The Beatles’ second all-group composition, after Magical Mystery Tour’s ‘Flying’, ‘Dig It’ was improvised during studio jams in January 1969.

…Like a rolling stone
Like a rolling stone
Like the FBI, and the CIA
And the BBC, BB King
And Doris Day, Matt Busby
Dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it…

John Lennon led the jams, based upon a sequence of I-IV-V chords, onto which he free-associated a set of mostly nonsensical lyrics.

‘Dig It’ began life as ‘Can You Dig It?’, an improvised 12-bar blues taped on 24 January 1969. Led by John Lennon, The Beatles recorded around 14 minutes of the song over several attempts.

At the end of the last performance that day, Lennon spoke the words: “That was ‘Can You Dig It?’ by Georgie Wood. And now we’d like to do ‘Hark The Angels Come’.” The words were used on Let It Be between ‘Dig It’ and ‘Let It Be’.

In the studio

Although just 49 seconds of ‘Dig It’ found their way onto Let It Be, the song was originally much longer. On 26 January 1969 they taped a version lasting 12 minutes.

The opening minutes of the performance featured Yoko Ono singing wordlessly over The Beatles’ backing.

John Lennon dominated the latter half of the song, singing lyrics from ‘Twist And Shout’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ along with his own improvisations. During the middle of the jam Paul McCartney repeatedly sang a refrain based around the words “Dig it up”.

A segment from this take, from 8’52” to 9’41”, was used on the Let It Be album, with a slightly longer version appearing in the film.

That version of ‘Dig It’ featured Billy Preston on organ and George Martin on percussion, and Lennon playing a Fender VI six-string bass guitar. Linda McCartney’s six-year-old daughter Heather also made an impromptu vocal contribution early on in the song.

Yoko Ono, Heather Eastman, John Lennon – Apple Studios, 26 January 1969

The Beatles played ‘Dig It’ again on 28 and 29 January, although nothing from these performances was released. The former version saw Lennon singing the titles of songs recorded by the group during the Let It Be sessions.

Come on and dig it… dig it every night and day… dig it any time of day. You can dig it for breakfast, dig it for your tea. You can dig it in the morning, dig it for dinner, any day… ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, ‘Get Back’, ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘Two Of Us’, ‘All I Want Is You’, ‘Teddy Boy’, ‘One After 909’, ‘All Things Must Pass’, ‘Dig It’, ‘Let It Be’, ‘The Long And Winding Road’, ‘For You Blue’, ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’

Previous song: ‘I Me Mine’
Next song: ‘Let It Be’
Published: |