- Published in 1967
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 4 on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“
Beatles quotes about “Getting Better”
JOHN 1980: “It is a diary form of writing. All that ‘I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved’ was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically… any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.”
PAUL 1984: “Wrote that at my house in St. John’s Wood. All I remember is that I said, ‘It’s getting better all the time,’ and John contributed the legendary line ‘It couldn’t get much worse.’ Which I thought was very good. Against the spirit of that song, which was all super-optimistic… then there’s that lovely little sardonic line. Typical John.”
About “Getting Better”
“Getting Better” was composed mainly by Paul McCartney, with some of the lyrics written by John Lennon.
Musically, the song is similar to the Beatles’ popular single “Penny Lane“. It moves forward by using regular chords, which are produced by the electric guitars of Lennon and Harrison. George Martin plays pianet and piano, on the latter bypassing the keyboard and directly striking the strings. As a result of these heavily accented and repetitive lines, the song sounds like it is based on a drone. This impact was further enhanced by Harrison’s addition of an Indian tambura part to the final verse. An Indian mood is created by the percussion introduced in this section combined with the tambura.
According to music critic Ian MacDonald, McCartney’s bass line juxtaposes this droning in a dreamy manner that is well thought out as part of the production. As with many bass lines on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, it was recorded after the main track was completed. For the first chorus, McCartney switches to a marching quarter-note (walking) bass line after leaping two octaves in the verse. However, the subsequent choruses are played with a fluid, swing feel, full of anticipated notes that propel the song forward despite the quarter-note droning.
- Paul McCartney – double-tracked vocals, bass guitar, handclapping
- John Lennon – backing vocals, rhythm guitar, handclapping
- George Harrison – backing vocals, lead guitar, tambura, handclapping
- Ringo Starr – drums, congas, handclapping
- George Martin – piano, pianet
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