The Beatles’ January 1969 recording sessions had yielded many, many hours of material of a widely varying level of quality. The challenge now was to turn all that into a saleable product of some kind.

With this in mind, John and Paul deputized producer Glyn Johns to sift through the tapes and try to assemble an album. This he did, creating two versions of a provisional LP to be called Get Back. As we privileged people of the future know, neither was ever officially released (though the second version was widely bootlegged), and the tapes sat in limbo until Phil Spector came into the picture in 1970.

But on this day in 1969, Johns was blissfully unaware of what was to come. Holed up in London’s Olympic Sound Studios, he made stereo mixes of 13 songs. Most of these were the same ones that eventually appeared on Let It Be, though not necessarily the same takes:

  • Two of Us
  • Get Back
  • Dig a Pony
  • I’ve Got a Feeling
  • Don’t Let Me Down
  • The Long and Winding Road
  • Let It Be
  • For You Blue

But Johns also threw in a few wildcards. This medley includes a brief jam that he titled “Rocker,” a very loose cover of “Save the Last Dance for Me,” and a half-assed stab at “Don’t Let Me Down” that leads into the actual take:

Unlike Spector, Johns opted to include Paul’s “Teddy Boy” – one of his lesser tunes, if’n you ask me – which eventually appeared on McCartney. I’m not sure that this version (which appeared on Anthology 3) is the same one, but it’ll do.

And finally, Johns mixed a run-through of Jimmy McCracklin’s “The Walk.” Again, it may or may not have been this one, but you’ll get the idea:

No disrespect to The Beatles, who were just fucking around, but the original is a little bit better.

Had “The Walk” actually appeared on a Beatles album, McCracklin — who wrote hundreds of songs over a 65-year career — stood to make some serious bank. Alas, it was not to be. Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, composers of “Save the Last Dance for Me,” did not hit the Beatle jackpot either. But they made plenty of money off that song over the years, with hit versions recorded by the Drifters, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Michael Buble. There’s a poignant story behind its writing, says Wikipedia:

Lou Reed, who worked with Pomus, said the song was written on the day of Pomus’ wedding while the wheelchair-bound groom watched his bride dancing with their guests. Pomus had polio and at times used crutches to get around.

Can you tell I’m stalling now, because I have no good way to end this? But it’s getting late in the day, and that lost hour isn’t helping any, so time to wrap up. See you in the funny papers.

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