When Ringo fell ill in 1964, he was temporarily replaced with drummer Jimmy Nichol, who played five concerts before Ringo was well enough to return. During Nicol's tenure John and Paul constantly asked him how he was coming along, to which he always replied, "It's getting better,". Years later Hunter Davies was walking with Paul and Martha (Paul's dog) when Paul optimisticly commented about the weather, "It's getting better," then began to laugh. Davies asked what Paul was laughing about, and Paul told him that it reminded him of something, which turned out to be Nicol. The lyrics show how well the extreme contrasts of Paul's and John's writing styles compliment each other, with Paul singing "It's getting better" and "I'm doing the best that I can" and John writing "I used to be cruel to my woman" and "It couldn't get much worse".
"It is a diary form of writing. 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 physically - any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I 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." - John Lennon, Playboy, 1980