I Me Mine
|"I Me Mine"|
Cover of the original Hansen Publishing sheet music for the song
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album Let It Be|
|Released||8 May 1970|
|Recorded||3 January & 1 April 1970|
|Studio||Abbey Road, London|
"I Me Mine" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1970 album Let It Be. Written by George Harrison, it was the last new track recorded by the band before their split in April 1970. The song originated from the Get Back/Let It Be sessions in January 1969, and its lyrics serve as a comment from Harrison on the fractious situation within the group at that time. The song's musical mood alternates between waltz-time verses, during which Harrison laments the ego problems afflicting the Beatles, and choruses played in the hard rock style.
The Beatles rehearsed "I Me Mine" at Twickenham Studios in January 1969. A year later, by which point John Lennon had privately left the group, the three remaining members formally recorded it at EMI's Abbey Road Studios. When preparing the Let It Be album for release in 1970, producer Phil Spector extended the track by repeating the song's chorus and second verse, in addition to adding orchestration. The original version of the track, at just 1:34 in duration and without the orchestral overdubs, appeared on the Beatles' 1996 outtakes compilation Anthology 3, introduced by a mock announcement from Harrison referring to Lennon's departure. Harrison titled his 1980 autobiography, I, Me, Mine, after the song.
– George Harrison, The Beatles Anthology
The set of pronouns that form the song's title are a conventional way of referring to the ego in a Hindu context. For example, the Bhagavad Gita 2:71-72 can be translated as "They are forever free who renounce all selfish desires and break away from the ego-cage of 'I', 'me' and 'mine' to be united with the Lord. This is the supreme state. Attain to this, and pass from death to immortality." George Harrison wrote "I Me Mine" during the second week of the Beatles' filmed rehearsals at Twickenham Film Studios in January 1969, and drew inspiration from the divisive atmosphere in the band. Author Jonathan Gould describes the song "as a commentary on the selfishness" of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and considers it poignant that the composition was only properly recorded because it had provided accompaniment to Lennon and his partner, Yoko Ono, dancing. Musicologist Walter Everett says that, after Harrison had written "Not Guilty" in 1968 as a "defense against the tyranny of his songwriting comrades", "I Me Mine" was his "mocking complaint about their stifling egos". Gould writes that Harrison was particularly upset at Twickenham "that his fellow Beatles could complain about the amount of time they had to spend learning the arrangement for 'I Me Mine' and then turn around and submit to a laborious rehearsal of a song like 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' which struck George as a paragon of pop inanity." Gould contends further that, if "friends like Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton heard something worthwhile in material like [Harrison's] 'All Things Must Pass'" then only "sheer egotism could account for the air of complete indifference with which Lennon and McCartney first greeted" both that tune and "I Me Mine".
After receiving his "eternal problem" inspiration when writing the song at home, Harrison played some chords to a 6/8 time signature. The melody was inspired by the incidental music on a BBC television program, Europa – The Titled and the Untitled, which aired on 7 January. Harrison completed "I Me Mine" that night and performed it for the other Beatles the following morning.
The verses of "I Me Mine" are in the key of A minor but the chorus is in A major. This technique of parallel minor/major contrast is also present in Beatles songs such as "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Savoy Truffle", "The Fool on the Hill", "Fixing a Hole", "Michelle", "Things We Said Today", "Do You Want to Know a Secret" and "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)". Everett likens the melody of the verses to the European folk music typified by Mary Hopkin's debut single for the Beatles' Apple Records, "Those Were the Days".
The song begins in 6/8 time on "All through the day" with a shift from the I minor (Am) chord to a IV (D7) which musicologist Dominic Pedler considers emphasises the Dorian mode. The progression in 3/4 time beginning with an F melody note on "Now they're frightened of leaving it" against minor iv (Dm) chord (the ♭3rd emphasising in Pedler's view the Aeolian mode) shifts to an V7 (E7) on "comin' on strong", but here (at 0.27 secs) the hauntingly strong ♭9 (F natural) melody note results in the suitably "dark drama" of the very rare (in pop music) E7♭9 chord in the key of A minor. The song is also notable for concluding on an ♭VI (Fmaj7) chord in A minor key.
