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Get Back

The history of this classic Beatles song


The original US 45 of

The original US 45 of "Get Back"

source: ebay.com

Get Back

Written by: Paul McCartney (100%) (credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: January 27-28, 1969 (Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London, England)
Mixed: February 5, March 26, April 4, 7, 1969; March 26, 1970
Length: 3:09
Takes: 9
Musicians: John Lennon: harmony vocals, rhythm guitar (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino)
Paul McCartney: lead vocals, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
George Harrison: lead guitar (1968 Fender Rosewood Telecaster)
Ringo Starr: drums (1968 Ludwig Hollywood Maple)
Billy Preston: electric piano (1968 Fender Rhodes)
First released: April 11, 1969 (UK: Apple R5777), May 5, 1969 (US: Apple 2490)
Available on: (CDs in bold)
  • Let It Be, (US: Apple AR 34001, UK: Apple PX1, Apple PCS 7096, Parlophone CDP 7 46447 2)
  • The Beatles 1967-1970 (UK: Apple PCSP 718, US: Apple SKBO 3404, Apple CDP 0777 7 97039 2 0)
  • Past Masters Volume Two, (Parlophone CDP 7 90044 2)
  • The Beatles 1 (Apple CDP 7243 5 299702 2)
Highest chart position: US: 1 (five weeks beginning May 24, 1969); UK: 1 (six weeks beginning April 23, 1969)
  • Created during the rehearsals for the band's film/album Get Back project, which later saw release as Let It Be, this song was crafted from a jam on January 7, 1969 at Twickenham Studios in London. It was subsequently reworked on the 9th, 10th, 13th, and 23rd-25th, and on the 27th was recorded at Abbey Road Studios. Although 14 takes were done on this day, Take 11 was judged the best, and is the version heard on both the single and the LIB album. At this time, Paul unwittingly gave the song its title by ad-libbing "Get back to where you once belonged," a reference to a song by Apple label artist Jackie Lomax, "Sour Milk Sea" (written by George Harrison): "Get back to where you should be."
  • The original take ended abruptly, however, and so the whole band went back into the studio on January 28th to record yet another version, this time with the band kicking back in and completing the song after the breakdown. While the ending on Take worked well, the body of the song was judged inferior to the previous day's Take 11. The finished song, therefore, is actually a mix of two takes: Take 11, which ends with McCartney's falsetto "wooo-ooh!," and the outro from Take from the next day, which fades out after a few seconds. (On the 29th and the 30th, the band also rehearsed "Get Back" for the rooftop concert; see below.)
  • Adding to the confusion are the five rooftop performances of "Get Back" recorded for the film itself; these took place in one session on the roof of London's Apple headquarters on Savile Row on January 30. None of these takes appear on the original single or Let It Be soundtrack; rather, producer Phil Spector, brought in to salvage the project after the band broke up in 1970, added some dialogue from the rooftop concerts to the Take 11 breakdown. This is why, on the album, you hear Paul saying "Thanks, Mo" (a reference to Maureen Starkey, Ringo's wife, who was cheering the group on very loudly), and John's famous comedic closing remark: "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition." (These sound bites actually occurred at the end of the "concert," when the local police were shutting the performance down due to noise complaints.)
  • The original Get Back project was envisioned as a return to the Beatles as a straight rock'n'roll band: simple songs, spare arrangements, a loose atmosphere, and no excess production. However, tensions were so high in the group at this point that the project dissolved in a now-infamous display of bitter recrimination (captured in the LIB film). Despite the death of the project, the group was so enamored of the song "Get Back" that it decided to release the song as a single a-side anyway, which is why the single precedes the eventual release of the album by a full year. (Capitol resurrected the LIB project against the Beatles' wishes after the bands dissolved, bringing in iconic producer Phil Spector to sweeten the sound; the original bare-bones vision of the album, often bootlegged, can now be heard legally on 2003's Let It Be... Naked.)
  • The words to "Get Back" reference Tucson, Arizona, where Paul's then-fiancee Linda Eastman was from. The character "Jojo" in the song is thought to have come the name of a popular bar in Tucson, though rumors have persisted for years that it actually referred to Linda's first husband, Joseph Melvin See, who left her (and their daughter, Heather, whom Paul adopted as his own) to move to Los Angeles.
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