In a reversal of the typical pattern, the first Beatles to arrive today were George and Ringo. George took advantage of the relatively quiet morning atmosphere to run through a few songs on acoustic guitar: “Isn’t It a Pity” and “Let It Down” (which would end up on All Things Must Pass) and “Window, Window” (which would be abandoned). Ringo then took center stage for a stab at his nascent composition “Octopus’s Garden.”

At this point John showed up, and there’s a very telling scene in the Let It Be movie where the three Beatles seem to be having fun playing around with Ringo’s pleasant little tune. Then Paul walks in, and the atmosphere turns icy, like the teacher has just arrived to spoil everyone’s good time.

I’m not sure if Paul had earned this kind of reaction with his pushiness and persnicketiness, or if he was just suffering a backlash from being the one who tried to keep things moving forward. Probably a bit of both. In any case, after toying briefly with a cover of soul singer Donnie Elbert’s song “Little Piece of Leather,”

it was on to business. With Billy Preston back behind the keyboards after a day off, the band ran through “Two of Us” and “Dig a Pony,” which were shaping up nicely, then turned their attention to “Let It Be.”

At this point “Let It Be” was in embryonic form, with the melody set but the lyrics and arrangement still in flux. In all the band played it 28 times today, with much attention being paid to the backing vocals, which Paul of course insisted on getting just so.

The other main focus of the day was “The Long and Winding Road,” which was performed 16 times. One of the later takes is the one that appears on Let It Be — though that version was dressed up by Phil Spector with orchestral and choral overdubs, without Paul’s permission and much to his chagrin.

The unadorned track appears on The Beatles Anthology 3 (also on Let It Be… Naked):

And I can certainly understand why Paul was miffed; it’s not cool to fuck with a man’s song that way. Though let’s be honest — even at its best, “Long and Winding” is a bit maudlin, no?

While we’re at it, Anthology 3 also includes this medley of rock’n’roll classics from today’s session:

But the real highlight of the day, if you ask me, was the 15-minute version of “Dig It” recorded, I believe, in the early afternoon. OK, “highlight” is not the right word for it; if you ever want to really punish yourself for some perceived misbehavior, listen to this whole thing:

If you can make it all the way through, you’re a stronger person than I. The first 1:50 or so, a formless jam that grew out of “Like a Rolling Stone,” is enjoyable enough. But then this… noise begins. It sounds at first like some vague mechanical malfunction, then eventually reveals itself as a human voice, of sorts.

The guest vocalist is Linda Eastman’s daughter Heather, then 6 years old, whose contribution here makes Yoko sound like Nina Simone. (That’s her with John at the photo at the top of this post.) Nothing against poor Heather, who was just a child at play, with no idea of the pain she was inflicting on future Beatles fans; but it’s hard to listen to more than 10 seconds of this without feeling the ol’ slappin’ hand start to tingle.

If you value your sanity you’ll fast-forward to the 10-minute mark, where the song begins to pick up speed, with John and Paul trading spirited vocals. At about 12 minutes in you can hear the bit that Phil Spector lifted for the album:

At under a minute, “Dig It” is extremely charming. It could even have gone longer; but less is more, innit. Glyn Johns put a four-minute version on the never-released Get Back album; it was omitted entirely from Naked, which seems a bit churlish. As one insightful YouTube commenter put it,

no one really cares where you came from

the real thing we want to know is

CAN YOU DIG IT?????