My friend Peter Millhouse was an RAF fighter pilot. In the mid-Sixties he left the service to work in film and TV in Swinging London, as it was only half-jokingly called, cutting a dashing figure around the King’s Road. In early 1969 he was working for Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the director of Let It Be, and claims to have been on the Apple rooftop for the Beatles’ famous, impromptu final concert.
Was he really there? I don’t know. For that matter, did he really claim that, or do I just remember it that way because I like to say that he claimed it? Like the man says, print the legend.
And legends are very much the topic at hand, both in the sense of “someone very famous and admired, usually because of their ability in a particular area,” as the Cambridge Dictionary tells us, and of “a very old story or set of stories from ancient times, not always true.”
By the time this blog goes to press, we might have hit the saturation point on think-pieces about Peter Jackson’s eight-hour documentary opus The Beatles: Get Back. But since everyone and their estranged stepbrother has felt qualified to weigh in, you can be damn sure I’m going to do so, lifelong Beatles fanatic that I am. (“Fanatic? That’s an understatement!” my wife is yelling from our bedroom. Yes, she can psychically tell what I am typing even from the other end of the apartment.) So I will try to rein in my voluminous thoughts about all things Beatle and instead focus this essay on a less-well-worked-over aspect of Jackson’s landmark project: what it tells us about the subjective nature of storytelling full stop.
I promise you I will get there eventually.
I WAKE UP TO THE SOUND OF MUSIC
To be clear, I myself certainly wasn’t on the rooftop of 3 Savile Row in Mayfair, London, the home of the Beatles’ Apple Corps offices, on January 30, 1969. I was a five-year old in Columbus, Ohio with a father about to leave for his second tour in Vietnam and a mother on Valium. So I don’t really know what went on there, or in the ad hoc recording studio in the Apple basement, or at Stage 1 of Twickenham Film Studios. At best I can make only an educated guess about the relative accuracy of Lindsay-Hogg’s largely reviled 1970 film and Jackson’s mostly adored new one. But the mere existence of the two, and the sheer volume of interest in the story—both its human subjects and the new project itself—offer a rare opportunity to think about what we consider “truth” in the first place.
By way of exposition for the non-cognoscenti, in January 1969 the Beatles embarked on a new album, eventually to be titled Get Back, that was meant to be a stripped-down “back to our roots” LP, recorded live, with mistakes included, and no overdubs—a new direction and a new challenge after the pioneering multitrack psychedelia of records like 1966’s Revolver and (especially) 1967’s Sgt. Pepper. The insanely short three-week timetable was to culminate in the band’s first live show (David Frost doesn’t count) since Candlestick Park in August 1966.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg was hired to document the process, and the concert, for a TV special, having previously directed a number of short “promotional films” for the Beatles—music videos, we would call them today. More recently, he had also directed another TV special, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, on which John and Yoko played a pair of tunes (“Yer Blues” and “Whole Lotta Yoko”) backed by Eric Clapton, Keith Richards (on bass), and Mitch Mitchell. Circus, however, had been a disastrous production that the Stones hated; it would not air for almost thirty years. Which probably should have been a red flag.
For the Beatles, the problem was that they were perfectionists who were never really satisfied with the raw takes of the Get Back sessions, having become accustomed to building their songs methodically, using the still-new process of multitrack recording the way Leonardo used his brush. Also, the band was coming apart as its four members had all begun to move in divergent personal and professional directions. (There, I just saved you eight hours of TV-watching.)
The band’s frustration was a measure of how far they had come from their first LP, 1963’s Please Please Me, which was recorded in a single day, almost entirely live. (Which is why, for instance, Paul sings solo on the chorus of “Love Me Do,” the rest of which is two-part harmony, as John’s lips were occupied with the harmonica for that section.)
It didn’t help that Lindsay-Hogg asked them to reverse their usual nocturnal recording schedule, and leave Abbey Road studios for early morning calls in a cavernous, acoustically crappy stage at Twickenham, surrounded by colored lights and an army of cameramen and boom operators. Though matters improved in the second week, when they re-located to the newly constructed—if half-assed—studio in the Apple basement, the record never reached a level that satisfied the famous foursome.
As a result, Get Back, and Lindsay-Hogg’s film, were shelved as the band returned to its usual methods to record Abbey Road. It was only later that they brought in the American producer Phil Spector to “salvage” the earlier album, now retitled Let It Be, which was released in May 1970, about a month after the announcement of the band’s breakup.
