Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Don't Let Me Down"

"Don't Let Me Down" is a song by The Beatles (credited to The Beatles with Billy Preston on the single), recorded in 1969 during the Get Back (Let It Be) sessions. Richie Unterberger of Allmusic called it "one of the Beatles' most powerful love songs," and Roy Carr and Tony Tyler called it "a superb sobber from misery-expert J. W. O. Lennon, MBE. And still one of the most highly underrated Beatle underbellies."


An anguished love song Lennon wrote to Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney interpreted it as a "genuine plea," with Lennon saying to Ono, "I'm really stepping out of line on this one. I'm really just letting my vulnerability be seen, so you must not let me down." Lennon's vocals work their way into screams, presaging the primal scream stylings of the following year's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album.

The song is in the key of E and is in 4/4 time during the verse, chorus and bridge, but changes to 5/4 in the pickup to the verse.

Recording and release

Multiple versions of "Don't Let Me Down" were recorded during the tumultuous Get Back (Let It Be) recording sessions. The version recorded on 28 January 1969 was released as a b-side to the single "Get Back", recorded the same day. The Beatles performed "Don't Let Me Down" twice during their rooftop concert of 30 January 1969, one of which was included in the Let It Be film. When the "Get Back" project was revisited, Phil Spector dropped "Don't Let Me Down" from the Let It Be album.

The b-side version of the song was included on the The Beatles' compilations Hey Jude, 1967-1970 and Past Masters Volume 2. The same version was also used on the soundtrack to the 1988 documentary, Imagine: John Lennon.

In November 2003, an edit of the two rooftop versions was included on Let It Be... Naked.


* John Lennon – lead vocals and rhythm guitar
* Paul McCartney – bass guitar and backing vocals
* George Harrison – lead guitar and backing vocals
* Ringo Starr – drums
* Billy Preston – organ and electric piano

Cover versions

* In 1969, Dillard & Clark covered the song on their album Through the Morning Through the Night.
* In 1969, Marcia Griffiths did a reggae version.
* On her 1977 album It Looks Like Snow, Phoebe Snow covered this song. Her version was described as an "exquisite interpretation" by Allmusic.
* On the European leg of their 1987 "Get Close" tour, The Pretenders included a cover of the song in their live set.
* Annie Lennox had a live version on Coldest in 1992.
* Taylor Hicks covered it during the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2006.
* Zwan covered the song many times in 2001 and 2003.
* Stereophonics covered this song on the 2001 soundtrack to I Am Sam.
* Paul Weller covered the song on his album Fly On The Wall - B Sides And Rarities.
* Garbage performed the song at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland as a message to the newly-elected MSPs.
* Maroon 5 played the song at a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina and on The Howard Stern Show, June 11, 2007.
* The Aggrolites performed it at many live shows.
* Matchbox Twenty turned the song into a duet, with lead singer Rob Thomas on piano and vocals and with guitarist Kyle Cook also singing.
* Dana Fuchs and Martin Luther McCoy performed the song in the 2007 film Across the Universe.
* A sample of this song can be found in original song of the same name by Technicali rapper "Ariano" on his solo release "Music2BreakUp2"
* Greg Brown covered the song on his album "In The Hills of California"
* The Japanese duo Hirakawachi Icchome covered the song on their "Eien no yakusoku" (promise of eternity) single.
* Phil Lesh and Friends routinely cover the song at their live performances.

A-side: "Get Back"
Released: 11 April 1969
Format: 7"
Recorded: 30 January 1969
Genre: Rock and roll
Length: 3:25
Label: Apple Records
Writer(s): Lennon/McCartney
Producer: No Official Credit (single version), George Martin; Produced for disc by Phil Spector (album version); The Beatles & George Martin, Produced for disc by Paul Hicks, Guy Massey & Allan Rouse (Naked version)


1 comment:

life of the beatles said...

I don't think Paul ever got that "ooo she done me" part right. For the single, Glyn Johns simply faded out Paul's vocal during that section.