Get Back sessions - January 14, 1969 - Day 9

Tuesday, January 14, 1969 • For The Beatles

Part of


The "Get Back / Let It Be" sessions

January 1969 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Let It Be

Timeline More from year 1969
Studio:
Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK

Master album


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About

This was the ninth day of rehearsals at Twickenham Film Studios.

A disastrous day of little or no rehearsal: George is still absent; John, wasted from substance abuse the previous night, shows up late; and Ringo is miserable and ill himself. Rather than waste more of Apple’s time and money, Paul officially calls a halt to the filming, realizing that with two uncooperative group members nothing can be accomplished.

Winn, John C.. That Magic Feeling: 2 (The Beatles’ Recorded Legacy) (p. 237). Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed. Kindle Edition.

From 14 January 1969: Get Back/Let It Be sessions: day nine (beatlesbible.com)

The ninth day of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions was the second full one without George Harrison, who had walked out of Twickenham Film Studios on 10 January 1969.

It was clear by this stage that The Beatles were unable to function in any meaningful way as a trio, and motivation and inspiration hit a low mark on this day. As with other Twickenham rehearsals, it began with Paul McCartney working alone at a piano, although there is little of the energetic enthusiasm which he brought to the earlier days.

Once John Lennon and Ringo Starr had arrived, they performed a mix of improvised songs, golden oldies and original compositions, as had become customary in these sessions. One of the songs was ‘Woman’, the McCartney song given in 1966 to Peter & Gordon. Another was ‘The Back Seat Of My Car’, later to be one of the highlights of McCartney’s 1971 album Ram.

A piano boogie duet featuring McCartney and Starr was included in the Let It Be film, and was copyrighted ‘Jazz Piano Song’ by Apple. Of the other tracks, ‘Madman’ and ‘Watching Rainbows’ were Lennon compositions which was taken no further, although ‘Madman’ was performed again at Apple Studios on 21 January. Lennon also played a brief version of ‘You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)’, the still-unreleased song which The Beatles began recording in May 1967.

This was followed by a discussion about the future. Let It Be director Michael Lindsay-Hogg asked if they should relocate the filming to EMI Studios and abandon the idea of a live show, but Lennon explained that any decisions should be made with Harrison, who was in Liverpool.

The day ended with McCartney alone at the piano, performing ‘Oh! Darling’ and a brief version of ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’, for Glyn Johns to test the audio equipment.

On this day Lennon and Ono were also interviewed by a reporter from Canada’s CBC-TV. It took place around midday and lasted for 30 minutes, and has since become known as the Two Junkies interview.

The Beatles held a meeting on the following day, 15 January 1969, and agreed to Harrison’s demands to move the sessions from Twickenham to Apple’s headquarters in Savile Row, London. These began a week later, on 21 January, in higher spirits and willing to continue with the Let It Be project.

From a moral to this song — January 14th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios,… (tumblr.com):

January 14th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): Hard pressed to work on any new material, the group (sans George, who is still out of the band) talk idly about producer Glyn Johns’ ancestry, the train sets an unrelated production company is preparing for a film inside the studio, and the plans for the next day’s sessions. John and Paul interview each other about their non-existent projects, skirt the issue of John’s health, and communicate in alternations of absurdity and obscurity. (In other words: John and Paul, in approximation of Beckett. Doug Sulpy describes the tone of John’s voice as having “an interesting quality […] as if, wanting to say something serious for a change, he’s forgotten quite how”.) 

JOHN: Who’s the fool on the hill, Paul?

PAUL: John. 

JOHN: [long pause] I’m trying to sell the house. [long pause] When I was young, so much younger than today, I never needed anybody’s help, in any way. But now my life has changed in oh so many ways. A-whop-bop-a-luma… a-lim-bam-boom. [long pause] We should hold some sanctions against George. Very tightly. 

PAUL: Wheat. Coal.

JOHN: Yes. Wheat and coal. Bread loaves. Meat biscuits. Cardboard cut-outs. 