I have a lot of love for that original Let It Be album, even with its bizarro aesthetic clash of warts-and-all one-take cuts, free association studio chatter (“Queen says ‘no’ to pot-smoking FBI members”), and Phil Spector’s over-the-top Wall of Sound embellishments. As a child, I bought it sometime in 1970—or more likely, early 1971—in its original pressing, complete with the now-rare red apple label. (I thought they were all red until 1973, when I bought the “Live and Let Die” single, with its standard green Granny Smith.) I have often told people it was the first record I ever bought, which was a fib. It was the second; the first was The Partridge Family Album. (NB: I was seven.)
The Fab Four themselves largely thought Spector’s production was a crime, not knowing that Phil had a much worse crime still up his sleeve. But like many fans, I grew up with that version: it was my introduction to the band, and I will always think of it fondly, even as I understand its shortcomings.
Befitting its troubled gestation, that original version of Let It Be has since been worked over ad infinitum, including the 2009 remaster, and 2003’s excellent, McCartney-initiated Let It Be….Naked, which stripped away Spector’s lavish orchestrations in an attempt to return to the original spirit of the endeavor. (Get back to where you once belonged, indeed.) The new documentary is accompanied by yet another re-release, a special edition box set with 57 songs on five CDs, plus a Blu-ray and a 100-page book. For completists only, it even includes Glyn Johns’ May 1969 mix of the abortive, much-bootlegged original Get Back album, in case you want to own a record the Beatles themselves didn’t like enough to put out.
Lindsay-Hogg’s film, retitled to match, finally came out simultaneously with the album in May 1970, and for more than fifty years has been the final cinematic word on the demise of the Beatles. Somewhere I have a bootleg DVD of it, but it’s been years since I watched it, and I’m not even sure I ever did watch the whole thing. It is infamous as a depressing, inadvertent chronicle of the looming dissolution of the biggest and most influential band in rock music. For that reason, it’s been out of print for years, which may give you some idea how unhappy it made people.
In 2017, word that Peter Jackson was revisiting the voluminous raw material from which Let It Be was culled sent Beatledom atwitter. (Not a new social media platform.) A feel-good trailer released last December, and widely circulated reports that this project was designed to re-write the last chapter of the Beatles’ history, led many to expect—and fear—a sanitized, saccharine take. The apoplexy among the Beatle faithful was palpable.
But that presumption proved unfounded. Get Back actually spends plenty of time on the dysfunction of the band in its twilight, some of it very uncomfortable to watch, and all of it enlightening to anyone even vaguely interested in the artistic process. The new film in no way dispels the standard historical take about the band’s breakup, but it does paint a much fuller, more complex, and more nuanced portrait of it. It’s an elegy that also shows the camaraderie of four individuals who had been lifelong friends since their teens, who created a peerless body of work that changed the world, who experienced global fame at an intensity few others in human history ever have, and who, as George Harrison once pointed out, were the only four people on earth who could understand what the others had been through.
It’s fitting that the Get Back/Let It Be sessions should be the subject of competing film versions, in the same way that the record has been subjected to multiple revisions. There is also some irony that Lindsay-Hogg’s film was conceived for television but turned into a feature, while Jackson’s was intended as a feature and turned into TV, after the COVID-19 pandemic gave the director an extra year and a half to work on it. (Fitting also that it’s on Disney and not Apple TV, given the history of bad blood between the Beatles and the gang in Cupertino over that trademark.)
Get Back moves in strict chronological order, day by day, kicking off with the first known Beatles recording, “In Spite of All the Danger,” an Elvis-inspired McCartney-Harrison composition from 1958, put on tape at a friend’s home in Liverpool. As a fly-on-the-wall view of the creative process of some of the most accomplished musical artists of the 20th—or any—century, even if it was at the end of their partnership, it is unparalleled.
All my life, having not bothered to check the calendar, I blithely assumed the Let It Be sessions went on for months. It’s astonishing to think that all this creativity—and friction, and drama—unfolded over just 22 days. From a standing start, with just a few snippets of ideas and a handful of works-in-progress leftover from the White Album sessions (and some chestnuts dating back to the beginning of their career), the Beatles crafted an entirely new LP that, despite its sour reputation owing to their impending breakup, remains astoundingly accomplished. A number of songs, including both of George’s that made it onto the album, “For You Blue” and “I Me Mine” (along with “Old Brown Shoe,” which became the B-side to “The Ballad of John and Yoko” single in May of that year) were written overnight.
