Day 49: “Dig It”

When was it recorded?  Jan. 26, 1969

When was it first released, and on which album?  May 8, 1970 on “Let It Be”

Who wrote it?  Harrison/Lennon/McCartney/Starkey

Have I heard this song before?  No

What my research dug up:

Today’s song ties into my first blog post (“Day 1: 12-Bar Original”) and my most recent post, which is exciting.  Although I’m slightly concerned about coming full circle before I even turn 50 here…

Anyway, like “12-Bar,” this song is one of seven to be credited to all four Beatles writing-wise.  Also like “12-Bar,” it was the result of an improvisational jam session.  As per usual, Alan Pollack knows what’s up, tracing “the origin of the song to at least as far back to the 1/9 session at Twickenham where the infamous ‘Commonwealth Song’ is followed by another improvisation entitled ‘Get Off!’ The latter features John and Paul antiphonally shouting a free association stream of people’s names (some obscure as well as those of celebrities) over a twelve-bar blues vamp, and the frequent refraining phrase, ‘can you dig it?’”  Groove + nonsene lyrics = something we saw yesterday.  Neato.

Like a number of songs on “Let It Be,” “Dig It” was subject to a number of chops and changes.  Wikipedia notes there’s a full 15-minute version, but I couldn’t find it.  That’s OK; I think we’ll hear enough of “Dig It” for one day when I’m through.

The first recording made on Jan. 24 clocks in around eight and a half minutes.

This take was split, and the second half of this version was supposed to appear on the “Get Back” album.  Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen.  It does appear in the film “Let It Be” though.

According to the online Beatles Bible, “The Beatles returned to Dig It on 26 January, taping a second version lasting 12:25,” although Wikipedia disagrees, saying this was the 15-minute take.  This version features my friend Billy Preston on electric organ again, George Martin on percussion (what sounds like maracas), and John on a sweet, sweet six-string bass.

According to Pollack, “The ‘Let It Be’ album version of about 50 seconds is taken from around the fifth minute, with the 1/24 spoken bit tacked on.”  So to clarify, the music is from the Jan. 26 recording; John saying, “”That was ‘Can You Dig It’ by Georgie Wood, and now we’d like to do ‘Hark The Angels Come’” is from the Jan. 24 recording.  Don’t worry, I’m confused too.  And it doesn’t make much of a difference because the final album version is a whopping 51 seconds long.  All the jamming for nothing, huh?

“Dig It” didn’t exactly tickle my fancy.  I kept zoning out during the longest cut, and the shortest cut was so short I question why they bothered including it on the album.  Maybe I just enjoy structured songs too much.  Still, this being one of the last songs all four members composed and obviously had fun with gives it a greater value.

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dig_It_%28The_Beatles_song%29

http://www.beatlesbible.com/songs/dig-it/

http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/di.shtml

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