Get Back/Let It Be sessions: day two

The second day of rehearsals for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions saw them play a number of songs, many of which were rough versions of rock ‘n’ roll oldies, improvisations and numbers from the Lennon-McCartney back catalogue.

The Beatles – Twickenham Film Studios, 3 January 1969

John Lennon was late arriving at Twickenham Film Studios, and the first part of the day featured just Paul McCartney on piano. He worked through a number of works-in-progress, including several songs which ended up on Let It Be and Abbey Road.

Ringo Starr played brief versions of songs he had written titled ‘Taking A Trip To Carolina’ and ‘Picasso’. The former was included on the Fly On The Wall disc that came with early copies of Let It Be… Naked, and in the 2021 documentary Get Back. George Harrison, meanwhile, played a number of half-written songs including the Dylanesque ‘Ramblin’ Woman’.

After Lennon’s arrival, much of the day was spent playing rock ‘n’ roll classics, including several from The Beatles’ Cavern Club and Hamburg years. They also played a version of ‘I’m So Tired’ with McCartney on lead vocals, and a swift rendition of ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’.

The Beatles became more disciplined when working on ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, which was by this time close to its final arrangement. During the day’s first attempt, however, Lennon inserted a segment from ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’.

‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ and ‘Two Of Us’ were other Let It Be songs which were worked on during this day, and the group resurrected ‘One After 909’ for the first time since 1963. They also played several other early Lennon-McCartney compositions, including ‘Won’t You Please Say Goodbye’, ‘Thinking Of Linking’, ‘I’ll Wait Till Tomorrow’, and ‘Because I Know You Love Me So’.

George Harrison led the group through Marvin Gaye’s ‘Hitch Hike’ and Larry Williams’ ‘Short Fat Fannie’, and Lennon and McCartney sang a version of ‘Midnight Special’. Lennon also played two original songs, ‘Sun King’ and ‘Gimme Some Truth’, both of which would receive further work during January 1969.

The Beatles played a total of 37 versions of ‘All Things Must Pass’ on this day, although they struggled to find a satisfactory arrangement. It was worked on again in January and February, but remained unreleased until Harrison re-recorded it for 1970’s triple album of the same name.

George Harrison also mentioned Billy Preston, who would join The Beatles later in the month.

The best jazz band I saw was Ray Charles’ band. I mean, that jazz really moves me in a fantastic way. It’s, like, fantastic. Billy Preston is too much. I’m sure you’ll dig it when you see.

Billy plays piano with the band, then he does his own spot where he sings and dances and plays organ solo, then Ray Charles comes on. He’s better than Ray Charles, really, because he’s, like, too much! Because he plays organ so great now. Ray Charles doesn’t bother with the organ now. He just, ‘I’ll leave it to the young guy, Billy’. It’s too much.

George Harrison

The day ended with a number of attempts at ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’. A sequence of McCartney calling out the chords while teaching the song to the others was included in the Let It Be film. The Beatles spent considerable time working on the song during these sessions, although it was later remade for Abbey Road.

Performances of ‘Taking A Trip To Carolina’, ‘Just Fun’, ‘Because I Know You Love Me So’, ‘Thinking Of Linking’, ‘Won’t You Please Say Goodbye’, ‘One After 909’, ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’, ‘Midnight Special’, ‘What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For?’, ‘The Harry Lime Theme’ from The Third Man, ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, ‘Gimme Some Truth’, ‘All Things Must Pass’, ‘Every Little Thing’, and ‘I’m So Tired’ from this day appeared in part one of the 2021 documentary Get Back.

The full list of songs played on this day, including fragments and off-the-cuff, unpublished songs with presumed titles (plus primary composer/best-known performer):

* presumed title.
View the complete list of songs played during the January 1969 Get Back/Let It Be sessions.

Get Back/Let It Be sessions: day one
Get Back/Let It Be sessions: day three
Also on this day...

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