Thursday, April 16, 2009

One After 909

When I first saw, on the Let it Be album sleeve, that there was a song called ‘One After 909’, I thought: ‘Well, that would be 910, surely?’

This is my 910th post, and so the perfect pretext for me to tick another item off my list of Odd Little Things I’ve Had Quietly Sitting Around In My Head For Too Long. Also, methinks, a good pretext to talk about that song.

‘One After 909’ is a long, long way from being the best Beatles song (it didn’t figure in the results of the Normblog Beatles poll a while back), but that still leaves plenty of room for it to be pretty good. And it is remarkable, for being – as far as I know – the Beatles song that spent the longest time in gestation.

It was released, as everyone knows, in 1970 on Let it Be, having been recorded in January 1969 (part of the famous rooftop concert):

But a few takes of it were recorded way back in March 1963; these eventually appeared on Anthology 1 in 1995. There are a couple of false starts, with some entertaining banter each time a take breaks down; then, from about 2’20 to 5’20, there’s a complete version:

Even then, though, it was a golden oldie. It had been a regular feature in Quarrymen/Beatles gigs in the late 50s/early 60s. John Lennon told Rolling Stone magazine that he’d written it when he was 17 or 18 – which would date it to maybe 1958. A (poor-quality) Quarrymen demo tape of it still survives from spring 1960:

Interesting that the 1963 version is slower, and that the 1969 version is very true to the sound of the early days.

More info here and here.

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