- Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK
More from year 1969
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This was the sixth day of rehearsals at Twickenham Film Studios. Paul McCartney was the first of The Beatles to arrive and he sits down at the piano to perform a few songs, especially two new numbers – “Her Majesty” and “Another Day“.
Once the other Beatles arrived, they continued rehearsing and perfecting tracks they had performed in the past days – “Don’t Let Me Down” (1 run-through), “Two Of Us” (6 run-throughs), “I’ve Got A Feeling” (5 run-throughs), “One After 909” (4 times) and “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” (7 times).
For You Blue
George was persistent with his “folk/blues” song, as he referred to “For You Blue”at the time, on January 9th, 1969 at Twickenham Studios, when he led them through a total of fifteen versions of the song in order to aquaint them with how it goes. Concerning the song’s arrangement, George said he wanted it to sound like “those bluesy people, but the folky ones.” He expressed that he had in mind Son House, who was a veteran blues performer who had recently been rediscovered and brought out of retirement in the blues revival of the 60’s. After going through a few acoustic guitar versions of the song, he was eventually joined by Paul on piano and John playing a walking bass line on electric guitar before they went on to other tunes, such as Paul’s “Two Of Us.” Paul and John may not have viewed this composition too seriously at this point, but they were obviously enjoying vamping to the 12-bar blues pattern. The lyrics don’t appear to have been formed completely at this point, George focusing on the lines “Because your’re sweet and lovely girl, I love you” and “I love you more than ever.”
They returned to to song later on that day, at “a quarter to four” as the slate documentor stated, Paul complaining “It was a little bit loud for me.” John replies, “Leave the group then, if you don’t like it!” Paul yells out for the “technicians” as John references “Hotel Liverpool” while they run through an impromptu rendition of “For You Blue.” Both George and John are on electric guitars at this point, with Paul on bass and Ringo on drums, their standard line-up. Amid some false starts, they ran through this song a number of times amid jamming on some oldies, such as “Honey Hush,” “Be-Bop-A-Lula” and “Slippin’ And Slidin.’” George still hadn’t formulated the lyrics fully yet, John stating, “Pretty short, isn’t it?’ after one rehearsal.From beatlesebooks.com
Two days later, January 9th, 1969 at Twickenham Studios, The Beatles returned to hash out four renditions of the unfinished song that would eventually become “Get Back.” After all four Beatles put in a lot of work on the songs “Let It Be” and “For You Blue,” among others, they began rough jams based around the “get back” theme, this undoubtedly being the first time Lennon became aquainted with it.
The verse lyrics were still ad libbed at this point but bits of a rough storyline was beginning to emerge, references to California and Arizona being sung here and there in the first couple of renditions performed on this day. However, local news items concerning Parliament member Enoch Powell’s beliefs that too many non-white citizens of the British Empire were immigrating to England and taking away limited jobs had been discussed by The Beatles on this day. Since Paul was struggling to piece together coherent lyrics to this song, John humorously proposed the infusion of this subject matter into the lyrics to create a political satire.
“Don’t want no black man…!” Lennon demonstrates, which is countered by Paul with “Don’t dig no Pakistanis taking all the people’s jobs.” Paul then directs his band-mates into another rendition of the song, screaming “Get Back!” repeatedly in a voice that mocks the hatred behind Enoch Powell’s public statements. Verses of this version include Paul singing “lots of Puerto Ricans,” “All the folks around sit by, he a Mohican living in the USA” and singing his earlier idea “Don’t dig no Pakistanis taking all the people’s jobs.” The song finishes with Paul screaming out maniacally in a way that reminds one of how John concluded the final moments of his hit “Cold Turkey” to simulate his withdrawl from heroin. Since John’s song was recorded later that same year, it’s easy to conclude that this early rendition of “Get Back” may have been remembered and thereby have been his inspiration, if only subliminally.