PAUL: You see the Thirty-Minute Theatre

JOHN: I did, but in a blue fuzz. But it didn’t get through to me. Nice colour, though. [pause] I had a visit from a hippie family. Wondered why I had so many bedrooms. 

PAUL: [long pause] Were you able to tell them?

JOHN: Oh, yeah. I told them I’ve got a lot of bedrooms because I’ve got too many. And I offered them accommodation in Ireland, which they took up. 

PAUL: [long pause] Let’s crack on. [sighs] 

MICHAEL: Who’s got a match, as opposed to a lighter? 

PAUL: I have. 

JOHN: I have. 

MICHAEL: As opposed to a lighter. 

RINGO: A wooden one?

PAUL: Blue gold?

MICHAEL: A wooden one do, a wooden one not do… thank you. 

PAUL: I wooden wanna… 

MICHAEL: Are you [inaudible] John?

GLYN: [laughs] No, I am not related. 

RINGO: Stratford John?

GLYN: Nope. 

PAUL: Farmer John?

GLYN: Augustus John, apparently. 

MICHAEL: The John. 

GLYN: Rumour has it Augustus John is a grandfather twice removed or something. [laughs] 

MICHAEL: That’s the way with most of us offspring [inaudible]. 

PAUL: [referring to the film equipment] Is that the new trick, the playback speed is up there?

RINGO: They’ve been there for several years. 

PAUL: Still feeding back. [laughs]

MICHAEL: Should we knock off early today or not?

PAUL: Probably, yeah. 

MICHAEL: Should we knock on early tomorrow?

JOHN: Yes, I’ll do that. 

PAUL: Knock on early?

JOHN: Yes, I just uh… was up late, you know. 

PAUL: Yeah?

MICHAEL: At the moment you’re a guest for lunch. 

JOHN: I was sort of stoned and high and watching films and I wouldn’t have made it anyway. And uh… 

PAUL: Check up. 

JOHN: [subdued] Yeah, but it’s not good if – I’m gonna come at ten, I should come at ten, you know.  

PAUL: Up with the dawn, down with the sun. 

JOHN: Mm. 

PAUL: Ringo ever, Eric never. 

YOKO: [referring to the previous night?] It was worthwhile, though, wasn’t it?

JOHN: Oh, it was worthwhile. [Paul and Yoko laugh] 

PAUL: Does he make a lot of fun of you, Yoko?

YOKO: Not enough. [laughs] 

PAUL: Not enough. [John laughs] 

MICHAEL: I think they’re painting the train. They’ll be doing that while – whilst the time we’re here. 

JOHN: We’d better get on before it leaves, then. 

PAUL: Please believe me. I’d hate to miss the train. Oh yeah. [pause] Like the shoes?

YOKO: Is that the fashion?

PAUL: This is the thing now, you know. 

YOKO: Mm. 

PAUL: The next thing. The socks are – the socks are with them, they come with them. 

JOHN: You did introduce oxford bogs, didn’t you? [Paul and Yoko laugh]

PAUL: Yeah, yeah. I am an innovator in many ways. 

JOHN: Well, apart from your part-time work, what are you doing?

PAUL: Well, I do a lot of dramatic work, in and out of the country. 

JOHN: Presently, I’m working on a Welsh TV series called Land for Wecken, in which I appear as a Danish singer of royal blood who turned to folk singing after a disaster in the First World War where the Nazis bombed his house. 

PAUL: Mm. 

JOHN: And he had to move into, uh, Norway I think it was. Why, I was born on the train between Ostograd and Fensborough. 

PAUL: Jamaica?

JOHN: Sometimes. [Ringo laughs] But generally I have a hell of a mi-graine. So I usually take uh, frantic, which usually gets rid of it. It dissolves in half the time, you see. [pause] It gave me a great background for the job I’m doing now. 

MICHAEL: It’s funny – it’s funny, really. The guy said to me, do you mind if they store their trains quietly in the back? And they’ve come totally populated with painters and the rest of them.

JOHN: Now, the one thing you find about – we’re not pushy. 

PAUL: No. 

JOHN: People want to put trains in the middle of our set— 

PAUL: —they get it. 