But should we really be so surprised? After all, this was a band that put out 13 iconic albums in just about six years. That’s how long it took Guns & Roses to mike a single tom tom on Chinese Democracy.
For most bands, the Let It Be album would be their masterpiece. For John, Paul, George, and Ringo, it’s only lesser Beatles—a B+.
Jackson’s film turns Lindsay-Hogg—who is inexplicably American despite his über-English surname, and widely rumored to be Orson Welles’ illegitimate son—from auteur of this drama to supporting character in it. He certainly has the Wellesian pomposity: If he nagged the band one more time about sailing a ship to Libya and performing in a torchlit ancient Roman amphitheater for an audience of “3000 Arabs,” I thought I might reach into the TV screen and whack him in the face with Paul’s Hofner bass myself. (The one with the 1966 setlist still taped to its body, which I would then sell on eBay.)
But as many have noted, MLH deserves credit for his exhaustive documentation, even if he did interfere badly with the band’s already challenged creative process, not to mention illicitly recording a private conversation between John and Paul using a hidden mike. (If not quite on a par with Robert Durst‘s self-incrimination in The Jinx, it’s still pretty sketchy.)
There are so many wonderful moments, I won’t even try to touch on them all. I could write a lengthy blog on the topic of Glyn Johns’s coats alone. But to name just a few:
- The mind-boggling scene of EMI being stingy with the Beatles’ requests for decent microphones and an eight-track machine instead of just four. (“The Beach Boys got eight tracks,” the band members note. “The Beach Boys are American,” they are told.)
- The serendipity of their old Hamburg pal Billy Preston dropping by just when the band needed a keyboard player.
- The way the Beatles, with no discernible irony, consistently and respectfully refer to their late manager as “Mr. Epstein.”
- Paul languidly working out “Let It Be,” to my ears one of the most moving and beautiful songs in all of Western music, while the rest of the band disinterestedly chats about set design.
- How everyone in the band wanted to play the drums.
- The cavalier manner in which George quits the group (“I’m leaving the band now”), and the similarly cavalier manner in which John quickly proposes replacing him. (“If he doesn’t come back by Tuesday we’ll get Clapton.”) In my alternative history, Clapton lasts all of one day, after refusing to play on ‘that anti-Enoch Powell song,’ prompting Lennon to quip, “Get Jeff Beck on the line.”
- On that same count, the band’s shocking nonchalance about a lineup that the rest of musicdom considers sacred. At one point they toy with the idea of making Billy Preston a permanent member. (“It’s hard enough with just four,” Paul quips.) When Ringo scotches the idea of going abroad to play the historic concert Lindsay-Hogg envisions, McCartney jokes about the availability of Jimmy Nicol.
- The young roadie—a time-traveling Ed Sheeran lookalike named Kevin Harrington—who brings the band endless cups of tea (and glasses of wine), and in the final concert serves as a human music stand for John Lennon, who can’t remember his own nonsense lyrics. (“Where you can syndicate any boat you row-ow.”)
- A quick shot of Linda noodling on a keyboard—bonus sub-movie, the birth of Wings.
- In a moment worthy of Spinal Tap, the Beatles’ confusion over the codenames Lindsay-Hogg has assigned them, apparently without their knowledge. (“I can’t go to France.” “No, France is your codename.”) But the psychic connection runs deeper, as the original Let It Be film was a key model for This Is Spinal Tap, the greatest rockumentary of all time, even though it’s totally fictional.
- Glyn Johns, he of the aforementioned fabulous coats (and eyeglasses that Elton John would envy) as an unsung hero of this saga, not only for his artistic contributions but also his good advice—unheeded—warning the boys off Allen Klein.
- Yoko’s apparently infinite patience. For five decades the second Mrs. Lennon has taken endless bags of shit for her ubiquitous presence at the Get Back/Let It Be sessions…..but in the series’ opening minutes we are bluntly shown that George Harrison brought not one but two Hare Krishnas to the studio with him, even if they sat further away from the amps. (Also in her defense, Jackson pointedly shows the other three Beatle wives visiting the sessions as well, though admittedly they weren’t there 24/7.) Yoko’s omnipresence is famously part of the myth of the Beatles’ breakup, but watching her sit there (mostly) silently for hours and hours on end—sewing, painting, going through her mail—my overwhelming reaction was that she must have been bored out of her own febrile mind.