After this was out of their systems, they returned to a more serious rehearsal of “Get Back” with the principal characters Joe and Theresa being introduced for the first time. A little later that day, however, Enoch Powell’s beliefs were once again the subject of an ad libbed song, this being referred to in bootleg releases as “Commonwealth.” With Harold Wilson and Edward Heath once again being refrenced in the lyrics of a Beatles song (see “Taxman”), Paul begins by mimicking the recent British hit “Isrealites” by Desmond Dekker with its reggae beat and distinctive vocalization. As the song transcends into a more typical 12-bar pattern as heard in early Elvis recordings, John adds to the fun of the occasion by suggesting to end each chorus with the line “The commonwealth is much too common for me.”From beatlesebooks.com
From Doug Sulpy:
“Get Back” is also given it’s first real rehearsal – though it’s still more of a jam than anything else. The lyrics, at this point, satirize a movement within the British government that called for the repatriation of non-white immigrants from the other member countries of the British Commonwealth. This theme also runs through several other improvised songs done during the session.
The Beatles are in a better mood on the 9th, perhaps because there’s no extensive discussion, or musical differences. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always reflect itself in the quality of the rehearsals.
Also performed was another version of ‘The Palace Of The King Of The Birds’, an instrumental McCartney recorded years later for the unreleased Rupert The Bear album which he had first played on 6 and 7 January.
‘Let It Be’ was given more focused attention, and was played a total of 16 times. These performances were led by McCartney, who called out suggestions as the others played. John Lennon was on bass guitar for this part of the day, as the group were intending to record no overdubs and McCartney was at the piano.
At this stage of the Twickenham rehearsals, ‘Get Back’ was a driving rock song with half-written lyrics about Theresa and Joe. At one point McCartney improvised some words (“Don’t dig no Pakistanis taking all the people’s jobs”; “Don’t need no Puerto Ricans living in the USA”) which later led to accusations of racism after the tapes were bootlegged. It is clear, however, that he was parodying right-wing attitudes held by many in Britain in the late 1960s, including the Conservative Party politician Enoch Powell.
Another song, ‘Commonwealth’, was a 1950s-style rock ‘n’ roll performance with McCartney singing in an Elvis Presley style. This, too, touched upon the themes of immigration and racism expressed earlier in the day. Another rocker, ‘Suzy’s Parlour’, was included in the Let It Be film, although it was mistitled as Suzy Parker when copyrighted.
‘Teddy Boy’, ‘Junk’, and ‘Penina’ were all McCartney compositions, and were given brief outings on this day. The latter was recorded separately by Carlos Mendes and Jotta Herra for 1969 singles in Portugal, and only ‘Teddy Boy’ was returned to during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions.
January 9th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): With John and George yet to arrive at the studio, Ringo sits with Paul at the piano as they chat about the origins of ‘Golden Slumbers’ and the originally intended music hall leanings of ‘Carry That Weight’.
PAUL: That really should be like a fairy tale. “Once upon a time there lived a princess and…” Once upon a time / There lived a king / “Sleep pretty darling do not cry / And I will sing a lullaby.”
MAL: [laughs] And the king will sing a lullaby.
PAUL AND RINGO: And this is why she said… She said, “Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight, carry that weight a long time…”
PAUL: Like their troubles, all their troubles. But it was like a comedy when I heard it, you know. [starts playing jaunty piano] Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight / Carry that weight a long time…
PAUL: See, I think there might a verse about, I got drunk, I got in trouble with the wife, got drunk, so on and so on and so on, and it all goes to the next morning with a weight upon my head, and I found out it was my head. [laughs; starts playing jaunty piano] Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight / Carry that weight a long time… Just sort of normal kind of troubles that everyone has, and then just boy, you’re gonna…
PAUL: But it could be one of those things where, you know like in those songs where you’ve got everything, and everything’s going so great, but like, “This morning, one of my eggs broke,” you know. [laughs]
RINGO: [laughs; plays piano] “The rabbit’s got away.”
PAUL: [laughs] Just something trivial.
MAL: “Broke a mirror.”
