Friday, April 09, 2010

"Getting Better"

"Getting Better" is a song written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, based on an original idea by McCartney. It was recorded by The Beatles for the 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Lennon on the roof

One of the recording sessions for "Getting Better" is famous for an incident involving Lennon. During the 21 March 1967 session in which producer George Martin added a piano solo, Lennon complained that he didn't feel well and couldn't focus. He had accidentally taken LSD when he meant to take an upper. Unaware of the mistake, Martin took him up to the roof of Abbey Road Studio for some fresh air, and returned to Studio Two where McCartney and Harrison were waiting. They knew why Lennon wasn't well, and upon hearing where Lennon was, rushed to the roof to retrieve him and prevent a possible accident.



The song, musically reminiscent of the hit single "Penny Lane," moves forward by way of regular chords, produced by Lennon's guitar, McCartney's electric piano, and George Martin, who struck the strings of a pianette with a mallet. These heavily accented and repetitive lines cause the song to sound as if it is based on a drone. Lead guitarist George Harrison adds an Indian tambura part to the final verse, which further accentuates this impact.


The song's title and music suggest optimism but some of the song's lyrics have a more negative tone. In this sense, it reflects the contrasting personas of the two songwriters. In response to McCartney's line, "It's getting better all the time," Lennon replies, "It can't get no worse!" Lennon also claimed the lyric that begins, "I used to be cruel to my woman..."

According to Hunter Davies, the initial idea for the song's title came from a phrase often spoken by Jimmy Nicol, the group's stand-in drummer for the Australian leg of a 1964 tour.


John Lennon: Lead Guitar and Backing Vocal

Paul McCartney: Bass Guitar and Vocals

George Harrison: Rhythm Guitar, Tamboura and Backing Vocal

Ringo Starr: Drums and Bongos

George Martin: Piano

Cover versions

* The Rutles' song "The Knicker Elastic King" is a pastiche of this song.
* Slade recorded a cover version in 1970 as a BBC Session. This has not been officially released.
* In 1976, Status Quo covered the song for the transitory musical documentary All This and World War II.
* Public Enemy sampled the song for the track "Who Stole the Soul?" on their 1990 album Fear of a Black Planet.
* The CCM group Allies sampled part of the chorus in their song, "Jacque Remembers".
* In the late 1990s, the song was recorded as a cover for the Australian television show Better Homes and Gardens.
* In 2000, it was covered by Gomez on their album Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline; this version was used as a theme song for the Philips' television ad campaigns in 2001.
* The song was performed live for the first time by McCartney during his 2002 and 2003 US and World Tours.
* In 2003, the song was again covered by the band Smash Mouth for the film adaptation of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat.
* In 2004, Branimir Krstic, classical guitarist and composer, arranged and performed the song on Sgt. Pepper for Classical Guitar, the first full classical rendition of Sgt. Pepper.
* In 2007, Kaiser Chiefs re-recorded the song for It Was 40 Years Ago Today, a BBC television film with contemporary acts recording the album's songs using the same studio, technicians and recording techniques as the original.
* In 2007, Fionn Regan did a cover for the album Sgt. Pepper...With A Little Help From His Friends given out by Mojo Magazine.
* Elio e le Storie Tese sampled the song for the track "Il Congresso delle Parti Molli" on their 2008 album Studentessi.
* Les Fradkin has an instrumental version on his 2007 release Pepper Front To Back.

Album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Released: 1 June 1967
Recorded: 9 March 1967
Genre: Jazz fusion
Length: 2:47
Label: Parlophone, Capitol, EMI
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


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