JOHN: [inaudible]

PAUL: [pause] Yeah. Mind you, we’re not mugs. 

JOHN: Oh no. 

PAUL: Oh no. 

JOHN: [referring to Apple] We gave it all away. It was our plan.

From a moral to this song — January 14th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios,… (tumblr.com):

January 14th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): As the day trudges forth without any productivity for the Beatles’ second day without George in the group, Paul asks John about Two Virgins (under the flippant guise of a journalist) to which John responds with stiff sincerity. As director Michael Lindsay-Hogg comes round to confer, Ringo admits that he isn’t feeling well and wonders about having some rest. Michael commiserates, but expresses concern about the impetus of the group and is worried that they will individually (and indifferently) wander off to their own devices if they don’t have a routine schedule to solder them together as a working band – which prompts John and Ringo to sing a sentimental folk bar. Not being of the disposition to have serious discussions about the direction of the (Get Back/Let It Be) sessions, John, Paul, and Ringo (dis)engage in frivolous wit and references to the Laugh-In.

PAUL: So what’s the point behind Two Virgins? [Yoko laughs]

JOHN: It’s a six-inch nail. [long pause] The main point behind it is to open people’s minds to what’s happening today. There are people all over the country humming into tape recorders, and we hope to bring them out into the open. And hum together. [pause] You understand?

PAUL: Hmm.

JOHN: Now sold one thousand three hundred due to the great promotion from Apple Dietetics.

YOKO: [laughs] Which is a figure you don’t want to expose, necessarily.

PAUL: Is it very neat to do this in public, Mr. Lennon?

JOHN: I feel obliged, in the position that I am today as a pop idol and the power I have, to do something for the good, and uh, I feel obliged to speak out… [pause] And that’s as simple as I can put it, really. Take Downing Street. South Orderly Street. Wimpole Street. All owned by the Queen. ‘Nuff said. [silence; fidgeting]

MAL: [in background] Is anybody – wanna rehearse, or do songs, or—?

YOKO: [inaudible]

RINGO: I feel ill, actually.

MICHAEL: Do you? Was this a mistake [inaudible]?

RINGO: I don’t. [laughter]

JOHN: I think a few days in bed…

RINGO: Yes, I think so too.

JOHN: Or maybe three days on the couch, depending on what your job is.

RINGO: I think two days in bed.

MICHAEL: Do you really not feel well?

RINGO: No, I just feel a bit… ill.

PAUL: [to Michael] Well, do you?

MICHAEL: I don’t feel well, but I can’t say, ‘cause I’m the captain of the ship.

JOHN: Oh you can. [Yoko laughs]

PAUL: Why?

MICHAEL: No, I don’t want to let the crew down.

JOHN: Nowadays, the captain gets off first.

MICHAEL: No, I go down with the ship.

YOKO: [inaudible]

JOHN: No he does, really.

MICHAEL: I feel tired, but I think it’s tiring – disappointing.

JOHN: [bored] Hmm.

MICHAEL: But I have a feeling if we decide not to meet one day, we may never meet again.

PAUL: Well…

JOHN: Along this dusty road…

RINGO: We’ll always meet again…

JOHN: On this dusty road.

YOKO: As they say, there’s no business like no business.

JOHN: Again.

PAUL: Yeah.

YOKO: Again.

PAUL: And still the boom [mic] wasn’t over them.

JOHN: Ooh, the Queen of Sheba wore falsies.

RINGO: [mock-surprise] I didn’t know that!

JOHN: Didn’t you know that? You weren’t there at the time. [pause] Cleopatra was a carpet manufacturer.

RINGO: I didn’t know that!

JOHN: ‘Cause you weren’t there at the time. [pause] Edgar Allen Poe was a shithouse.

RINGO: I didn’t know that!

YOKO: What was John Lennon?

JOHN: A patriot. [Yoko laughs] I didn’t know that. [laughter]

JOHN & PAUL: “Goodnight, Dick.” [laughter]

JOHN: [sighs] That was Lennon and McCartney. Northern Sheds. Great Western Railway.

PAUL: Songs for all functions.

JOHN: Ross-Upon-Wye.

