- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Let It Be... Naked Official album.
- Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK
More from year 1969
Some songs from this session appear on:
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This was the first day of rehearsals at Twickenham Film Studios, for the “Get Back” project, which at this stage was primarily envisioned as a live performance for television. From The Beatles Monthly Book, March 1969 (full article available here):
[…] Mind you when rehearsals started on January 2 the basic idea of the whole project was different. You might think it was surprising that the fellows should want to plunge straight into making another LP right after Christmas when 30 new tracks had only just gone out on the November double-disc album. Well, the thinking behind it was this. They wanted to put something quite new before the public. The film clip they’d done for Hey Jude was such a success that The Beatles wanted to expand the same format of performing ‘live’ in front of an audience, letting the fans join in and get a bit of a party mood going, into a full-length TV show. An hour of Beatle numbers, one after another, no guest stars and very little filming done outside wherever the concert performance was to happen.
So the January work began in the film studios down at Twickenham with January 18 or thereabouts agreed upon for two or three ‘audience shows’ at which all the filming would be done.
At the same time everyone agreed it would be great to film all the rehearsal work too. Make a sort of ‘Beatles At Work’ documentary production on the side and quite apart from the TV Special, a film which could be saved and shown later, perhaps even 10 years later, to let people see what goes on, what’s to be seen and heard, when the Beatles start off to build up a new set of songs.
We went out looking at different places to hold the actual show. The Roundhouse in North London, for instance. By the New Year we hadn’t found a suitable venue so Twickenham Film Studios were made the home base as it were for preparatory work. We looked at an old flour mill on the Thames quite close to town. We considered a dozen other alternatives in London and in the provinces. The ideal place was impossible to find — somewhere good visually and good from the sound point of view, both equally important factors for the show we had in mind.
Michael Lindsay Hogg who had been brought in as show director suggested Africa. Certainly we wanted sunshine and if we had to do the fitming outdoors the British winter weather couldn’t be relied upon. Michael and producer Denis O’Dell knew an old Roman theatre on a shore in Tripoli which sounded just the thing. But that one had to be blown out too. […]
This first day officially began at around 9:30 am, with director Michael Lindsay-Hogg filming The Beatles’ assistants, Mal Evans and Kevin Harrington, installing The Beatles’ equipment onto the empty stage (the shots would eventually be used for the opening sequence of the “Let It Be” film). John Lennon and George Harrison arrived at 11 am, soon followed by Ringo Starr. Paul McCartney was delayed on public transport and arrived at 12:30 pm. Among the other people present in the studio were sound engineer Glyn Johns, Apple Films director Dennis O’Dell, George Martin and Yoko Ono.
At half eight that morning, between bites of breakfast, I’d telephoned round all four fellows to remind them it was getting up time and they were due at Twickenham by eleven. On that first day Paul was last to arrive — half an hour after noon! — having come by underground, then local train, then taxi from Hampton Court station. He’d meant to do the entire journey by public transport but, knowing he was late, he chickened out and caught a cab rather than wait at the bus stop!
During the weeks which followed he often used trains and buses to and from what amounted to a routine-hours five-day-working week!Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°68, March 1969
In December of 1968, while sitting at home on a night off, I answered the telephone to a man with a Liverpudlian accent claiming to be Paul McCartney. I thought it was Mick Jagger trying to be amusing, so I told him to stop messing about and asked him what he wanted. The man persisted, and much to my shock and embarrassment, it really was Paul McCartney.
He told me that he had an idea for the band to write all new material and then record it live in front of an audience for a TV show and for release as an album. The venue was to be discussed, but it would be somewhere exotic. He then asked if I would be interested in making the record with them. I felt like I’d won the lottery. He told me that they were all to meet at a soundstage at Twickenham Film Studios on January 2nd, 1969, when they were to start rehearsals, and asked if I could be there.Glyn Johns – From “Sound Man: A Life Recording Hits with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles , Eric Clapton, the Faces…”, 2014
The Beatles spent much of the day working on three songs – John Lennon’s “Don’t Let Me Down“, Paul and John’s “I’ve Got A Feeling“, and Paul’s “Two Of Us“. Some other original compositions were also introduced – “Sun King“, “Dig A Pony“, “Let It Down” and “All Things Must Pass” (the latter two would be recorded on George Harrison’s 1970 album “All Things Must Pass“).
Don’t Let Me Down
“Don’t Let Me Down” was the first song rehearsed on this day, first by John and George alone, then joined by Ringo, and finally by Paul when he arrived. From beatlesebooks.com:
“Don’t Let Me Down” was the first Lennon offering for the project, the only composition anywhere close to being a completely written song other than “Dig A Pony.” John and George arrived first and, after tuning their guitars, Lennon introduced his “Don’t Let Me Down” ideas to George, who attempted to play along. A snippet of this is heard at the beginning of the “Fly On The Wall” disc included in the “Let It Be…Naked” CD set released in 2003. “That’s the most finished,” John told George, who replied, “That’s a good one…I like simple tunes.” […]
They ended up rehearsing fifteen versions of “Don’t Let Me Down” on this day, the choruses concluding at this stage with John singing “I’m in love for the first time / please don’t let me down.” Paul began re-arranging the song some time after he arrived, suggesting to begin it with the title being sung twice. As for the lyrical phrase mentioned above, Paul thought they should “skip that little interlude” because it sounded “like a middle eight so scrap that and use it somewhere near the end.” John added five repeats of a phrase beginning with “everybody got a …” at one point, but this was only an exercise of an already developed idea with Paul for the song “I’ve Got A Feeling” that they also continued to develop for the project that month.
