Two disc jockeys played a version of the song before it was released. Hearing it convinced the Beatles that more remixing was needed. The song was remixed April 7, 1969, for the final version. The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970
UNITED KINGDOM: Released as a single April 11, 1969. It entered the chart at No. 3 April 23. A week later it was No. 1, where it stayed for five weeks. Sales topped 530,000 copies. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles
UNITED STATES: Released as a single May 5, 1969. It entered the Top 40 May 10 and climbed to No. 1 for five weeks, totaling twelve weeks in the Top 40. The single sold more than 2 million copies.
The single was also a No. 1 hit around the world, including in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, West Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Holland, and Belgium.
Worldwide sales were estimated to have exceeded 4.5 million. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles
AUTHORSHIP McCartney (1.00)
It was basically Paul's song, composed in the studios at Twickenham for the now abandoned television show. Paul had a rough idea for the words and music and began jamming it out. John joined him and together they worked on some lyrics. Typically these were partly lifted from newspaper stories: in this case about the plight of Kenyan Asians, who were rushing to get to Britain before the passing of the Commonwealth Immigration Bill which would have denied them entry. Intended as a parody on racist attitudes, the line, 'Don't dig no Pakistani taking all the people jobs!' was dropped early on as being too easily misconstrued. The rest of the third verse went through various changes, ending up in the final demo as:
Meanwhile back at home too many Pakistanis
Living in a council flat
Candidate Macmillan tell me what your plan is
Won't you tell me where it's at.
Meanwhile the fascist National Front was beating up Pakistanis on the streets and the right-wing politician Enoch Powell was predicting race war and "rivers of blood" so, to avoid any possibility of inflaming the situation, the entire verse was ultimately dropped. As Paul later insisted, "The words were not racist at all. They were antiracist. If there was any group that was not racist it was the Beatles". But they did not want to be a hostage to misinterpretation. On a more frivolous level, the Jo Jo in the song was a fictional character.
McCARTNEY: "Many people have since claimed to be the Jo Jo and they're not, let me put that straight! I had no particular person in mind, again it was a fictional character, half man, half woman, all very ambiguous. I often left things ambiguous, I like doing that in my songs." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
McCARTNEY: ". . . When we were doing Let It Be, there were a couple of verses to 'Get Back' which were actually not racist at all - they were anti-racist. There were a lot of stories in the newspapers then about Pakistanis crowding out flats - you know, living sixteen to a room or whatever. So in one of the verses of 'Get Back,' which we were making up on the set of Let It Be [the film], one of the outtakes has something about 'too many Pakistanis living in a council flat' - that's the line. Which to me was actually talking out against overcrowding for Pakistanis. . . . If there was any group that was not racist, it was the Beatles. I mean, all our favourite people were always black. We were kind of the first people to open international eyes, in a way, to Motown." RS (September 11, 1986)
The Beatles made at least two public gestures against racism: They consented to perform on September 11, 1964, in Jacksonville, Alabama, only after the promoters agreed to admit nonwhites to the show, and on July 29, 1966, they refused to sign a contract for a series of concerts in South Africa. The Beatles Diary, Volume 1 : From Liverpool to London
January 27 and 28, 1969, at Apple Studios
McCARTNEY: bass, lead vocal
LENNON: lead guitar, harmony vocal
HARRISON: rhythm guitar
BILLY PRESTON: electric piano
Preston was the first guest artist to be credited on a Beatles single. The disc's credit reads: "The Beatles with Billy Preston." The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles
Apple took out a full-page ad in the May 17, 1969, issue of Rolling Stone for the "Get Back"/"Don't Let Me Down" single. It was headed: THE BEATLES AS NATURE INTENDED. RS (May 17, 1969)
COMMENTS BY BEATLES
McCARTNEY: "We were sitting in the studio and we made it up out of thin air . . . we started to write words there and then. . . . When we finished it, we recorded it at Apple Studios and made it into a song to rollercoast by." Own Words and used in RS (May 17, 1969) ad.
LENNON: "That's a better version of 'Lady Madonna.' You know, a potboiler rewrite. . . . I think there's some underlying thing about Yoko in there. . . . You know, 'Get back to where you once belonged': Every time he sang the line in the studio, he'd look at Yoko." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono
LENNON: "'Get Back' is Paul. That's a better version of 'Lady Madonna.' You know, a potboiler rewrite." All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono