The ‘Let It Be’ Song The Beatles Trimmed Down From 12 Minutes of Material
When fans and critics start ranking all the albums by The Beatles, you usually find Let It Be (1970) near the bottom. That makes sense for a number of reasons. For starters, the last Beatles release wasn’t a product of all four band members working together in the studio.
In early ’70, after the band handed the tapes over to producer Phil Spector, Paul McCartney was barely speaking with the other three Beatles. And when he heard Spector’s rendition of “The Long and Winding Road” Paul became irate (to put it mildly).
Meanwhile, John Lennon didn’t play on “I Me Mine,” the last track The Beatles recorded in a studio as a band. And, speaking of George Harrison songs, you have to wonder how George only had “For You Blue” and “I Me Mine” on there, what with all the songs he had stashed in his notebook.
In brief, Let It Be is a so-so Beatles album because the band didn’t care enough to make it better. That applies to “Dig It,” the very rare track credited to all four band members. On one of the takes, “Dig It” exceeded 12 minutes in length.
‘Dig It’ went from over 12 minutes to 0:51 on ‘Let It Be’
Originally, the point of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions was to get all four band members rehearsing and jamming together as they had in the past. In an ideal world, they’d have rekindled their love of playing together and done a few live shows in addition to the documentary they were making.
But that’s not how it went down (at least in the Let It Be documentary). In addition to George’s walkout during the January ’69 sessions, many of the resentments of the White Album (1968) days still lingered. Still, The Beatles did their share of jamming during these weeks in the studio.
“Dig It,” a Lennon-McCartney-Harrison-Starkey composition, lasted 12:25 in the Jan. 26 sessions. On the track, you hear the band mowing through a simple chord sequence with John improvising his lyrics. Keyboardist Billy Preston also joined in on that jam. (He did not receive a songwriting credit.)
When producers sifted through the tapes later in ’69, a rendition of “Dig It” lasting almost 4 minutes got cut. But that version never made it onto Let It Be. Instead, a small slice of the 12-minute jam ended up on the final Beatles release.
‘Dig It’ didn’t make the cut on Paul McCartney’s ‘Let It Be… Naked’
In 2003, after George and John had passed on, Paul got his wish for a Spector-free record in the form of Let It Be… Naked. Instead of the grandiose arrangements on “The Long and Winding Road,” you got Paul at the piano without any orchestral backing.
And on “Let It Be” you also heard the orchestra and choir stripped out. As for “Dig It,” the Naked version from 2003 removed that track completely. The same fate was in store for “Maggie Mae,” another short song on the original Let It Be release.
Paul substituted “Don’t Let Me Down,” a much more substantial John song from the era, in their place. And a Naked version of “Across the Universe” also turned up on Paul’s revision of the album. So was Let It Be fixed with Paul’s 2003 effort? No. That part didn’t change. It stands as an alternate take of a lesser Beatles album.