I've Got a Feeling -the Beatles
"It was fifty years ago today, Sergeant Pepper told the band to play...." well, fifty years today since January 30th 1969 when the Beatles last played live in concert together on the roof of the Apple offices in Savile Row, Mayfair, London, W1. Along with Billy Preston on keyboards, they played five songs before the police, concerned that the crowds gathering in the streets below would cause traffic gridlock, forced an end to proceedings. On the roof they played five songs and one of them was "I've Got a Feeling" which, along with three other rooftop songs, appeared on the "Let it Be" album.
The previous live concert that they played together before a public audience was on August 30 1966 in Candlewick Park, San Francisco. It was on this tour of the US that they realised that they didn't want to tour anymore. Aside from the fact that for much of the time the screaming of the fans was so loud that the band couldn't hear themselves properly, they also were unable to play songs from their latest album, "Revolver" as, because it was more experimental than previous LP's, they couldn't reproduce them on stage.
Three very productive years later, and the Beatles had hired Phil Spector to produce their "Let It Be" album, and were making a film of its recording. During the recording sessions, this prompted them to go onto the roof and play live, intending it to be a feature of the final movie. Although they were later to record "Abbey Road", "Let It Be" was the last album to be released by the Beatles and, whether consciously or not, has a valedictory feel about it, including as it does the number "One After 909" - one of the earliest Lennon / McCartney compositions which had been sitting on the shelf since the late fifties, a rendering of a pub song from their Liverpool youths - Maggie Mae - and a trio of offerings from McCartney - "Two Of Us", "Get Back" and "The Long and Winding Road" - where he is clearly looking reminiscently back over the last ten years with the air of a man about to move on.
Many people nowadays say that the Lennon McCartney songs were always composed exclusively by one or the other. But the reality is that they both respected each other's opinions on their music more than any one else. As time went on, let's face it, they were probably the only ones who could tell them that what they had produced wasn't good enough, so with each Lennon or McCartney masterpiece, the other one was always there helping out, making constructive judgements and suggestions; which is one of the main reasons (there are others of course) why their output of their eight recording years was of such a consistently high standard; and why they were never able to maintain such a high standard after the Beatles split up, neither of them ever putting together more than two great albums in a row since.
Arguably the greatest Beatles song is "A Day in the Life" from the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album and it is one of only two Lennon McCarney songs (so far as I know) where they both have overtly shared in the composition of the song. In "A Day in the life" the verses are classic Lennon: poetic, visually artistic, psychedelic ("I heard the news today, oh boy" etc); the middle eight however is typical McCartney ("Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head") and no less brilliant: homely, observant, equally poetic in a domestic sense, slightly jazzy and as episodic as a short story or a chapter from a Mills and Boon novella, the perfect counterpoint to Lennon's flight of fantasy.
The only other true combination song is this, "I've Got a Feeling" with the rolls reversed and McCartney doing the verse with Lennon on the second section, (one hesitates to call it a middle eight as the guitar backing is the same though the tune is different). This track shows the brilliance of the Beatles, how they had throughout the sixtes pushed themselves forward artistically while absorbing the heavier rock influences that kept coming along from the likes of Cream and the Who.
Here Paul is at his soulful, screaming, dynamic best and John compliments him with his wistful list of poetic opposites. The band, augmented by funky keyboards from Billy Preston, is tight and together in a funky, fuzzy way that makes you want to swing your hips. Here they are: the best band that ever was, whether you like them or not, knocking out just another song. And, like so many of the others, what a song. For me, though, it's this rather than the track "Let It Be" that serves as their epitaph:
"Everybody had a hard year everybody had a good time everybody had a wet dream, everybody saw the sunshine oh yeah, oh yeah....."