Getting Better

Album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)


  • The idea of "Getting Better" came to Paul McCartney while he was walking his dog, Martha. The sun started to rise on the walk and he thought "it's getting better." It also reminded him of something that Jimmy Nichol used to say quite often during the short period when he was The Beatles drummer. This song was a true collaborative effort for Lennon and McCartney, with Lennon adding that legendary part about being bad to his woman. He later admitted to being a "hitter" when it came to women. He said "I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself, and I hit."
  • John Lennon had a bad acid trip during the recording. While doing the overdubs, John began to get very sick. He said, "I suddenly got so scared on the mike. I thought I felt ill and I thought I was going to crack. I said I must get some air." George Martin took him up on the roof of the studios for air and John started walking towards the edge. Martin panicked, thinking that John would fall or leap off and that would be it. On the roof, when John saw Martin looking at him "funny," he realized he was on acid. John decided he couldn't do any more that night, so he sat in the booth and watched the others record. Paul eventually took him home and stayed to keep him company, and he decided to drop some acid with John. It was Paul's first LSD experience.
  • George Harrison played the tamboura, a large Indian string instrument. It is the droning noise about 2/3rds of the way through.
  • The string sound at the end was Beatles producer George Martin hitting the strings inside a piano.
  • Lennon contributed the pessimistic viewpoint, coming up with the line, "It can't get no worse." McCartney usually wrote much happier lyrics than Lennon.

    Lennon revisited this song when he used the lyrics, "Every day, in every way, it's getting better and better" for his 1980 track "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)." This time, instead of taking the cynical side, he was affirming that life does just get keep getting better and better. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Leigh - NY, NY
  • This was used in commercials for Phillips television sets in 1999. The living Beatles resent the use of their songs in advertisements, but cannot prevent it because they do not own the publishing rights; Michael Jackson does.
  • The Beatles had stopped touring by the time this was released. The first time McCartney played it live was on his 2002 "Back In The US" tour. That tour was made into a CD and a 2-hour concert film that aired on ABC and was released on DVD.
  • This was used in the 2003 movie The Cat in the Hat starring Mike Myers. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Adrian - Wilmington, DE

Comments: 47

  • Talis4 from Boton, MaThere is much misinformation regarding the lyrics in songs of the Beatles. Some is perpetrated here. The idea that John Lennon wrote the "I use to be cruel to my woman" section of Getting Better is an example. The source of this bilge is an interview that Lennon did. It was at the height of the "I hate Paul" mania that swept the other three Beatles. During the course of the interview, John took credit for much of the output of the group. At one point, he was asked about Getting Better, and that verse in particular. He responded that he was not proud of some of his actions when it came to women. The interviewer and the rest of the Lennon worshping masses took this as an assertion that he wrote the line.
    People simply do not want to face the fact the Lennon use of drugs sky-rocketed from 1967 on. Sgt. Pepper is a McCartney dominated album.
    Lennon wrote some wonderful pieces for the album, with extensive contributions from Paul, George Martin and the rest of the group.
  • Katie from Calgary, AbOk, so who owns the rights now? really the Beatles should own all their music. that doesn't seem fair.
    I like how optimistic this song is. even if it's got the negative parts in it.
  • Eric from Portland, OrGomez performed the version in the Phillips commercial.
  • Scott from Shepherdsville, KyThis song was also referenced in Yellow Submarine whilst talking about the Nowhere Man after he started making some sense...I think it was John who said "Look at im' he's getting better all the time."
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Mogah, that makes me so ticked how fricking michael jackson owns the song rights!!! my friends and i occasionally write wierd stories for fun during class, with lots of random plots and inside jokes. one of our adventures was sneaking into michael jackson's house to steal the song rights and give them back to the beatles, who appear often in our stories.
  • Roy from Granbania, MaThis song features one of McCartney's most interesting basslines, featuring his signature melodic style (much like many of the other songs on Sgt. Pepper's).
  • Adam from South Pasadena, Israellennon at his funniest
  • Michel from Gatineau, QcBased on the lyrics of the song, I can only conclude that the signer is narrating a 1939-1943 world event.

    More precisely London Scouts of WWII.