Work on “Don’t Let Me Down” would continue on the following day, January 3.
I’ve Got A Feeling
The Beatles also spent quite some on “I’ve Got A Feeling“, running through it about twenty times. “I’ve Got A Feeling” was a composite song, written by Paul and including John’s “Everybody Had A Hard Year” section. At this stage, the final structure of the song was already there, as Paul and John had recently worked it out. From beatlesebooks.com:
They ran through the song a total of twenty times on this day, Paul sometimes calling out the chords for John and George as seen in Peter Jackson’s 2021 “Get Back” series. When George asked “Is that one called ‘I’ve Got A Feeling?,'” John answered, “No, ‘I’ve Got A Hard On,'” which prompted Paul to counter with “Everybody Had A Hard On Except For Me And My Monkey.” He would habitually stop the performance to explain the arrangement he had in mind, at one point switching from bass to acoustic guitar to demonstrate his ideas. He also spent a considerable amount of time demonstrating to John how he wanted the descending guitar riff to sound.
It appears that both Paul and John were excited to hear their brainchild come to life with The Beatles for the first time. A lot of their vocal and harmony parts were already in place, including their simultaneous lead vocals near the song’s conclusion. Humorously, John would incorporate different lines in his part, such as “everybody got a hard on.” Also of interest is how Ringo switched to a swing-style rhythm (not unlike “Revolution”) during the ascending and descending triplet chords in the instrumental sections that follow John’s contribution and then at the conclusion of the song. At the end of the day, “I’ve Got A Feeling” was the most accomplished new song they had thus far for the project, although a good amount of refining was still needed.
Work on “I’ve Got A Feeling” would continue on the following day, January 3.
Two Of Us
On this day, Paul introduced another composition of his own, “Two Of Us” (at this stage, the working title was “On My Way Home“), to the band. They went through nine versions of the song, starting and stopping along the way in order for Paul to show them the chord and time-signature changes. From beatlesebooks.com:
“It sort of, like, goes into a waltz, but you’ll get the idea,” he states concerning the “on our way home” segments of the song. It took a good amount of instruction from Paul to direct them through these particular changes, John and George following on electric guitars with Ringo plodding away cautiously on drums. Paul sang lead throughout, George adding some harmonies and slight lead guitar lines periodically as he became more and more familiar with it. John eventually joined in on vocals too, Paul suggesting he should sing lead while the song’s composer would harmonize with him throughout. Paul already had all the lyrics written at this time, and even suggested three-part harmonies in places, this being dropped later.
Paul also demonstrated an idea he had of performing what he called a “lightning middle-eight” for the second occurance of the bridge in the song, this running through the “you and I have memories…” lyrics twice as fast to shorten its length the second time around. He asked the others their opinion of this idea, which was eventually omitted. Humorously, Paul demonstrates the vocal line emphasis of the verses by repeatedly singing “Two of us, Henry Cooper,” referring to the British heavyweight boxer of that time. Paul switches to bass toward the end of the rehearsals as the chord changes become more ingrained in the minds of John and George, Ringo also catching on to the time-signature changes by this point. All said, The Beatles were beginning to get a good grasp of the structure of this new McCartney composition as the rehearsal ended for the day.
Dig A Pony
Before Paul and Ringo arrived, John demoed “Dig A Pony” to George Harrison. From beatlesebooks.com:
John then performed a solo rendition of “Dig A Pony,” which was titled “All I Want Is You” at this point, on electric guitar. It was during this debut of the song, which practically made it through to the end with much of the lyrics already in place, that Ringo arrived. At one point during this rehearsal, George wanted clarification of John’s odd lyric, asking, “dig a pony?”, to which John answered, “yeah, dig A pony.” Interestingly, John’s lyric included the line “I kill a hound dog” at the beginning of one of the verses, this lyric being held over to later rehearsals as well. George did join in a little with some lead guitar contributions that prompted John to reply, “that’s right.”
At this stage, much of the lyrics were already in place. John would bring the song out for consideration again on January 7.
John also brought “Sun King” for the first time in the studio. Five run-throughs of the song happened on this day. Four versions would be recorded on January 3, and one quick version on January 10. “Sun King” would be reconsidered in July 1969 for inclusion on the “Abbey Road” album.
During those sessions, many discussions between The Beatles themselves or between The Beatles and the technical team were recorded.
On this first day, George Harrison complained about the acoustics of the film studios, and Paul tried to mitigate those concerns:
This place sounds terrible now, but it may just be great, you never know. […] Supposed to be terrible acoustically, but we did a track in a little room like a bog, you know, and we were like, ‘No separation in there’, you know, and we really got good separation. We did ‘Yer Blues’ in there.Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Get Back”, 2021
George Martin: All you need is, really, a good acoustic place to be in.
