It was never a single, this little slice of Beatles pop circa 1967, and it is never listed as among their greatest achievements. But for me, “Getting Better” sums up the optimism, the unfettered joy that the Beatles represented better than almost anything else they ever did. And, as a bonus, it features the perfect shorthand version of Paul and John’s relationship.
Recorded at Abbey Road in their ground-breaking sessions for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “Getting Better” really doesn’t break new ground musically or lyrically. It re-uses the almost mechanical, four-beats-per-measure percussion that Paul pioneered with earlier songs like “Got To Get You Into My Life” and “Penny Lane.” But in its metronome beat and soaring vocals, the song perfectly portrays that most elusive of emotions – joy.
And after Paul’s hyper-optimism (“Getting better all the t-i-i-ime”) comes John’s sardonic rejoinder: “Can’t get no worse.” A neater summation of the magic of that partnership can’t be found.
And so, apropos of nothing, I submit “Getting Better,” my personal theme song and the relentlessly perfect portion of joy.