    As for Sgt. Pepper; A group of four "peppered people"; J. Stalin, W. Churchill, FDR & W.L. Mackenzie King.
  • Sam from Bowie, MdI think Mike Should have left the rights to who they REALLY belong to. The only thing he could be using them for is to make more money. it pisses me off that he stole them from someone who put the effort into making them!
  • Sal from Bardonia , NyGreat bass sound and has that great drone break that act's like almost like a guitar solo.
    Sal, Bardonia, NY
  • Adam from Bloomington, InI just found a version of this song sung by Smash Mouth. It was really bad.
  • Clarke from Pittsburgh, PaThis is so catchy, it should have been released as a single. In the movie "The Postman," where Kevin Costner plays a post-apocalytic drifter, he claims the new President of the United States is named Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr's real name) and that one of the President's favorite sayings is "It's getting better...getting better all the time." (This is a fiction he makes up on the spur of the moment to quell pesky questions from onlookers.)
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoLennon said very clearly in the interview quoted below by Dennis Myers that those were his lines about beating his woman (he and Paul DID ocassionally collaborate!). Further evidence, as if any is needed, is that he joins Paul in singing that part and the melody is actually a little different too, more fluid and less jumpy. He's clearly admitting what he'd hinted at in other songs like "You Can't Do That" and "Run For Your Life." Pretty intense stuff that somehow went down as smooth as a malted milkshake.
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrTo sean, los angelos, CA. That was freakin hilarious. Funniest thing I've seen on this site yet.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaKim is right! Gather your paychecks, Beatles fans! Unite! We must stop this heresy! Off to Neverland!
  • Tom from Newark, DeSteve, John for one was often quoted being very critical of his music. In the last interview he ever gave he was quoted saying "I'm dissatisfied with every record the Beatles ever f*cking made. There ain't one of them I wouldn't remake -- including all the Beatles records and all my individual ones. So I cannot possibly give you an assessment of what the Beatles are. When I was a Beatle, I thought we were the best f*cking group in the god-d*mned world. And believing that is what made us what we were -- whether we call it the best rock-'n'-roll group or the best pop group or whatever. But you play me those tracks today and I want to remake every d*mn one of them. There's not a single one. . . . I heard "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" on the radio last night. It's abysmal, you know. The track is just terrible. I mean, it's great, but it wasn't made right, know what I mean?"
  • Ian from Lethbridge, CanadaThat would be a pretty awesome feeling!
  • Steve from Fenton, MoI agree, Kim. Does anyone ever wonder whether the Lennon/McCartney songs sound as good to the composers as they do to us? In otherwords, do they sound better to Paul (and did they to John) than the old rock and roll standards by the 50's rockers that they grew up listening to. We clearly think the Beatles music is better. Do they? If so, it must be a pretty special feeling to write a song that you recognize is better than almost any other song already written.
  • Kim from Calgary, CanadaGreat Song. I think all the Beatles fans should pool together their money and buy it back. Sell it to Paul for a dollar. Oh if the world only were that simple. :)
  • Dani from Nyc, Nyit makes me absolutely furious that he owns the rights! beatles songs are sacred.. and just shouldn't be messed with. anyone who could deceitfully by them must have no soul.
  • Christina from Nor*cal, CaAs much as i love michael but blood's psyco. And he bamboozeled Paul into letting him keep the songs. Im sorry i like some of those songs sang by Mich and Paul like the one where they were a travelling entertainers in the video. What's that song called?
  • Sarah from Pittsburgh, PaNo one said anything about this yet, but I thought I'd say something. I was heartbroken when i read somewhere that the line about abusing a wife was about John actually doing so to Cynthia (his first wife). Thankfully, that's not true. He didn't even help write the song. It was all Paul.
  • Sean from Los Angelos, CaThe line that was written for the song "Getting Better" has to be aken in context. Lennon was being frank about what he did in his life. I recently heard that a woman is beaten every 30 seconds, was shocked. I never realized that many women stepped out of line.
  • Kyle from Eglewood, CoJohn Lennon often said that this was the best or his favorite song on the album
  • Sam from DubboI am not sure what the legal side to this is, but I know that this song is used for a TV show theme song, or part of it, Better Homes and Gardens, in Australia.
  • Lee from Clearwater, FlJust a really great song, all the way around
