Don't Let Me Down - The Beatles

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"Don't Let Me Down" - The Beatles (1970)

Don’t Let Me Down was void of any electronics- “the Beatles as nature had intended.”

Lennon said he was singing about Yoko Ono on the track.

McCartney said in the mid-1990s that the song was a genuine plea for help by Lennon- due to the escalating use of heroin and all the accompanying paranoia.

The song has a dreamy, love-soaked feel and a fine, minimalist lyric that answers the impassioned “don’ts” of the title and refrain with a trio of droll verses that practically conjugate the verb “to do” (She do me….she does me…..she done me”).

The verses delivers a cleverly worded yet unambiguous praise about the narrator’s love’s latest object in the third person. The refrains, in rather unsettling contrast, transmit a primal scream for insurance on direct address to the same love’s “object”. In hindsight, even the words of praise seem self-centered around the edges in the sense of, what’s the protagonist done for her lately?

Each verse begins with John singing a capella, in a free form style, with the result that the entire band has to wait for his downbeat. Lennon asked Ringo to crash his cymbals loudly to give me the courage to come in screaming.”

McCartney’s base is played through a Fender Bass amplifier which gave it a slightly raunchy, barely distorted sound he did not get on any other song. Ringo comes up with the orthodox accents on his bass drum.

Writes Beatle scholar Ken Womack:

Matching the ferocity of Lennons lead vocal, McCartneys bass runs absolutely wild in its electric duet with Billy Prestons Fender Rhodes electric piano. Meanwhile, Ringos cymbal crashes afford John with the courage to bare his aching soul. The song reaches its fever-pitch in the middle-eight, which is at once Johns most vulnerable and authentic moment on record. His vocal is beautifully rendered against the sound of Georges cascading guitar part, a descending figure that seems to respond to the singers emotional confession, urging him to transcend his own misgivings, his own cynicism, and take the leap of faith that love demands.

Don’t Let Me Down is a song about fame that decries robbed privacy. It is a pledge of devotion that writhes in the fear of loss. It is about a love that has no past and lacks the experience to know better. The narrator is putting all his stock in this first love and doesn’t want her to let it end or in other words “let him down.”


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