- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Let It Be (Limited Edition) LP.
- Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London
More from year 1969
Some songs from this session appear on:
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The Beatles ran through “For You Blue” 28 times on this day, starting with some rehearsals. Take 1 was released on “Anthology 3” in 1996.
They ran through the song a few times until they were confident enough to request George Martin and Glyn Johns to attempt a proper recording. ‘Take one,’ which is featured on the 1996 released album “Anthology 3,” begins with Paul on piano instead of George’s acoustic guitar as we’re used to hearing. The others join in shortly thereafter and put in an impressive performance throughout, Paul playing piano in a straightforward bluesy style that covers the bass notes since no one is playing bass guitar on the song. Interestingly, only one verse is used for a solo in the song at this point, John’s slide guitar being the focal point. George inadvertently ends the song by singing, “I love you more each moment I’m with you,” John then concluding the song rather awkwardly, which causes him to chuckle.
Before ‘take two’ begins, George decided to include a four-measure acoustic guitar intro to the song, explaining to John, “OK, just make it one on each,” to which Lennon answers, “OK.” After this take ends, a decision is made to lengthen the song, this being done by adding a second solo verse after John’s solo verse is complete, Paul being showcased on piano. George’s guitar intro is hereby extended to five-measures at this point, an additional measure being added at the end. However, when the solo section of ‘take three’ comes up, George forgets to allow Paul to have his solo verse and begins singing. John thereby shouts out “Piano!”, to which George sheepishly recites “I’ve loved that piano from the moment that I saw you.”
By ‘take six,’ which was used for the Apple studio performance of the song in the “Let It Be” movie, Ringo had progressed to using sticks instead of brushes. By this time also, Paul reliquishes his traditional bluesy piano style in favor of some quirky chording on the higher keys, leaving the bass tones of the song to be played by John on his lap steel guitar. At one point, George asked for Paul to achieve a “bad honky tonk piano” sound, to which McCartney intertwined paper inbetween the strings of the piano. This effect is clearly heard on the released recording.
It was apparent that they were becoming quite happy with their performance of the song and thereby getting close to nailing the perfect recording. They began ‘take seven’ with George performing the guitar intro but Paul forgot that they had added a fifth measure onto the intro and mistakenly came in early, to which he replied, “Just as well.” After someone rattles ice in a drinking glass, George tries twice more to get his guitar into done correctly but fails both times. After John humorously yells “QUIET PLEASE,” George nails the intro and The Beatles perform a near flawless rendition of the song.
This version, ‘take seven,’ appealed to all but, because of them being perfectionists, they decided to record five more renditions in case they could do it even better. ‘Take nine’ was quite good, the solo section of which was used in the “Let It Be” movie as a backdrop to where all four Beatles are arriving individually at their Apple Building on Savile Row to record in their basement studio. This segment then cuts to the group performing ‘take six’ of the song as mentioned above.
‘Take 12’ was also an excellent performance, which showed them clearly enjoying the recording process. So as to introduce Paul’s solo verse, George says “Mr. Bluthner,” a reference to the Bluthner grand piano that he was playing. During this solo, John yells out “Yes, Jim” as an expression of his approval. As this take concludes, all congratulate themselves for this possibly being the best rendition yet, George stating, “It felt nice!”
After hearing a playback of takes 7 and 12, George Martin suggested that they edit the best parts of both to create a final mix, but George Harrison objected to this since he felt ‘take seven’ was the best overall by itself.
One version of the latter was included on Anthology 3, and another had been selected for Glyn Johns’ unreleased Get Back album. The Beatles played a total of 28 versions of it on this day, during the course of which ‘For You Blue’ was worked into an assured studio recording. Indeed, one of the takes was included on the Let It Be album.
‘Two Of Us’ had been rehearsed extensively on the previous day, and this session’s versions were more relaxed, almost playful at times. John Lennon and Paul McCartney both added exaggerated German, French, Scottish and Jamaican accents to some of the takes, as well as daft sound effects and a Bob Dylan impression from Lennon.
‘Let It Be’ had McCartney on piano and Lennon on bass guitar, the latter played with characteristic uncertainty. One of the day’s takes featured on Anthology 3, complete with McCartney’s ad-libbed vocals and alternative lyrics.
Of the other songs, perhaps the most notable was ‘I Lost My Little Girl’, one of the first songs McCartney ever wrote. This version, however, had Lennon on lead vocals, and lasted almost 10 minutes with a two-chord rock arrangement.
As well as ‘For You Blue’, two songs by George Harrison were played. ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ made its debut on this day, and was performed again the following day, but was eventually held over for his All Things Must Pass album. ‘Window, Window’, meanwhile, had previously been performed on two earlier sessions, but here was led mostly by McCartney. The song was never released in Harrison’s lifetime.
Also on this day, McCartney and members of the film crew did a recce on the Apple rooftop ahead of the concert which took place five days later. McCartney was joined by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, The Beatles’ assistant Mal Evans, and production runner Kevin Harrington.
