Apple Studios, Savile Row, London
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Glyn Johns
The 17th day of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions saw The Beatles focus mainly on two songs: ‘Let It Be’ and ‘The Long And Winding Road’.
This Sunday session marked the first time in almost a year that The Beatles had worked on both days of a weekend. They were joined in the studio by Linda McCartney and her daughter Heather.
George Harrison and Ringo Starr were the first to arrive, and the session began with Harrison performing some of his own songs alone on an acoustic guitar: ‘Isn’t It A Pity’, ‘Let It Down’ and the unreleased ‘Window, Window’. He also helped Starr with the composition of ‘Octopus’s Garden’, part of which was included in the Let It Be film.
Billy Preston was back in the studio, following an absence on the previous day, and helped to shape the song’s arrangement. ‘Let It Be’, in particular, benefited from Preston’s organ playing, and by the end of the day they almost had a version suitable for release.
The session closed with more than an hour spent on ‘The Long And Winding Road’, with Paul McCartney on piano and John Lennon playing bass guitar. Although the playing was often amateurish in the beginning, towards the end the arrangement came together, and by the end of the day they had a satisfactory take. This was included on Anthology 3, and was adorned with orchestral and choral overdubs by Phil Spector for the Let It Be album.
Also on that album was a snippet of ‘Dig It’, which was part of a 12-minute take recorded on this day, and cover versions of ‘Rip It Up’, ‘Shake, Rattle And Roll’ and ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ were issued as a medley on Anthology 3.
Of the other songs, ‘Suicide’ was written by McCartney as a teenager, and a snippet was later included on his debut album. ‘I Told You Before’ was an improvised jam led by Harrison and Preston, which The Beatles returned to on the following day.
There were also cover versions of ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’ and ‘Kansas City’, the latter based on Wilbert Harrison’s 1959 arrangement rather than Little Richard’s. Versions of Jerry Lee Lewis’ ‘Great Balls Of Fire’ and ‘High School Confidential’ were marred by McCartney being unable to remember the lyrics.
Performances of ‘Window, Window’, ‘Octopus’s Garden’, ‘Let It Be’, ‘Little Yellow Pills’, ‘I Told You Before’, ‘Dig It’, ‘Twist And Shout’, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, ‘Shake, Rattle And Roll’, ‘The Long And Winding Road’, ‘Kansas City’, and ‘Miss Ann’ from this day appeared in part three of the 2021 documentary Get Back.
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):
- ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ (Harrison)
- ‘Window, Window’ (Harrison)
- ‘Let It Down’ (Harrison; two versions)
- ‘Octopus’s Garden’ (eight versions)
- ‘Little Piece Of Leather’ (Donnie Elbert)
- ‘Two Of Us’
- ‘Dig A Pony’
- ‘Let It Be’ (28 versions)
- ‘High School Confidential’ (Jerry Lee Lewis)
- ‘Great Balls Of Fire’ (Jerry Lee Lewis)
- ‘Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying’ (Ray Charles)
- ‘Suicide’ (McCartney)
- ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ (Tex Ritter)
- ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’ (two versions)
- ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ (Bob Dylan)
- ‘Twist And Shout’
- ‘Dig It’
- ‘Rip It Up/Shake, Rattle And Roll/Blue Suede Shoes’
- ‘Kansas City’
- ‘Miss Ann’ (Little Richard)
- ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’ (Lloyd Price)
- ‘The Tracks Of My Tears’ (The Miracles)
- ‘Agent Double-O-Soul’ (Edwin Starr)
- ‘SOS’ (Edwin Starr)
- ‘Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu’ (Huey ‘Piano’ Smith)
- ‘I’m Movin’ On’ (Ray Charles)
- ‘Little Yellow Pills’ (Jackie Lomax)
- ‘The Long And Winding Road’ (16 versions)
- ‘It Was So Blue’* (McCartney)
- ‘I Left My Home In The World’* (McCartney)
- ‘I Told You Before’ (Lennon-McCartney-Harrison-Starkey)
* presumed title.
View the complete list of songs played during the January 1969 Get Back/Let It Be sessions.
Also on this day...
- 2014: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr reunite at the Grammy Awards
- 1970: John Lennon is interviewed in Paris by Reuters
- 1970: Ringo and Maureen fly to Los Angeles
- 1965: George Martin breaks his foot in the Swiss Alps
- 1964: Live: Olympia Theatre, Paris
- 1963: Live: King’s Hall, Stoke-on-Trent
- 1963: Live: El Rio, Macclesfield
- 1962: Live: Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, Wallasey
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (evening)
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
- 1961: Live: Litherland Town Hall, Liverpool
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
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