The Beatles on January 21, 1969 Podcast

All four Beatles returned to work on January 21, 1969.  Billy Preston gets credit for lightening their moods but the greatly improved atmosphere is evident today.  Billy won’t turn up until tomorrow afternoon.   John gives a crap, George isn’t so cranky, Paul is less bossy, and the little Ringo says is good-natured.

The existence of this session was overlooked until a few years ago.  I will tell you the story of how this happened because it is a good illustration of how knowledge advances.

Mark Lewisohn was given access to every Beatles recording at EMI.  The resultant book, The Beatles Recording Sessions gives us a summary of every EMI session and a few others as well.  It is sometimes referred to as “The Bible” because every Beatles scholar owns and consults it frequently.  (I find the books of Doug Sulpy and John C. Winn more helpful, but that is because they built on Lewisohn’s work.

The Beatles Recording Sessions is a very important book, but it is very different from The Bible.  It is not presented as received wisdom.  No one has to accept anything in it on faith.  Every claim Lewisohn makes can be (actually MUST be) backed up by recording tape, a document, or at least the first-hand account of someone who was there.  In cases where evidence is contradictory or incomplete, Lewiston made a logical conclusion.  His conclusions won’t stand forever.  What we believe about The Beatles will change when new evidence is discovered or when people re-interpret existing evidence.

Some people would be deeply offended if their religious texts were subjected to this level of scrutiny. 

Outside of religion (the belief part, not the historical part), this is how humans accumulate knowledge.  In science, history, carpentry, mathematics, medicine, manufacturing, cooking, psychology, literary criticism, and even home making, people come to conclusions based on their observations.  Then other people make their own observations of old or new evidence and confirm or revise the original conclusions.  How far is the moon?  How can I get Sharpie off my kitchen counter?  When did The Beatles first record “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window?”  All three questions can be answered this way.  (Yes, I am referring to the scientific method.  It is used in many fields other than science.)

The tapes EMI had when Lewisohn did his research contained no concrete proof of a January 21 session.  .

Turn to p. 167 in your Bible  copy of Recording Sessions.  Notice several things about the tape box shown on the lower left.  It is undated.  The notes are in Paul’s handwriting.  He was playing during the recording, so his notes must have been added later.  “Bathroom Window” is backwards, which is a little odd.  Even so, Lewisohn reasonably concluded that recordings at Apple began on January 22.

 When most of the film crew’s recordings turned up 12 years later, these sessions were seriously re-examined.  It was discovered that there definitely was a January 21 session.  Professional recordings are discussed but Lewisohn didn’t find them.  Doug Sulpy came up with a good explanation.  The January 21 tapes were considered unusable, so on January 22 Glyn Johns flipped over the January 21 tape and recorded over the Jan 21 recordings.  “Bathroom Window” was never taped over.  That song was appears appears on the film crew’s tapes from Jan 21, but not Jan 22, which makes it more likely that it actually dates from Jan 21. 

Come back here tomorrow to find out what the Beatles actually did on January 22.

Rock Dad out.

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