26 Jan 1969: Beatles record “Dig It” for their final album, Let It Be
Another good day for the Beatles today, as they set about recording “Dig It” for their twelfth and final studio album, Let It Be on this day in 1969.
The first take of the song had been recorded two days earlier but this take included a segment that would actually be used on the album, unlike the other versions. Two more versions were recorded later but also unused on the album. John Lennon reportedly dominated the song, utilising lyrics from “Twist And Shout” and Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone”, along with his own improvisations while strumming a six-string bass guitar.
The song came about as a result of an extensive 15 minute jam session, loosely based on Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” and the excerpt used on the album was recorded at this session. It included features from Billy Preston on organ and George Martin on percussion, as well as an impromptu vocal contribution from Linda McCartney’s six-year-old daughter. Interestingly, this song is also one of few songs to be credited to all of the Beatles.
Though the session lasted around 15 minutes, the excerpt used on the Let It Be album lasted only 51 seconds, later extended in various other mixes to a total of 8 minutes, although the song is notably absent from Let It Be… Naked, replaced with “Don’t Let Me Down”.
In charge of production on this track was notorious Phil Spector, developer of the Wall of Sound formula to rock and roll production, and later murder convict. This song was recorded during a time considered to be Spector’s attempt at a comeback to the music industry after a brief hiatus from the public eye. Paul McCartney later criticised Spector’s efforts on the album, particularly “The Long and Winding Road”, although Spector was defended by Lennon who stated “He was given the shittiest load of badly-recorded shit with a lousy feeling to it ever, and he made something of it”. Both he, and George Harrison went on to have Spector co-produce their solo efforts while McCartney went on to spearhead the project Let It Be… Naked, which stripped the album of Spector’s contributions.
Also occurring at this time was the gradual split of the band. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were no longer working together as they had in the past, Lennon now seeming more concerned with spending time and making music with his bride-to-be, Yoko Ono. George Harrison was also frustrated by the situation and quit the band at one point, although returned to finish the album. This led to a somewhat confused release that was a commercial success but suffered from mixed reviews by critics, although the film of the same name released alongside the album fared slightly better.