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Getting Better

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"Getting Better"
Song by The Beatles
Album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Released 1 June 1967
Recorded 9 March 1967
Genre Pop, Rock
Length 2:47
Label Parlophone, Capitol, EMI
Writer Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track listing
It is a diary form of writing. All that 'I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved' was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically... any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything's the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.

—John Lennon, September 1980

Wrote that at my house in St. John's Wood. All I remember is that I said, 'It's getting better all the time,' and John contributed the legendary line 'It couldn't get much worse.' Which I thought was very good. Against the spirit of that song, which was all super-optimistic... then there's that lovely little sardonic line. Typical John.

—Paul McCartney, 1984

John was late for the session. Paul was at the piano demonstrating to me what the song was going to sound like. At the moment he sang, 'I've got to admit it's getting better, getting better all the time,' John came through the door and actually sang, 'It can't get no worse.'

—George Martin, Summer of Love 1994 & 2006

I would go to Paul's house at four o'clock in the afternoon and I would have tea with him, muck around and go for a walk. I remember once, I was walking around Primrose Hill with Paul and his dog Martha one spring morning. It was the first spring-like morning of that year, and as we got to the top of the hill, the sun came up. He turned to me and said 'It's getting better,' meaning that spring was here. Then, he started laughing and I asked him what he was laughing about, and he said it reminded him of something that the reserve drummer, Jimmy Nicol, they had used in 1964 when Ringo fell ill, used to say at the end of every concert. John and Paul would ask him how things were going and he would always say, 'Oh, it's getting better.' John used to take the piss out of him, and it became a joke phrase. Then, in his little studio in his house, Paul began working out a tune on his guitar. At seven o'clock this evening, John came round to the house and they'd give each other the other bits of songs they'd written. Now and again, they'd have written whole songs but mostly it was half a song and the other one would help finish it. So, Paul played that song, explained it to John, and they recorded the first part of it the next evening.

—Hunter Davies, The Beatles' Biographer, 1968

I was standing next to John, discussing some finer point of the arrangement to 'Getting Better' when he suddenly looked up at me. 'George,' he said slowly, 'I'm not feeling too good. I'm not focusing on me.' [...] 'What you need is a breath of fresh air. I know the way up on to the roof.' When we had clambered out on to the flat roof of Studio Two, we found it was a beautiful clear night. John took a deep breath, and, with a bit of a lurch, took a couple of steps towards the edge of the building. I grabbed hold of his arm: it was a good 50 feet to the ground. [...] 'Wow,' he intoned. 'Look at that! Isn't that amazing?' I followed his gaze. The stars did look good, and there seemed to be a good many of them — but they didn't look that good. It was very unlike John to be over the top in that way. [...] He was wired — pin-sharp and quivering, resonating away like a human tuning fork. No sooner had John uttered his immortal words about the stars than George and Paul came bursting out on to the roof. They had come tearing up from the studio as soon as they found out where we were. They knew why John was feeling unwell. [...] It was very simple. John was tripping on LSD. He had taken it by mistake, they said — he had meant to take an amphetamine tablet.

—George Martin, Summer of Love, 1994 & 2006

There is a particular point in 'Getting Better' (it occurs before the line 'Me used to be angry young man...') where we all hit a bottom note, a suspended heavy pedal note, which is made up of guitars, tamboura and me thumping the strings of the pianette. This gave us a drone effect that worked really well against the excellent falsetto backing vocals that were now a strong characteristic of the Beatles' sound.

—George Martin, Summer of Love, 1994 & 2006

 

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