Don't Let Me Down (Beatles song)
|"Don't Let Me Down"|
|Single by The Beatles with Billy Preston|
|Released||11 April 1969|
|Recorded||28 January 1969|
|The Beatles with Billy Preston singles chronology|
Written by Lennon as an anguished love song 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 pick-up to the verse. 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 countermelody in the bridge. 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."
Recording and release
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. "Get Back" reached number one and "Don't Let Me Down" reached number 35 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
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 (1970) film, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. When the "Get Back" project was revisited, Phil Spector dropped "Don't Let Me Down" from the Let It Be (1970) album.
The B-side version of the song was included on the Beatles' compilations Hey Jude, 1967-1970 and Past Masters Volume 2 and Mono Masters. The same recording also appears 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.
Richie Unterberger of Allmusic called it "one of the Beatles' most powerful love songs", Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic described the song as "heart-wrenching soul" 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." Author Ian MacDonald praised "Don't Let Me Down" and called it one of Lennon's best songs in his "'late' [Beatles] style" along with "Come Together".
- In 1969, Dillard & Clark covered the song on their album Through the Morning, Through the Night.
- In 1969, Marcia Griffiths did a reggae version.
- In 1969, Harry J Allstars covered the song on their album Liquidator
- In 1970, Ben E. King covered the song on his Rough Edges album.
- In 1971, Charlotte Dada recorded an afro-rhythm version in Ghana.
- On her 1977 album It Looks Like Snow, Phoebe Snow covered this song.
- In 1992, Annie Lennox recorded the song and it was included as the B-side to "Walking on Broken Glass". A live version is also available on the "Cold" single.
- In 1992, Danish band The Sandmen covered the song on their Sleepyhead album.
- In 1993, Italian pop singer Ryan Paris recorded a high-energy version of the song.
- In 1996, U.S. rock band The Black Crowes covered the song live a few times and again in 2005.
- In 1999, Garbage performed a live cover at the opening of the Scottish Parliament.
- Gene covered the song on their 1999 rarities / B-sides compilation To See The Lights.
- In 2001, Stereophonics covered this song on the I Am Sam soundtrack.
- Paul Weller covered the song on his album Fly on the Wall - B Sides and Rarities.
- Matchbox Twenty turned the song into a duet, with lead singer Rob Thomas on piano and vocals and with guitarist Kyle Cook also singing.
- In 2004, Greg Brown covered the song on his album In the Hills of California.
- Dana Fuchs and Martin Luther McCoy performed the song in the 2007 film Across the Universe.
- The Aggrolites, a California ska-punk/reggae band have played a ska-punk version of the song at their live shows. It has proven to be a hit with their fans despite never being on one of their albums.
- Munro Chambers has covered this song live as a duet
- John Mayer and Keith Urban did a cover version at the Crossroads festival as well as during the TV special, The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles.
- Tackhead recorded a dub and R&B version which appeared on the digital release of their 2014 album For the Love of Money.
- Paolo Nutini covered this song in 2014 while promoting his album Caustic Love.
- John Lennon – lead vocal, rhythm guitar
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar, harmony vocal
- George Harrison – lead guitar, backing vocal
- Ringo Starr – drums
- Billy Preston – electric piano
No official producer's credit was included for the single release owing to "the confused roles of George Martin and Glyn Johns". However the 1967-1970 album liner notes credit George Martin as the song's producer.
- Sheff 2000, p. 204.
- Miles 1997, pp. 535–536.
- The Beatles Bible.
- Hal Leonard 1993, pp. 220–224.
- Walter Everett. The Beatles as Musicians. Revolver through the Anthology. Oxford University Press 1999. pp222-223.
- Alan W Pollack. Notes on 'Don't Let Me Down" http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/dlmd.shtml (accessed 12 Nov 2013)
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 168.
- Wallgren 1982, p. 54.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 169.
- Lewisohn 1988, pp. 196, 199.
- Unterberger 2007.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Hey Jude at AllMusic. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
- Carr & Tyler 1975, p. 78.
- MacDonald 2005.
- Fontenot, Robert. "Don't Let Me Down - History". About.com. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- MacDonald 2005, p. 332–333.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 172.
- "Don't Let Me Down". The Beatles Bible. Retrieved 17 August 2008.
- Carr, Roy; Tyler, Tony (1975). The Beatles: An Illustrated Record. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-52045-1.
- Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, ed. (1993). The Beatles – Complete Scores. Milwaukee: Hal Leanord. ISBN 0-7935-1832-6.
- Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-57066-1.
- MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
- Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.
- Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.
- "SPFC.org tour history listing for performances of "Don't Let Me Down"". 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
- Unterberger, Richie (2007). "Review of 'Don't Let Me Down'". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
- Viglione, Joe (2010). "Review of It Seems Like Snow". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
- Wallgren, Mark (1982). The Beatles on Record. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-45682-2.