“Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.”
–Douglas Adams

A lot of important historical events have happened over lunch. According to Bob Spitz’s The Beatles,

During lunch at Apple on January 29, The Beatles, along with [engineer] Glyn Johns and [film director] Michael Lindsay-Hogg, sat around the well-appointed conference table, debating how to finish the film, when the discussion turned to the office’s resident charm…. Ringo mentioned that there was a wonderful open roof they intended to turn into a garden.

A light bulb went on over someone’s head. Glyn Johns says it was his, though Paul has also been known to take credit, as is his wont. In any case, after taking a tour of the premises, The Beatles decided that the perfect way to end the movie they were making was to play a concert on the roof. Tomorrow.

You’d think that, with the band about to play their first show in two and a half years, today’s session would have been undertaken with a certain sense of urgency. Instead, they ran through each of the songs they’d play on the roof — “Get Back,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “One After 909,” and “Dig a Pony” –  exactly once.1And while these versions were competent, they were hardly note-perfect; in fact, “Don’t Let Me Down” was stopped in the middle for a discussion of how to sing one particular line. Apparently The Beatles were confident that they would pull it together under pressure, and/or that any mistakes would be lost in the chaotic excitement of the moment. And they were not wrong.

After that they experimented with a bunch of other Beatles songs, some of which they may have been considering playing the next day, though none of them made it onto the set list:

  • She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
  • Two of Us
  • Let It Be
  • The Long and Winding Road
  • For You Blue
  • Something
  • All Things Must Pass
  • Let It Down
  • I Want You
  • Sexy Sadie
  • Old Brown Shoe
  • Dig It

In the latter, John finishes off by singing a list of the songs they’ve been working on. This would have made it a nice final track on the album, or last song in the concert; instead it remains a little-heard bootleg to this day. I’ll do what I can to remedy that:

Most of the rest of the day was occupied with various covers of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Duane Eddy, and especially Buddy Holly songs, often segueing from one to another when they couldn’t remember any more lyrics. Also the Coasters” “Three Cool Cats,” the Latin classic “Became Mucho,” and a song called “Some Other Guy,” which is the song The Beatles are performing in the only extant footage of them onstage at the Cavern Club, August 22, 1962:

Which rather brings things full circle, doesn’t it? Get Back indeed.

It’s worth noting that The Beatles were not legally or contractually obligated to spend so much time together on this, the day after they had a huge argument about the future of their management finances. Thet just wanted to. I, for one, take comfort in that.