06 January 2019

The Get Back Sessions: Third Day


O
kay. It looks like another not-so-joyous Yuletide season has come to its inglorious end with Three Kings Day, also known as Theophany, Þrettándinn, Epiphany, or Hierophany. (One of those I made up.) In Iraq it is Armed Forces Day, and in Laos Pathet Lao Day. Locally it is Recycling Eve—the day on which we put our recycling containers on the curb, hoping to find them empty the next day.
Fifty years ago at Twickenham the Beatles returned to work after a weekend break to attack their ill-fated Get Back project with enthusiasm bordering on apathy. Some effort was devoted to “Two of Us” and “Don’t Let Me Down,” but nobody seemed much interested in Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” or Lennon’s already-recorded “Across the Universe.” “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” also received some attention.
The fates of these songs were to be, well, varied. The Beatles never did record “All Things Must Pass” Harrison would eventually record it on a solo album. The band also passed on doing anything further with “Across the Universe”; the already-recorded version would come out on an album benefiting the World Wildlife Fund. “She Came In Through the Bathroom” would appear as part of the second side of Abbey Road in a rather different incarnation. “Don’t Let Me Down” would appear as the B-side of a single.
As for “Two of Us”—its fate, like most of the songs intended for this project, was to be consigned to Limbo. In point of fact the Beatles, as a functioning group, never did issue any version of “Two of Us.” Or “The Long and Winding Road,” or “Dig a Pony,” or “For You Blue,” or “I’ve Got a Feeling.” By the time the album Let It Be came out, the Beatles were no more. Nor did its former members agree on the product.
And that, I would argue, makes it a posthumous production, with all the disadvantages posthumous publication entails. Worse yet it was explicitly condemned by one of its creators, relegating it to the Beatles Apocrypha.
I intend to pursue this issue at excruciating length in subsequent installments. But don’t hold your breath. I have the attention-span of a firefly.

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