“Got to Get You Into My Life” is a song by The Beatles that was a top ten hit when I was a small child. Except that The Beatles broke up more than 3 years before I was even born. How could this be? It was a mystery to me for a long time. I didn’t even know it was a song by The Beatles until I was a teenager in the 1980s. It puzzled me how I could remember “Got to Get You Into My Life” being in heavy rotation with the songs I heard played on the radio in my dad’s Chevy Nova back in the mid-70s.
The single was released to promote a compilation album that Capitol Records was promoting called Rock ‘n’ Roll Music. The collection of 28 rockers culled from The Beatles’ previous releases was clearly Capitol looking to make some money off of a beloved band that wasn’t making any new music. It sold well, reaching number 2 on the Billboard album charts, ironically held out of the top spot by Paul McCartney’s Wings at the Speed of Sound.
The album cover for Rock ‘n’ Roll Music was designed to tap into the Fifties nostalgia craze of the 1970s with images of a jukebox, cars with big fins, and Marilyn Monroe. The Beatles, notably were a Sixties band, but the title track is a cover of a Chuck Berry song from the Fifties, so there’s a tenuous connection. The Fifties nostalgia probably was kicked off by the doo wop cover act Sha Na Na performing at Woodstock in 1969 (the group would get a TV show that started in 1977. I loved Bowser). The Broadway musical Grease (1972), the movie American Graffiti (1973), and the TV sitcom Happy Days (debuted in 1974), all continued this trend. Even John Lennon got into the act with his 1974 album Rock ‘N’ Roll, a collection of covers of Lennon’s favorite songs from his youth.
- Eddie Thornton – trumpet. The Jamaican-born Thornton, known by the nickname Tan Tan, is likely the first Black guest musician on a Beatles recording since The Beatles didn’t have many guest artists prior to recording Revolver.
- Ian Hamer – trumpet. Hamer had a jazz artists who had a long career as a Liverpool big band leader.
- Les Condon – trumpet. The London-born Condon was a modern jazz pioneer who played with many of the top UK and American jazz acts.
- Alan Branscombe – tenor saxophone. Merseyside-born Branscombe was a sideman to numerous jazz band leaders over a four decade career.
- Peter Coe – tenor saxophone. Coe was more of a pop musician and had previously played with the British R&B band Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, contributing a sax solo to their UK #1 hit “Yeh Yeh.”
But “Got to Get You Into My Life” is not a Fifties song. It’s a Sixties song that became a hit in the Seventies partly because it really sounds like the soul and funk music that was dominating the charts at the time. Does it not sound like it totally fits in with the Number One song of week of July 24, 1976, “Kiss and Say Goodbye” by The Manhattans (who despite their name were a New Jersey band who played Philadelphia soul). Even better evidence that an old Beatles’ album track somehow captured the zeitgeist of Seventies funk and soul is that the Chicago R&B band released a cover of the song in July 1978 (their version peaked at #9 on the Hot 100).