Why John Lennon Played Solo Guitar on The Beatles’ “Get Back”

John Lennon was many things: expert singer, intelligent lyricist, multi-instrumentalist, iconoclastic avant-garde, advocate of peace, passionate about bread. But in The Beatles, he was very rarely a lead guitarist.

This is because the group already had one of the most accomplished guitarists in the world: George Harrison. Harrison was specifically chosen with the idea that he would be the lead guitarist for the band, and so Lennon never strayed too far from the realm of rhythm.

But Lennon was not exclusively a rhythm player. Every now and then, whether it’s because he already had a solo in mind or because Harrison was concerned, Lennon stepped forward to provide lead guitar lines to Beatles songs. He and Harrison shared the main part in harmony on ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’, while Lennon took on the solo on ‘You Can’t Do That’ after Harrison played the main riff.

Lennon’s scathing lead lines can be heard on “Revolution,” “Birthday” and “Yer Blues,” and indeed, it seemed like Lennon was eager to star on the dirtiest, bluesy acts of the world. group catalog. Lennon’s main style was aggressive and off-balance, as evidenced by his series of turns during his solo section on “The End”. But Lennon could also be a sober player: his brief solo on “Honey Pie” is jazzy and indicates a more classic ear, while his slide work on “For You Blue” is his more blues side in a quieter setting.

If you had to point out a single main part of Lennon that was his most accomplished, however, it could be “Get Back”. There are blues roots in the song’s composition, but he’s also a relatively straight rocker, the genre Harrison was good at finding solo parts for. So why is Lennon providing these lines instead of Harrison?

The answer lies in the departure of Harrison’s temperature from the group during the So be it sessions. Fed up with the tense atmosphere and autocratic leadership style of Paul McCartney, Harrison left with the intention of resigning in early 1969. After a day or two of considering the possibilities of hiring a new guitarist, Lennon decided to resign. to replace Harrison during the arrangement of ‘Get Back’. Its main lines are fluid and are reminiscent of 1950s rock and roll players like Scotty Moore and Carl Perkins, the same players who influenced Harrison’s initial playing style.

When Harrison agreed to come back a few days after his walkout, “Get Back” was solidifying. Seeing that there was already a lead guitar part in place, “Get Back” became one of the few songs in Beatles canon where Lennon was the designated lead player and Harrison was the designated rhythm player.


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