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The Beatles Songs: Dig It

The history of this Beatles song

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The Beatles Songs: Dig It

The Beatles jamming with Billy Preston during the "Let It Be" sessions

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Dig It

Working titles: Get Off; Can You Dig It?
Written by: John Lennon (25%), Paul McCartney (25%), George Harrison (25%), Ringo Starr (25%)
(credited as Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey)

Recorded: January 24 and 26, 1969 (Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London, England)
Mixed: March 11, 1969; March 27, 1970
Length: 0:51
Takes: 1

Musicians:

John Lennon: lead vocals, bass guitar (1961 Fender Bass VI)
Paul McCartney: piano (Bluthner Flugel Grand)
George Harrison: rhythm guitar (1968 Fender Rosewood Telecaster)
Ringo Starr: drums (1968 Ludwig Hollywood Maple)
Billy Preston: organ (Hammond RT-3)
George Martin: shaker

Available on: (CDs in bold)

  • Let It Be, (US: Apple AR 34001, UK: Apple PX1, Apple PCS 7096, Parlophone CDP 7 46447 2)

    History:

    • Impromptu jams were quite common at the sessions for what would become Let It Be, as the Beatles struggled to find inspiration during the rehearsal of the original songs they'd already decided upon. (Their hit single "Get Back" was the only other song released during the Beatles' career to have sprung from these jams.) On January 24, 1969, as the group ran through an unrehearsed medley of old skiffle and pop songs, they began to improvise a 12-bar midtempo blues with some slide guitar; John began to sing "Can you dig it?" over and over, then began coming up with lyrics off the top of his head, and the band continued in this vein for about seven minutes. When the jam fizzled out, Lennon blurted out one of his typically puckish remarks, in a child's voice: "That was 'Can You Dig It?' by Georgie Wood. And now we'd like to do 'Hark the Angels Come.':"
    • Two days later, after rehearsing the song "Let It Be" once again, the Beatles began to improvise a completely different song along the same lyrical lines, with John free-associating several names of celebrities, musicians, and friends. This new jam lasted for a full fifteen minutes, and was later edited down to four minutes for inclusion on the album (which was at the time slated to be called Get Back. Most of this can be seen in the "Apple rehearsals" middle section of the film Let It Be. The group attempted this new version again on January 27, 28, and 29 before abandoning the song entirely. (The version from the 28th was considered for inclusion on the second attempted Get Back tracklisting.)
    • Finally, when EMI insisted the Beatles release one last album to fulfill their contract, legendary producer Phil Spector was called in to salvage what was now Let It Be. Taking less than a minute from the 15-minute jam (8:52 - 9:41), he faded in what he considered the most interesting part -- John reciting the famous names -- then faded that out into the "Georgie Wood" chatter from the previous version. The "Hark the Angels Come" exclamation proved to be the perfect lead-in to the Spector's album mix of "Let It Be."

    Trivia:

    • John begins his litany of famous names, in the released version, by singing a tribute to Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," then mentioning the FBI and BBC. "Matt Busby," his final namecheck, was the famous manager of the Manchester United association football team. "Wee" Georgie Wood was a longtime veteran of the English music hall scene, a midget who often dressed up like a child for laughs.
    • Lennon mentions several of the Let It Be tracks while free-associating in the longer jam, but also lists some rejected songs: "Teddy Boy," "All Things Must Pass," "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," and "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window." The first two were revisited on Paul and George's solo albums, the other two wound up on Abbey Road. (He also refers to "Dig a Pony" by its original title of "All I Want Is You."
    • Linda Eastman's 6-year-old daughter Heather, who Paul would later adopt as his own after marrying Linda, can be heard vocalizing in the unused early part of "Dig It."
    • Neither this song nor another snippet, "Maggie Mae," was included on the 2009 remix album Let It Be... Naked, in part because Paul had never cared for Spector's version of the LP.

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