Central to the legend of the Get Back/Let it Be sessions is the looseness of the group as they sloppily play covers and fool around with their own old songs. So many weird things, tucked in between a million takes of “Get Back” and “I’ve Got a Feeling,” right?
It’s what appealed to me in listening to the Get Back sessions in the first place, so long ago, when it was available on only curated compilations on vinyl. And really bad sounding ones, too. But go to record shows or Beatlefests and scan the back cover, and things seemed like they’d be cool! All these crazy cover songs, all these oldies of theirs, all these outtakes of songs we know and songs we don’t.
But the reality usually didn’t match the fantasy. [This overall theme will absolutely be covered again in this blog, likely ad nauseum].
And on Jan. 3, they did indeed have some fun with some oldies and originals. It’s not great. And really, I think things like this add to the generic resentment toward these sessions by Beatles fans. The band doesn’t care, so why should we?
Really, not a bad point. But it is interesting so long as you accept it for what it is. It’s no different than those of us who have office jobs spending a few minutes doodling on a notepad between taking care of real work, right? Their office happens to be the studio, and their doodles, songs. And if we’re eager enough to listen to their doodles as big enough fans, well… this is what we get.
So while the band didn’t spend all that much time the first few days genuinely going over their old songs, in addition to a poke at Every Little Thing and the reintroduction of “One After 909,” the band on Jan. 3 went into the back catalog for “You Can’t Do That” — after a take of Marvin Gaye’s “Hitch Hike,” a song that seems to have inspired the song off A Hard Day’s Night.
It was pretty much 3 a.m. bar-band quality. The song breaks down about a minute in, during the “everybody’s green” part. John keeps singing, Paul keeps in there, too, and eventually the song sort of comes back to life. They make it through the instrumental portion of the song before things completely break down for good.
More fun and somewhat historic, I suppose, was when Paul took the mic for a more significant take of “I’m So Tired.” Obviously, this was not meant to be anything beyond a bit of fun. Again, more 3 a.m. bar band. But perhaps even moreso. At least, here we got through the song. And even with an attempt at the end-of-song babble!
There’s no context, by the way, for why they went into this take. The tapes I’m listening to (A/B Road) just go from an unidentifiable jam cut straight into “I’m So Tired.”
The 2021 Get Back docuseries uses this sequence to great effect as something of a gag reel, showing various moments of the group yawning, rubbing their eyes, etc., for the final moment of the day’s coverage. I posit it’s also a sneakily effective response to the famous scene of Paul yawning during “Across the Universe” in the Let It Be film, show how everyone was yawning, it wasn’t a reflection of boredom to a particular song.
They stick with the White Album (flip from side 2 to 1 if you’re so inclined) for the next song they roll right into. As on the record, Paul takes the lead on “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da” — kicking things off with the bass line — but it doesn’t take very long for John to take over.
And with Marmalade’s version of the song presently sitting atop the British singles charts (while the White Album was the best-selling LP), why wouldn’t the McCartney/Lennon songwriting team enjoy themselves all the way through the song?