"Getting Better" is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney based on an original idea by McCartney. It was recorded by The Beatles for the 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The song's music suggests optimism but some of the song's lyrics have a sinister theme. In this sense, it exaggerates the contrasting personas of the two most active songwriters in the group. In response to McCartney's line, "It's getting better all the time," Lennon replies, "It can't get no worse!" Lennon also claimed the lyric that begins, "I used to be cruel to my woman..."
According to Hunter Davies, the initial idea for the song's title came from a phrase often spoken by Jimmy Nicol, the group's stand-in drummer for the Australian leg of a 1964 tour.
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, Lennon complained that he didn't feel well and couldn't focus. He had accidentally taken LSD
when he meant to take an upper
. Unaware of the mistake, Martin took him up to the roof of Abbey Road Studio
for some fresh air, and returned to Studio Two where McCartney and Harrison were waiting. They knew why Lennon wasn't well, and upon hearing where Lennon was, rushed to the roof to retrieve him and prevent a possible accident.
The song, musically reminiscent of the hit single "Penny Lane
", 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 pianette 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.
The song was performed live for the first time by McCartney during his 2002 and 2003 US and World Tours.
- Slade recorded a cover version in 1970 as a BBC Session. This has not been officially released.
- In 1976, Status Quo covered the song for the transitory musical documentary All This and World War II.
- 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 the late 1990s, the song was recorded as a cover for the Australian television 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 2003, the song was again covered by the band Smash Mouth for the film adaptation of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat.
- In 2004, Branimir Krstic, classical guitarist and composer , arranged and performed the song on "Sgt. Pepper for Classical Guitar", the first full classical rendition of Sgt. Pepper.
- 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" given out by Mojo Magazine.
- The verses of the song "Baby Britain" by singer/songwriter Elliott Smith off his 1998 cd "XO" use the same music as the chorus of "Getting Better".
- Elio e le Storie Tese sampled the song for the track "Il Congresso delle Parti Molli" on their 2008 album Studentessi.
- Les Fradkin has an instrumental version on his 2007 release- "Pepper Front To Back".