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"Getting Better" is a song written mainly by Paul McCartney, with lyrical contributions from John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney).[3] It was recorded by the Beatles for the 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

"Getting Better"
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
Released 26 May 1967[1]
Recorded 9 March 1967
Length 2:47
Label Parlophone, Capitol, EMI
Songwriter(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin



The song, which has been said to be musically reminiscent of the hit single "Penny Lane,"[4] moves forward by way of regular chords, produced by Lennon's guitar, McCartney's electric piano[verification needed], 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 tanpura 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".[5] It was recorded after the main track was completed, as were many of the bass lines on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[6] 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!"[7] In a December 1983 interview, McCartney praised this contribution as an example of things he "couldn't ever have done [him]self".[8]

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.[9]

In a 1980 interview in Playboy with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Lennon, when asked about the song, said 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.[3][5]

Lennon on the roofEdit

One of the recording sessions for "Getting Better" is infamous 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.[10][11] He had accidentally taken LSD when he meant to take an upper.[12] 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.[11][13][14]


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[4]

Live performancesEdit

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.[citation needed]

Cover versionsEdit


  1. ^ Everett 1999, p. 123. "In the United Kingdom Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...was rush-released six days ahead of its official date, June 1."
  2. ^ Unterberger 2009.
  3. ^ a b Miles 1997, pp. 312–313.
  4. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 241.
  5. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 200.
  6. ^ MacDonald 2005.
  7. ^ Miles 1997, p. 314.
  8. ^ "December 1983 interview". Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Spitz 2005, pp. 670–671.
  11. ^ a b Lewisohn 1988, p. 104.
  12. ^ Miles 1997, p. 382.
  13. ^ The Beatles 2000, p. 242.
  14. ^ Emerick & Massey 2006, p. 172–173.
  15. ^


External linksEdit