The Meaning Behind “Come and Get It” by Badfinger and the Conditions Paul McCartney Gave Them Before They Could Record It

Badfinger scored one of their biggest hits with “Come and Get It” in 1970. Little did folks know at the time that the song was not only written for them by none other than a Beatle, but the Beatle pretty much spoon-fed the track to the band.

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What is the meaning of “Come and Get It”? What was their relationship to Paul McCartney, who wrote and produced the track? And what ultimatum did he make of the band before they were allowed to record the song? Let’s find out, shall we, Sonny?

Apples and Ivey’s

Badfinger formed in the early ‘60s as The Iveys, until a name change took place at the request of their new label Apple Records. The Beatles-run company signed a wide variety of artists in their first few years of business. But Badfinger performed music in a similar vein to the Fab Four: rock with smart, melodic songwriting and thrilling vocal harmonies.

Unfortunately, they didn’t feel they were receiving enough attention from the label in their earliest days of recording for them. In fact, Badfinger member Ron Griffiths even gave an interview to that effect. Apparently, the old saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease proved correct in this case, because the band were about to get not just attention from the Fab Four, but a ready-made hit single.

McCartney had recently written a song he intended to give to the soundtrack of the upcoming film The Magic Christian, which would include fellow Beatle Ringo Starr in a starring role. On a whim, he decided it would be a perfect track for Badfinger to use as a single. But he had some conditions, which he described in The Beatles Anthology book:

“I’d written the song ‘Come And Get It’ and I’d made a fairly decent demo. Because I lived locally, I could get in half an hour before a Beatles session at Abbey Road—knowing it would be empty and all the stuff would be set up—and I’d use Ringo’s equipment to put a drum track down, put some piano down, quickly put some bass down, do the vocal, and double-track it. I said to Badfinger, ‘OK, it’s got to be exactly like this demo,’ because it had a great feeling on it. They actually wanted to put their own variations on, but I said, ‘No, this really is the right way.’”

To their credit, Badfinger relented and copied McCartney’s demo. And when you listen to that demo, you’ll notice that, except for McCartney’s voice sounding a little different than Badfinger’s Tom Evans, it’s virtually inseparable from what Badfinger recorded as a single.

By the way, McCartney, who recorded his version shortly before a session for The Beatles’ Abbey Road album, was right on the money: “Come and Get It” gave Badfinger their first Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, which started them on a great streak of hits that included power-pop gems “No Matter What,” “Day After Day,” and “Baby Blue.”

What Does “Come and Get It” Mean?

McCartney wrote “Come and Get It” while in the midst of the day-to-day money issues in which The Beatles found themselves ensconced as they came to the close of their amazing run together. (“You Never Give Me Your Money,” from Abbey Road, takes a more somber look at the subject.) Macca writes from the perspective of a huckster trying to sucker in some unsuspecting folks to his get-rich-quick promises.

Slogan after slogan comes spewing from his mouth: Come and get it; You better hurry ‘cause it’s going fast; If you want it anytime, I can get it. This slick character gets downright indignant when challenged about his authenticity: Did I hear you say that there must be a catch / Will you walk away from a fool and his money?

The unspoken context here is that the true fools are anyone who believes this shtick. Maybe McCartney was sending a message to young bands out there that they shouldn’t trust anyone making big promises. Ironic, right? He promised Badfinger a big hit if they followed his advice on “Come and Get It,” and he sure delivered.

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Photo by RB/Redferns

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