Today was the day, famous in Beatles lore, when George finally lost patience with Paul’s endless nitpicking and snapped,

I know, it doesn’t sound like much, does it? But by British standards that qualifies as a screaming hissy fit. And here we are still talking about it 50 years later; ’twas the Mild to Moderate Irritation Heard Round the World.

The session continued for now, though the stage was set for George’s walkout a few days hence. It didn’t help his mood any that, while much attention was paid today to Paul’s “Two of Us” and John’s “Don’t Let Me Down,” George’s songs were again given short shrift. They May Be Parted describes a rather sad scene where George tries to introduce his new composition “Hear Me Lord,” saying “Well, I wrote a gospel song over the weekend, lads.” There is a brief moment of silence, and the conversation immediately returns to its previous topics (which were the Cream TV special that had been shown the night before — the consensus is a big thumbs-down — and the new Bonzo Dog Band album). Meanwhile George plays his song in the background like a bar musician working for tips.

I am very grateful to have discovered They May Be Parted, which parses these sessions in such granular detail that I have lost any desire I might have had to do the same. Its coverage of today’s session stretches to not one, not two, but eight fairly lengthy entries. One shudders to think.1

Anyway, TMBP is well worth exploring if your interest in this subject runs deep; I shall endeavor to be brief, not to say shallow. The Beatles Bible again has a complete list of songs played today, which again is quite lengthy; here are a few selections.

Two of Us

This song and “Don’t Let Me Down” evolved more or less in parallel, and each is a sort of love song — but while “Don’t Let Me Down” is clearly about Yoko, “Two of Us” can be interpreted equally convincingly as being about Linda, or John, or both. And though “Don’t Let Me Down” didn’t change much from its early versions, simply growing more polished and precise, “Two of Us” went through a lot of iterations. This one is has a faster tempo and different harmonies from the version that appeared on Let It Be:

I daresay I rather like it. No knock on the album version, which is a stone classic, but this one is a little more propulsive, and has an appealing looseness.

The Palace of the King of Birds

This is an instrumental that Paul wrote. The Beatles never formally recorded it, but Paul later repurposed it for the soundtrack to a proposed movie about British kids’ character Rupert the Bear, which never saw the light of day.

Commenters on the YouTube compare this piece to the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Procol Harum, and Funkadelic. I would say it does maybe sound a little like the Dead, on one of their less inspired days; it meanders on at excessive length, going nowhere in particular, punctuated occasionally by murmured conversation or slating instructions from the camera crew.

My Imagination

Not the Temptations song, but a group jam with improvised lyrics, somewhat livelier than “King of Birds.”

YouTubers compare this one to the Velvet Underground and Captain Beefheart, and it probably is the most The Beatles ever sounded like the VU. The Beefheart comparison is kind of pushing it, though there is something in that insistent repetition that reminds one of the Fall. It’s also a rare opportunity to hear Paul doing his Yoko imitation.

Sure to Fall (in Love with You)

The Beatles had played this Carl Perkins song many times before and recorded it for their Decca audition back in 1962, as well as four times for BBC radio sessions. So it was a song they knew very well, though they apparently had trouble remembering the title; once they get into it John and Paul harmonize quite nicely:

Ringo would later record a version for his 1981 album, Stop! and Smell the Roses, with Paul producing and playing bass and piano, and Linda on backing vocals. Ringo probably didn’t ask for that last one, but that’s what you get when you hire Paul, whether you want it or not.

And that’s probably enough for now. Today’s session also included a lengthy debate about the venue for the live performance that all this was supposed to be leading up to. In addition to The Beatles, input was provided by Yoko (of course), director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and George Martin, making a rare appearance at Twickenham. Martin’s services had not been required or requested for these sessions, and he was probably all too happy to be away from all the madness and bad juju, but things would have been a lot more organized had he been around.

For once Paul and Yoko were in agreement, thinking that an open-air venue would be best, with the audience preferably at a distance to keep The Beatles from being torn apart by overexcited fans. And this is pretty much what did eventually come to pass — after much discussion of holding the concert in John or George’s back garden, at the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton (across the Mersey from Liverpool), the Royal Academy, the Tate Gallery, or a Roman amphitheater in Libya.

They May Be Parted is, again, the place to go for a complete account of this. Your humble scribe, in a startling development, has finally found the limits of his Beatle obsession and is off to get some fresh air.

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