PAUL: Nige-Whalley-Mange.

JOHN: Ilford two, Western Middlodeons – terrible.

From a moral to this song — January 14th, 1969 (Twickenham FIlm Studios,… (tumblr.com):

January 14th, 1969 (Twickenham FIlm Studios, London): As Paul jokingly suggests for the (Let It Be documentary) camera crew to capture Ringo (who isn’t feeling well) if he sicks on the floor, John mentions superficially that he threw up during an interview filmed earlier in the day with Yoko for Canadian television – not from illness, but from recent irresponsible habits, possibly exercised the previous night. Paul, who is wearied by the lethargy of the proceedings, tries to engage John about the recording sessions and how they should work while George is gone, but John palters, and at turns they both fall back on oblique references and emotionally indeterminate allusions.

After John trades bad jokes with Ringo, Paul implores them to remember why they’re here and that they can’t idle forever, and John (seemingly contrite, if nonetheless facile) agrees to start rehearsing. Despite the others’ reservations about his health, a subdued Ringo reassures that he’s staying to play too.

RINGO: Kevin?

PAUL: I think if we hang around a bit longer we can get Ringo being sick. [laughter]

JOHN: You – see, you missed me this morning, I did it for CBS. Just leapt off in the middle of the interview.

PAUL: Did you?

KEVIN: [in background] As a matter of fact, yes.

JOHN: No reason at all, except that I’ve been mistreating my body.

YOKO: I thought it was a happening.

JOHN: It was a happening.

PAUL: There was a lot of nervous tension, you know.

JOHN: Oh, yes.

PAUL: I mean, there was a bloody funny atmosphere in that room, mother.

JOHN: Aye.

MICHAEL: We missed out on the other day.

JOHN: Hmm?

MICHAEL: We missed it the other day, but then they wouldn’t let us have it.

JOHN: They missed it too.

MICHAEL: Oh. Were they in colour or black and white?

YOKO: Colour.

JOHN: I never noticed that. Colour.

PAUL: [trying] See, what we need is a serious program of work. An endeavour. Not an aimless rambling amongst the canyons of your mind. [inaudible] —life.

JOHN: Take me on that trip upon that golden ship of shores… We’re all together, boy.

PAUL: To wander aimlessly is very unswinging. Unhip.

JOHN: And when I touch you, I feel happy inside. I can’t hide, I can’t hide. [pause] Ask me why, I’ll say I love you.

PAUL: What we need is a schedule.

JOHN: A garden schedule.

PAUL: Point A to Z. Travel to A to Z, and having reached the point – take a holiday.

JOHN: It’s holiday time.

PAUL: Achieve something, everyday. [pause]

YOKO: It’s a hell of a lot to ask for…

JOHN: That’s sort of hard to live up to, Paul.

PAUL: [very quiet] It’s very hard to live up to.

MICHAEL: Ernest Hemingway had a very good remark about that, which I’ve unfortunately forgotten. About achieving something everyday. It’s the only thing of his writings I like.

PAUL: It may in theory sound silly, but—

JOHN: In practice…

PAUL: —it’s even sillier. Well, if practice is all there is.

JOHN: This is where it’s at.

PAUL: This is where it’s at, unless that is where it’s at.

JOHN: This is where it’s at, now.

PAUL: Mm-hmm. [long pause] Teamwork. A good defense. And a line of forwards. A good strong pair of boots.

YOKO: [inaudible]

JOHN: You play ball with me, and I’ll play ball with you.

PAUL: Don’t swing the lead, sonny.

JOHN: Every cloud have a silver mouth boat.

PAUL: Could be learning something instead of this, you know.

JOHN: Bob Newridges is a tartan that covers Yorkshire.

PAUL: Rutland is the smallest county.

JOHN: Scarborough is a college scarf.

PAUL: Amo amas a minge.

JOHN: [laughs] Amanty meaty monkey monk… [Paul laughs]

YOKO: [to Michael] Are we going to see the rushes, or—?

PAUL: This is the – this is the typical end-product of an actor’s career.

