- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Get Back / Don't Let Me Down (UK - Mono) 7" Single.
- Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London
More from year 1969
Some songs from this session appear on:
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In the evening, John and Yoko Ono met American businessman Allen Klein in the Dorchester Hotel in London. They were very impressed and John decided on the spot to make Klein his personal adviser. The other Beatles would meet Allen Klein the following day.
From Doug Sulpy:
As Paul had suggested the previous day, this session started a bit later than usual,
running from about noon until a little after 9:00 p.m., with a break for dinner.
It began as a re-run of the previous day’s session, with long rehearsals of Paul’s “Let
It Be” and “The Long And Winding Road.” Not surprisingly, none of The Beatles are very
excited by this, and none of the takes was even captured on multi-track.
The previous night, George had written a new song, “Old Brown Shoe,” which he
rehearses with the band after John leaves for dinner.
The latter part of the session was devoted to “Get Back.” Indeed, the work on that
song was so successful that one of the takes was eventually chosen as the a-side of The
Beatles’ next single. Work on “Don’t Let Me Down” (the single’s eventual b-side) was not
quite as successful, and although a number of takes were recorded none were polished
enough to consider work on the song complete.
The day wrapped up several attempts to record “I’ve Got A Feeling,” and playbacks
of “Get Back.”
Sunday, 26 January Back in London, during a break from filming and recording at Apple, The Beatles put forward an idea to play a concert on the roof of their Apple headquarters at 3 Savile Row … Billy Preston “We were trying to figure out where we could have a concert, where everybody could come. So, John came up with the brilliant idea to just play on the roof and play for everybody.”Badman, Keith. The Beatles: Off the Record . Music Sales. Kindle Edition.
Thirty-two renditions of “Get Back” were recorded on January 27th, 1969 at Apple Studios, most of them being officially recorded by George Martin and engineers Glyn Johns and Alan Parsons. Before the tapes began rolling, The Beatles and Billy Preston ran through the song a few times for rehearsal purposes, eventually becoming confident that they were ready to record the definitive version. Interestingly, as seen in Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” series, John is seen here slapping this guitar strings during the introduction, this part of the song strategically increasing in volume as it progressed. One fast tempo rendition was done with Paul singing the first verse in mock Japanese but including the phrase “sock it to me,” a residual from their current obsession with the American TV show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In,” which had been referenced many times in the January 1969 rehearslas and recording sessions.
The tapes then began rolling, many good takes being recorded. After a roughly estimated “take 9,” which may in actuality have been “take 18,” Paul’s exclamation “nearly” is caught on tape, suggesting that they were getting close. McCartney’s vocal hijincs on this day may be an indication of his being under the influence of some substance or another, but the knowledge that a releasable take was recorded on this day is an indication that this ended up being a good idea in the long run.
After varying guitar solos from John and slight tempo alterations per George Martin’s and Paul suggestions, this was a suitable atmosphere to achieve an acceptable master take. On the coda of one rendition, Paul sang “it’s five o’clock, your mother’s got your tea on, take your cap off, sit down, you’re bloody not coming in.” On another take, the coda included Paul’s ad lib “one, two, three o’clock, four o’clock rock” from Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around The Clock.” Nonetheless, the definitive single and album version was eventually recorded on this day.
Just before this performance began, John humorously remarked, “Sweet Loretta Fart (pronounced in a Liverpudlian accent) she thought she was a cleaner, but she was a frying pan…picks with his fingers.” This vocal segment, along with extraneous studio sounds, was included on the released soundtrack album. The take that followed this statement ended up becoming the basis for both the single and album, although the rehearsed coda was not played due to Ringo forgetting to come back in after the break near the song’s conclusion. After Paul sings his iconic “oooh,” George states, “We missed that end, didn’t we?” “I thought you were going on,” George Martin stated, adding, “Do you want to end it like that?” Ringo replied, “Just Plug it on – the best end we did.”
Although this flubbed ending propelled them into multiple new recorded versions of the song, the above mentioned take was ultimately deemed the best. One of the later recordings included a rendition donning pseudo-German lyrics throughout, acknowledging the Jackie Lomax influence with the phrase, “Yah, that’s good, Jackie,” with a final verse in mock French. While very entertaining and eventually gracing various bootleg releases, it was obvious that they had previously recorded the definitive version of the song on this day and were celebrating that event in a rather unconventional way.From beatlesebooks.com
Although the group still hadn’t decided whether to perform live at the end of the sessions, they knew a resolution was needed for the project as Ringo Starr was due to start filming The Magic Christian in early February 1969. Therefore they focused on the few songs on which had the most chance of being presentable in either a live situation or on celluloid.
