Another productive and, at times, even enjoyable session today. It began with Paul, alone in Studio Two, recording a demo of his song “Come and Get It.” According to The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions,

John Lennon was there in the control room – his voice can be heard on the session tape – but it was Paul, and Paul alone, who did the recording, first singing and playing piano, live, then – after a call up to [engineer] Phil McDonald, “OK, give us it on headphones and I’ll track it” – overdubbing a double-tracked vocal with maracas, then drums, then bass guitar.

This recording was not intended for release, but to be handed off to the Iveys a.k.a. Badfinger, whose (nearly identical) recording of the song Paul would produce nine days hence. But it did eventually make its way onto Beatles Anthology 3.1

At this point Phil McDonald, mentioned above, was splitting engineering duties with Geoff Emerick. When Emerick arrived after the “Come and Get It” part of the session — which took about an hour — he found John “having a row with Paul and George Martin.” In his book Here, There and Everywhere, he gives this account:

“We’ve already done the concept album,” he argued, presumably referring to Pepper. “Why do we need to do another one?”

“Look, John, we’re just trying to think symphonically,” George replied. “We’re trying to create a complete work out of song fragments.”

John was derisive at first, saying, “You’re taking yourselves too seriously,” but when Paul invited him to contribute some compositions of his own to the medley, he seemed to capitulate.

“Well, I might have one or two that could fit,” he said sheepishly.

I exchanged glances with Paul. I’m sure we were both thinking the same thing: He’s just been waiting to be asked.

And so it came to pass that the rest of the session was devoted to John’s compositions “Sun King” and “Mean Mr. Mustard.” As usual, John came alive when it was his songs being worked on; between takes he playfully led the band through versions of Gene Vincent oldies including “Be-Bop-A-Lula” and “Ain’t She Sweet.”

Like “Golden Slumbers” and “Carry That Weight,” “King” and “Mustard” were recorded together as a single piece, rather than being edited together after the fact. This made things more complicated, but The Beatles thrived on the challenge, and there was harmony in the studio for once. Geoff Emerick again:

I could see that [John] was a bit looser, a little more recovered from his injuries, and a lot less worried about Yoko, who was no longer lying in the bed, though it remained, unmade, in a corner of the studio, a mute reminder of the weirdness we’d had to deal with over the past weeks.

The vibe was so good that, this time around, Paul was invited by John to participate in both songs, which seemed to lift his spirits greatly. They even disappeared behind the screens at one point for a puff on a joint, just the two of them, and when they came out they had a fit of giggles as they sang the pseudo-Spanish gibberish at the end of “Here Comes the Sun King.”

And we’ll fade out on that image, basking for the nonce in some good vibes; they’re not going to last.

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