years after the event (january 26, 1969 part two)

paul at apple

The fabs are now in rehearsal mode. They are on their “Let It Be” instruments: Paul on piano, George on guitar, Ringo on drums and Billy on organ. This leaves John on bass duties, a role he hardly relishes. He complains to Paul that he “can’t get a neat sound out of it–so that the fat string doesn’t go ‘ppffft.'” Paul coaches him with, as always, an example from their prior recording history, “Bass is, uh, if you get into it a bit like guitar but fatter. That’s another way: play high, don’t play fat–another style altogether, like “Rain,” you know, I did that.”

paul playing high on rain

Feeling he has properly placated John, Paul is almost ready to get into “Let It Be,” but not until after a brief detour through The Killer’s songbook. They also do a fantastic “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying.” Not that one, but a song that Ray Charles recorded. While Paul messes around some more, George tells John of an interview he had read the night before with Wilson Pickett, where Pickett said that ‘”Hey Jude” is “the most beautiful song he’s ever heard.” While he gets no argument from me on that one, Pickett hasn’t heard “Let It Be” yet. The fabs seem accustom to this sort of praise and launch right into the first “Let It Be” of the day. Nearly thirty will follow.

"Look at her." 1960s cheesecake

During a break between run throughs of “Let It Be,” it becomes apparent that George is looking at some kind of girlie magazine (“look at her.”). John feels that Apple should publish its own girlie magazine filled with photos of Apple blonds. He then asks if anyone has heard of the American group called The Motherfuckers (“they’re never going to get into Billboard.”). Lennon is only half correct here, there was a group called The Motherfuckers, but they were a political activist group and not a musical act. John’s idea of a band called The Motherfuckers causes Paul to launch into one of his earliest compositions, a schmaltzy ditty drenched in “show biz” entitled “Suicide.” This song also has a Sinatra connection. Paul offered it to Sinatra a few years earlier and Sinatra rejected it saying, “The guy’s out of his fucking mind. I wouldn’t sing that on my crapper.” George and John join in on “Suicide.” The fabs never recorded the song properly but Paul thought enough of it to include a snippet of it (between “Hot as Sun,” another early Macca composition that makes an appearance during these sessions, and “Junk”) on his first solo LP.

After several renditions of “Let It Be,” during which they get increasingly close to nailing it except for a few minor issues, George takes it upon himself to finalize the arrangement telling the others when their solos come in, how many verses come between choruses and so forth. He observes that the song is “very country and western.” Lennon corrects him, “country and gospel.” Throughout these Get Back tapes, George is heard more than once making arrangement decisions on Lennon/McCartney songs. It’s getting near lunch time and it seems as though everyone wants to eat. Paul tells them that they’ll “do it…twice more and have a ten minute ‘put your feet up, lads.'” Between the two takes, John comes up with this inspired bit of nonsense:

Directly after this, the fabs pull off one of their more impressive feats of the day, an extended jam that eventually got the title “Dig It.” Anyone familiar with the finished Let It Be LP has heard the forty-nine seconds of this included there. Including it in such a truncated form is one of the more bizarre decisions that Spector made when compiling that record. In fact the version of the song that that short segment was extracted from runs a full fifteen minutes long; incorporates elements of Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” and the Isley Brothers’ “Twist and Shout;” and features the vocal stylings of six-year-old Heather whose screeching is at times oddly similar to Yoko’s. After seven minutes, Heather, who mostly moans and sings the words “bang, bang, bang” entirely too close to the microphone, loses interest (or is overcome by a need to dance) and it is at that point where the song picks up in the film. Don’t miss George Martin on that shaker.

Heather rocks pretty hard, not surprising when one considers that she would be an eventual follower of Echo and the Bunnymen (the other fab four from Liverpool):

heather on right

While the band wait for lunch to be served, they kill some time running through a decent amount of Little Richard’s catalog and various other “oldies.” They play good to awful versions of Little Richard’s Rip It Up and Miss Ann, plus Kansas City, Shake, Rattle and Roll, Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Blues Suede Shoes, Tracks of My Tears and this glorious mess of You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me:

Upon completion of these sessions, there was talk of there being a second record, one of rock and roll oldies, emerging from the hundreds of hours of recordings, but the quality of the oldies performed throughout the month varies wildly, with most being marred by the band’s (especially Lennon’s) inability to remember song lyrics. Out of the oldies played on this day, some eventually made it onto Anthology Three but those tracks were infuriatingly edited and polished.

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