The "Get Back / Let It Be" sessions
January 1969 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Let It Be (Limited Edition)
- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Anthology 3 Official album.
- Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London
More from year 1969
Some songs from this session appear on:
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From Doug Sulpy:
January 23rd was an unusual day, as the group took some time off in the afternoon
to receive guests and watch a film of John’s “You Are Here” art gallery show from the
Musically, the day was dominated by rehearsals of “Get Back.” The group ran
through that number extensively, eventually committing a number of takes to multi-track
tape. They were pleased enough with the results that “Get Back” became the choice for
their next single.
Perhaps because John was saving his voice, there are no serious rehearsals except
for “Get Back,” although we’re treated to a brief performance of Ringo’s “Octopus’s
Garden” and a mini-concert from Billy Preston, who plays them a half dozen songs.
Throughout the session, The Beatles are happy, smiling, laughing, and obviously having
a blast rehearsing “Get Back” – a far cry from their mood at Twickenham.
From 23 January 1969: Get Back/Let It Be sessions: day 12 (beatlesbible.com):
Day 12 of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions yielded nothing that was officially released, but did see The Beatles spend a great deal of time working on the song ‘Get Back’.
The presence of Billy Preston greatly helped to shape the song, although at this stage John Lennon was yet to develop his guitar solo and the galloping rhythm of the final version was not yet in place. The coda was, however, and Paul McCartney decided that ‘Get Back’ would be complete with just two verses.
One of the takes was chosen by Glyn Johns for the first iteration of the Get Back album, which was rejected for release by The Beatles. This album was later circulated as Kum Back, one of the first Beatles bootleg collections.
Although work on ‘Get Back’ dominated the day, The Beatles also spent some time on ‘Oh! Darling’, which was eventually held over for Abbey Road. Ringo Starr also played a piano version of ‘Octopus’s Garden’, which was later developed further than the three-chord arrangement he had at this time.
Performances of ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘Help!’ both lasted less than a minute. ‘Please Please Me’ was given a new, mostly atonal, melody, and ‘Help!’ was performed with a slow swing rhythm.
No more successful was a version of Eddie Cochran’s ‘Twenty Flight Rock’, one of the songs with which McCartney impressed Lennon by performing on the day they first met, 6 July 1957. Unfortunately, 12 years later McCartney was unable to remember all the lyrics, although The Beatles nonetheless managed a fairly spirited performance.
Jan 23: working on the McCartney composition Get Back, which had started life in the studio as an ad-libbed satire on Tory politician Enoch Powell’s speeches telling Commonwealth immigrants to “get back” home, but evolved into a straightforward nostalgic rock song.
Ringo Starr: We were working on a good track, and that always excited us. And his [Billy Preston’s] part was also a part of it, you know. Suddenly, when you were working on something good the bullshit went out the window, and we got back down to doin’ what we did really, really well.Quoted in Classic Rock, May 2020
It was during the session on January 23rd, 1969 at Apple Studios that The Beatles with Billy Preston solidified Ringo’s galloping drum pattern for the arrangement of “Get Back,” George’s chopping guitar pattern and John’s guitar solo work and backing vocals also taking shape considerably. “You bring the song in, you kick it around, and then someone gets an idea,” Paul relates on his 2021 Hulu documentary series “McCartney 3,2,1.” “‘Oh, why don’t we do that?,’ or ‘How ’bout this on the drums?’ or Ringo, like on something like ‘Get Back.’ We were just kicking it around. There’s a little jam and then he gets on the drums, ‘bum, buppa, bum, buppa, bum…’ He’s got this little kind of almost military thing going. Well, that really was, ‘Aah, great, different!’ It made a world of difference.” The third verse about “Pakistanis” was omitted at this point, this being replaced by a keyboard solo from Billy Preston and a second guitar solo from John. Although a “Beatles break” and coda was yet to materialize, the final arrangement as we know it was getting close.
Forty-three rehearsals of “Get Back” were performed on this day, at least ten of these being attempted as official recordings with George Martin as producer. “What are you calling this,” the producer called out before the first official take was recorded, Paul answered “Sht.” “’Sht’ take one,” George Martin designated before the tapes started rolling. A young Alan Parsons made his debut as tape operator on this day, his long-standing career as engineer, producer and musician beginning by witnessing The Beatles formalize the song “Get Back” before his eyes.From beatlesebooks.com
Last updated on December 22, 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.
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Written by Ringo Starr
Recording • DDSI.23.01 • 1:52
Hey, Hey Georgie
Recording • DDSI.23.02 • 8:12
Recording • DDSI.23.04 • 3:18
Recording • DDSI.23.05 • 1:34
If You Need Me
Recording • DDSI.23.11 • 1:55
Words of Love
Recording • DDSI.23.28 • 1:24
Recording • DDSI.23.30 • 8:59
Written by Eddie Cochran, Ned Fairchild
Recording • DDSI.23.32 • 3:29
Recording • DDSI.23.40 • 16:14
Recording • DDSI.23.41 • 4:33
Recording • DDSI.23.42 • 1:05
Recording • DDSI.23.44 • 0:31
Recording • DDSI.23.45
Recording • DDSI.23.47 • 3:44
Recording • DDSI.23.48 • 0:13
Recording • DDSI.23.49 • 0:28
Recording • DDSI.23.50 • 4:09
Written by Kal Mann, Dave Appell
Recording • DDSI.23.51 • 3:01
Recording • DDSI.23.52 • 0:25
Recording • DDSI.23.53 • 2:44
Love Is The Thing To Me
Recording • DDSI.23.54 • 1:48
Recording • DDSI.23.55 • 1:43
I Want To Thank You
Recording • DDSI.23.56 • 3:03
You've Been Acting Strange
Recording • DDSI.23.57 • 1:18
Use What You Got
Recording • DDSI.23.58 • 2:02
Together In Love
Recording • DDSI.23.59 • 1:34
Recording • DDSI.23.60 • 3:18
Recording • DDSI.23.61 • 5:02
Recording • DDSI.23.62 • 8:21
Recording • DDSI.23.63 • 0:09
It Blew Again
Recording • DDSI.23.64 • 0:33
Recording • DDSI.23.65 • 2:15
Recording • DDSI.23.66 • 4:55
Recording • DDSI.23.78 • 0:30
Recording • DDSI.23.81 • 0:17
Recording • DDSI.23.83 • 0:46
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
Recording • DDSI.23.84
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
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.
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