When was it recorded? Jan. 3 and Apr. 1-2, 1970
When was it first released, and on which album? May 8, 1970 on “Let It Be”
Who wrote it? Harrison
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
“I Me Mine” was (technically) the last original song ever recorded by the Beatles; quoth the Beatles Bible, “It seems fitting that a song about egocentricity was the final recording by the group, who by 1970 had all but disintegrated into acrimony and lethargy, with the various members wanting quite different things from life.”
According to Wikipedia, the title phrase “is a conventional way of referring to the ego in a Hindu context. For example, the Bhagavad Gita 2:71-72 can be translated as “They are forever free who renounce all selfish desires and break away from the ego-cage of “I”, “me” and “mine” to be united with the Lord.”
Beatles biographer Jonathan Gould claimed “I Me Mine” was “a commentary on the selfishness of John and Paul.” While possible, that was probably not a conscious intention since George wrote the song while tripping out.
“Having LSD was like someone catapulting me out into space. The LSD experience was the biggest experience that I’d had up until that time… Suddenly I looked around and everything I could see was relative to my ego, like ‘that’s my piece of paper’ and ‘that’s my flannel’ or ‘give it to me’ or ‘I am’. It drove me crackers, I hated everything about my ego, it was a flash of everything false and impermanent, which I disliked. But later, I learned from it, to realize that there is somebody else in here apart from old blabbermouth. Who am ‘I’ became the order of the day. Anyway, that’s what came out of it, ‘I Me Mine.’ The truth within us has to be realized. When you realize that, everything else that you see and do and touch and smell isn’t real, then you may know what reality is, and can answer the question ‘Who am I?’” — George Harrison (I Me Mine [book])
Wikipedia tells me incidental music from Jan. 7, 1969’s BBC program “Europa—The Titled and the Untitled” inspired the melody of “I Me Mine.” Alas, the rest of the Internet has yet to provide this music for me. According to Wikipedia, George “Harrison wrote the song that night [Jan. 7] and performed the song for the other Beatles the following morning.”
The next day was one of the days the Beatles were filming their documentary “Let It Be.” Quoth the Beatles Bible, “In the film, Harrison first plays the song to Starr, followed by a version performed by Harrison, McCartney and Starr, during which John Lennon dances with Yoko Ono.” (We’ll come back to this.)
Of “I Me Mine,” Alan Pollack noted, “In consideration of the recording history and the available outtakes, you get the impression George never had, or took, the time to truly finish the piece; that they might not have taken it as far as they wound up doing if not for a sense of obligation to include it on the album because parts of it would appear in the film… The early outtakes of the song, all from the 1/8/69 sessions, demonstrate an uncertainty about how to segue into and out of the refrain, with a variety of experiments using a Flamenco-like beat for the transition that was clearly (thankfully?) lost on the way to the session for the official version a few days shy of a complete year later.”
True enough, “I Me Mine” was not originally slated for inclusion the album “Let It Be” (which was shelved) and thus never recorded in the studio. However, its appearance in the movie “Let It Be” spurred George, Paul and Ringo to revisit the tune for the now un-shelved soundtrack. John “had privately quit the group in September 1969” (Wikipedia) and was also vacationing in Denmark, so he’s absent from this recording.
George, Paul, and Ringo recorded 16 takes of “I Me Mine.” Take 15 appears on “Anthology 3” with a mock introduction from George addressing John’s absence.
For its inclusion on the “Let It Be” album, Phil Spector repeated part of the first verse, the chorus, and the final verse to bump “I Me Mine” up from 1:34 to 2:25. He also added strings and brass.
Here’s how “I Me Mine” appears on 2003’s “Let It Be… Naked” synched to the aforementioned footage from the “Let It Be” documentary (or something like it).
I know, I know, two days ago I was all ready to move on from covers and back into original material. But this is… ouch. I love the song, but all the background made me sad — hell, just mentioning the “Let It Be” documentary makes me sad (which is why I tend to skate around it on this blog). The Beatles were just disintegrating during this era, and it’s painful to watch. Not to mention Pollack’s open distain for “I Me Mine” — his notes weren’t any more uplifting here. Ah well. Tomorrow is another day.