Don't Let Me Down

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Get Back / Don't Let Me Down (UK - Mono) 7" Single.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1969

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Song facts

We recorded it in the basement of Apple for Let It Be and later did it up on the roof for the film. We went through it quite a lot for this one. I sang harmony on it, which makes me wonder if I helped with a couple of words, but I don’t think so. It was John’s song.

Paul McCartney – From “Many Years From Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

From Wikipedia:

“Don’t Let Me Down” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, recorded in 1969 during the Let It Be sessions. It was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The band recorded the song with Billy Preston; the single release with “Get Back” was credited to “the Beatles with Billy Preston”.

Composition

Written by John Lennon as an anguished love song to Yoko Ono, it was interpreted by Paul McCartney as a “genuine plea”, with Lennon saying to Ono, “I’m really stepping out of line on this one. I’m really just letting my vulnerability be seen, so you must not let me down.”

The song is in the key of E major and is in 44 time during the verse, chorus and bridge, but changes to 54 in the pick-up to the verse. It grew (like “Sun King“) from the F♯m7–E changes from Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross” with McCartney arranging instrumental and vocal parts and George Harrison adding a descending two-part lead guitar accompaniment to the verse and a countermelody in the bridge. Alan W. Pollack states that “the counterpoint melody played in octaves during the Alternate Verse by the bass and lead guitars is one of the more novel, unusual instrumental touches you’ll find anywhere in the Beatles catalogue.”

Recording and release

Multiple versions of “Don’t Let Me Down” were recorded by the Beatles during the tumultuous Get Back (Let It Be) recording sessions. The version recorded on 28 January 1969 was released as a B-side to the single “Get Back“, recorded the same day. “Get Back” reached number one and “Don’t Let Me Down” reached number 35 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
When the “Get Back” project was revisited, Phil Spector dropped “Don’t Let Me Down” from the Let It Be (1970) album.

The Beatles performed “Don’t Let Me Down” twice during their rooftop concert of 30 January 1969, and the first performance was included in the Let It Be (1970) film, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. In November 2003, a composite edit of the two rooftop versions was released on Let It Be… Naked.

The B-side version of the song was included on the Beatles’ compilations Hey Jude, 1967-1970 and Past Masters Volume 2 and Mono Masters. The same recording also appears on the soundtrack to the 1988 documentary, Imagine: John Lennon.

Reception

Richie Unterberger of AllMusic called it “one of the Beatles’ most powerful love songs”, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic described the song as “heart-wrenching soul” and Roy Carr and Tony Tyler called it “a superb sobber from misery-expert J. W. O. Lennon, MBE. And still one of the most highly underrated Beatle underbellies.” Author Ian MacDonald praised “Don’t Let Me Down” and declared that “this track vies with “Come Together” for consideration as the best of Lennon’s late-style Beatles records”. […]

Personnel

No official producer’s credit was included for the single release owing to “the confused roles of George Martin and Glyn Johns”. However the 1967-1970 compilation liner notes credited Martin as the song’s producer. […]

Paul McCartney in "Many Years From Now", by Barry Miles:

It was a very tense period: John was with Yoko and had escalated to heroin and all the accompanying paranoias and he was putting himself out on a limb. I think that as much as it excited and amused him, and the same time it secretly terrified him. So Don’t Let Me Down was a genuine plea… It was saying to Yoko, ‘I’m really stepping out of line on this one. I’m really letting my vulnerability be seen, so you must not let me down.’ I think it was a genuine cry for help. It was a good song.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] mono 7 Apr 1969 at Olympic Sound. [edit: was more likely 3 Apr]
UK: Apple R5777 single 1969.
CD: EMI single 1989.

[b] stereo 7 Apr 1969 at Olympic Sound. [edit: was more likely 3 Apr]
UK: Apple PCSP 718 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.
US: Apple 2490 single 1969, Apple SW 385 Hey Jude 1970, Apple SKBO-3404 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.
CD: EMI CDP 7 90044 2 Past Masters 2 1988, EMI CDP 7 97039 2 The Beatles 1967-1970 1993.

There appears to be a second John vocal in verse 3 (trace of another vocal) and more clearly at the very end in the fade where it seems to be John overlapping on “Can you dig it”/”Don’t let me”/”Yeah”/”Don’t let me down”. Or is it Paul? If it’s an overdub, it was perhaps added at the mix session, either live or dropped in from another tape.

The unreleased albums use a different take (Jan 22).

Undocumented session : 20 February 1969: Recording: Don’t Let Me Down (beatlesbible.com) ?

