- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Let It Be (50th anniversary boxset) Official album.
- Timeline More from year 1969
- Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK
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This was the fourth day of rehearsals at Twickenham Film Studios.
The fourth day of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions was a somewhat typical blend of original song rehearsals, unstructured jamming and randomly-chosen cover versions.
The day saw the first appearance of ‘Get Back’, which would soon become the focus of much of The Beatles’ attentions. At this stage, however, it was lacking most of its final lyrics in the verses.
Although it was later held over for the Abbey Road album, ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ also made an appearance on this day. It had first been put forward on 3 January, and again on 10 January, but The Beatles’ lack of enthusiasm towards it was clear.
They also performed early versions of ‘Golden Slumbers’ and ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’, and Lennon led the group through three versions of ‘Gimme Some Truth’, a song which he’d later record for 1971’s Imagine album.
In the previous day’s session, John Lennon had once again attempted to interest the group in ‘Across The Universe’, which they had recorded in February 1968. Nearly a year on, and Lennon struggled to remember the words, and the performance lacked the elegantly light touch of the earlier recording.
Much of 7 January was spent on ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, which had been earmarked early on during the Twickenham sessions as contenders for the mooted live performance. At this stage the songs weren’t developing significantly, but were instead being rehearsed multiple times until The Beatles were happy they were familiar with the structure.
Other notable performances included a spirited rendition of Chuck Berry’s ‘Rock And Roll Music’, first recorded by The Beatles in 1964, and an almost-complete version of Carl Perkins’ ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’. Little Richard’s ‘Lucille’ and Ray Charles’ ‘What’d I Say’ were also tackled with conviction, but were both abandoned before being seen through to completion.
More successful was a revisit of the Lennon-McCartney composition ‘One After 909’. This latter song had been recorded at EMI way back on 5 March 1963, and had been performed again on the 3 and 6 January 1969 sessions, with The Beatles evidently thinking it a possible live contender. Here it was close to its final Let It Be incarnation, although without Billy Preston’s electric piano.
From A Moral To This Song:
January 7th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): A despairing Paul avows his own resolve to continue working and taking whatever challenge is offered (such as this prospective television concert/documentary project) for as long as it keeps the band going, and is baffled and dismayed by the others’ seeming ambivalence (if not outright aversion) to their current circumstances. He calls John out on his obtuseness and incapability to talk with him openly and honestly, and upon receiving no response, relents and admits that this criticism applies to himself as well.
PAUL: ’Cause you know, that’s what I was telling you on the phone, that… I’ll do it. Just because it is so silly of us now, at this point in our lives, to crack up. It’s just so silly. Because there’s no point! We’re not going to get anywhere that we wanna get by doing that. The only possible direction is the other way from that, you know. [pause] You know. That is the only possible direction. But the thing is we’re all just theoretically agreeing with it and not doing it. [to John] You’re doing your bit through you and Yoko, you know, but it’s silly, you know, to sort of, uh, coming and talking down to us. Well, actually your way out is not to talk, rather than talk down to us, which you’d have to do, you’d think, but you wouldn’t be. And remember, I think I’m talking down to you, too. [pause] But, you know, we’re not! [laughs bleakly] You know me. We’re all – we’re all alike, here, us four. But we just don’t sort of get to talk it out with each other.
From A Moral To This Song:
January 7th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): An increasingly exasperated Paul despairs about everyone’s commitment to this project and to making music together in general, bemoans their seeming inability to communicate openly and honestly with one another (and resorting to using Neil Aspinall and others as a conduit), and fears the worst about the Beatles’ future if this continues. Mal Evans and filmmaker Michael Lindsay-Hogg insist that staying together would be good not just for the band itself but for the world at large.
