Reference Library: It Don't Come Easy
From: Malcolm Atkinson [email@example.com]
Subject: Ringo and "It Don't Come Easy" - A hopefully definitive answer
Date: 16 May 1996 05:53:57 GMT
'It Don't Come Easy' has quite a long history, being recorded and then
Recording of Ringo's new composition was begun on the evening of February
18 1970 at Abbey Road's Studio 2, during the 'Sentimental Journey' album
sessions. Earlier in the day, Ringo had re-recorded his vocals for 'Have
I Told You Lately That I Love You' and 'Let The Rest Of The World Go By',
songs destined for 'Sentimental Journey'. At this stage, the song was
known as 'You Gotta Pay Your Dues'.
On this first session, Geoge Martin was producing, with George Harrison
was playing acoustic guita and directing the other musicians, which
comprised of Ringo (drums), Klaus Voorman (bass) and Stephen Stills
(piano). 20 basic track takes were made between 7.00 pm and 12.30 am,
with Take 20 being labelled 'best'. Ringo then added a lead vocal and
George added two electric guitar parts, finishing at 4.00am, with the
song being mixed into stereo.
The following day, after overdubs onto 'Love Is A Many Splendoured
Thing', recording resumed on 'You Gotta Pay Your Dues', with Ringo
overdubbing another lead vocal onto Take 20 between 5.00 and 6.00 pm.
Harrison was not involved in recording on this day, although Eric
Cpalton may have been involved (Neville Stannard, Working Class Heros,
p.154). After an hour's break, it was decided to re-make the song, with
takes 21-30 being taped between 7.00 and 11.00pm. Take 30 was labelled
'best' and onto this take, two bass parts were added before the session
ended at 1.30am.
This version however, was to remain unfinished, because on March 8, Ringo
decided to again remake 'It Don't Come Easy', as it was now known.
Recording probably took place at Trident Studios (documentation is
unavailable - all that is know is that it wasn't recorded at Abbey Road),
with George Harrison producing, as well as playing guitar. Klaus Voorman
(bass), Stephen Stills (piano), Mal Evans (tambourine) and Ron Cattermole
(saxaphone, trumpet) were also involved.
Recording of overdubs continued the next morning, again with Harrison
producing. The song was then left until October 1970, when further
overdubs were made (details unknown)
When news of the sessions reached the press in March 1970, Apple told the
music press there was "absolutely no plans for the record to be released
as a single at the present time", and the song wasn't issued until April
9 1971 in the UK (and April 16 in the US). Ringo's first solo single
(with 'Early 1970' as a B-side featuring George Harrison on guitar and
backing vocals) entered the NME charts on April 21 at No.12 and rose to
No.5 for two weeks, staying on the chart for nine weeks.
A facinating outtake from these sessions has appeared on a recent bootleg
('To Be Expected', Strawberry Sampler 001, tr.8). It features George
Harrison on lead vocal (probably singing a guide vocal for Ringo to sing
along to). While the instrumentation is almost identical to the released
version (the horns have not been added yet), during the guitar break, the
female backing vocalists add the line 'Hare Krishna'.
[This *can* be heard on the final Ringo release, it is just very buried
in the mix, whereas in the George vocal version it is very up front. -dh]
Following the guitar solo, rather than there being another verse, there
is a repeat of the song's opening guitar phrase from George, again with
the backing vocalists singing 'it don't come, oh no, you know it don't
come easy' twice, with George adding a few shouted lines behind them
before returning to the verse. Subsequently, there are some additional
backing vocal lines.
Ringo performed this song at the August 1 1971 Madison Square gardens
'Concert For Bangla Desh', and, as he frequently did during his Beatle
concert performances of 'I Wanna Be Your Man' and 'Act Naturally', he
managed to forget most of the words to his own composition. His
performance can be found on George Harrison's triple album 'The Concert
For Bangla Desh'.
'It Don't Come Easy' appeared on Ringo's 1975 'Blast From The Past'
'greatest hits' album.
The song was also heard in the 1978 NBC-TV 'Ringo' special (although he
recorded new versions of several songs for the special, the released
recording of 'It Don't Come Easy' was used).
When Ringo recorded a new version of his 1972 hit 'Back Off Boogaloo' for
the 'Stop And Smell The Roses' album, 'It Don't Come Easy' was referred
to, along with several Beatle songs, in the backing vocals.
Ringo included the song on the set list for his July-September 1989
American tour, and a performance of this song opened the 1990 album
'Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band' (it was also included on a bonus 5"
CD single released with the US limited edition deluxe CD version of
'Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band).
In 1991, 'It Don't Come Easy' was added as a bonus track to the CD
version of 'Ringo', along with 'Down And Out' and 'Early 1970'
(Source: Mark Lewisohn, Complete Beatle Chronicle, 1992 p.345-347)
"You might very well think that, but of course, I couldn't possibly
Malcolm Atkinson of New Zealand [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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