Last updated on November 28, 2021

Lyrics

Don't let me down
Don't let me down
Don't let me down
Don't let me down

Nobody ever loved me like she does
Ooo she does, yes she does
And if somebody loved me like she do me
Ooo she do me, yes she does

Don't let me down
Don't let me down
Don't let me down
Don't let me down

I'm in love for the first time
Don't you know it's gonna last?
It's a love that lasts forever
It's a love that had no past

Don't let me down
Don't let me down
Don't let me down
Don't let me down

And from the first time that she really done me
Ooo she done me, she done me good
I guess nobody ever really done me
Ooo she done me, she done me good

Don't let me down
Hey, don't let me down
(Eee hee)
Don't let me down
Don't let me down
(Eee hee)

Don't let me down
Hey, don't let me down
Can you dig it?
Don't let me down

Officially appears on


Get Back / Don't Let Me Down (UK - Mono)

7" Single • Released in 1969

3:30 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Glyn Johns :
Recording engineer
Billy Preston :
Electric piano

Session Recording:
Jan 28, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London

Session Mixing:
Apr 03, 1969
Studio :
Olympic Sound Studios, London


Get Back / Don't Let Me Down (US - Stereo)

7" Single • Released in 1969

3:30 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Glyn Johns :
Recording engineer
Billy Preston :
Electric piano

Session Recording:
Jan 28, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London

Session Mixing:
Apr 03, 1969
Studio :
Olympic Sound Studios, London


Hey Jude

LP • Released in 1970

3:30 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Glyn Johns :
Recording engineer
Billy Preston :
Electric piano

Session Recording:
Jan 28, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London

Session Mixing:
Apr 03, 1969
Studio :
Olympic Sound Studios, London


1967-1970 (UK version, 1973)

Official album • Released in 1973

3:30 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Glyn Johns :
Recording engineer
Billy Preston :
Electric piano

Session Recording:
Jan 28, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London

Session Mixing:
Apr 03, 1969
Studio :
Olympic Sound Studios, London


Past Masters Volume 2

Official album • Released in 1988

3:30 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Glyn Johns :
Recording engineer
Billy Preston :
Electric piano

Session Recording:
Jan 28, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London

Session Mixing:
Apr 03, 1969
Studio :
Olympic Sound Studios, London


Get Back / Don't Let Me Down (UK - 1989)

7" Single • Released in 1989

3:30 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Glyn Johns :
Recording engineer
Billy Preston :
Electric piano

Session Recording:
Jan 28, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London

Session Mixing:
Apr 03, 1969
Studio :
Olympic Sound Studios, London


Get Back / Don't Let Me Down (UK - Picture disc - 1989)

7" Single • Released in 1989

3:30 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Glyn Johns :
Recording engineer
Billy Preston :
Electric piano

Session Recording:
Jan 28, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London

Session Mixing:
Apr 03, 1969
Studio :
Olympic Sound Studios, London


Let It Be... Naked

Official album • Released in 2003

3:19 • Studio versionC • A composite edit of both versions from the rooftop concert.

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
Billy Preston :
Electric piano
Paul Hicks :
Mixing engineer, Producer
Guy Massey :
Mixing engineer, Producer
Steve Rooke :
Mastering
Allan Rouse :
Mixing engineer, Producer

Concert From "The rooftop concert" in London, United Kingdom on Jan 30, 1969


Let It Be... Naked

Official album • Released in 2003

0:35 • Studio version • From the "Fly On The Wall" bonus disc


Let It Be... Naked

Official album • Released in 2003

1:01 • Studio version • From the "Fly On The Wall" bonus disc


Bootlegs


O.P.D.

Unofficial album • Released in 1969

3:52 • Studio version • From Glyn Johns' 2nd "Get Back" compilation

Session Recording:
Jan 22, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London

Session Mixing:
March - May 1969
Studio :
Olympic Sound Studios, London

Session Mixing:
May 09, 1969
Studio :
Olympic Sound Studios, London


O.P.D.

Unofficial album • Released in 1969

2:17 • Studio version • From Glyn Johns' 2nd "Get Back" compilation

Session Recording:
Jan 22, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London

Session Mixing:
March - May 1969
Studio :
Olympic Sound Studios, London

Session Mixing:
May 09, 1969
Studio :
Olympic Sound Studios, London


Yellow Submarine Sessions

Unofficial album

3:46 • Outtake • 22.60 1st Mix Mono


Complete Acetate Collection 1961-1970

Unofficial album

3:46 • Studio version


Rehearsals at 3 Savile Row

Unofficial album

8:35 • Rehearsal


Live performances

“Don't Let Me Down” has been played in 2 concerts.

Latest concerts where Don't Let Me Down has been played


The rooftop concert

Jan 30, 1969 • United Kingdom • London • The rooftop of the Apple building, 3 Savile Row

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