Paul McCartney: Which this isn’t… Nobody is, sort of, definitely struck on this place. George was saying before, it’s not good acoustically.
George Martin: I like the idea of working with a big PA though, because it will trigger off something. It’d be like doing a live performance.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg: My real feeling is that the venue itself ought to be quite good, as opposed to shabby.
Dennis O’Dell: I tell you what, there’s a small stage which is soundproof, you could have a look at. I just don’t know whether I’m building on it or not today, because I know I’m erecting on one, but we can have a look and see.
Paul McCartney: Is this your place? Twickenham?
Dennis O’Dell: Yeah, well I’ve just, like, got it under contract till the end of May from last week. [to film “The Magic Christian” starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr]
Michael Lindsay-Hogg: I just feel if we could get a spectacular venue, we’d gain rather than lose.
Paul McCartney: Oh, we’ll be alright, it’s just… Just play it, we’ll just play it. We’ll move out of here in a couple of days.
Denis O’Dell: When you’re ready. That’s right.
Paul McCartney: Or maybe we won’t…From Peter Jackson’s film “The Beatles: Get Back“, 2021
There were also some discussions where the live performance should happen.
Paul McCartney: The thing I don’t want is like, a TV show sound. They always seem to have that sort of farty, little sound on TV shows.
Glyn Johns: Well, don’t forget you’re hearing it on a TV speaker, which is a grotty speaker.
Paul McCartney: But see, this place sounds terrible now. It may just be great. You can never tell with these places though. We did “Yer Blues” in a little room like a bog. And no separation in there, you know. But we really got good separation.
Glyn Johns: Yeah… The thing is that an open-air sound is fantastic. I’ve always wanted to do something in the open air.
Paul McCartney: It’d be nice to try and find some way to do it out of doors.
Glyn Johns: It’s so bloody cold.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg: It’s your English rain which is worrying about outdoors in this country.
Paul McCartney: Snow or rain will do me. You know, wind and anything. Make all that, it’s just a frozen hand trying to play those notes.
Glyn Johns: [laughing] yes, you could
Paul McCartney: It’s all right. You might just have a few deaths on the set due to electric shocks.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg: I was very taken by the place Denis talked about, the amphitheatre [in Sabratha, Libya]. Because the whole thing… I could see torch-lit, two thousand Arabs, and friends around. And I thought the venue was appropriate.
Paul McCartney: I think you’ll find we are not going abroad, ‘cos Ringo just said he doesn’t want to go abroad and he put his foot down. […]
Michael: I think the thing to do is just see what we all feel in a day or two as opposed to making anything hard and fast immediately. ‘Cos we may find the idea – or any idea – grows and gets more attractive or less attractive given where you are now.
Paul: I would be nice to try and find some way to do it out of doors.
Glyn: But it’s so bloody cold, isn’t it? That’s the thing.
Michael: It’s your English rain which is worrying about out of doors in this country.
Paul: I wouldn’t mind playing in the rain… […]From “The Beatles: Get Back” book and from Peter Jackson’s film “The Beatles: Get Back“, 2021
Last updated on December 16, 2021
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.
Don't Let Me Down
Recording • DDSI.2.01 • 0:34 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
Don't Let Me Down
Recording • DDSI.2.03 • 4:17 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
Dig A Pony
Recording • DDSI.2.04 • 3:06 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
"Everybody Got Song"
Recording • DDSI.2.05 • 0:46 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
Don't Let Me Down
Recording • DDSI.2.06 • 3:10 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
Let It Down
Recording • DDSI.2.07 • 2:14 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
Let It Down
Recording • DDSI.2.08 • 0:54 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
Recording • DDSI.2.09 • 0:58 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
Brown Eyed Handsome Man
Recording • DDSI.2.10 • 1:44 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
I've Got A Feeling
Recording • DDSI.2.11 • 1:20 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
A Case Of The Blues
Recording • DDSI.2.12 • 1:09 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
Recording • DDSI.2.13 • 0:25 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
"On The Road To Marrakesh"
Recording • DDSI.2.15 • 2:09 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
Film Included in Peter Jackson's film "The Beatles: Get Back", 2021
Recording • DDSI.2.16 • 0:09 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
I Shall Be Released
Recording • DDSI.2.17 • 1:54 • No McCartney involvement as he arrived later during the day
Recording • DDSI.2.33 • 3:46
Speak To Me
Recording • DDSI.2.34 • 1:58 • Jackie Lomax's song, Harrison & Starr only.
Recording • DDSI.2.58 • 1:24
Recording • DDSI.2.59 • 0:19
Well, All Right
Recording • DDSI.2.62 • 1:12 • Buddy Holly's song, by Harrison only
- Performed by :
- George Harrison
Well, All Right
Recording • DDSI.2.63 • 1:08 • Buddy Holly's song, by Harrison only
- Performed by :
- George Harrison
Recording • DDSI.2.64 • 0:25
"We're Goin' Home"
Recording • DDSI.2.67 • 0:23
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.