MICHAEL: ’Cause otherwise, there isn’t any point in doing it. I don’t mean – I don’t mean us copping out in any way. I just mean, we oughta make – if we’re gonna do it, we oughta make it… very good. Stop me when – stop me when I’m— [inaudible]
PAUL: It’s like Mal said last night. “If you’re gonna do the show here, you’ve got to decide today.” And he sort of said it, almost frightened to say it, you know, to the lads. Didn’t really want to sort of shout at us. Didn’t want – but he had to say it, because if you do the show, you’re gonna have to decide today, you know, and it’s like that. And it’s like if you’re gonna do these songs, you’ve got to learn the chords. And we all know them. And we’ve got to learn the words. It’s just certain basic things that we’ve got to do, if we’re gonna do it. See, and as far as I can see there’s only two ways, and that’s what I was shouting about the last meeting we had. There’s only two things, you know. We’re gonna do it, or we’re not gonna do it. And I want a decision. Because I’m – I’m not interested enough to come to spend so many days farting around here while everyone makes up their minds about whether they want to do it or not, you know. I’ll do it. If everyone else will, and everyone wants to do it, then alright. [laughs bleakly] But it’s just a bit – a bit soft, you know? It’s—
MICHAEL: The point is—
PAUL: It’s like a school, you know, you’ve got to be here! And I haven’t. I haven’t, you know, I’ve… see, I’ve left school. We’ve all left school, and we don’t have to go. But it gets into a scene where you do have to go there.
MICHAEL: No, you see the first thing to get together is yourselves, totally. And then we all follow with our kit bags and our campers.
PAUL: So it’s like if we’re doing the show right now, we’re gonna have to work hard, and we’re gonna have to even think about how many songs that we’ll today have to have rehearsed, in order to by five days before it, to know ’em all. Now, five days before it is a week from now. And that means by the time a week from now comes, all these songs we’ve got, we’ve gotta know perfectly, and then [for] five days we’ll really, really get us to know it. You know, but I mean, there’s no – there’s no use to sort of waiting for the players themselves until we’ve got to put off the date and [inaudible] it to the cameras and say, “Don’t, we can’t have the cameras now.” [pause] It’s not like that, is it? [long pause] See, apathy’s alright, if— [inaudible; drowned out by George’s and George Martin’s voices]
MICHAEL: [inaudible] —anyway.
PAUL: That’s alright, it’s allowed.
MICHAEL: Yeah, sure.
PAUL: [inaudlble] —if it’s supposed to be opposite then you shouldn’t— [inaudible]
MICHAEL: So it’s, “Everybody, pull your socks up”?
PAUL: Sure it is, you know. Yeah I—
MICHAEL: The first day was the best musical day, for me it was a musical day, yeah. Because you routined about four numbers. [long pause]
PAUL: But I must say I’ll get, uh, put down, ’cause you know. Like if certain people aren’t interested, then I do… I lose interest. [long pause] And we can’t blame our tours or anything, or so on and so on and so on. [long pause] You see this one, that we’ve been having, this year, makes me really want to—
GEORGE: Last year. Last year.
PAUL: —snap out of it. Or snap into it. De-plastic it. But the past couple of months, you know, it’s been this, but the [White] album was like this, you see. The album was worse than this. This just seems sort of—
MICHAEL: What, agony?
PAUL: Well, just the whole idea of, do you want to do it? Do we want to do it? And that’s the joke, you see. After it all came about, Neil was saying to me we’d all phoned him individually, saying things like, you know, “Can you get ‘em together?” “Can you get it – oh, can you get it together?” “I want to know, what’re we doing?” You know. But like, instead of asking each other, we’ve all gone to Neil and asked him, “What’re the lads doing?” But you know, we should just have it out.
GEORGE: But we keep coming up again, that one. And like you were saying, “Yeah well I’d like to do this, this, and that, yeah, and I’d like to do this, and I’d like to do that, and I’d like to do that,” and we end up doing something again that nobody really wants to do. [laughs]
PAUL: Well then, you know, I think if this one—
GEORGE: Make it public, at that.
PAUL: Maybe it should definitely be the last for all of us. Because there just isn’t any point [inaudible]—
GEORGE: Yeah, that’s it. [long pause]
MICHAEL: I think I’d be sad. I mean, as an audience member, I’d be sad.
