Getting Back with the Beatles
Around twenty minutes into the second episode of “The Beatles: Get Back”, though I still hadn’t been able to watch the first episode, I needed a break, some Think time and so replied to a friend with whom I had shared two episodes of the documentary. He had messaged me to say that we are so fortunate to have been around when the Beatles happened.
What I said was, “It’s emotional and childish and abnormally normal that not many will understand what draws one into and down that rabbit hole and not bother to know why it happened except that you’re there and you’re happy to be here.”.
Bollocks? Maybe, but they’re my bollocks and inspired and perspired after watching a few minutes of the Beatles- well, minus George who had taken his guitar and gone home and John who was yet to appear- trying to make something happen.
There are some unintentionally funny moments like when some flowers are delivered to George. Ringo receives them and mentions to director Michael Lindsay Hogg that it’s from “Hare Krishnas”.
The man who directed “Let It Be” straight into the ground and comes across like a right old Hooray Henry with some bizarre ideas for locations for a show- a Greek amphitheater?- asks if he likes “Harry”. “Not really” replies Ringo and goes back to smoking and waiting for his bandmates to show up.
What Trilogy King Peter Jackson has done is take almost everything that had been left on the cutting room floor and put these together as a fan might go about keeping a scrapbook.
I recognised some who are seen hovering around them and with the cameras allowed to roll and let us into what was going on in 1969 with the Beatles- the band and the brand and the deadline for completing a fly on the wall documentary, or show or television special or, no one is really sure. This was released as “Let It Be” in 1970 and it was pretty ho hum.
Let’s not forget that there was all that Apple business acrimony starting to happen around the time with marriages falling apart and new women entering that Beatles inner sanctum.
Paul can be seen desperately trying to make things work- everything work- and be the band.
Particularly telling during this second episode was the camera capturing him sitting there waiting to speak to John and hearing that no one could get in touch with him. He listened, thought about it, and almost prophetically mentioned to himself, “And then there were two”- him and Ringo.
I didn’t at the time understand why he might have been thinking that perhaps he had overstepped the line, especially with George until watching the first episode.
Here, George was reduced to the role of side musician. It was Paul calling the shots trying to bring John into the conversation though John seemed to be humouring his old friend. He had Yoko with him, his own songs and definite thoughts on how they should sound, and it certainly appeared that he had checked out of being a Beatle.
At the end of the first episode, after various jam sessions and plenty of smoking weed and very different views on the arrangements to songs, George, who looked more and more pissed off as no one was in charge and it was obvious that what he had to say didn’t matter, announced that he was leaving the band and would see the others “around the clubs”.
It was like a school band losing a member, but this school band became the Beatles and the Apple business while singing “You never give me your money”. No one will understand what they were going through. We might think we do, but, get real. We have been parroting second hand crumbs picked up over all those years ago.
Meanwhile, Ringo seemed okay to be there and be part of whatever he was needed to do. And if there was nothing for him to do, that was okay, too. He seemed happily bored to kill some time in-between, I think, a break in filming “The Magic Christian” with the very great and extremely complex Peter Sellers.
When the actor popped onto the set- at this time, John was there with Yoko- and asked something along the lines of, “Now, what exactly is going on here?” in one of those upper crust British accents which one never knew was his or him playing a role, it was a reminder that the genius of Sellers was one third of The Goons. It was The Goons, well, goonish humour, that inspired the irreverent humour of the band during the early days of Beatlemania.
It was also the Producer of The Goons-George Martin- who was “given” the Beatles “project” to nurture and manage by my friend and mentor- the late Bhaskar Menon, then head of EMI.
My “son” Scottie had sent me these links to the first two episodes of “Get Back” on Google drive earlier in the day. That was it. My original dinner plans were scuppered and a new one set: Staying in the apartment doing a Garbo. Everything else that happened before the downloads were being processed just seemed trivial. An Australian jockey, for example, who had won some of the major races in that country in an illustrious career was having his last ride and expected to win. He didn’t. Mildly interesting stuff, but hardly something that rocked my world. Getting back to where Jo Jo was a loner, it’s an absorbing jigsaw puzzle where it takes time and various breaks before thinking how the pieces fit into place. One is never sure. At least for myself, interesting was listening to Paul walk into a scene casually whistling something to himself. This could have been Paul putting on a happy face or it could have been part of what might have become a very good song. Perhaps this was and is part of his songwriting process. This, a snippet of a very early song he had written for Peter and Gordon called “Woman” and the opening of what we now know as “Get Back” taking shape with only Paul coming up with the framework underlines just how easy it seems for him to come up with a melody. When John adds in a nonchalant aside, it becomes magic.
We hear a very early snippet of “The Back Seat Of My Car”, a very much underrated McCartney song influenced by Beach Boy Brian Wilson that finally appeared on his “Ram” record.
Would it have sounded better if recorded by the Beatles? Those familiar and always creative harmonies might have added a different layer, but maybe it’s perfect how things turned out.
And in the end, after watching anything about the Beatles or hearing their music and thinking about their friendship and that strong bond of trust and loyalty they had with their team of Neil Aspinall, Mal Evans and Derek Taylor, it makes me question much about myself, where I am and what more I can do with my life. To be happy, yes. But how exactly? That talent pool out there isn’t exactly overflowing with inspiration nor are there those with the loyalty and trust needed to become close friends.
Maybe the final episode will provide some answers. Maybe.
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