  • Wess from Hellendoorn, NetherlandsIt's not completely accurate that Paul got the idea from the good weather. The phrase, "It's Getting Better" first came from a drummer named Jimmy Nichol who sat in for Ringo in June 1964, when Ringo was in the hospital having his tonsils removed. During this time The Beatles would ask Jimmy how he was getting along, and he would reply, "it's getting better." Upon writing songs for Sgt. Pepper, Paul was out walking one day with Hunter Davis, and it was the first nice spring day, and Paul said to Davis that the weather was getting better all the time, reflecting back on this phrase first said by Nichol.
  • Kendall from Thomasville, GaDude you guys are going to be pissed... I was surfing the net for about 2 seconds and I found this, heres a link - - the Beatles only own 4, count em 4, of their own songs. Michael Jackson you EVIL MAN!!!
  • Clare from Hmilton, CanadaIn Yellow Submarine many song references are made, including this one, when the Paul Character says "I'ts getting Better." Also The John character says that the sea of holes looks like Blackburn Lancashire, and Paul sings "oh Boy"
  • Mandy from Calgary, CanadaWow. I have learned many things. Crazy things.
  • Jaf from Benson, AzIndeed my second favorite track on the Sgt. Pepper's album (after A day in...), and I couldn't agree more with you guys that it's an absolute disgrace, the fact that this stupid idiot perverted JACKO owns the rights to the beatles catalog, this is aberration and heresy.
  • Kika from Nyc, Nythis song is quite uplifting
  • Martin from Sterling, Va...Martha? Paul's dog? Why would John sing about that? According to John, the line was "autobiographical." Take that as you will.
  • Natasha from Chico, Cathe part of the song where it says he used to beat up his girl and keep her locked up threw me for a curve, so whats the deal with that? is it about keeping martha locked up and stuff?
  • Alan from City, MiMichael Jackson sold his Beatles catalogue, or at least most of it, to Sony. The first Beatles song to be used for a commercial was I believe Revolution for a sneakers commercial.
  • David from Waco, TxPaul McCartney says this song is a perfect example of how wonderful he and Lennon were when they wrote together. McCartney with "I've got to admit its getting better, a little better all the time" And Lennon "Can't get no worse" I notice the "Phillips" commercial left that last line out.
    Paul McCartney suggested to Michael Jackson that he should get into publishing. Then Jackson went behind his back and bought the Beatles music.
    George Harrison once said he was afraid Beatle songs would end up in commercials for Brasierres and pork rinds.
  • Matt from Cleveland, OhThis is the best song on Sgt. Peppers IMO
  • Dennis Myers from Sparks, NvJohn Lennon gave a different version of the reason for the lyrics than the Paul/Martha-the-dog stuff. In his interviews with David Sheff and Barry Golson, John said, "It is a diary form of writing. All that 'I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved' was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically-- any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace...I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster."
  • Johnny from Hilo, Hiyeah, there is no telling what he is doing to those songs late at nite.
  • Bob from Las Vegas, Nvyeah but good news... i heard that for some reason micheal might be selling them, i think he is having money problems or something like that, maybe paul will try and buy them back, that would be totally awesome
  • Paulo from New York, NyYes, it stinks that that freak owns the rights. I think Paul himself hates that fact more than anybody.
  • Shirley from Ocean, NjYes, it absolutely sucks that Michael Jackson of all people owns the publishing rights to the greatest music ever written.
  • Greg from Little River, ScYes I think it stinks
  • Tavers from Mesa, AzDoes anybody else think that it is really sad that Michael Jackson owns the publishing rights to the Beatles songs?
  • Matthew from Shrewsbury, EnglandI think it was Gomez who sang it on the Phillip's commercials... have to check, though...
  • Conrad from Los Angeles, CaWho sang it in the Phillip commercials???

    It wasn't the Beatles
  • Deborah from Detroit, MiRobbie Nevil's song written by Brock Walsh is a much better *Getting Better*.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Thomas Dolby

Thomas DolbySongwriter Interviews

He wrote "She Blinded Me With Science" so he could direct a video about a home for deranged scientists.

Songs Discussed in Movies

Songs Discussed in MoviesSong Writing

Bridesmaids, Reservoir Dogs, Willy Wonka - just a few of the flicks where characters discuss specific songs, sometimes as a prelude to murder.

Rick Astley

Rick AstleySongwriter Interviews

Rick Astley on "Never Gonna Give You Up," "Cry For Help," and his remarkable resurgence that gave him another #1 UK album.

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular Music

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular MusicSong Writing

Starting in Virginia City, Nevada and rippling out to the Haight-Ashbury, LSD reshaped popular music.


WeezerFact or Fiction

Did Rivers Cuomo grow up on a commune? Why did they name their albums after colors? See how well you know your Weezer in this Fact or Fiction.

Jesus In Pop Hits: The Gospel Songs That Went Mainstream

Jesus In Pop Hits: The Gospel Songs That Went MainstreamSong Writing

These overtly religious songs crossed over to the pop charts, despite resistance from fans, and in many cases, churches.