Is anyone else disturbed by this lyric in "Getting Better" by The Beatles?

"I used to be cruel to my woman

I beat her, and kept her away from the things that she loved"

The song is such an upbeat, poppy tune...and then he drops this bombshell in the lyrics like it was no big deal...he used to do this, but now "it's getting better all the time."

I know this was the 60's, but I still find it disturbing. I think the casual manner that this lyric is utilized is creepy and insensitive. Does anyone else feel this way? Was beating a woman and being cruel to her more common--or more accepted--in that era? Are you OK with that explanation (because I'm not)?


@Trixie: Wow, I am not familiar with that song. I think that one is worse than "Getting Better." Obviously John Lennon had some can tell that he and Sean Connery were contemporaries.

18 Answers

  • Luna
    Lv 7
    7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    "'Getting Better' proved an interesting example of how they curbed each other's excesses when they worked together. The optimism of Paul's chorus, where everything is improving because love, is counterbalanced by John's confession that he was once a schoolboy rebel, an angry young man and a wife beater. When Paul sings that things are getting better all the time, John chimes in with 'it couldn't get more worse'.

    Asked about the song years later, John admitted it referred to his aggressive tendencies, "I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learner not to be violent and regret his violence."

    * I took this from a book I own: A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song by Steve Turner *

    I'm not really disturbed by that line, I've always loved the lines that follow: "man, I was mean but I'm changing my scene, and I'm doing the best that I can." I think that the whole part about the wife beating is an essential bit about how much things are truly getting better.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Getting Better The Beatles

  • 7 years ago

    I'm not a Beatles fan, and I don't find nothing offensive about that song or them lines at all. He was only making a statement about himself, or maybe even someone else, that hit their woman be it a girlfriend or wife, which sorry to say did happen more often back then than it does to day, I should say it happened back then as much as it does to day, but was excepted as in, people did not talk about it that much. And all Lennon did was bring it to the forefront, to let people know what is going on in the world, and no one is doing anything about it. But he or the person in their song is doing something about it, as he's stopped beating the woman and things are getting better.

    I don't see nothing wrong with that at all. I think maybe you are going overboard a bit with the song.

    So I guess you don't like Hendrix shooting his old lady and running off to Mexico. I bet she was beaten many times, before she was shot.

    Or the Rolling Stones, singing about how Stupid Girl, a put down on all women, and that they were useless. But that is not the case.

    One always has to remember in the 50s it was very well known that men beat their woman, girlfriend/wife, and it also was true into the 60s, when people like The Beatles brought it to the forefront. So as a song goes, it's a great song, for it's open to what was going on at the time, and that it's also time to change things and make it better.

    If I was bothered by that song for that verse alone, then I would be bothered by over have the songs in my collection.

    I'm okay with that. Cause all it is doing is telling me things like that got to stop, and we have to start to make things better. In which case he is doing.

    take care


  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    well Lennon was known for being a jealous guy and quite an easily provoked dude. I remember reading somewhere that he beat the living hell out of some announcer because he was joking about when he introduced them to the stage. To say the least, Lennon didn't find it funny and nearly killed him according to him.

    and like someone else said, the song is about getting "better."

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  • 7 years ago

    Better get used to things being done differently in different cultures, with the people in those cultures having their own views on what is being done. And that is what is really being spoken of here. You can take the time period out of the equation and just look at it as a different culture. In that culture women weren't just viewed by men as being subservient to men in many ways, but by women as well. Look at Gladys Knight's "Midnight Train To Georgia" for example. Even a strong woman like her was singing about giving up her own dreams to be with her man and his squashed dreams in that song. Most so-called romantic songs had that twist to them.

  • 7 years ago

    Lennon admitted years ago that he was a violent man when he was young. He was famous for his temper. He did change however. This song is him admitting his anger and saying that he is getting better. Is wife beating disturbing - absolutely. I don't approve of what he did but he did change.

  • liz
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    Yes I am abit although I also took it to be a sign of the times then. I think the sentiment of Hendrix's Hey Joe would make a good anti-guns theme song too. He caught his lady "messing round, messing round town", so he "gave her the gun". Seems a tiny bit of an over-reaction.

  • Sandra
    Lv 5
    7 years ago

    I'm not upset with this song and I'll explain why:


    "“It’s an optimistic song,” Paul explains. “I often try and get on to optimistic subjects in an effort to cheer myself up and also, realizing that other people are going to hear this, to cheer them up too. 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. So there are references to them.”

    “It is a diary form of writing,” John related in 1980. “All that ‘I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved,’ was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and psychically, any woman. I was a hitter! I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and 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.”


    Cynthia, first wife, once said that he never raised his hand and was never violent .. was jealous, sometimes aggressive in words, but not physically

    I personally always thought that John Lennon owned a repressed violence, we can see by the look of it .... But he always "Getting Better"

  • David
    Lv 6
    7 years ago

    I always thought this was one of those songs that Paul wrote about John. Because I'd always heard about John being violent in his early days. I always thought it was Paul narrating through Johns eyes. But I guess I was wrong about that. I defer to Sandra's expertise as I often do :) - it's hard to imagine Paul being a fighter, let alone hitting women.

    It's interesting when you learn more about these guys in their early years. Back in their leather jacket days, these were not the family friendly lads they appeared to be in 1965. They were poor working class, headed for trouble, taking amphetamines nightly, and apparently getting into fisticuffs. They were gangsta!! This is one of my favorite pics of them:

  • 7 years ago

    Yeah that is prwtty creepy i dont know whether or not it was okay back then but even if i was alive back then my conscience wouldnt allow me to do such a thing all people are equal no matter their race or gender.

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