Beatles Week – “Got to Get You Into My Life”

I was invited by Max at the PowerPop blog to contribute to Beatles Week by writing about my favorite Beatles song.  Now I have many favorite Beatles songs, including some more obscure ones, but one song immediately popped into my head.  It was probably the first song by the Beatles that I ever loved, even before I knew it was by the Beatles.  I copied the post below, but check out the original on the PowerPop blog and leave some comments there should you be so moved.


“Got to Get You Into My Life” is a song by The Beatles that was a top ten hit when I was a small child.  Except that The Beatles broke up more than 3 years before I was even born.  How could this be?  It was a mystery to me for a long time.  I didn’t even know it was a song by The Beatles until I was a teenager in the 1980s.  It puzzled me how I could remember “Got to Get You Into My Life” being in heavy rotation with the songs I heard played on the radio in my dad’s Chevy Nova back in the mid-70s.

I won’t keep you in suspense as long as I was.  It turns out that Capitol Records, The Beatles label in the United States, released “Got to Get You Into My Life” as a single on May 31, 1976.  Despite being a ten-year-old song at that point, it did well on the charts, peaking at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the week of July 24, 1976.  It would be The Beatles last Top Ten hit until “Free As A Bird” in 1995.

The single was released to promote a compilation album that Capitol Records was promoting called Rock ‘n’ Roll Music.  The collection of 28 rockers culled from The Beatles’ previous releases was clearly Capitol looking to make some money off of a beloved band that wasn’t making any new music. It sold well, reaching number 2 on the Billboard album charts, ironically held out of the top spot by Paul McCartney’s Wings at the Speed of Sound.

The album cover for Rock ‘n’ Roll Music was designed to tap into the Fifties nostalgia craze of the 1970s with images of a jukebox, cars with big fins, and Marilyn Monroe.  The Beatles, notably were a Sixties band, but the title track is a cover of a Chuck Berry song from the Fifties, so there’s a tenuous connection. The Fifties nostalgia probably was kicked off by the doo wop cover act Sha Na Na performing at Woodstock in 1969 (the group would get a TV show that started in 1977. I loved Bowser).  The Broadway musical Grease (1972), the movie American Graffiti (1973), and the TV sitcom Happy Days (debuted in 1974), all continued this trend.  Even John Lennon got into the act with his 1974 album Rock ‘N’ Roll,  a collection of  covers of Lennon’s favorite songs from his youth.

But “Got to Get You Into My Life” is not a Fifties song.  It’s a Sixties song that became a hit in the Seventies partly because it really sounds like the soul and funk music that was dominating the charts at the time.  Does it not sound like it totally fits in with the Number One song of week of July 24, 1976, “Kiss and Say Goodbye” by The Manhattans (who despite their name were a New Jersey band who played Philadelphia soul).  Even better evidence that an old Beatles’ album track somehow captured the zeitgeist of Seventies funk and soul is that the Chicago R&B band Earth, Wind, & Fire released a cover of the song in July 1978 (their version peaked at #9 on the Hot 100).

But let’s go back to the Sixties, when the Beatles recorded the song.  The lineup for The Beatles recording the song was Paul McCartney on lead vocal and bass, John Lennon on rhythm guitar,  George Harrison on lead guitar, and Ringo star on drums and tambourine.  Producer George Martin also added organ.  But if you’re going to record an homage to Motown and Memphis soul, you’re going to need horns.  So a quintet of guest artists were brought in.

  • Eddie Thornton – trumpet. The Jamaican-born Thornton, known by the nickname Tan Tan, is likely the first Black guest musician on a Beatles recording since The Beatles didn’t have many guest artists prior to recording Revolver.
  • Ian Hamer – trumpet.  Hamer was a jazz artists who had a long career as a Liverpool big band leader.
  • Les Condon – trumpet.  The London-born Condon was a modern jazz pioneer who played with many of the top UK and American jazz acts.
  • Alan Branscombe – tenor saxophone.  Merseyside-born Branscombe was a sideman to numerous jazz band leaders over a four decade career.
  • Peter Coe – tenor saxophone. Coe was more of a pop musician and had previously played with the British R&B band Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, contributing a sax solo to their UK #1 hit “Yeh Yeh.”

Having discussed many aspects of the song, let us finish with the lyrics.  It is a love song, of course.  Right? Well, according to McCartney “It’s actually an ode to pot.”  Legendarily, the Beatles were introduced to marijuana by Bob Dylan when they met in 1964, and the band grew to incorporate the drug into their creative process leading to this love song to pot.  Personally, I’m going to forget that I learned that because while I’ve never used marijuana, I have been in love.  The lyrics of this song so perfectly capture that feeling of meeting an intoxicating person (or plant) and connecting with them so fully that you just want to spend every moment you can with them.  Surely this is what Paul McCartney would feel when he met Linda Eastman in 1967.  In fact, they are famous for spending “every single day” of their lives together until Linda’s death in 1998. You can read the full lyrics and decide for yourself if this is a love song, a drug song, or (most likely) both.


One thought on “Beatles Week – “Got to Get You Into My Life”

Your comments are welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.