Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Dig It"

"Dig It" is a song by The Beatles featured on their album Let It Be. The song is credited to Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey and is one of only a few songs to be credited to all of the Beatles; the others are "Flying" from Magical Mystery Tour, "Suzy Parker" from the Let It Be film, "12-Bar Original" from Anthology 2 and the Beatles' version of "Free as a Bird." This song and the 39-second "Maggie Mae" appear on the Let It Be album, but are not included on the Let It Be... Naked album, instead being replaced with "Don't Let Me Down." Glyn Johns' May 1969 version of the album, then titled Get Back, had a 3:59 excerpt of "Dig It," which was later reduced to the much shorter version in the final album.


Several versions were recorded during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions, on 24, 26, 27, 28, and 29 January 1969, at Apple Studio. The 49-second version on the album is an extract taken from the 26 January version, which was a 12-minute jam that evolved from a loose "Like a Rolling Stone" jam. A segment of the jam session, clocking in at 4:30, appears in the documentary film Let It Be. The participants in that session are John Lennon on vocals and George Harrison on guitar, Paul McCartney on piano, Ringo Starr on drums, and Billy Preston at the organ; also participating in the jam, but not heard on the released version, was Linda Eastman's six-year-old daughter Heather.

In the early part of the jam, Lennon sings the main lyric with interjections from Harrison, while Heather adds wordless vocals. As the performance winds down, Lennon exhorts the others to continue. Paul adds a baritone backup vocal of "dig it up, dig it up, dig it up" and variations, and Lennon begins to repeat "Like a rolling stone," then goes into the "famous persons" part (mentioning "the FBI," "the CIA," "the BBC," "B.B. King," "Doris Day," and "Matt Busby").

The excerpt on the Let It Be album fades in on Lennon's second "Like a rolling stone" and concludes with Lennon speaking in a falsetto: "That was 'Can You Dig It?' by Georgie Wood, and now we'd like to do 'Hark, The Angels Come.'" The second sentence of that line is cut off in Let It Be's film recording of the jam session. ("Wee Georgie Wood" was a 4'9" music-hall performer and child star.) The interjection actually comes from the first version, recorded on the 24th. This version was much different, described by Beatles bootleg scholars Doug Sulpy and Ray Schweighardt as "sounding like a cross between the traditional 'Sailor's Hornpipe' and a slowed down rendition of Neal Hefti's 'Batman,' as played on slide guitar." An excerpt from this version can be heard on the "Fly on the Wall" bonus disc to Let It Be… Naked.

A live acoustic version appears on John Lennon's 31st Birthday Party bootleg. The bootleg, which is included on the Complete Lost Lennon Tapes, has guest appearances by Phil Spector and Ringo Starr. The song also incorporates "Twist and Shout," "Louie Louie," and a stronger influence of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone."


* John Lennon — lead vocal, 6 string bass
* Paul McCartney — piano, vocal
* George Harrison — guitar, vocal
* Ringo Starr — drums
* Billy Preston — organ
* George Martin — percussion

Album: Let It Be
Released: 8 May 1970
Recorded: Apple Studios, 26 January 1969
Genre: Rock
Length: 0:49
Label: Apple, EMI
Writer: Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey
Producer: George Martin


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