Culture Wikia
This article is about the song by the Beatles. For other uses, see Getting Better (disambiguation).

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"Getting Better"
File:Getting Better - The Beatles (sheet music).jpg
Original UK sheet music for the song
Song by the Beatles
from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Released1 June 1967
Recorded9 March 1967
LabelParlophone, Capitol, EMI
Producer(s)George Martin

"Getting Better" is a song written mainly by Paul McCartney, with lyrical contributions from John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney).[2] It was recorded by the Beatles for the 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.


The song, which has been said to be musically reminiscent of the hit single "Penny Lane,"[3] moves forward by way of regular chords, produced by Lennon's guitar, McCartney's electric piano, and George Martin, who struck the strings of a pianet with a mallet. These heavily accented and repetitive lines cause the song to sound as if it is based on a drone. Lead guitarist George Harrison adds an Indian tambura part to the final verse, which further accentuates this impact.

McCartney's bassline, in counterpoint to this droning, was described by music critic Ian MacDonald as "dreamy" and "well thought out as a part of the production by McCartney".[4] It was recorded after the main track was completed like many of the basslines on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band were.[5] Starting out in the verse with a pedal on the root note (G) that leaps two octaves, McCartney moves to a marching quarter-note (walking) bass line for the first (and only the first) chorus. In stark contrast, all subsequent choruses are played using a fluid, swing feel, full of anticipated notes that propel the song forward despite the quarter-note droning of the guitar and keyboard.

The song's title and music suggest optimism, but some of the song's lyrics have a more negative tone. In this sense, it reflects the contrasting personas of the two songwriters. In response to McCartney's line, "It's getting better all the time", Lennon replies, "Can't get no worse!"[6] In a December 1983 interview, McCartney praised this contribution as an example of things he "couldn't ever have done [him]self".[7]

Referring to the lyric "I used to be cruel to my woman/I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved/Man I was mean but I'm changing my scene/And I'm doing the best that I can", Lennon admitted that he had done things in relationships in the past that he was not proud of.[8]

In a 1980 interview in Playboy with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Lennon, when asked about the song, commiserated that the song's lyrics came personally from his own experience abusing women in relationships in the past. He states: "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."

According to the author Hunter Davies and music critic Ian MacDonald, the initial idea for the song's title came from a phrase often spoken by Jimmie Nicol, the group's stand-in drummer for the Australian leg of a 1964 tour.[2][4]

Lennon on the roof[]

One of the recording sessions for "Getting Better" is famous for an incident involving Lennon. During the 21 March 1967 session in which producer George Martin added a piano solo to Lovely Rita, Lennon complained that he did not feel well and could not focus.[9][10] He had accidentally taken LSD when he meant to take an upper.[11] Unaware of the mistake, Martin took him up to the roof of Abbey Road Studios for some fresh air, and returned to Studio Two where McCartney and Harrison were waiting. They knew why Lennon was not well, and upon hearing where Lennon was, rushed to the roof to retrieve him and prevent a possible accident.[10][12][13]


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[3]

Live performances[]

Paul McCartney performed the song live for the first time by any Beatle on his 2002 Driving World Tour. He later reprised the song on his 2003 Back in the World Tour.

Cover versions[]

  • Davy Graham included a version of the song on his 1969 album, Hat.
  • In 1976, Status Quo covered the song for the musical documentary, All This and World War II.
  • The 1978 film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band features a version of "Getting Better" by Peter Frampton and The Bee Gees.
  • Steve Hillage released a version on his 1979 album, Open
  • Public Enemy sampled the song for the track "Who Stole the Soul?" on their 1990 album, Fear of a Black Planet.
  • The CCM group Allies sampled part of the chorus in their song, "Jacque Remembers".
  • In 1988, The Wedding Present covered the song on the multi-artist compilation, Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father.
  • From 1995 to 2005, the song was recorded as a cover for the Australian television lifestyle garden show, Better Homes and Gardens.
  • In 2000, it was covered by Gomez on their album Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline; this version was used as a theme song for the Philips' television ad campaigns in 2001.
  • In the 2003 film adaptation of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat, a version of this song recorded by the band Smash Mouth, with a horn interlude replacing the third verse, was used in the sequence of the Cat, Thing One and Thing Two cleaning up the wreckage of the house.
  • In 2007, Kaiser Chiefs re-recorded the song for It Was 40 Years Ago Today, a BBC television film with contemporary acts recording the album's songs using the same studio, technicians and recording techniques as the original.
  • In 2007, Fionn Regan did a cover for the album Sgt. Pepper...With A Little Help From His Friends presented by Mojo magazine.
  • Les Fradkin has an instrumental version on his 2007 release Pepper Front To Back.
  • Cheap Trick released Sgt. Pepper Live in 2009, which includes the song.
  • Elio e le Storie Tese sampled the song for the track "Il Congresso delle Parti Molli" on their 2008 album Studentessi.
  • In 2009, Northern Irish band Kowalski covered the song at the BBC Across The Line Headroom gig at Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast.
  • On their 2014 tour, The Afghan Whigs appended an earnest, downtempo version of the song to their set-closer, "Lost In The Woods."



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  • Emerick, Geoff; Massey, Howard (2006). Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 1-59240-179-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-57066-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt & Company. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Pollack, Alan W. (31 December 1995). "Notes on "Getting Better"". "Notes on" Series.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Spitz, Bob (2005). The Beatles: The Biography. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-80352-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links[]

Template:Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band