The Let It Be documentary film features a segment in which Harrison plays the song for Ringo Starr and describes it as "a heavy waltz". Harrison, Starr and McCartney are then seen performing the tune while an uninterested Lennon dances with Ono. Close to a year later, by which time Lennon had privately announced he was leaving the band, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg chose to include the "I Me Mine" segment in the film. The Beatles therefore had to record the song for inclusion on the Let It Be album. On 3 January 1970, Harrison, McCartney and Starr met at EMI's Abbey Road Studios to work on the track with George Martin. Lennon did not attend the session, since he and Ono were on holiday in Denmark at the time. It was the only commercially released song during the group's original run, that was not recorded in the 1960s.
– Harrison's announcement before take 15 of "I Me Mine", referring to Lennon's departure from the Beatles
The group recorded 16 takes of the song, the last of which was deemed satisfactory. Before take 15, Harrison delivered a mock press statement in which he made a joking reference to Lennon's absence by recasting the four Beatles as members of the British pop group Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. The statement, followed by take 16 of "I Me Mine", was released on the Anthology 3 compilation in 1996. The song lasted just 1 minute 34 seconds until Phil Spector – who had been invited by Lennon and Harrison to complete the Let It Be album – extended the length by copying the rock-style chorus in the middle of the song and the second verse, and repeating them at the end of the track. The extension was carried out on 23 March. On 1 April, Starr recorded a new drum part, replacing his original contribution, and Spector overdubbed a string and brass accompaniment. The final version, as "re-produced" by Spector, was included on Let It Be. A similar edit, without Spector's orchestral overdubs but retaining the repeated section, was made available on the Let It Be... Naked album in 2003.
Although the sessions for "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and "The End" in August 1969 were the last where all four Beatles were present in the recording studio, "I Me Mine" was the last new song recorded by the Beatles (albeit without Lennon) until sessions for the band's Anthology project in 1994. It was not their final recording session, however, since McCartney, Harrison and Starr continued to carry out various overdubs on the Let It Be tracks.
Release and reception
Let It Be was issued on 8 May 1970 with "I Me Mine" sequenced as the fourth track. The release followed a month after McCartney's public announcement that he was leaving the Beatles, which had resulted in the group's break-up.
Among contemporary reviews of the album, Alan Smith of the NME derided the release as "a cheapskate epitaph" and a "sad and tatty end" to the band's career, but he admired the "Russian-flavoured 'I Me Mine'" as "a strong ballad with a frantic centre". In Melody Maker, Richard Williams wrote: "'I Me Mine' has a great organ/guitar intro, meditative verses and a tempo switch in and out of the rocking chorus, which has guitar riffs one step away from Chuck Berry. George put a lot of strength into this." Reviewing for Rolling Stone, John Mendelsohn ridiculed Spector's use of lush orchestration, particularly on McCartney's "The Long and Winding Road", adding: "'I Me Mine,' the waltz sections of which reminds one very definitely of something from one of The Al Jolson Story's more maudlin moments, almost benefits from such treatment … As [Spector has] left it, though, it, like 'Winding Road,' is funny enough to find cloying but not funny enough to enjoy laughing at."
In 2002, David Fricke of Rolling Stone included "I Me Mine" in his list of the "25 Essential Harrison Performances". Fricke said of the Beatles' final recording: "Harrison signed off in style; his angry, grinding guitar is the honest sound of exhaustion and hard-won freedom." In a 2003 review for Mojo, John Harris wrote that "[Harrison's] vocal, frequently pitched just short of falsetto, is a delight" and admired the string arrangement for "manag[ing] to tease out the sense of camp" underlying the song."
Harrison titled his 1980 autobiography after the track. Marc Ford recorded a version of "I Me Mine" for the album Songs from the Material World: A Tribute to George Harrison, released in February 2003 to coincide with what would have been Harrison's 60th birthday. Beth Orton recorded the song as a medley with "Dig It" for the Let It Be Revisited CD, included with the October 2010 issue of Mojo magazine. At the George Fest tribute to Harrison in 2014, "I Me Mine" was performed by Britt Daniel of the band Spoon, who said that it was his favourite song by Harrison. Elliott Smith and Laibach have each covered the song.
- The Beatles
- George Harrison – lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitars, lead guitars
- Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass guitar, Hammond organ, electric piano
- Ringo Starr – drums
- Additional musicians
- Uncredited – 18 violins, four violas, four cellos, harp, three trumpets, three trombones
- Richard Hewson – brass and string arrangements
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