For You Blue

Let It Be album artworkWritten by: Harrison
Recorded: 25 January 1969; 8 January 1970
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Glyn Johns

Released: 8 May 1970 (UK), 18 May 1970 (US)

George Harrison: vocals, acoustic guitar
John Lennon: lap steel guitar
Paul McCartney: piano
Ringo Starr: drums

Available on:
Let It Be
Anthology 3
Let It Be... Naked

Written by George Harrison for his wife Pattie, For You Blue was a straightforward blues song recorded during the Let It Be sessions.

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It's a simple 12-bar song following all the normal 12-bar principles, except that it's happy-go-lucky!
George Harrison

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 shotgun shell as a slide. During his solo, 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 McCartney was playing piano. He treated the 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.
Paul Hicks, Abbey Road Studios
Mix Online

For You Blue was remixed by Glyn Johns on 8 January 1970. Prior to this, George 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..."
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

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.

47 responses on “For You Blue

  1. GARY A. LEE

    The words “pot smoking” were removed on the remastered “For You Blue.” John now reads the newspaper headline as “Queen says no to FBI memberd.”

    1. Joe Post author

      Not on my copy he doesn’t – the word ‘pot’ is clearly in there. I don’t think the Abbey Road remastering engineers would have taken such a liberty with the recording.

      1. Joseph Brush

        I don’t know why so many people say George didn’t do a lot of songs with the Beatles.
        If my addition is correct George recorded 22 songs with the Beatles (original UK pressings plus the Past Masters 2).
        Name me another third songwriter in any other successful group in the USA or the UK that had that many songs recorded.

  2. Julian

    I don’t know if it is interesting for this article, but Lennon said this famous quote about ,,FBI members” on 8 January 1969. George re-recorded his lead vocal EXACTLY A YEAR LATER (8 January 1970).


  3. Robert

    Is there not an overdubbed bass part on this song?

    There’s a climbing bass line that comes on during the “turn around” (the musical space between the end of a verse and the beginning of the next verse)

    1. slap

      Its paul on the piano. He played around with the strings of the piano and some paper and got a bass sound out of it. There is no bass on the song. Just paul playing the piano making it sound like a bass lol. Dont ask me why

  4. mr. Sun king coming together

    Horrible track. The guitar is good, but someone still needs to tell me what the hell George is actually singing about, because it doesn’t seem to have a point or a decent vocal.

  5. JP

    George had some really fine songs during his later years with the Beatles. He brought numerous tunes into the Get Back/Let It Be sessions and quite a few of them were rehearsed by the full band. Shamefully though, only this song was approved for initial inclusion on the LP. They later added George’s fine I Me Mine (recorded without John) to give Harrison the “obligatory” 2 tracks per LP. George was right in noting his songs were not judged on their merits and that he was only being provided a “token showcase” for his music with the Beatles. All Things Must Pass, Here Me Lord, among others, would have been worthy Beatle album tracks. Fortunately, George did them himselves later on, but they were offered to the Fabs and should have been included on the last 2 albums. Oh well, obla di obla da, life goes on.

      1. Maggie Rae

        Yes, you’re correct about George saying “Elmore James got nothing on this failure” I always thought he was saying “baby” too. I listened to it several times after reading your comment. So thank you so much for that information.

  6. Michael B.

    Crazy good track (like so many others).

    George’s voice is sweet and slippery on this one. Reminds a bit of his vocals on “If Not For You.” And John’s guitar matches it perfectly. The song is a minor masterpiece of curiously integrating a playful and innocent sound with a semi-raunchy feel.

  7. Clemenza08

    Somebody help me: in the Naked version the first part of the vocals, before the solos, are recorded from January 1969, but the “speech” and the rest of the vocals looks like the one recorded a year later.

  8. GabrielAntonio

    So simple,pure and gracious. One of the best from Let It Be!
    Reminds me of old blues stuff like Woody Guthrie and Sonny Terry. With some psichedelia added.

      1. GabrielAntonio

        “Psichedelia” I don’t mean references to acid use in lyrics or something like that, but the way it sounds, the constant slides and specially the solo.

  9. Bronx Boy Billy

    This one’s sweet. The song itself is, of course, derivative and simple, but the sound they produce is pure Beatle magic. Nothing – I repeat, nothing – else sounds like it. A lot of this has to do with John’s crazy slide playing and Paul’s wacky sounding piano!

  10. Billy Shears

    Good call Bronx Boy Billy. It lightens up the album with a light-hearted dose of fun. Much of Let It Be is serious stuff. Even Magge May is dark…and I”m not sure what to make with “Dig It”. Not many rock groups at the time were making acoustic blues “roots” songs. Cream and Led Zep were re-introducing old blues tunes that were nearly unrecognizable due to the birthing pains of heavy metal.

  11. albatossursus

    Pretty sure I’ve read that Lennon was using Yoko’s lipstick tube as a slide. I’ve heard that multiple times, it may even be in the Anthology book but I would have to check again. This site is the first place I’ve EVER heard of him using a shotgun shell.

  12. Rasul

    There’s a close-up of John playing the guitar in this video: – I can’t really tell what’s he using for a slide though. Maybe someone else will have more of a clue?

    Looks like there are quite a few videos floating around on YouTube – from the Get Back sessions footage – that show them discussing, rehearsing and recording For You Blue – I suppose you can pick up various details about the song from the snippets of their conversations if you’re interested. I didn’t watch all of them, but in one of those I did watch, John can be heard explaining how old bluesmen used to use their wives’ lipstick tubes for a slide – from the way he tells it, it does sound like he himself was using something different.

  13. robert

    unless there is definitive evidence that John is using a shot gun shell, I always assumed he was using a cigarette lighter – my parents used a red round cigarette lighter that was from Europe at the very time that the Get Back sessions were bring recorded. Anyone else know of the lighter of which I speak?

  14. Silly Girl

    I just had to go and listen to this, since it was song of the day today, and ’twas a treat. Full of Harrisonics! Then I listened to Dhani Harrison’s version, and I was flipped out by how much he sounds like his father. I mean, I knew already… but wow! His vocal timbre is so similar to George’s (which is very distinctive).

  15. borderman

    I’m sure you can rule out a shotgun shell. If you look close it’s Shiney on both ends. It could be a lip stick. Doubtful its a lighter. Awesome use of it out whatever it is

  16. OldFartBassPlayer Walt

    To get a decent tone on a slide guitar, the slide would have to
    be hard, as not to mute the strings-
    steel bar, cig lighter, metal lipstick cover, glass tube, bottle, et al.

    A shotgun shell would not give the tone John was getting;
    even if he used the the metal casing end (it could not barre all
    the strings for the full sound)

    just my opinion, based on some experience

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