Song and No Pakistanis come to mind when at the recent British
elections in May 2005, the Labor Government was challenged over
its immigration policies. It recalled an earlier situation 36
years ago in January 1969.
minister Enoch Powell made his infamous "Rivers of Blood"
speech in which Powell used a reference in Virgil to the river
Tiber foaming with much blood to describe what he thought would
happen if the tide of Commonwealth immigrants was not stemmed.
This speech influenced Eric Clapton to comment favorably of Enoch
Powell and it made a deeper impression on Paul McCartney.
had gone into Twickenham studios on Jan 2, 1969 to rehearse and
prepare for an as yet unscheduled live performance. Most of the
sessions were jams of old rock n roll tunes. But on
Jan 9, McCartney rewrote the lyrics to a song he had started on
wrote what he called the "Commonwealth Song" based on Powell's
speech. One of the stanzas was "You'd better get back to your
Commonwealth homes". However, as evident from bootlegs, the "Commonwealth
Song" has no resemblance to the final version of "Get Back". On
the same day, the Beatles recorded yet another version, this time
entitled "No Pakistanis". The choruses of both were almost the
same, but "No Pakistanis" was more racially charged, as the singer
sang about how he "don't dig no Pakistanis taking all the people's
jobs". This reference haunted the 2005 British elections as well,
voters remembered the stories of dead migrants found in the back
only one instance of the "Get Back" song jammed as "No
Pakistanis". In the next few days, McCartney changed the
lyrics to describe a man named Jojo who leaves his home in Tucson,
Arizona "for some California grass", and then recommending that
he return to Tucson. Linda McCartney's former residence in Tucson
was likely the inspiration for the revised lyrics. In a 1980 interview
with Playboy, Lennon described it as "...a better version of 'Lady
Madonna.' You know, a potboiler rewrite."
It was only
in 1986 that bootlegs featuring "No Pakistanis" were made public.
As expected, McCartney was heavily criticised for his alleged
racist tendencies. Although McCartney denied the accusations,
the controversy failed to subside for a few months.
Audio Archive now has a complete set of all the recordings the
Beatles made from Jan 2 to Jan 31, 1969, a total of 83 CDs. There
is only one version each of "The Commonwealth Song"
and "No Pakistanis" indicating that both were jammed
to relieve the tedium and depression the Beatles were in, in the
early days of January. Performed for laughs, you can hear Paul
laughing when John sings "yes" in a high voice when
responding to Pauls yelp of "Commonwealth". There
are upwards of 30 takes of Get Back by comparison.
the Get Back sessions were depressing with bitching between Paul
and George and the band uncomfortable with Yoko Onos presence.
The interviews recorded on Jan 13 and 14 are very revealing of
three decades have passed, yet both songs have never been officially
released. It is likely that if they are ever released, it will
be post-humously, when the remaining Beatles are gone, given their
- The Little Chicken
the lyrics to the songs.
start is inaudible) ...Immigrants, immigrants had better go home,
Commonwealth/Wilson said to the immigrants,
better get back to your Commonwealth homes,
yeah, yeah, he said you'd better get back... home!
Enoch Powell said to the folks,
(inaudible) to the colour of your skin,
said he don't care what it's... (sounds like he's going to say
'all about' but he starts vocalising),
Ted Heath said to Enoch Powell he said you better get off...,
vocalising)... Enoch... Enoch you better go home!
Wilson said to the Premier, come on we gotta swing,
gotta go back to the summat or the other (more vocalising),
Enoch Powell said to Wilson/Heath by... the Commonwealth!
(in a high voice) Yes! [X3]
If you don't want trouble then you better go back to home!
in a high voice) ...I went to India, I've been to old Calcutta
and I've had enough of that,
I'm coming back (Paul: Yeah?) to England-town. (Paul: Yes, welcome!)
And dirty Enoch Powell and he's had enough of coloured men.
Can you hear me Commonwealth?
Well Enoch Powell you gotta go back to home!
I (inaudible) to Australia and I said to New Zealand,
better go in with us because we're gonna have some fun,
going out to India, we're goin' to Pakistan,
going... (starts laughing)... gonna... alright,
that Enoch Powell... (vocalising)... he said he's gonna... (more
Can you hear me talking Commonwealth?
Yeah the Commonwealth but it's much too wealthy for me
It's too common or me... much too common for me, oh yes.
Paul: I went
(inaudible) here in New Zealand too,
went up to Pakistan and India too,
back to West Indies and I had a cricket match,
into South Africa and... (vocalising)... match,
Commonwealth, you're much too common for me.
Oh Enoch Powell, Commonwealth!
Well I would join the Common Market, but it's much too common
dig no Pakistani's taking all the people's jobs.
Oh, get back! Get Back! Oh, get back to where you once belonged.
was a Puerto Rican... (more vocalising),
(vocalising)... living in the USA.
Get back! Oh, get Back! Get back to where you once belonged. [X2]
lots of 'whoo!' and 'whoop' noises)
Oh, get back! Oh, get back! Get back to where you once belonged.
was a Pakistani... (more vocalising),
(vocalising)... don't dig no Pakistanis taking all the people's
So, get back! Get back! Get back to where you once belonged. [X2]
more 'whoo!' and 'whoop' noises)
(almost screaming now) Get back! Get back! Get back! Get back!