JOHN: Alexander the Great was a bighead. Or a fireplace. [long pause] Why do they call it Great Britain? How long is it going to go on? Fantastic France. Amazing America.

PAUL: Huge Spain.

JOHN: [laughs] Huge Spain. I’ll drink to that. [pause] When is a door not a door?

RINGO: I don’t know.

JOHN: When it’s ajar.

PAUL: When it’s ajar.

RINGO: Two flies on a door. Which one was sick?

JOHN: I don’t know.

RINGO: The one on the panel.

JOHN: I don’t blame it. [pause] Why did the chickie cross the road?

PAUL: You see what you’ve done to us, pal?

RINGO: To get to the other side.

JOHN: You’ve heard it before!

RINGO: Yes.

JOHN: Clichés…

RINGO: What goes over water, under water, and never gets wet?

JOHN: Hmm… a rubber mac.

RINGO: No, an egg in a duck’s belly.

PAUL: [cutting in] Now, alright, we can’t carry on like this indefinitely now, can we?

RINGO: I beg you?

PAUL: We can’t carry on like this indefinitely.

JOHN: Doing this?

RINGO: We seem to be.

PAUL: We seem to, but we can’t. Because our hearts are—

JOHN: Should we go play our group, then?

PAUL: There’s the other point.

JOHN: I think this is rather good.

PAUL: It’s alright, I must say, but we can’t carry on like this indefinitely.

JOHN: As some clips in between.

PAUL: Yeah.

JOHN: [pause] As I said, I’m just recovering from the day, you know…

PAUL: Dyspepsia.

YOKO: From the night, frankly.

JOHN: [stage whisper] Oh, don’t say that, you’re be revealings!

YOKO: [laughs] Oh… I didn’t think about that.

JOHN: “From the night”, indeed. Next thing you’ll be telling them about our black sheets! [laughter] Enriched with Marylebone Station… [fidgeting; gets up] Right. [to Paul] Guitars? I thought that’s what they do.

PAUL: That is what they do, but if you’re singing—

JOHN: Oh, I’ll even sing you half a song I was writing.

PAUL: [gets up; to Ringo] C’mon. Sounds. How’s – how’s about?

RINGO: [subdued] Sound city… Yes, go on, I’ll come.

PAUL: [concerned] How are you feeling?

RINGO: No, I just feel a bit off. Very—

PAUL: [joking; bleak] Last two years, actually.

RINGO: [laughs] No, it’s not that. It’s just that some days— [inaudible; drowned out by voice marking slate] —you don’t know how you feel.

(Note: Kevin Harrington is one of the production runners in the studio. The phrase “canyons of your mind” is in reference to the song by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Doug Sulpy describes John and Paul’s exchange in part as “a duel of witticisms”.

During this period of time John was using heroin, which is the most probable cause – directly or indirectly – for his vomiting.)

After Ringo left the session because he was unwell:

Michael Lindsay-Hogg “We ought to figure out, shall we go on filming or playing, or do you want to rehearse or do you want to move into EMI and get out of this place and just do an album?”

John (referring to George) “Well, it all rests on when we see …”

Paul “Well, the thing is, George is in Liverpool now and he’s coming back tomorrow.”

John “Tomorrow? Is it tomorrow we go and see him, you think? So, we don’t go here or what? Or do we come here and then go down in the afternoon?”

Paul “I don’t know really. I think we stop filming now, as a matter of policy. That’s a wrap for you, lads.”

Badman, Keith. The Beatles: Off the Record . Music Sales. Kindle Edition.

From Facebook – 14 January 1969 Photo by Ethan A. Russell © Apple Corps Ltd. (https://www.thebeatles.com/)
From Facebook – 14 January 1969 – Photo by Ethan A. Russell © Apple Corps Ltd. (http://www.thebeatles.com/)

Last updated on October 16, 2021

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Drugs, Divorce and a Slipping Image - The Complete, Unauthorized Story of The Beatles' 'Get Back' Sessions

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

The Beatles Bible

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.

Have a look at https://www.beatlesbible.com/1969/01/14/get-back-let-it-be-sessions-day-nine/

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