George Harrison: vocals, harmony vocals, acoustic guitars, lead guitars
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass, Hammond organ, electric piano
Ringo Starr: drums
Uncredited: 18 violins, four violas, four cellos, three trumpets, three trombones, harp
The last song to be recorded by The Beatles, ‘I Me Mine’ was written by George Harrison about revelations regarding the ego discovered through LSD use.
Having LSD was like someone catapulting me out into space. The LSD experience was the biggest experience that I’d had up until that time…
Suddenly I looked around and everything I could see was relative to my ego, like ‘that’s my piece of paper’ and ‘that’s my flannel’ or ‘give it to me’ or ‘I am’. It drove me crackers, I hated everything about my ego, it was a flash of everything false and impermanent, which I disliked. But later, I learned from it, to realise that there is somebody else in here apart from old blabbermouth. Who am ‘I’ became the order of the day. Anyway, that’s what came out of it, ‘I Me Mine’. The truth within us has to be realised. When you realise that, everything else that you see and do and touch and smell isn’t real, then you may know what reality is, and can answer the question ‘Who am I?’
I Me Mine book, 1980
It seems fitting that a song about egocentricity was the final recording by the group, who by 1970 had all but disintegrated into acrimony and lethargy, with the various members wanting quite different things from life.
The Let It Be film, shot in part at Twickenham Film Studios, contains a version of ‘I Me Mine’. It was captured on 8 January 1969, the day after it was written.
‘I Me Mine’, it’s called. I don’t care if you don’t want it… It’s a heavy waltz.
8 January 1969
Although ‘I Me Mine’ was considered by The Beatles to be little more than a filler track for the album, Harrison evidently retained a liking for it. His autobiography, published in 1980, was named after the song, and he stood by its philosophical sentiments.
‘I Me Mine’ is the ego problem. There are two ‘I’s: the little ‘i’ when people say ‘I am this’; and the big ‘I’ – ie duality and ego. There is nothing that isn’t part of the complete whole. When the little ‘i’ merges into the big ‘I’ then you are really smiling!
In the studio
Prompted by the inclusion of the song in the Let It Be film, The Beatles decided to record ‘I Me Mine’ for the soundtrack album. On 3 January 1970 John Lennon was holidaying in Denmark, and had essentially left the group anyway, so just Harrison, McCartney and Starr attended the session.
The group recorded 16 takes of the song, most lasting not longer than 1’30”. Harrison played acoustic guitar and sang a guide vocal, with McCartney on bass and Starr on drums.
Between takes six and seven the group began an instrumental jam, and prior to take 12 they performed a version of the Buddy Holly song ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’.
Anthology 3 contains a statement delivered by Harrison, in the style of a press statement, prior to take 15. Making a reference to Lennon’s absence, he said:
You all will have read that Dave Dee is no longer with us. But Mickey and Tich and I would just like to carry on the good work that’s always gone down in [studio] number two.
Anthology 3 also contained take 16 of ‘I Me Mine’, although without the orchestration later added by Phil Spector. A different mix, also minus the strings and brass but containing edits made by Spector which almost doubled the song’s length, was included on Let It Be… Naked in 2003.
Take 16 was the best take recorded on 3 January, and onto this The Beatles overdubbed electric piano, electric guitar, lead and backing vocals, a Hammond organ and another acoustic guitar.
Phil Spector began work on Let It Be on 23 March 1970. On this day he extended the song from 1’34” to 2’25”. He did this by repeating the line “All through the day I me mine” from the first verse, and following it with a further repeat of the chorus and final verse.
With the addition of an orchestra, the repetition was barely noticeable. The orchestral musicians were recorded on 1 April 1970, and was arranged by Richard Hewson.
Ringo Starr played drums on the final session, with 27 string and six brass musicians providing the wall of sound which took Harrison’s song from a simple blues waltz into something altogether more elaborate.