The meeting was not a success, but in the absence of any other ideas, the three remaining Beatles regrouped at Twickenham Film Studios to continue work on the project.
Unsurprisingly, Harrison didn’t show up, and John Lennon too was absent for much of the day. The bulk of the recordings made, therefore, featured conversations rather than music, and reveal much about the prevailing thoughts within the group at the time. A lunchtime conversation, in particular, has proved particularly valuable in understanding how McCartney, Starr and Lennon were feeling.
Lennon is heard wondering aloud whether he wants Harrison to be a part of the group any more, and agrees with McCartney that he had drifted away from the others in recent months. McCartney, ever the diplomat, admits that there had been a pecking order since they were school-age, and that he and Lennon had always been The Beatles’ leaders.
Lennon admits that their music has become formulaic, and contrasts it with the excitement of making Revolver in 1966. Presciently, he remarks that the only challenge left for them is to go solo, although he is uncertain about stepping away from The Beatles.
McCartney offers encouraging phrases towards Lennon and Starr, and says they should stop worrying about minor details in the songs and concentrate instead on performing to the best of their abilities. He also wonders what would be the best way to steer Harrison towards a particular way of playing.
The day also allowed Lennon and Paul McCartney to refine some of their songs, particularly Get Back. McCartney settled on Tucson, Arizona for Jo Jo’s hometown, and Harrison’s absence allowed Lennon greater freedom to work up some lead guitar parts.
The three Beatles spent another day at Twickenham before giving up and relocating to Apple Studios in London.
The full list of songs recorded on this day, including fragments and off-the-cuff, unpublished songs with presumed titles (plus primary composer/best-known performer):
- Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (two versions)
- Otis Sleep On (Arthur Conley)
- Baby, Come Back (The Equals)
- Build Me Up Buttercup (The Foundations; three versions)
- Dig A Pony (two versions)
- Get Back (15 versions)
- On The Road Again (Canned Heat)
View the complete list of songs played during the January 1969 Get Back/Let It Be sessions.
Also on this day...
- 2017: Beatles electronics guru Magic Alex dies
- 1969: US album release: Yellow Submarine
- 1968: Recording: Wonderwall Music by George Harrison
- 1966: George Harrison and Mick Jagger visit Dolly’s nightclub, London
- 1965: Live: Another Beatles Christmas Show
- 1963: Television: Thank Your Lucky Stars
- 1962: Live: Hambleton Hall, Liverpool
- 1961: Live: Aintree Institute, Liverpool
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.