The Paul McCartney Project

Getting Better

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Mono) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1967
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Getting Better” is a song written mainly by Paul McCartney, with lyrical contributions from John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney). It was recorded by the Beatles for the 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Composition

The song, musically reminiscent of the hit single “Penny Lane,” moves forward by way of regular chords, produced by Lennon’s guitar, McCartney’s electric piano, and George Martin, who struck the strings of a pianet with a mallet. These heavily accented and repetitive lines cause the song to sound as if it is based on a drone. Lead guitarist George Harrison adds an Indian tambura part to the final verse, which further accentuates this impact.

McCartney’s bassline, in counterpoint to this droning, was described by music critic Ian MacDonald as “dreamy” and “well thought out as a part of the production by McCartney“. It was recorded after the main track was completed like many of the basslines on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band were done. Starting out in the verse with a pedal on the root note (G) that leaps two octaves, McCartney moves to a marching quarter-note (walking) bass line for the first (and only the first) chorus. In stark contrast, all subsequent choruses are played using a fluid, swing feel, full of anticipated notes that propel the song forward despite the quarter-note droning of the guitar and keyboard.

The song’s title and music suggest optimism, but some of the song’s lyrics have a more negative tone. In this sense, it reflects the contrasting personas of the two songwriters. In response to McCartney’s line, “It’s getting better all the time“, Lennon replies, “Can’t get no worse!“. Referring to the lyric “I used to be cruel to my woman/I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved/Man I was mean but I’m changing my scene/And I’m doing the best that I can“, Lennon admitted that he had done things in relationships in the past that he was not proud of.

In a 1980 interview in Playboy with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Lennon, when asked about the song, commiserated that the song’s lyrics came personally from his own experience abusing women in relationships in the past. He states: “It is a diary form of writing. All that “I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved” was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically — any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.

According to the author Hunter Davies and music critic Ian MacDonald, the initial idea for the song’s title came from a phrase often spoken by Jimmie Nicol, the group’s stand-in drummer for the Australian leg of a 1964 tour.

Lennon on the roof

One of the recording sessions for “Getting Better” is famous for an incident involving Lennon. During the 21 March 1967 session in which producer George Martin added a piano solo to Lovely Rita, Lennon complained that he did not feel well and could not focus. He had accidentally taken LSD when he meant to take an upper. Unaware of the mistake, Martin took him up to the roof of Abbey Road Studios for some fresh air, and returned to Studio Two where McCartney and Harrison were waiting. They knew why Lennon was not well, and upon hearing where Lennon was, rushed to the roof to retrieve him and prevent a possible accident. […]

Live performances

Paul McCartney performed the song live for the first time by any Beatle on his 2002 Driving World Tour. He later reprised the song on his 2003 Back in the World Tour. […]

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

Getting Better I wrote on my magic Binder, Edwards and Vaughan piano in my music room. It had a lovely tone, that piano, you’d just open the lid and there was such a magic tone, almost out of tune, and of course the way it was painted added to the fun of it all.

It’s an optimistic song. I often try and get on to optimistic subjects in an effort to cheer myself up and also, realising that other people are going to hear this, to cheer them up too. And this was one of those. The ‘angry young man’ and all that was John and I filling in the verses about schoolteachers. We shared a lot of feelings against teachers who had punished you too much or who hadn’t understood you or who had just been bastard generally. […]

I was just sitting there doing ‘Getting better all the time’ and John just said in his laconic way, ‘It couldn’t get no worse,’ and I thought, Oh, brilliant! This is exactly why I love writing with John… It was one of the ways we’d write. I’d have the song quite mapped out and he’d come in with a counter-melody, so it was a simple ordinary song.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 23 Mar 1967.
    UK: Parlophone PMC 7026 Sgt Pepper 1967.
    US: Capitol MAS 2653 Sgt Pepper 1967.
  • [b] stereo 17 Apr 1967.
    UK: Parlophone PCS 7026 Sgt Pepper 1967.
    US: Capitol SMAS 2653 Sgt Pepper 1967.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46442 2 Sgt Pepper 1987.

Last updated on May 5, 2017

Lyrics

It's getting better all the time
I used to get mad at my school
(No I can't complain)
The teachers that taught me weren't cool
(No I can't complain)
You're holding me down
(Oww)
Turning me round
(Ohh)
Filling me up with your rules
(Ooo)

I've got to admit it's getting better
(Better)
A little better all the time
(It couldn't get no worse)
I have to admit it's getting better
(Better)
It's getting better since you've been mine

Me used to be angry young man
Me hiding me head in the sand
You gave me the word
I finally heard
You're doing the best that I can

I've got to admit it's getting better
(Better)
A little better all the time
(It couldn't get no worse)
I have to admit it's getting better
(Better)
It's getting better since you've been mine
Getting so much better all the time

It's getting better all the time
(Better, better, better)
It's getting better all the time
(Better, better, better)

I used to be cruel to my woman I beat her
And kept her apart from the things that she loved
Man, I was mean but I'm changing my scene
And I'm doing the best that I can
(Ooo)

I admit it's getting better
(Better)
A little better all the time
(It couldn't get no worse)
Yes, I admit it's getting better
(Better)
It's getting better since you've been mine
Getting so much better all the time

It's getting better all the time
(Better, better, better)
It's getting better all the time
(Better, better, better)
Getting so much better all the time

Officially appears on


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1967

2:48 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Bass guitar, Piano, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Congas, Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Handclaps
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Tambura
George Martin:
Pianette, Piano, Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Malcolm Addey:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 10, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 21, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Mar 23, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1967

2:48 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Bass guitar, Piano, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Congas, Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Handclaps
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Tambura
George Martin:
Pianette, Piano, Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Malcolm Addey:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 10, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 21, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Apr 17, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Back In The U.S.

Official live • Released in 2002

3:10 • LiveL1

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Performed by:
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
David Kahne:
Producer
Michael Brauer:
Engineer
Ricardo Chavarria:
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Denver, USA on May 07, 2002


Back In The World

Official live • Released in 2003

3:10 • LiveL1

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Performed by:
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
David Kahne:
Producer
Michael Brauer:
Engineer
Ricardo Chavarria:
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Denver, USA on May 07, 2002


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

2:47 • Studio version


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

Studio version • Take 1 - Instrumental and speech at the end


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

Studio version • Take 12


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

2:47 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Bass guitar, Piano, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Congas, Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Handclaps
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Tambura
George Martin:
Pianette, Piano, Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Malcolm Addey:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 10, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 21, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Mar 23, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Live performances

“Getting Better” has been played in 66 concerts and 2 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where “Getting Better” has been played



Dublin • RDS Arena

May 27, 2003 • Part of Back in the World tour






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