Don't Let Me Down (Beatles song)

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"Don't Let Me Down"
Beatles Get Back.jpg
Picture sleeve for 1989 UK reissue
Single by the Beatles with Billy Preston
A-side"Get Back"
Released11 April 1969 (UK), 5 May 1969 (US)
Recorded28 January 1969, February 1969
StudioApple, London
Genre
Length3:35
LabelApple
Songwriter(s)Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s)
The Beatles singles chronology
"Hey Jude"
(1968)
"Get Back" / "Don't Let Me Down"
(1969)
"The Ballad of John and Yoko"
(1969)
Billy Preston singles chronology
"Hey Brother"
(1968)
"Get Back" / "Don't Let Me Down"
(1969)
"That's the Way God Planned It"
(1969)
Audio sample
Don't Let Me Down
Music video
"Don't Let Me Down" on YouTube

"Don't Let Me Down" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, recorded in 1969 during the Let It Be sessions. It was written by John Lennon and credited to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership. The band recorded the song with keyboardist Billy Preston; the single release with "Get Back" was credited to "the Beatles with Billy Preston". Originally released as a B-side, producer Phil Spector excluded the song from Let It Be. However, it was eventually included on an alternate mix of the album, Let It Be... Naked.

Composition[edit]

Written by John Lennon as an anguished love song to Yoko Ono,[5] it was interpreted by Paul McCartney 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."[6]

The song is in the key of E major and is in 4
4
time
during the verse, chorus and bridge, but changes to 5
4
in the pick-up to the verse.[7] It grew (like "Sun King") from the Fm7–E changes from Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross" with McCartney arranging instrumental and vocal parts and George Harrison adding a descending two-part lead guitar accompaniment to the verse and a countermelody in the bridge.[8] Alan W. 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."[9]

Recording and release[edit]

Multiple versions of "Don't Let Me Down" were recorded by the Beatles during the Get Back (Let It Be) recording sessions. The version recorded on 28 January 1969, with vocal overdubs in late February, was released as a B-side to the single "Get Back", recorded the same day.[10] "Get Back" reached number one and "Don't Let Me Down" reached number 35 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[11] When the "Get Back" project was revisited, Phil Spector dropped "Don't Let Me Down" from the Let It Be (1970) album.[12]

The Beatles performed "Don't Let Me Down" twice during their rooftop concert of 30 January 1969, and the first performance was included in the Let It Be (1970) film, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg.[13][14] In November 2003, a composite edit of the two rooftop versions was released on Let It Be... Naked.[15][14] Both versions were seen in the 2022 film The Beatles: Get Back - The Rooftop Concert.

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.

Reception[edit]

Richie Unterberger of AllMusic called it "one of the Beatles' most powerful love songs",[16] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic described the song as "heart-wrenching soul"[3] 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."[17] Author Ian MacDonald praised "Don't Let Me Down" and declared that "this track vies with 'Come Together' for consideration as the best of Lennon's late-style Beatles records".[18] “Don’t Let Me Down” is the most viewed video on the Beatles’ YouTube channel, with over 400 million views.

Cover versions[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[20]

No official producer's credit was included for the single release owing to "the confused roles of George Martin and Glyn Johns".[21] However the 1967-1970 compilation liner notes credited Martin as the song's producer.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1969) Peak
position
US Billboard Hot 100[22] 35
Chart (2021) Peak
position
LyricFind Global[23] 12

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Soto-Morettini, Donna (2014). Popular Singing and Style (2 ed.). ISBN 9781472518651.
  2. ^ Kutner, Jon; Leigh, Spencer (2010). 1,000 UK Number One Hits. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857123602.
  3. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Hey Jude at AllMusic. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  4. ^ Kot, Greg (17 November 2003). "Let It Be, Paul". Chicago Tribune.
  5. ^ Sheff 2000, p. 204.
  6. ^ Miles 1997, pp. 535–536.
  7. ^ Hal Leonard 1993, pp. 220–224.
  8. ^ Walter Everett. The Beatles as Musicians. Revolver through the Anthology. Oxford University Press 1999. pp222-223.
  9. ^ "Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Don't Let Me Down"". Archived from the original on 29 May 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  10. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 168.
  11. ^ Wallgren 1982, p. 54.
  12. ^ Lewisohn 1988, pp. 196, 199.
  13. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 169.
  14. ^ a b Winn, John C. (2009). That Magic Feeling: The Beatles' Recorded Legacy, Volume Two, 1966–1970. New York: Three Rivers Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-0-307-45239-9.
  15. ^ The Beatles Bible.
  16. ^ Unterberger 2007.
  17. ^ Carr & Tyler 1975, p. 78.
  18. ^ MacDonald 2005.
  19. ^ Fontenot, Robert. "Don't Let Me Down – History". About.com. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  20. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 332–333.
  21. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 172.
  22. ^ "The Beatles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  23. ^ "The Beatles Chart History (LyricFind Global)". Billboard. 8 December 2021. Retrieved 8 December 2021.

References[edit]

External links[edit]