- And lastly, maybe the most astonishing and widely remarked upon moment in the whole series: Paul McCartney jamming on his bass and formulating “Get Back” from out of the ether, in real time, right before our eyes. (Honorable mention: John ad-libbing a joke that will become the counter-melody in “I’ve Got a Feeling.”)
Then there is the climactic, legendary rooftop concert.
I guess I always bought the notion that the rooftop show was thrown together and sloppy, a sad coda to their performing career. Peter Jackson’s film attests that it was very much otherwise. After farting around and fighting and procrastinating and playing golden oldies for three weeks, not to mention wringing their hands over whether they even wanted to play live again, or were up to it, it’s a shock to see the band get up on the Apple rooftop, plug in, and basically blow the doors off Mayfair, rocking exactly as hard as you would expect from the very best rock band in the world, one that was forged in the seedy nightclubs of Hamburg, playing eight hours at a pop night after night for demanding crowds of drunken sailors and hookers and gangsters and the occasional boho German university student.
Maybe Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hours” theory is correct after all.
DORIS GETS HER OATS
It is an understatement to say that Jackson’s film is a major addition to the Beatles’ saga, changing much of how we think about the final chapter of the band’s career. For fans, critics, historians, and other obsessives (my card is laminated), it’s as if an HD recording of the Last Supper turned up in an attic in Schenectady.
The achievement begins with the image itself. When we watch archival footage, even very well-preserved archival footage, the degradation of picture quality immediately connotes “age.” But this footage—shot on grainy 1960s vintage 16mm, not even Super 16 or 35mm—has been digitally scrubbed to the point where it feels like it was shot this morning. For sheer visual experience, it’s revolutionary. Apart from Jackson’s previous documentary, the World War I epic They Shall Not Grow Old, which engaged in similar mind-blowing restoration, I can think of no other film that offers this sort of surreal “time machine” effect….and with Get Back that effect is multiplied because it deals with a quartet of iconic global celebrities. It’s incredible to watch this 52-year-old footage that looks so impeccably pristine…..and to see the Beatles, still in their twenties, as if you’re in the room with them. (Some quibble that it’s too clean. Whatever, dude. I happened to watch the series with a friend who works for Kodak, who roared when George and Paul began debating the merits of various film stocks and their capacity for blowup to 35.)
That alone makes Get Back a unique experience and towering accomplishment. The technical achievement of teasing apart, isolating, and cleaning up multiple layers of audio is also astonishing, in a film that is, after all, largely about sound.
For such a high profile commercial project, Get Back is also a challenging film that demands a lot of its audience, in almost Wisemanesque fashion. It’s close to pure cinéma vérité, apart from some supertitles and the opening pre-1969 recap, with no narration or new interviews. It asks the viewer to watch hour upon hour of observational footage with dense, overlapping dialogue (eat your heart out, Altman), much of it in thick Liverpudlian accents and working musician slang. Jackson could easily have made a three or four-hour version—still a marathon—that conveyed much the same message and found a wider audience. Maybe Disney calculated that the longer cut would be even more lucrative, or maybe they just bowed to the wishes of 800 pound gorillas like the Lord of the Rings auteur and the Fab Two plus widows.
Of course, like a lot of fans, I could watch all 60 hours of raw footage, unedited, but that’s me.
Speaking of which, the editing‚ by Jabez Olssen, is masterful, particularly the interweaving of wild audio with non-sync picture—very much an artful, self-conscious approach to evoke the capital T truth in defiance of the literal lower case version. (Olssen also worked on various narrative films by Jackson, and cut They Shall Not Grow Old as well.)
Without taking away from his achievement, let’s also bear in mind that this is an eight hour film culled from about 60 hours of footage and some 150 hours of audio tape. That’s actually quite a low shooting ratio by the standards of cinéma-vérité—about 7:1, just accounting for picture. Observational documentaries, including many I have worked on, frequently have shooting ratios of more like 100:1. Reportedly, Jackson’s preferred director’s cut is 18 hours long, giving us a shooting ratio of just over 3:1. At that point, per above, I say, just show me the rushes. I’ll watch ‘em.
Jackson has said that he would like to release an extended director’s cut at some point, which I’m sure Disney—and its accountants—will be all in on. Me too. Will it be for everyone? Of course not. But when people get tired of writing about Shakespeare, or Da Vinci, or Picasso, we can discuss closure on the topic of the Beatles.
Hell, I would happily watch Chris Farley talk to Paul McCartney about Die Hard. (“That was awesome.”)