PAUL: Of course it is! It’s stupid, you know! It is just stupid. But, it’s even more stupid the other way. To go through it. Because – you know.
MICHAEL: I agree, but it’s—
GEORGE: ’Cause this time we could be using for what you want to be doing—
PAUL: You see, the thing is the people who are being stupid are the four of us. There’s nobody else. There’s only the four of us. You can’t actually, you know just sort of blame it on – ’cause there’s no other band, you know!
GEORGE: —and being creative, instead of being like in the doldrums, which it always is now…
MICHAEL: I wrote in my book, because I kind of keep a diary about what’s going on so I can cut it, and “doldrums” was the word I used. Because the doldrums have been coming, like – like to a ship on a [inaudible]—
GEORGE: Oh, The Beatles have been in doldrums for at least a year.
MICHAEL: You see, that is – that is terrible to say.
PAUL: [desperate] We – we haven’t played together, you see! That’s the fucking thing. But when we do come together to play together, we all just sort of talk about the fleeting past! We’re like old-age pensioners! “Remember the days when we used to rock?” You know, but we’re here now! We can do it, you know. But I mean, I’m – all I hoping for is enthusiasm from you so—
MICHAEL: That was – that was the idea—
MAL: [earnest] I’d just like to say that you are needed, you know. The Beatles are needed. To so many people, you know.
MICHAEL: Yeah, you’re right.
MAL: Whatever you do.
PAUL: You see the thing is also I – I get to a bit where I just sort of push all my ideas and I know that my ideas aren’t the best, you know. They are [mechanical voice] good, good, but they’re not the best, you know. But we can improve on it. Because we write songs together, and we improve on it. You know. [to Ringo] And you can improve on your drumming like it is, if you get into it. If you don’t, you know, okay, then I have better ideas, but if you get into it, you’re better! You know. It’s like that.
GEORGE: And after all that, it’s like, you know, what do they say? It comes from a – and the eaves springs out of an E—
MICHAEL: An ear.
GEORGE: And that’s, you know, all that existentialist crap. [laughs]
MICHAEL: Just like Jean-Paul, yeah, exactly.
GEORGE: You know, it’s like…
MICHAEL: You can call him John-Paul George, as opposed to Jean-Paul Sartre, you know. [laughs] We have a joke over here. You heard that, did you hear? Call him John-Paul George, as opposed to Jean-Paul Sartre, as a weird existentialism. [pause] Um, yeah. Like, it’s communication. And I think – I mean, see corny’s great, and like Mal said, it’s so corny that such a – I mean, he didn’t put it [as] corny, but it’s – you are terribly corny. [pause; scattered laughter] And that is what the world… [George starts singing ‘What The World Needs Now Is Love’] I mean really, ’cause – everyone in the world can say what they think except for you. We all need you. And you know, it’s the tears coming in the eyes of the little boy sitting in London as opposed to the little girl in America. And it’s communication. And it iss communication. And if you all can’t get it together, that’s really very sad. So, I feel what we should do now is let you play a little, and then you’ll have lunch together, and I can give you some more film, maybe. [pause]
MICHAEL: So, should we leave you for a while? I mean, if you—
PAUL: Yes, yeah.
January 7th, 1969: As Let It Be filmmaker Michael Lindsay-Hogg discusses how The Beatles should hold their show, Paul tries anxiously to rouse up some enthusiasm from the rest of the group – encouraging George to see the fun in performing onstage again, and relating futilely to John’s interests – to little avail. Or response. (Note: This vague idea for a show eventually turned into the iconic rooftop concert. The song George is singing at the beginning is Bob Dylan’s ‘My Back Pages’.)
PAUL: But we had a lot more incentive, then.
GEORGE: Ah, but I was so much older then… I’m younger than that now…
PAUL: But we really don’t need— You know, those films of us [back then]– that was us doing it, you know.
GEORGE: [chagrined] Well, if that’s what doing it is, that’s why I don’t want to do it.
