “Take it,” we expect doo-doo-duh-duh-doo. If I said that, then you’d expect—
JOHN: But it’s just that bit. The bit where we’ve – ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’.
JOHN: We – there’s no way we could have translated it to him, to say… you know.
Last updated on January 15, 2022
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.13.01 • 1:00
Recording • DDSI.13.02 • 3:36
Sleep On It, Otis
Recording • DDSI.13.03 • 2:50
Baby, Come Back
Recording • DDSI.13.04 • 0:22
Build Me Up, Buttercup
Recording • DDSI.13.05 • 4:06
Build Me Up, Buttercup
Recording • DDSI.13.06 • 9:46
Build Me Up, Buttercup
Recording • DDSI.13.07 • 0:18
Recording • DDSI.13.08 • 3:39
Recording • DDSI.13.09 • 0:06
Recording • DDSI.13.10 • 0:38
Recording • DDSI.13.11 • 3:16
Recording • DDSI.13.13 • 2:21
Recording • DDSI.13.16 • 1:03
Recording • DDSI.13.25 • 3:04
Recording • DDSI.13.26 • 1:06
On The Road Again
Recording • DDSI.13.33 • 0:39
Recording • DDSI.13.34 • 1:01
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.