“SEE YOU ROUND THE CLUBS”
Naturally, there is already the backlash, and then backlash to the backlash, both about the band and the film. “The Beatles are overrated. That’s our fault not theirs,” sniffed the Washington Post, while Inside Hook retorted, “No—you’re overrated.” I eagerly await the backlash to the backlash to the backlash.
While some of the critical assessments have to do with craft, or the amount of time devoted to the subject, most of them have to do with Get Back’s alleged veracity or lack thereof, both on its own and relative to the earlier Let It Be. It’s a natural question, even as it’s also one that ought to be filed under “Errand, Fool’s,” on the hill or otherwise.
At the very beginning of each episode, a card informs us that “Numerous editorial choices had to be made during the production of these films.”
To that I say….oh, what’s the technical term? Oh yeah:
All stories require that. That is the very nature of storytelling. Short of an unmanned, static surveillance camera, every angle, every cut, every single thing in the mise-en-scène of every film, narrative or documentary, is a choice. Even with a surveillance camera, the spot where it was placed and when it was turned on and off are choices that were made by some sort of intelligence behind the process. On a project with a swiping scope like this, the editorial task is massive.
A second card in each episode elaborates that “At all times the filmmakers have attempted to present an accurate portrait of the events depicted and the people involved.”
That is slightly less obvious. Most documentarians do try to do that, except the ethically challenged, though the execution is by definition subjective.
Still, pretty much duh again.
Jackson is, um, a fairly accomplished filmmaker, so surely he knows how silly all that is. The obvious purpose of the cards is to pre-empt the inevitable whinging by individual Beatles fans—a passionate and opinionated lot—that the director misrepresented this or that, or didn’t include Ringo tying his shoes on Day 17.
Such gripes will always arise, of course, but the consensus seems to be that Jackson has captured the “reality” or more ambitiously, the “truth,” of what went on. But the criteria for that verdict is howlingly abstract. What exactly are we measuring this veracity by? Our own irrational, emotional sense of what went on? Our assessment of what “feels” real? Our sheer hopes as fans, or as detractors, or Gerry and the Pacemakers partisans?
Even the opinions of the people who were there are suspect, as human memory is notoriously unreliable, and everyone—consciously or not, benignly or otherwise—has their own subconscious agendas. I cling to my RAF friend Peter’s claim of witnessing musical history, even if I totally imagined it.
The two viewers whose opinions matter the most, Mssrs. McCartney and Starkey, have been quite positive about Get Back. But Jackson himself addresses this phenomenon, speaking of the reactions of Paul and Ringo to the new film:
It’s not the story the way they remember parts of it, because they don’t remember it; it was more than 50 years ago. They lived through it, but they can’t remember it—except the miserable part of breaking up in 1970 and all the acrimony.
The British Beatles scholar Mark Lewisohn—the dean of that field—has frequently had to correct mistaken comments by the surviving Beatles over this or that fact or piece of trivia or minutiae: who played what or when on what day and sat in what chair. It’s amusing, but not surprising, really. Who among us remember our own lives in that detail? It’s just that most of us don’t have armies of obsessive fans and whole academic departments devoted to cataloging our every move. (Sounds cool, but it probably isn’t.)
Similarly, McCartney has said that decades of hearing the received wisdom about how he and Lennon were at each other’s throats in the band’s final months had him beginning to believe the myth himself. He says that he knew deep down—because he was there—that this gossipy narrative was never correct, that for all the moments of undeniable venom (see: “How Do You Sleep” and “Too Many People”), the feud was never as vicious or as lasting as prurient outsiders imagined—or wanted. Indeed, he’s said that he has had to mentally go back over his lifelong relationship with John to reassure himself of the truth, a truth he had been driven to question by sheer repetition, Stockholm syndrome style. One might retort that, per above, his memory is the less accurate barometer, especially given the preferred version in which he is emotionally invested. But the constructed narrative of a band of outsiders has no more credibility, wisdom of crowds notwithstanding, and arguably less. One might just as cogently argue that Lindsay-Hogg’s version is biased toward the dramatic “breakup” narrative that he wanted to tell, suppressing any joyous elements that might detract from that. Indeed, that is what Jackson, Paul and Ringo, and now the critical consensus are saying.
Some accounts—like a recent one in Pitchfork—paint Get Back as arising from a nearly mystical revelation: Jackson’s viewing of the original rushes, and his realization that they told a different story than the “canonical” one of bickering and conflict ahead of a looming divorce with which we were all familiar, Scenes from a Marriage, Merseyside Style.