PAUL: “My right shoe’s a bit tight.” Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight…
January 9th, 1969 (Twickenham Film Studios, London): As everyone waits for John and George to arrive, Ringo, Mal, and director Michael-Lindsay Hogg listen as Paul tries to figure out the lyrics for the second verse of ‘The Long And Winding Road’. (Note: Mal’s reference to The Wizard of Oz reminds me of this interview he did in 1975 about him and Paul crying over John’s “I want a divorce” declarative.)
PAUL: See I was thinking of having another – like the weather obstacle.
MICHAEL: It’s beautiful. What’s it called?
PAUL: ‘The Long And Winding Road’. [tries playing; falters] The only trouble is I always think of the… The storm clouds and the rain / Break up over the winding road… [trails off]
PAUL: I suppose it should still be about this sort of winding road. I’ve just got that picture – just the winding road that leads to your door, it will never disappear, I’ve seen that road before, it’ll always lead me here, lead me to your door. Oh no!
RINGO: [laughs] It’s a start.
MAL: What you’re talking is sort of like The Wizard of Oz. Did you ever see The Wizard of Oz?
PAUL: No no no, I didn’t, but I’ve—
MAL: ‘The Yellow Brick Road’?
PAUL: Yeah. I know.
MAL: ‘The Long And Winding Road’.
MICHAEL: It’s great.
PAUL: You see, it’s also something… [starts playing again]
MAL: It’s got that feel about it, you know? [inaudible] —so [Dorothy] gets back to, back to the boys— [inaudible] —and she’s never going to see them again.
MICHAEL: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
MAL: It’s a terrible feeling.
MICHAEL: Heartbreaker, yeah. It’s great.
MAL: It made me cry.
PAUL: It could be like the thing that’s up ahead. The thing that’s up ahead / At the end of the road…
MAL: Like, how about like the obstacles on the road, that you’re going over?
PAUL: No, but I think the obstacles – eh, you know. I have enough obstacles without putting them in the song. [laughs]
MICHAEL: How’s it going to end? Is it going to end happily, or just – not sure yet? Is that the end?
PAUL: No, it should end something like this. But still they lead me back / To the long and winding road / You left me waiting here / A long long time ago / Don’t leave me standing here / Lead me to your door…
Mal Evans: What do you think of… Where to do the show? Did you think about it last night?
Paul McCartney: (shaking head to say no)
Mal Evans: It’s gonna be an indoor… It’s gonna be indoor… inside a building.
Paul McCartney: The airport and the Houses of Parliament aren’t the right ones, but if, you know, we hit the right one…
Mal Evans: I think it’s down to if we’re going to do it in this country, we might as well do it here.
Paul McCartney: But actually… We’re going on a farm in Scotland.
Mal Evans: What?
Paul McCartney: Kidding… Yugoslavia.
Linda Eastman: I’d love to find… a farm.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg: Yes, Paul was saying yesterday, a farm.
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.
Recording • DDSI.9.02 • 0:34
Recording • DDSI.9.03 • 1:30
Recording • DDSI.9.17 • 2:34
Recording • DDSI.9.18 • 5:34
Recording • DDSI.9.19 • 3:28
Recording • DDSI.9.20 • 0:41
Recording • DDSI.9.29 • 3:16
Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
Recording • DDSI.9.38 • 1:51
Recording • DDSI.9.59 • 1:13
Recording • DDSI.9.67 • 5:47
Recording • DDSI.9.69 • 1:18
Recording • DDSI.9.91 • 0:29
Recording • DDSI.9.100 • 0:48
Quit Your Messing Around
Recording • DDSI.9.103 • 0:37
Recording • DDSI.9.104 • 0:34
All Together Now
Recording • DDSI.9.105 • 0:08
Recording • DDSI.9.106 • 3:19
I Threw It All Away
Recording • DDSI.9.107 • 2:14
Mama, You Been On My Mind
Recording • DDSI.9.108 • 2:26
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.