January 25th, 1969 (Apple Studios, London): After a protracted discussion about the prospective production value of (what will eventually be) the Let It Be documentary, George tries to allay Paul’s underlying (overriding) concerns about the still-unstructured production and tells him that the group’s best efforts have tended to be spontaneous anyway, and John points out that Paul’s retainment of his original intentions for this project, in spite of its changes over the past three weeks, is what is causing him anxiety. Paul responds in a possible intimation of his own investment in the band in comparison to John’s, and John, in possible acknowledgment of it, contends that he would dig playing onstage as The Beatles again, if not for the inertia they would inevitably labour under as a touring group.
As Paul bleakly compares their present monotony in the studio precisely to the monotony they felt while on tour performing the same songs over and over again night after night, George reasons (not unkindly) that it’s an emotional cycle that everyone goes through, no matter the state of affairs they’re in, and in this case, feels the familiarity of Apple Studios (attendant film crew non-withstanding) would be better for the group’s musical finesse than having to involve themselves with the hassle of touring again. Paul, however, remains uncertain of his own feelings and wonders aloud about why he feels them at all. Producer Glyn Johns, who has been listening in, sincerely vouches for the buoyant studio atmosphere and heartening improvement the band has made in the past couple of days, and Yoko, likewise, encourages Paul to ride on the upswing and not tie himself down with the variables.
GEORGE: The things that’ve worked out best ever for us haven’t really been planned any more than this has. It’s just, you know, it’s like you just go into something and then it does it itself, you know. Whatever it’s gonna be, it becomes that, you know.
JOHN: See, it’s turned out – that, for that, but it’s not what Paul wants. Like, you know, it was – it’s like if – say it’s his number, this whole show. Well it’s turned – it’s a compromise. So now it’s actually turned into our number more than his number. That’s all.
PAUL: Yeah, and that’s—
JOHN: And uh—
PAUL: —and that’s alright, you know. It’s—
JOHN: It’s alright, but I mean that’s what’s bugging you, really. Because it’s a different number, you know. It’s turned into a rock number as opposed to a choir number or something, you know, like that. And uh… [quiet] it’s just that, really. [silence]
But it’s just funny to sort of realise that after this is all over, you’ll be off in a black bag somewhere – on the Albert Hall, you know.
PAUL: And sort of doing shows and stuff, and you know, digging—
JOHN: Yeah, but I—
PAUL: —digging that thing of it.
JOHN: But I don’t – I would dig to play on stage, you know.
JOHN: I mean, if it was – if everything was alright and there was no messing, and we were just going to play onstage… you know.
PAUL: Yeah. But it’s only that. It’s only that. I’d like to see Ringo and us – [inaudible] you know, and all that. But I mean—
JOHN: That’s why I said yes to the TV show. I didn’t want the – the hell of doing it.
PAUL: —and I’d like that. I’d like that, see, so that’s—
JOHN: Well, I like playing – ‘cause that’s why I went on the Stones show [Rock and Roll Circus], you know?
JOHN: [faltering] And that’s why I’ll – I’ll do – things, but I mean if – if we all don’t want to do that…
PAUL: [reserved] Yeah, I know, it is that. It’s like the majority decision to – yeah.
JOHN: [wary] But I don’t want to sort of, uh, go on the road again. [silence; guitar playing]
PAUL: Yeah. I just feel as though we are on the road again. I mean, we are, but we’re in the studio. Like, and we just keep to the same environment, totally. Always. We don’t ever attempt to break out of that.
JOHN: Well, we did, though! We did.
PAUL: And that’s – you know. So I mean—
GEORGE: Yeah. It’s just, you break out of one into another and then you want to break out of that.
PAUL: Yeah, but I mean – you know.
YOKO: Maybe next week—
PAUL: [preoccupied] It is like the reason it’s nice to live on the country, you know. Just because it’s nice out there. It’s nice in a warm environment, you know.
YOKO: [to Paul referring to the other Beatles?] Maybe next week they might change their minds, though.
JOHN: [to Yoko] [inaudible]
GEORGE: In my opinion this is the nicest place I’ve been for a long time, this studio.
PAUL: Yeah, it is.
GEORGE: No, really, you know. I mean, and also we’ve played – this is the most I’ve ever played, by playing everyday. And I can just, you know, feel myself getting – me fingers getting loose, a bit. Because we don’t get a chance for that. But if we go out on the road, then – or whatever – it falls, it gets back into that one. But really I just want to play, and you can play better without having to, you know, do all those things.
PAUL: [preoccupied] Yeah.
GEORGE: I mean, it’s not so bad now – but it is, really, it would be easier to play without all these mics and without all the cameras and things like that. But uh…
PAUL: Yeah, it’s alright. [silence; George starts playing Bob Dylan’s ‘All I Really Want To Do’]
PAUL: I don’t know what it is, you know, that I’m moaning about, but it’s just sort of—
GLYN: I must admit, I can’t really see it like – [laughs; optimistic] because it’s – it’s just seeing the last two days, everything’s gone so ridiculously well.
PAUL: It is, it’s going great, really good.
YOKO: It’s going great.
GLYN: We still need—
YOKO: [to Paul; encouraging] And maybe next week it might change, you don’t know.
PAUL: Yeah, sure, I mean…
YOKO: I mean, it might be great… and everyone might feel like going outside, you know.
Last updated on November 24, 2021
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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.