This solo Paul McCartney solo demo was recorded during the Abbey Road sessions. While briefly considered for that album, ‘Come And Get It’ was given to the Apple group The Iveys, who were renamed Badfinger prior to the single’s release.
I was lying in bed one night, and instead of trying to sleep I was trying to think of an idea for a song. This song started going around in my head, and then I thought, ‘Oh, this is okay; this is pretty good.’ So I got up quietly – Linda and I had just recently got married, and I didn’t want to wake her or daughter Heather – and went downstairs where I had a little reel-to-reel tape recorder. I closed all the doors so I wouldn’t make too much noise, and I wrote this. It was basically a song for Badfinger. Fairly straight-up rock and roll, very straightforward.
McCartney’s version was widely bootlegged before it was officially released on Anthology 3. The song was a thinly-veiled commentary on the state of Apple, which was losing large amounts of money by 1969.
The studio demo was recorded the day after McCartney wrote the song.
I’d written the song ‘Come And Get It’ and I’d made a fairly decent demo. Because I lived locally, I could get in half an hour before a Beatles session at Abbey Road – knowing it would be empty and all the stuff would be set up – and I’d use Ringo’s equipment to put a drum track down, put some piano down, quickly put some bass down, do the vocal, and double-track it. I said to Badfinger, ‘OK, it’s got to be exactly like this demo,’ because it had a great feeling on it. They actually wanted to put their own variations on, but I said, ‘No, this really is the right way.’ They listened to me – I was producing, after all – and they were good. The song was a hit in 1970.
Badfinger’s version, sung by fellow Liverpudlian Tom Evans, was mostly identical to McCartney’s demo. The final version was in E flat, a semitone lower than McCartney’s, possibly due to varispeeding during the mixing stage. Recorded nine days later, Badfinger’s recording became a top five single and was the main theme for the Peter Sellers/Ringo Starr film The Magic Christian.
McCartney first sang ‘Come And Get It’ live on 26 November 2011, during a concert at the Unipol Arena in Bologna, Italy. He also sang it on the eponymous debut album by Hollywood Vampires, a supergroup featuring Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry.
In the studio
Paul McCartney recorded ‘Come And Get It’ on 24 July 1969, working with engineer Phil McDonald. John Lennon was in the control room observing, though declined to contribute.
McCartney recorded a single take, singing live and playing piano. The piano was recorded to track one and his vocals on track two of the eight-track tape.
He then double tracked his vocals and played maracas on track three. Drums were added next, to track four, and finally came a bass guitar part on track five. It took less than an hour to complete.
So I wrote it in the night, and then the very next day we had a session for the Abbey Road album, and I made a point of getting there a half hour before the session was going to start, because I knew the guys would be in on time. I said to the engineer, Phil McDonald, ‘Look, I’ve got this thing. I’m just going to go to the drums, I’m going to go to the piano, I’m going to put a bit of bass on it and I’m going to sing it, and we can do this in a quarter of an hour.’ And he was game, so that’s exactly what I did. I just played the piano thing and put the drums on that, and it was all one take. And then the guys arrived and we started the Beatles session. But by then I had this demo. I think I might’ve said, ‘D’you mind if I just quickly mix this?’ But it sort of mixed itself, you know. That was a nice thing about it – that it was so complete I could just run in and, in fifteen or twenty minutes, make a record just like that.
A single stereo mix was made of ‘Come And Get It’, a copy of which was taken away by McCartney. This mix was released in 2019 on the super deluxe 50th anniversary reissue of Abbey Road.
Another mix was made in 1984 for the unreleased Sessions album. This was included on Anthology 3 in 1996.
McCartney also produced Badfinger’s version of ‘Come And Get It’ at EMI Studios on 2 August 1969.
The song was huge – I think a number one hit for Badfinger in some countries – and the album it was on was also a hit. I also remember they did one or two other things with Apple.
If The Beatles had recorded this instead of, say, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” side 1 of Abbey Road would have been impeccable, and they probably would have had another #1.