PAUL: Yeah. Yeah, I think—
GEORGE: Because I never liked that. It was always a drag.
PAUL: [upset] Yeah, but – right. You know. You know, uh— [faltering] You see, that – that takes the thing, and – and twists it a bit.
GEORGE: Well, it does, because I never liked that. That’s why I—
PAUL: Well, you see, nowadays, you’ve grown up. And you don’t have to do that anymore.
PAUL: You see, that’s it. You don’t have to do – put the pancake [makeup] up, and go out in front and sweat, and shake our heads, because we’re not that anymore. We’ve grown up a bit.
GEORGE: Because we’ve done that anyway.
PAUL: Yeah, right. So what I mean is, we did it then, but it doesn’t mean, like, to do it again, we have to do all that.
PAUL: Because now, like – for him to do it, is do it in a black bag with Yoko, you know. [to John] And – and you’re doing it. [pause] I suppose.
GEORGE: White bag.
MICHAEL: A white bag.
PAUL: White bag. [pause; to John] But that’s it, you’re doing it, then, on this level, you know. But – you know. I mean, I—
MICHAEL: But do you see it as – do you still want to perform for an audience, or do you just see yourselves sort of as recording people?
PAUL: I think—
MICHAEL: You see, but I think John’s right. It’s communication. And I think part of communication is seeing you doing it.
PAUL: I think there’s something to do with an audience, there, yeah. I think – [pause] I think we’ve got a bit shy, you know. I think I’ve got a bit shy of – certain things, you know. And it’s like, uh – it is like that. It’s like, um—
MICHAEL: I guess maybe the difficulty is also getting up in front of an audience, if – all you’ve done in front of an audience is trying to get something as good, but maybe not the same thing. You know, and it’s a very hard thing to get back. In other words, you musn’t think of getting back what you had. Because you don’t want—
PAUL: No, that’s what Yoko was saying the other day, you know. We don’t – we musn’t try and get in the audience, and get them wild, and get—
MICHAEL: Although they may be. [inaudible] Because they’ve grown up as well. I mean, everyone in this room has grown up.
MICHAEL: You know what I mean?
PAUL: Sure, yeah. That’s – that’s what’s great about it, you know. That’s why I don’t think we need to sort of play down, or do anything – we’ve really got to do what we do, but like, with the same kind of… No, it’s not even – it’s not even discipline, it’s the same kind of—
PAUL: Dr– desire to do it.
MICHAEL: Desire. To do it.
PAUL: You know, it’s like – it’s like all these songs, you know. There are some really great songs, and I just hope we don’t blow any of them. [to John] Because you know how often like on albums we sometimes blow one of your songs, because we come in in the wrong mood, and uh, you say, “This is how it goes, I’ll be back.” And we’re all just, [flustered voice] “Oh, uh, you—” Chuga chuga chuga chuga…
MICHAEL: That’s why we’re wrong to throw away the show. Because there’s no desire – I mean like, sure, I think I, M. L. H., can do a show with you better than anybody in the world, because I’ve got to be the best rock’n’roll director in the world, he says without any false humility. But equally, at the moment, we haven’t got a show, and so none of us are gonna want to do it.
PAUL: Yeah, I know what you—
MICHAEL: And the trouble is, that is why George was saying – he’s saying, “None of us want to do a show, because it ain’t a show.” And it’s like—
MICHAEL: —we’ve got to find something else to go out and do it.
GEORGE: And it’s that thing about – of the songs, too, you know. ‘Cause really, I don’t want to do any of my songs on the show, because I know they’ll always just turn out shitty, like—
PAUL: No, but you see – no, see, this is where I think, though—
GEORGE: Because, uh, they come out like a compromise, whereas in a studio they can—
PAUL: [anxious] But you see – look, George—
GEORGE: —work on ‘em, ‘til you want ‘em… and get it out of your mind.
PAUL: Last year, you were telling me, that, “You can do anything you want, Paul.”
PAUL: “Anything you desire, you can do,” you know.
