Ringo Starr and John Lennon Had Conflicting Feelings About The Beatles’ ‘Get Back’

Ringo Starr never played The Beatles’ “Get Back” in full in the studio. John Lennon said the song was connected to Paul McCartney’s feelings about Yoko Ono.

While The Beatles wrote great harmonies, they were far from a harmonious band. Ringo Starr and John Lennon had different takes on The Beatles’ “Get Back.” One had fond memories of the song, especially a famous live version of it, while the other dismissed the track. John famously claimed Paul McCartney wrote the song to express his feelings about Yoko Ono. He also said it sounded a lot like one of the Fab Four’s other hits.

Ringo Starr said The Beatles’ ‘Get Back’ sounded different at the rooftop concert

During a 2023 interview with USA Today, Ringo looked back at “Get Back.” “I love [the song] ‘Get Back,’” he said, beaming. “If you look at the [Peter Jackson documentary Get Back] … I never played to the whole song [in the studio]. Anyway, all the bits we were writing, it was regular rock.”

Things turned out differently when the Fab Four played the song at their famous 1969 rooftop concert. “Up there on the roof, it was this other pattern,” Ringo said, his eyes widening at the memory. “I thought, why did I get to that, how did I get to that?”

John Lennon felt the song sounded like 1 of The Beatles’ hits that he didn’t like

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features an interview from 1980. In it, John was asked about “Get Back.’ “‘Get Back’ is Paul,” he said. “That’s a better version of ‘Lady Madonna.’ You know, a potboiler rewrite.” A “potboiler” is a subpar work of art made for money, so John calling the song a “potboiler” is pretty insulting, especially since “Get Back” remains one of the band’s most beloved hits.

In context, it’s even more insulting that John called the tune a potboiler “Lady Madonna.” During the same interview, he said that, while “Lady Madonna” had a nice riff, it never went anywhere. He wasn’t sure if he helped Paul write the song’s lyrics, but if he did, he wasn’t proud of them. John’s take on the situation is very strange because, while “Get Back” and “Lady Madonna” both blend rock and blues, they’re not that musically similar and their lyrics are completely different from each other.

John Lennon felt ‘Get Back’ was about Paul McCartney resenting Yoko Ono

John dismissed the idea that “Get Back” portrayed actual events before saying it was connected to his wife. “I think there’s some underlying thing about Yoko in there,” he revealed. “You know, ‘Get back to where you once belonged.’ Every time he sang the line in the studio, he’d look at Yoko.”

John was asked if he was joking. “No,” he said. “But maybe he’ll say I’m paranoid. You know, he can say, ‘I’m a normal family man, those two are freaks.’ That’ll leave him a chance to say that one.” John was correct in stating that, by the 1980s, Paul had a family-man image while John and Yoko were known as avant-gardists.

John wasn’t the biggest fan of “Get Back” but Ringo appreciates its greatness.

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