Written by George Harrison for his wife Pattie, ‘For You Blue’ was a straightforward blues song recorded during the Let It Be sessions.
It’s a simple 12-bar song following all the normal 12-bar principles, except that it’s happy-go-lucky!
In the studio
‘For You Blue’ was recorded in six takes on 25 January 1969, with the working title ‘George’s Blues (Because You’re Sweet And Lonely)’. The last of these was selected for inclusion on the unreleased Get Back album and on Let It Be.
John Lennon played a lap steel guitar on the song; unusually, he used a cigarette lighter as a slide. During his solo, George Harrison encouraged Lennon with the words “Go, Johnny, go” and “Elmore James’ got nothing on this baby!”
There is no bass guitar on ‘For You Blue’, as Paul McCartney was playing piano. He treated the piano’s strings to change the sound of the instrument.
It’s a fuzzy, metallic sound, which he did by putting a piece of paper in the piano strings, causing them to vibrate against the paper when struck. You can hear on the session tape Paul’s fiddling around, trying to get the right sound.
‘For You Blue’ was remixed by Glyn Johns on 8 January 1970. Prior to this, Harrison re-recorded his lead vocals.
A new mix of take six was made in 2003 for Let It Be… Naked. An alternative take from the 25 January 1969 session was included on Anthology 3.
On 30 March 1970, Phil Spector made a 16-second loop using the song’s instrumental break, onto which he overlaid snippets of speech from the Let It Be film soundtrack. It was never used.
Several mixes were made in this fashion, utilising such cinéma vérité moments from the rooftop performance element of the film as the old woman’s “I just can’t see that it makes sense!”, the young girl’s “Yeah, I think it’s great… livens up the office hours, anyway”, the bowler-hatted vicar’s “Nice to have something for free in this country at the moment, isn’t it?”, the taxi driver’s “Is it their new record? Oh, great, I’m all in favour of it!” and the pompous businessman’s “This type of music is all right in its place, it’s quite enjoyable. But I think it’s a bit of an imposition to absolutely disrupt all the business in this area…”
In the end Spector used just one piece of dialogue from the Twickenham film sessions. Heard immediately prior to ‘For You Blue’ on Let It Be, it was Lennon’s “Queen says no to pot-smoking FBI members.”
‘For You Blue’ was the b-side to the US single ‘The Long And Winding Road’, released on 11 May 1970.
Not a favorite, and definitely not a stand out track from The Beatles career – but still… a very enjoyable little tune.