PAUL: Now, but these days—
GEORGE: But you have to desire it.
PAUL: [trying] But you’re saying – before this show is finished, before we’ve done it— Now, like the arrow, letting forth, is letting forth on this word of, “We’re not going to be able to do it, we’re going to come out a compromise.” Now, I don’t think that! I really don’t. I think you – we’ve done it, you know. I think we’ve – I really think we’re very good. And we can get it together, if we think that we want to do these songs great, we can just do it great, you know. But I think thinking it’s not going to come out great won’t help.
PAUL: You know, that’s like – that is like meditation, where you just – you get into a bummer, and you come out of it. You don’t go through it, you know.
PAUL: I think we can, like, help, if we – you know, on anything like that. [to Ringo] If – so, okay, if you’re sick of playing the drums, we’ve all gotta say, “Look, we’re sick too, you know, pat pat, look, you know, it’s all the same,” and… we go through it with you. It’s no use just saying, “Well, fuck off, then.” “Oh, fuck that.” You know? What’s good, that?
January 7th, 1969 (Twickenham Studios, London): While Let It Be director Michael Lindsay-Hogg tries to engage the band in discussion about their proposed concert/television special, Paul tries anxiously to talk to John (who has been wordlessly strumming his guitar for the past half-hour) about performing together onstage again.
GEORGE: It would be nice – you see, uh, if we’re just singing these songs – for me to watch it, I’d be bored if it was, “Oh, haha, thank you, now we’d like to do…” and all that. Or if it was like just edited from – you know, clap clap, bam, and you know, like that, like they do those films, that would be better.
PAUL: See, there is that possibility too, which is the one I originally thought this was going to be, actually. Which was not to have a documentary, but to have the show – have documentary and show, just intercut. But it’s not as good as – it’s half arsed. It’s two ideas in one, because neither of ‘em is good enough.
MICHAEL: If it comes off – if this comes off, we’ve got great chaps, we’ve got a great entertainment package in an album, a documentary never seen before, and a performance. It’s a great package.
GEORGE: Yeah, you know, I mean, a lot could come out of it if we could get the enthusiasm and the strength to do it.
MICHAEL: See, I think that the truest thing is if we – if we get it together.
PAUL: [upset; to John] I mean, I’ll – I’ll sing in a corner with Mal on the tour, or I’ll sit here, and I’ll – I’ll anything. ’Cause I – I enjoy it all. That’s the only thing I enjoy, actually. [inaudible; drowned out by George’s and Michael’s voices] It’s terrible just to – I mean, imagine if you – if you were the only one interested. And I’m not easing it in, easing it in right now. I know you’re interested in that. But you won’t say anything to me about it.
JOHN: [long pause] I said what I’d been thinking. I would. And that is what I have.
PAUL: [tired] Are you still thinking that now? What are you thinking now?
JOHN: [evasive] I’m still thinking about it. [continues playing]
January 7th, 1969: George talks about being treated like an equal, and in light of the worsening member relations, suggests The Beatles disband for good.
GEORGE: Well, what I was saying about the songs was like, the reason, you know, like, I’ve got about twenty songs from 1948 was because I knew very well the moment I’d bring them in the studio, that – [blows raspberry] there it’s gone, you know.
GEORGE: And, uh, so I never did. And, like, slowly now, I can bring a couple out because I can get it more like how it should have been then. And that’s – you know, it’s like, it’s just…
PAUL: You see, but it doesn’t matter what’s going wrong. It really doesn’t matter what’s going wrong, as long as the four of us notice it.
GEORGE: [disbelieving; laughs] Well, I’ve noticed it, alright.
PAUL: No, but and – and – instead of just noticing it, determine to put it right, you know. [pause] ‘Cause that’s what I’m – that’s what I’m onto.
GEORGE: Maybe we should have a divorce.
PAUL: Well, I said that last week, you know. But it’s getting nearer.
JOHN: Who’d have the children?
PAUL: [pause] Dick James.
JOHN: Oh, yeah.
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.
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