“Getting Better” in is a Beatles’ song which is also on their 1967 album, “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
Recorded: 9th March, 1967
Genre: Pop rock
Track Duration: 2:47
Record Label: Parlophone, Capitol, EMI
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Malcolm Addey, Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney: double-tracked vocals, bass guitar, electric piano, handclapping
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar, tambura, handclapping
Ringo Starr: drums, congas, handclapping
George Martin: piano, pianet, virginal
Written mainly by Paul McCartney but with a more than a little help from John Lennon, the credit obviously goes to the Lennon-McCartney partnership. It is sung in a jolly, uplifting way, rather reminiscent of “Penny Lane“.
The idea for the song title came from a phrase that Jimmie Nicol would often say. Nicol was the stand-in drummer for the Australian leg of a 1964 tour.
“Getting Better I wrote on my magic Binder, Edwards and Vaughan piano in my music room. It had a lovely tone, that piano, you’d just open the lid and there was such a magic tone, almost out of tune, and of course the way it was painted added to the fun of it all.
It’s an optimistic song. I often try and get on to optimistic subjects in an effort to cheer myself up and also, realising that other people are going to hear this, to cheer them up too. And this was one of those. The ‘angry young man’ and all that was John and I filling in the verses about schoolteachers. We shared a lot of feelings against teachers who had punished you too much or who hadn’t understood you or who had just been bastard generally.”
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Although The Beatles sing the song in a positive and cheerful style, the lyrics tell of some darker days. Indeed, some lyrics reflect Lennon’s violence against women. Be that as it may, he does regret it. So, we should forgive him. However, in these modern-day dark ages where feminism reigns, the butch women in their dungarees would have had his life for the following Playboy Magazine statement in 1980 had he come out with it now:
“It is a diary form of writing. All that ‘I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved’ was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically – any woman – I was a hitter – I couldn’t express myself and I hit – I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see.
It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.”
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
The offending lyrics are, “I used to be cruel to my woman / I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved”.
The Beatles began recording “Getting Better” on the 9th March, 1967, in Studio Two of the EMI Studios, London, during the 7.00pm-3.30am session. They recorded 7 takes with the last being suitable for the master rhythm track. Overdubs occurred on the 10th and 21st and the song was finally complete on the 23rd March with new vocals.
During the session on the 21st of March, John Lennon wasn’t feeling too well. George Martin took him to the roof of the studios which only had an 18 inch parapet, so this was the wrong thing to do. But Martin was unaware that Lennon was high on drugs at the time. Once the other band members found out, they raced to the rooftop to prevent a possible tragic accident.