Don't Let Me Down (Beatles song)

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"Don't Let Me Down"
Single by The Beatles with Billy Preston
A-side "Get Back"
Released 11 April 1969
Format 7"
Recorded 22, 28, 30 January 1969
Genre Blues rock
Length 3:35
Label Apple
Writer(s) Lennon–McCartney
The Beatles with Billy Preston singles chronology
"Hey Jude"
(1968)
"Get Back" / "Don't Let Me Down"
(1969)
"The Ballad of John and Yoko"
(1969)
Music sample

"Don't Let Me Down" is a song by the Beatles (with Billy Preston), recorded in 1969 during the Let It Be sessions. It was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon-McCartney.

Composition[edit]

Written by Lennon as an anguished love song to Yoko Ono,[1] 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."[2] Lennon's vocals work their way into screams, presaging the primal scream stylings of the following year's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album.[3]

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 pick-up to the verse.[4] It grew (like "Sun King") from the F♯m7- E changes from Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross" ("like she does" [F♯m7] "yes she does" [A, Am] "yes she does" [E]) with McCartney arranging instrumental and vocal parts and Harrison adding a descending two-part lead guitar accompaniment to the verse and a contermelody in the bridge.[5] Pollack states that "the counterpoint melody played in octaves during the Alternate Verse by the bass and lead guitars is one of the more novel, unusual instrumental touches you'll find anywhere in the Beatles catalogue."[6]

Recording and release[edit]

Multiple versions of "Don't Let Me Down" were recorded by the Beatles 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.[7] "Get Back" reached number one and "Don't Let Me Down" reached number thirty five on the US Billboard Hot 100.[8]

They 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, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg.[9] When the "Get Back" project was revisited, Phil Spector dropped "Don't Let Me Down" from the Let It Be album.[10]

The B-side version of the song was included on 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.[3]

Reception[edit]

Richie Unterberger of Allmusic called it "one of the Beatles' most powerful love songs",[11] 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."[12]

Cover versions[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[13]

No official producer's credit was included for the single release owing to "the confused roles of George Martin and Glyn Johns".[14] However the 1967-1970 album credits George Martin as the song's producer. (source needed)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sheff 2000, p. 204.
  2. ^ Miles 1997, pp. 535–536.
  3. ^ a b The Beatles Bible.
  4. ^ Hal Leonard 1993, pp. 220–224.
  5. ^ Walter Everett. The Beatles as Musicians. Revolver through the Anthology. Oxford University Press 1999. pp222-223.
  6. ^ Alan W Pollack. Notes on 'Don't Let Me Down" http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/dlmd.shtml (accessed 12 Nov 2013)
  7. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 168.
  8. ^ Wallgren 1982, p. 54.
  9. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 169.
  10. ^ Lewisohn 1988, pp. 196, 199.
  11. ^ Unterberger 2007.
  12. ^ Carr & Tyler 1975, p. 78.
  13. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 332–333.
  14. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 172.

References[edit]

External links[edit]