The Beatles are one of those bands so famous, that to the untrained ear of the average person, its hard to tell which Beatle is singing what. Of course, such distinctions are “Beatles 101” to hardcore fans, but part of the confusion lies in the seamless harmonic blend Lennon and McCartney produced in many of their classic hits. When they weren’t sharing a lead vocal or a song dominated by harmonies, the Beatles had simple rules about who was going to sing lead for any given song. Normally, the principle songwriter was the logical choice for the lead. It was very rare when these roles were reversed. For instance, there isn’t one song that George or Ringo wrote that John or Paul sang lead on, and there isn’t one instance in the Beatle catalog of Paul or John writing a song specifically for their partner to tackle. There were anomalies of course. Sometimes John would write a song with melodic sections too high for him to reach, so he’d have Paul take over. This is evident in the bridge 0f “A Hard Day’s Night,” and the choruses of “Anytime At All.” “Day Tripper,” another John song, was almost entirely out of John’s vocal range, and so Paul becomes the dominant voice throughout the verses with John beefing up the lower harmonies and the bridge. Despite this, John and Paul never poached each others tunes, or more exactly, they were so competitive, they wouldn’t allow it. This came to a head during the Abbey Road sessions when John really wanted Paul’s “Oh! Darling,” but Paul wouldn’t give it up. All this history leads to the rarity of the video I’m about to present which is a near complete performance of John Lennon singing Paul’s 1969 hit “Get Back.” What makes this so rare and interesting is that for starters, Paul sings the lead on the record and in the live rooftop performance. Secondly, to have John sing a Paul song with fun and relish right when they were breaking up is extremely bizarre given how their respective massive egos could barely keep them in the same room by that point. What’s also interesting about John’s performance here is that he includes bits of lyrics that Paul originally wrote about Pakistanis taking British jobs, but later cut out due to political incorrectness. So, with all that said, I’ve laid out this super treat of rock and roll goodness for all you to enjoy, but before you do, make sure to cast your vote for CBS’s Best Local NYC blogger, in which I’m a finalist. Remember, if you’ve voted already, you can vote again, once every day until the contest ends on September 9th. Just click these words to help me out, I really appreciate it!
Wait, don’t go just yet. As a bonus I’ve included another ultra rare performance, this time its none other than George Harrison taking his shot at singing lead at “Get Back.” He was doing as a guiding track for Doris Troy’s cover version that she was cutting for Apple in 1970. George isn’t as intense as John or Paul, but he’s having a good time leading this funkier version of “Get Back,” plus he even tries to make up his own new melodic section at the end before he gives up. AWESOME!