I don’t doubt that Jackson saw in the footage a different story than he knew from Let It Be, a story he wanted to see, or more charitably, the one he believed to be more accurate. I also buy the idea that the perennially upbeat Paul McCartney was keen on telling that version and championed the idea. I don’t buy, however, the idea that there was but one Platonic sculpture sitting within the raw footage, waiting to be chipped out. The mere fact that there already existed a different perspective on that material is a testament to the notion that there could be multiple perspectives on it.
In that Pitchfork piece, the author, Jayson Greene, also says: “Get Back flows with the feeling of unmediated reality, of simply being in the room with the Beatles as they existed.” But that feeling is an illusion. Calling it “unmediated reality” is an insult to the artistry of the filmmakers, except as a backhanded compliment to the seamlessness and invisibility (or at least unobtrusiveness) of their hand. It’s an especially ironic plaudit for a film that states outright that it will, for example, sometimes marry wild sound to “representative picture,” a deft technique and beautifully done, but artifice nonetheless, and certainly not unvarnished recording of “reality.”
While it is only human to seek some sort of verisimilitude from anything that purports to be “non-fiction,” contemporary audiences are very sophisticated, and typically understand that even non-fiction programming represents a subjective, carefully curated narrative. (Don’t they?)
We don’t really know the Beatles as people, though many of us imagine we do, often to an unhealthy, Rupert Pupkin-ish degree. Indeed, that was very much part of what cost John Lennon his life. Not to get too navel-gazing about it, but can we ever really know anyone, or even ourselves? (I think some acid left over from the Pepper sessions got on my laptop keys.) Some who have gotten close to their heroes, be they the Beatles or others, have often found them wanting. Way back in the Seventies a pre-breakthrough Joan Armatrading famously turned down an offer to sing backup for Van Morrison because she didn’t want to become disillusioned by proximity to one of her role models. (In retrospect, a very wise choice. Looking at you again, Clapton.)
Comparing the two Beatles documentaries is ultimately unfair—Apples and oranges, some might say—but even so, I would bet Granny Smith-colored money that Jackson’s film is indeed the more accurate account, if only because of its much bigger palette. (Though of course that length would be pointless if not for the artistry with which it was utilized.) Jackson has intimated that he will be involved in a restoration and re-release of Lindsay-Hogg’s film in the coming months, so we can compare and contrast. That would be a menschy thing to do, and I think we can count on Peter to do so. Tarantino has also said he wants to show Let It Be at his film prints-only cinema in LA, the New Beverly.
Perhaps someday Peter Jackson, or one his children, will recut Get Back into four separate films each showing the sessions from the perspective of a different band member (Quadrophenia, anyone?), and a fifth one from the POV of the ginger-headed kid holding John’s lyric sheet. I myself lay claim to a stage adaptation of the sessions from the perspective of the two Hare Krishnas as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Tom Stoppard-style.
So in that regard, The Beatles: Get Back is a kind of elongated Rorschach test, or if you prefer, a blank slate upon which the viewer can project his or her own preferred vision of the band, good, bad, or indifferent, but unchallengeable by objective reality or the historical record.
Print the legend indeed.
“I HOPE WE PASSED THE AUDITION”
One final quibble, since everyone else is airing theirs: Could we not get a full-length “Let It Be” at the end of the miniseries, rather than just a truncated one? Was there not room for that in a show with a running time of 468 minutes? We’ve had multiple full-length versions of “Get Back”—and yes, I know it’s a great song, and yes, I know it’s eponymous here—including three on the roof alone.
Just my personal beef. (Peter did warn us that he had to do some editing.)
But as I say, this is hairsplitting in a true masterpiece. So let us thank Peter Jackson and his team for this great gift to us, this labor of love, this peerless opus that gives us a rare window into the creative process of some of the most beloved and accomplished artists of our time.
Let’s end, then, with a quote I love from Kurt Vonnegut, another Sixties icon, from his 1997 book Timequake:
I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, “The Beatles did.”
Yeah yeah yeah.
Illustration: Original cover art for the Beatles’ never-released 1969 LP Get Back, parodying their first British LP, 1963’s Please Please Me.
2 thoughts on “Get It Be (or, Rashomon on Savile Row)”
Love your meta takes on this. Backlash x inifinty! Gold! Also, I always heard the inspo for Tap was actually “The Last Waltz”.
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