The Beatles, in the span of their career, recorded and released over 200 songs, and more of which were never saw the light of day.
While the performance was reserved to the quartet, the composition of the majority of their songs was credited to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting duo, the famed and prolific partnership consisting of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. When the time arrived, Lennon and McCartney made an agreement to share the songwriting credits for every song they wrote, regardless of who wrote it, and usually chose to put their words into paper without interfering in each other’s works. However, they almost always went through the other’s works and made minor changes if required, or added a bridge or some other kind of modification to them.
With the steady influence of two incredible lyricists and composers, the songs by The Beatles achieved the versatility that made them all the more palatable and attractive to the audience. In spite of the overwhelming number of songs the Lennon-McCartney duo wrote for The Beatles, there were two exceptional songs that were credited to all four members of the band, namely, Lennon, McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, for their composition.
Both of these songs were unlike the conventional sound of the Beatles, and in terms of composition too. ‘Flying’, a track that was featured in their Magical Mystery Tour in 1967 and ‘Dig It’, a number that was released on the album Let It Be in 1970, were two unique songs that, although did not gain the kind of popularity the other effort did, remained a presentation of a collaboration that was like no other.
‘Flying’ was born out of what would seem like a relaxed jamming session at the studio. What is relatively new in case of ‘Flying’ is that it is an instrumental track, something The Beatles attempted in ‘Cry for A Shadow’ and the ’12-Bar Original’, but those creations never made it beyond the recording stage. Their next attempt would be ‘Flying’ – an apparently insignificant track amongst the myriad of songs they have produced.
Originally titled the ‘Aerial Tour Instrumental’, this song was recorded as a backing track for their Magical Mystery Tour movie that was still in the making. With an elaborate jazz tune on the saxophone, Lennon on the mellotron and Hammond organ, McCartney behind the bass and both him and Harrison on the guitar, Ringo Starr was on the maracas and the drums as all four joined in on the vocals that were basically a refrain of “la-la-las”, ‘Flying’ ended up being over nine minutes long. The band subsequently edited it down, with the final cut being just over two minutes.
‘Dig It’, meanwhile, was another song by The Beatles that was credited to all four of its members. Released on their album Let It Be, in 1970, this song underwent more changes and edits than it is possible to even keep track of. Involving a studio time of over five days, multiple versions of the song were recorded, of which the 51-seconds long version was included in Let It Be. The song majorly constitutes lyrics that are in disjuncture with each other and is over all too soon with seemingly no real purpose behind the song.
‘Dig It’, much like ‘Flying’, was taken from a 12-minute improvised jam session. The song appeared on their movie let it be but was left out of Let It Be… Naked when Apple records released it in 2003. Listen to this song at your own risk. While it may not make any sense whatsoever, the constant refrain of “dig it” and the very passionate vocals by Lennon mentioning “the FBI, the CIA, the BBC, B.B King” and so on, are sure to be stuck in your head for a very, very long time.