On this, the sixth day of the Twickenham sessions, Paul was again the first Beatle to arrive. This time he brought along his special lady friend, Miss Linda Eastman. Yoko, of course, had been there every day, though mercifully she had not been much involved musically; she did often make suggestions, much to the annoyance of Paul, George, and possibly even Ringo, who nonetheless put up with it rather than risk pissing John off.

Toward the end of the previous day, The Beatles had more or less come to the decision to stage their live performance on board a cruise to Africa with a thousand lucky fans aboard. It sounds a little nutty now — or as George put it, “very expensive and insane” — but had they stuck with it, I’m sure they could have pulled it off. Alas, a storm was brewing that would put the kibosh on any such grandiose notions.

Once again Paul started the day at the piano, debuting a song called “Another Day” that would end up being his first solo single, with Linda getting a co-writing credit. He also played this one, which you may perhaps recognize:

Paul worked on “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The Long and Winding Road” before George arrived bearing yet another new song. In contrast to yesterday’s philosophical opus “I Me Mine,” this one was a simple love song in 12-bar blues form:

John’s response, according to They May Be Parted, was “Pretty short, innit?”

Not helpful, John. This was exactly the sort of thing that would lead George to walk out of the sessions about 24 hours later. But for now, the band played on. Next on the agenda was “Two of Us,” which did not go well. As TMBP describes in painful detail, Paul called their first try “pathetic” and set about the lengthy process of fixing everything that he thought was wrong, to which John responded,

You don’t have to bitch about it, we’ll never get through it.

They did eventually get a half-decent version together, and after some messing around with the traditional song “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” it was on to John’s “Don’t Let Me Down.” Whether because it was in better shape than “Two of Us,” or because John was less nitpicky than Paul, this went smoothly and easily:

Afterward John launched into a possibly improvised number that has become fairly well known among the hardcore Beatlerati, one known alternately as “Suzy Parker” and “Suzy’s Parlour.” This is a goofy blues with suggestive lyrics sung by John in a falsetto; it kind of sounds like a Stones album sped up to 45.

For a nice moment there — and there are quite a few of these, dire as the Twickenham sessions may have been — it sounds like The Beatles are having fun. But then, unfortunately, they try to play “I’ve Got a Feeling,” and it’s straight back to the grousefest. They May Be Parted (hi again!) offers a detailed breakdown of Paul’s many complaints and suggestions that is both hilarious and cringeworthy.

And at this point I’m starting to feel like George and John, and possibly even Ringo, were feeling: Enough already. I guess you can’t fault Paul for wanting to get things right, but man was he being a colossal pain in the ass. This is beginning to seem like a very long day in the studio … and it’s maybe noon. Or as John said, after Paul did a quick Elvis imitation as they broke for lunch and someone noted that E. had just turned 34, “We all seem to be catching up to him.”

After lunch they were back at it, tackling “Across the Universe” and a couple of Paul songs, then indulging themselves with a spate of covers of everyone from Elvis and Carl Perkins to Marvin Gaye and Bob Dylan to Buddy Holly and Little Richard. Toward the end of the day they did a set of off-the-cuff tunes that the bootleggers call “Commonwealth,” “Enoch Powell,” and “Get Off,” which have been a little controversial because in them John and Paul play the role of right-wing racists and say some pretty awful things.1They don’t mean it, they’re taking the piss, but it’s no fun to listen to (at one point they literally chant “white power”).

Someone (can you hear me, They May Be Parted?) could, and probably should, do an analysis of the politics involved here; there are references to immigration that are distressingly timely here in 2019. But it’s not going to be me; I’m done for the day. Before I go, against my better judgement, I’m going to embed this video I just found of “Commonwealth” — just because there’s a surprising and annoying dearth of film footage of these sessions, given that there was literally a camera crew in the room at all times.

[Ed. Note: In the hours between when I wrote this and when I published it, They May Be Parted posted on this exact topic. Kismet. You can, and should, read it here.]

Another Big Topic for another day is the legal status of the vast storehouse of audio and video from the Twickenham sessions. Almost none of it has been officially released — though the audio has been extensively bootlegged — and it seems unlikely that it ever will be, at least as long as Paul McCartney is still living. No one in The Beatles camp is keen to remember this period, least of all him. But with careful editing, it could be made into quite a thing.

OK, I’m going now, for reals. Here’s a song. Approach at your own risk.

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