The Beatles recorded a total of 32 takes of ‘Get Back’ on this day, experimenting with different tempos and styles – including one sung in mock German and another featuring Japanese characters. One of John Lennon’s ad-libs – “Sweet Loretta Fart, she thought she was a cleaner, but she was a frying pan” – was included in the warm-up to the song on the Let It Be album.
The version of ‘Get Back’ which followed Lennon’s comments was selected by Glyn Johns for the unreleased Get Back album. Another take was eventually judged good enough for release on vinyl, on both the single and album, with a coda recorded on 28 January used to end the former.
‘Let It Be’, ‘The Long And Winding Road’, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, and ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ were all performed numerous times. Apart from ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, they were included on the Let It Be album, although not recordings made on this day. All the arrangements were mostly in place, although some takes involved slight lyrical or musical variations.
‘Oh! Darling’ was also performed four times, one of which lasted nearly seven minutes and featured Lennon and Paul McCartney bantering in high spirits. An edited version of this take was included on Anthology 3, complete with Lennon’s announcement that Yoko Ono’s divorce had been finalised.
One new song to be introduced on this day was George Harrison’s ‘Old Brown Shoe’, which would become the b-side to ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko’ later in 1969. The first version on this day featured just vocals and piano, but a second saw the rest of the band join in. Work on ‘Old Brown Shoe’ continued the following day, although the released version was recorded at Abbey Road.
Other original songs included McCartney singing a version of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, and more performances of ‘I Told You Before’, a Beatles jam first played the previous day, featuring Billy Preston to the fore.
January 27th, 1969 (Apple Studios, London): Over breakfast, John shows Paul a book he’s had compiled of the various press articles covering John and Yoko’s You Are Here art show. Paul reads aloud from some of the articles to the amusement of John and Yoko.
PAUL: “Beatle John Lennon hugged actress Yoko Ono last night and said, ‘My marriage is over. I am in love with Yoko. Of course my wife and I are not through legally—’”
JOHN: That they put “actress” is great.
YOKO: [laughs] No, they thought I performed in the Bottoms film. [laughter] They took it so seriously…
JOHN: Said it seriously.
PAUL: “How much does he love Yoko? ‘Much more than I love the Queen.’” [laughter; Paul hums]
The layout of the book’s really good though, the way he’s done it.
PAUL: This – is this the layout?
JOHN: No, this is just the bit – that bit, you know. Because he’s gonna have that folding out of the book, sheets, like, because – to get them all together. But it’s just, you know. The packaging is great.
PAUL: It’s good, yeah. Great. [inaudible; continues reading articles aloud]
?: What else is there?
JOHN: There’s hundreds of things, you know, this is just the press part of it. There’s all the letters I got, and the photos of the exhibition, and – yeah.
?: Oh, just this topic.
JOHN: Yeah. The whole You Are Here book, you know. Book of the film of the video.
?: And the policeman. Is that included in the film? The statement—
JOHN: No, no. This is just – just that one day. Reaction to one day.
YOKO: It’s amazing, isn’t it? Just for that one day.
JOHN: But it’s just great you know, it’s sort of like what we’re doing now. We’re doing a show, and then you bring in a book of the show—
?: Who’s doing it?
JOHN: Uh, publishing it?
JOHN: Cape. That’s what I think—
YOKO: That’s what – I think that’s where we’re going with, Cape.
JOHN: Yeah, I’m gonna go to Cape.
PAUL: Is there a next book that you’ll be expecting?
JOHN: Yeah, but I owe it [inaudible] in the contract.
PAUL: Oh, indeed. Great.
JOHN: So they’ll have to pay for it, and it’s expensive. The other one’s cost nothing to do.
?: Who does this for you?
YOKO: Oh, the [inaudible] or something.
?: Oh, you have a [clipping] service, do you? Yeah, great.
January 27th, 1969 (Apple Studios, London): As producer Glyn Johns grouses about having been apprehended by the police on a petty driving charge (and causing him to be late to arrive in the studio), Paul commiserates and humorously shares his own peeved exchanges with policemen on the road.
PAUL: Let me take you down, ‘cause I’m going to…
GLYN: Can you believe that bleeding copper! [stuffy voice] “Oh, alright, I’ll have to report this, you know, anything you say will be taken down,” and it went through all that!
JOHN: Have you got a fag?
