When was it recorded? Apr. 7-11, May 18, and Jun. 17, 1966
When was it first released, and on which album? Aug. 5, 1966 on “Revolver”
Who wrote it? McCartney
Have I heard this song before? Yes
What my research dug up:
Analyses of “Got to Get You into My Life” have a definite benefit from hindsight. Growing up knowing the song is a wink-wink-nudge ode to marijuana, what else could I interpret it as now? Kudos to making “Got to Get You” sound like a love song, though.
“’Got To Get You Into My Life’ was one I wrote when I had first been introduced to pot. I’d been a rather straight working-class lad but when we started to get into pot it seemed to me to be quite uplifting… I didn’t have a hard time with it and to me it was mind-expanding, literally mind-expanding. So ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ is really a song about that, it’s not to a person, it’s actually about pot. It’s saying, ‘I’m going to do this. This is not a bad idea.’ So it’s actually an ode to pot, like someone else might write an ode to chocolate or a good claret.” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)
“Got to Get You” began with a sound radically different from the finished soul jam. On the first day, it was recorded with a harmonium backing. This Apr. 7 demo appeared on “Anthology 2.”
The Beatles rearranged and re-recorded the rhythm track the following day, mucked around with the guitar part for a bit, then let it sit until May. That’s when the brass, woodwinds, tambourine and organ came out to play. Eddie Thornton and Peter Coe from the British jazz group The Blue Flames (they backed Georgie Fame, not Jimi Hendrix) “performed along with other freelance jazz musicians” (Wikipedia) on the final, Motown-flavored recording.
Alan Pollack notes, “On very close listening… the finished recording seems surprisingly ‘dirty,’ with stray studio talk buried below the music near the beginning, and bleed-ins or some other kinds of ghostly remnants of earlier tracks not quite entirely mixed out of the official version. This is a reminder, on the one hand, of the rather primitive pre-digital techniques and equipment they had to deal with in the mid-sixties, but I’ll also stand by my earlier comment that this crufty audio quality is part of an intentional aesthetic here.” I could definitely pick out the studio chatter in the stereo version linked below.
According to Wikipedia, “The mono and stereo mixes of the recording feature different ad-libs in the fade-out — the presence of a second vocal track is also more subtle for most of the mono version. Backing vocals were recorded early but later eliminated.” Compare and contrast.
Ten years after its recording/release, “Got to Get You” was released as a single on May 31, 1976, in the USA. Despite the band being broken up for six years, the single peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and was certified Gold. Those wacky record distributors.
In my opinion, “Got to Get You” is one of Beatles songs that holds up best over time. It doesn’t sound as dated as some of their earlier (Moptop) or later (Psychedelia) works. Plus, it’s just a blast to listen to.