Watch John Lennon reveal the true reason why The Beatles split up while appearing on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971
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The Beatles song which saw John Lennon confront his abusive behaviour

When The Beatles first broke into the collective consciousness, the band did so with a plethora of pithy pop tunes underscored by the tropes of rock ‘n’ roll. By 1967, just a few short years later, they had not only had a large hand in creating pop music as we know it today but had already transcended it.

By the time the Fab Four released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band their music was infused with the lives and times of the Beatles. No longer was it OK to sing little ditties about that girl, now the songs had to be personal and from the heart. Reflective as their songs became, no track is as deeply personal as ‘Getting Better’.

The song’s lyrics were co-written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon as they reflected on their difficult childhoods and school life. Most importantly, it saw Lennon confront his own personal demons, namely the abuse of his love interests.

“It’s an optimistic song. I often try and get on to optimistic subjects in an effort to cheer myself up and also, realising that other people are going to hear this, to cheer them up too,” remembers McCartney of the track. “And this was one of those. The ‘angry young man’ and all that was John and I filling in the verses about schoolteachers. We shared a lot of feelings against teachers who had punished you too much or who hadn’t understood you or who had just been bastards generally.

“Wrote that at my house in St. John’s Wood. All I remember is that I said, ‘It’s getting better all the time,’ and John contributed the legendary line ‘It couldn’t get much worse.’ Which I thought was very good,” says Macca. “Against the spirit of that song, which was all super-optimistic… then there’s that lovely little sardonic line. Typical John.”

John Lennon added of the song: “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. Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in 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.”

The lyrical content of the track caught the eye of the world upon release, lines such as “I used to be cruel to my woman” and “I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved” offered a brutally honest self-reflection from Lennon at the time.

It’s one of the most harrowing parts of The Beatles and it’s encouraging that in 1980, when speaking with Sheff, Lennon was beginning to reconcile with his abusive past, sadly, just before his life was taken from him. It would appear that even back in 1967, he was willing to look himself in the eye and condemn his behaviour.

Listen to The Beatles classic ‘Getting Better’ and see the lyrics in full, below.

The Beatles ‘Getting Better’ Lyrics:

It’s getting better all the time

I used to get mad at my school (No, I can’t complain)
The teachers who taught me weren’t cool (No, I can’t complain)
You’re holding me down
Turning me round
Filling me up with your rules

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (Better)
A little better all the time (It can’t get no worse)
I have to admit it’s getting better (Better)
It’s getting better
Since you’ve been mine

Me used to be angry young man
Me hiding me head in the sand
You gave me the word, I finally heard
I’m doing the best that I can

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (Better)
A little better all the time (It can’t get no worse)
I have to admit it’s getting better (Better)
It’s getting better
Since you’ve been mine

Getting so much better all the time!
It’s getting better all the time
Better, better, better
It’s getting better all the time
Better, better, better

I used to be cruel to my woman
I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved
Man, I was mean but I’m changing my scene
And I’m doing the best that I can (ooh)

I admit it’s getting better (Better)
A little better all the time (It can’t get no worse)
Yes, I admit it’s getting better (Better)
It’s getting better
Since you’ve been mine

Getting so much better all the time!
It’s getting better all the time
Better, better, better
It’s getting better all the time
Better, better, better

Getting so much better all the time!

Source: Beatles Interviews / Beatles Bible

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