PAUL: I had a terrible scene the other day on the motorway with a copper. ‘Cause they stopped me, and I – I don’t like it, getting stopped by police. I always get – I get obnoxious with them, you know. [Yoko laughs] ‘Cause I’ll just sort of check around to see if I’m in the right, and once I know I am, and they’ve stopped me, I get very… But they just stopped me because I was hogging the outside lane, and you’re not supposed to do that. So he said, “You did, you know.” You’re going seventy. You’ve got to stay out there, but you’re not supposed to get back in. So he stopped me, and then it really got sort of nasty after a bit. ‘Cause Linda just had her hand round the back of my head, and then he said, “You can’t possibly be in – in control!”
YOKO: [laughs] Oh, no.
PAUL: “You see how that young lady was fondling the back of your neck…” [uproarious laughter] And I said, “Oh, what’s up with you, then? Don’t you get it?” [laughter] You know, and it got really like that. “Oh! You can’t book me for that, Constable!” You know, it got really sort of… “Oh, can’t I!” [laughter] And of course, my tax. [laughs] They got me. My tax wasn’t up to date and all.
Don’t they just do it at the office for us?
JOHN: Oh. I probably haven’t had one done since I started, then. [laughter]
PAUL: They keep doing that. I was going through Mersey Tunnel, and they keep stopping me in the Mersey Tunnel ‘cause they see you and they just want an autograph. So I sort of thought, “Right, this time, they’re not going to stop me.” And a fella comes up, and I just – all the way through the tunnel, I did thirty. Just saw him in the mirror all the time. I thought, “You… you’re going to stop me at the end and ask me for an autograph.”
So he just sort of drives in front of me waves me down, so I’m just — ah! [laughter] – crash in with him and say, “No, no, I have no time, no time!” And he just… [grumbling] So he stopped me and said, “… Your tax.” [laughter] Yeah. I can’t stand that, I really go sort of funny with police. You know, police [inaudible] when nothing’s been done, fighting against them before they’ve got me for anything. I don’t like it.
January 27th, 1969 (Apple Studios, London): A chipper George is the last to arrive at the studio while the rest of the group is having breakfast. He tells the group that he was up the previous night writing a song (prompting John to reveal that he’s been having trouble sleeping himself), in mind of John’s old advice to finish a song within the time you start writing it. This, in full awareness of John’s own less-than-disciplined creative process, incites knowing laughter from the group. (Note: The song George wrote was ‘Old Brown Shoe’.)
JOHN: I have a complaint as a director of Apple – no bog paper.
PAUL: Oh yeah? [Yoko laughs]
JOHN: Terrible disgrace.
PAUL: They’ve got [it in] pink upstairs.
JOHN: Have they?
PAUL: Yeah. [George arrives]
PAUL: Hi, George.
GEORGE: Hello, how are you? Happy new year!
JOHN: [joking] George’s just come from a party too.
GEORGE: [laughs] Yeah, I thought…
JOHN: Two hours extra sleep [inaudible].
GEORGE: Oh, I didn’t, I went to bed very late. I wrote a new song, actually.
JOHN: I couldn’t sleep.
GEORGE: I wrote a great song actually.
JOHN: About what? [taps out a familiar rhythm in question]
GEORGE: No, though – oh that, no, I just played with that bit. Just – a different one, altogether. Very exciting. [laughs]
JOHN: It’s such a high when you get home.
GEORGE: Happy. Happy, and a rocker…
GEORGE: Happy and a rocker! [laughs] Too much.
JOHN: Well, it’s just so high when you get in at night.
GEORGE: Yeah, it’s great, isn’t it? [laughs]
JOHN: I just – you know, that bit like on acid, where you see a little hand miles away.
JOHN: I was just sitting there listening to the last bit. [stage whisper] “Help! What if I have? What if I haven’t, today?” [laughter] You know, “[inaudible] Do they have anything?”
YOKO: You should just try in general.
JOHN: I just can’t sleep! I just— [starts making garbled noises and sounds] You know. “I’m a feeling a little thing here…” [makes the sound of a trumpet blaring; laughs]
GEORGE: Uh, I keep thinking, “Oh, I’ll just go to bed now,” and then I keep hearing your voice from about ten years ago saying, “Finish ‘em straightaway. As soon as you start ‘em, you’ve got finish it too.” [pause] You once told me it was best to finish a song, so I was just there to… [uproarious laughter]
JOHN: [laughs] But I never do it, you know. I can’t do it. But I know it’s the best.
Last updated on January 31, 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.27.01 • 4:21
Recording • DDSI.27.26 • 0:53
Recording • DDSI.27.28 • 4:59
Recording • DDSI.27.31 • 0:22
Recording • DDSI.27.32 • 6:31
Recording • DDSI.27.34 • 0:42
Recording • DDSI.27.36 • 4:13
You Won't Get Me This Way
Recording • DDSI.27.83 • 4:05 • Medley with "The Walk"
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.