Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 193
Wed. Aug 14, 2013
“Dig A Pony (Anthology 3 live version)”
is You ♫”
In the late nineties for Fab Four fanatics like me, when the Beatles released their historic three part Anthology collections, these rare recordings were an insight to the creative process of Liverpool’s most famous band. Not all the tracks were outtakes and demos, some songs like Anthology 3’s “Dig A Pony” were uncut without the studio editing done by such famous producers as Phil Spector. The irony is that The Beatles “As Nature Intended” sound that the band longed their devoted fans to experience on 1969’s Let It Be finally came to fruition almost thirty years after the release of their swan song slickly produced by Spector.
“Dig A Pony” was recorded during the momentous Apple rooftop sessions that captured The Beatles performing for the last time as a quartet live on a concert stage. It has been well documented that during the tumultuous Get Back/Let It Be sessions the band was heading towards the eventual break-up that would shock the music world. Still songs from the rooftop sessions reflect the unbridled enthusiasm that The Beatles had been missing in years. Far from perfect, these live cuts showed The Fab Four happy, warts and all the results were nothing short of dynamic.
You may notice from the beginning of this Anthology 3 version was already different from Spector’s original 1969 Let It Be mix and the 2003 Naked remixes supervised by Paul McCartney, as both renditions had edited Macca’s crooning of All I Want is You” at the opening of “Dig A Pony.” Although John Lennon famously admitted in 1972, “I was just having fun with words.” And that “Pony” “[…] was literally a nonsense song. You just take words and you stick them together, and you see if they have any meaning. Some of them do and some of them don’t.” The edited versions are missing this essential piece of lyrics sung by Macca that gives “Pony” a more personal connection reflecting a longing missing from the released versions of the song.
I do have to admit I appreciate the way Spector attempted to add the cinema vérité like spoken word bits at the beginning and end of song, on 1969’s Let It Be, making these audio treats sound like we were at an actual Beatles recording event. Still the “All I Want Is You” part is essential to “Dig A Pony’s” an essential lyrical connection that was missing from 1969’s Let It Be and 2003 Naked versions. Thankfully The Beatles left some of their behind the scenes, off the cuff Liverpudlian dialogue at the end of this Anthology live version of “Pony.” My favorite part is when Macca compares the Fabs recording method to the fermenting of a bottle of wine, or as Paul specifically says, “We improve with time like a fine wine…I put us down as Beaujolais 1962.”
“Dig A Pony” may not have been the most celebrated song from either version of Let It Be but this live rendition from Anthology 3 is essential for all Fab Four fanatics. What I appreciate most about this uncut performance of “Pony” proves that perfection’s overrated. “Dig A Pony” is the sound of The Beatles playing as a quartet for the last time on the Apple rooftops unedited with all the glorious rough sound of the band we’ve grown to love; with The Anthology series and specifically “Dig A Pony,” The Beatles succeeded in their hope of releasing warts and all recordings— “As Nature”—finally—“Intended.”