100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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'Get Back'
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty41/100

41. 'Get Back'

Main Writer: McCartney
Recorded: January 23, 27, 28 and 30, February 5, 1969
Released: May 5, 1969
12 weeks; No. 1

The plan for the Beatles' January 1969 sessions was that they would get back to their roots as a live rock & roll band, so when McCartney came up with a song called "Get Back," it was a perfect fit. It was also the last song the Beatles played at their 10-song, 42-minute final gig on the roof of the Apple Records building on January 30th.

The original lyrics to "Get Back" satirized the anti-immigrant sentiments in England at the time: "Don't dig no Pakistanis taking all the people's jobs" went one line. McCartney dropped the parodic race-baiting, leaving the tales of wandering Jo Jo and gender-flipping Loretta Martin. Lennon called "Get Back," which features his bluesy lead guitar as well as a funky keyboard solo from Billy Preston, "a better version of 'Lady Madonna' . . . a potboiler rewrite." But he also suspected that the song was secretly aimed at Yoko Ono: "You know, 'Get back to where you once belonged.' Every time [Paul] sang the line in the studio, he'd look at Yoko."

Appears On: Let It Be and Past Masters

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