"Get Back" is unusual in the Beatles’ canon in that almost every moment of the song’s evolution has been extensively documented, from its beginning as an offhand riff to its final mixing in several versions. Much of this documentation is in the form of illegal (but widely available) bootleg recordings, and is recounted in the book Get Back: The Unauthorized Chronicle of the Beatles’ Let It Be Disaster by Doug Sulpy and Ray Schweighardt.
The song’s melody grew out of some unstructured jamming on 7 January 1969 during rehearsal sessions on the sound stage at Twickenham Studios. Over the next few minutes McCartney introduced some of the lyrics, reworking "Get back to the place you should be" from fellow Beatle George Harrison’s "Sour Milk Sea" into "Get back to where you once belonged". (McCartney had played bass on Jackie Lomax’s recording of the song a few months earlier.) On 9 January McCartney brought a more developed version of "Get Back" to the group, with the "Sweet Loretta" verse close to its finished version. For the press release to promote the "Get Back" single McCartney wrote, "We were sitting in the studio and we made it up out of thin air… we started to write words there and then…when we finished it, we recorded it at Apple Studios and made it into a song to roller-coast by."
The released version of the song is composed of two verses, with an intro, outro, and several refrains. The first verse tells the story of a man named Jojo, who leaves his home in Tucson, Arizona, for some ‘California grass’. (Paul’s soon-to-be wife Linda had attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, where the couple later owned a spacious ranch.) The second verse is about a sexually ambiguous character "Loretta Martin" who "thought she was a woman, but she was another man." The single version includes a coda urging Loretta to "get back" where she belongs.
At the beginning of the Let It Be version of the song, Lennon can be heard jokingly singing "Sweet Loretta Fart, she thought she was a cleaner, but she was a frying pan." The album version of the song also ends with John Lennon quipping "I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition". (Originally John said that at the end of the rooftop concert, but Phil Spector edited it into the "Get Back" song on the Let It Be album.)
John Lennon in 1980 claimed that "there’s some underlying thing about Yoko in there", claiming that McCartney looked at Yoko Ono in the studio every time he sang "Get back to where you once belonged."
Around the time he was developing the lyrics to "Get Back", McCartney satirised the "Rivers of Blood speech" by former British Cabinet minister Enoch Powell in a brief jam that has become known as the "Commonwealth Song". The lyrics included a line "You’d better get back to your Commonwealth homes". The group improvised various temporary lyrics for "Get Back" leading to what has become known in Beatles’ folklore as the "No Pakistanis" version. This version is more racially charged, and addresses attitudes toward immigrants in America and Britain: "…don’t need no Puerto Ricans living in the USA"; and "don’t dig no Pakistanis taking all the people’s jobs". In an interview in Playboy magazine in 1980, Lennon described it as "…a better version of ‘Lady Madonna’. You know, a potboiler rewrite."
On 23 January, the group (now in Apple Studios] tried to record the song properly; bootleg recordings preserve a conversation between McCartney and Harrison between takes discussing the song, and McCartney explaining the original "protest song" concept. The recording captures the group deciding to drop the third verse largely because McCartney does not feel the verse is of high enough quality, although he likes the scanning of the word "Pakistani". Here the song solidifies in its two-verse, three-solo format.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Mark Ty-Wharton aka tinley, AKA The Sampling Champion Of The Universe.
Mark was in Britain’s first acid house band the Garden Of Eden and programmed drums and sounds for brother Adamski before becoming Duran Duran’s resident engineer for over fifteen years.
One of the first midi programmers to make the jump to recording engineer, Mark was instrumental in pioneering the use of digital audio workstations as a replacement for two inch tape.
Mark also appears on several Adamski, Duran Duran and Dandy Warhols albums as a guitarist, has collaborted with everyone from Gary Numan to the Beatles Complete and has various solo albums available in the iTunes music store.
To find out more about Mark funnymachine.com
from Let It Be
released August 14, 2012
Ukulele Version #048 recorded March 2011
Mark Ty-Wharton – Vocals and programming
David Barratt – Ukulele, treated ukulele and programming
Produced by David Barratt at The Abattoir Of Good Taste, Brooklyn from original recordings made by Tinley The Sampling Champion Of The Universe