For 50 years, history has said that the Beatles’ “Let it Be” recording session was a miserable experience, with the band members fed up with each other and their work and in the process of breaking up.
“I waited for the conflict to start. I waited for the feeling that they hated each other. I waited for all the things I had read in the books and it never showed up.”
An almost eight-hour documentary produced by Peter Jackson, made with discarded films and recordings of those sessions, reveals a self-conscious band with a rare connection and work ethic that still knew how to party, even though it was in the process of breaking up.
“Get Back” will air as a three-part series on Disney + starting Thursday, Thanksgiving Day in America.
Produced by one Beatlemaniac for other Beatlemaniacs, it can be an exhausting experience for those not in that club. But the club is quite big. Beyond the delights it offers fans, “Get Back” is a look at the creative process of a band that remains popular half a century after it ceased to exist.
Jackson, the Oscar-winning director of “Lord of the Rings”, was discussing another Beatles project when he asked what happened to all the discarded takes from the 1970 film “Let it Be.” from director Michael Lindsay-Hogg.
There were nearly 60 hours of film shot over three weeks, most never seen before, and the band had been considering what to do with them. Jackson took that material, as well as 150 hours of audio recordings, and spent four years building a story.
He approached it with the fear that it might be a depressing job.
“We had a few fights, it’s natural. But musically, every time we counted ‘one, two, three, four,’ we wanted to be our best.”
The Lindsay-Hogg Movie it is considered a chronicle of the band’s demise – unfairly, according to Jackson – because it was released shortly after the break-up was announced. Some Beatles reinforced the idea by making negative comments about the experience; They had given themselves a very short time to write and record new material in preparation for a live show, with cameras following everything.
“I just expected everything bad,” Jackson said. “I waited for the arguments to start. I waited for the conflict to start. I waited for the feeling that they hated each other. I waited for all the things I had read in the books and it never appeared.”
Oh, there is conflict. The story overshadows the pleasant moments revealed in the discarded shotsLike John Lennon singing “Two of Us” like he’s Bob Dylan, or him and Paul McCartney challenging each other to sing without moving their lips. Jackson restores balance.
“The connection was incredible,” recalled drummer Ringo Starr in a recent interview via Zoom. “I’m an only child, (but) I had three brothers and we take care of each other. We had a few fights, it’s natural. But musically, every time we counted ‘one, two, three, four’, we wanted to be our best. “
Jackson follows the sessions day by day from when they began on a cavernous film set that was eventually abandoned in favor of his well-known London recording studio, to the brief rooftop performance, the last time the Beatles performed in public.
The filmmaker is sensitive to the idea that he was hired to “sanitize” the sessions, noting that “Get Back” shows George Harrison briefly leaving the band, something that Lindsay-Hogg was not allowed to show.
That happened one morning when Harrison was silently watching Lennon and McCartney working on “Two of Us” as if the others weren’t there. When it was time for lunch, Harrison had something more permanent in mind.
“I’m leaving the band now,” he says almost naturally before leaving.
After a few days and a couple of meetings, the band convinced Harrison to come back. The morning that he does, The movie shows him and Lennon reading a fake news that they had hit the punches and making fun of it by doing boxing stances.
Along the way, the Jackson project Dispels and reinforces popular myths that have solidified over the years and that we present here:
McCartney was an obsessive controller
Verdict: Partially true. The film shows Harrison visibly irritated with McCartney giving him and other band members instructions on how to perform and cajoling them into making a decision about a live concert. The band had been slightly aimless since the death of manager Brian Epstein in 1967. McCartney had taken on the role of “daddy” and he’s not entirely comfortable with it. “I’m scared to be the boss, and have been for a couple of years,” he says. “I don’t get any support.”
Yoko Ono disbanded the Beatles
Verdict: False. She is present at practically every recording session, but mostly as a benign force sitting next to Lennon. The other Beatles spouses appear in the studio, although not as often. At one point, McCartney even makes a prophetic joke about her.
“It’s going to be incredibly funny 50 years from now; they broke up because Yoko sat on an amp.”
“It’s going to be incredibly funny 50 years from now; they broke up because Yoko sat on an amp,” he says.
The afternoon after Harrison left, the remaining Beatles clearly expressed their frustration with aggressive, atonal music, and Ono took up his microphone in a riveting moment.
The Beatles had essentially become four solo artists, with the others accompanying each other’s songs.
Verdict: False. They constantly collaborate, asking for and accepting advice. At one point, Harrison confesses to Lennon that he has had trouble completing the lyrics “attracts me like no other lover” in “Something.” Lennon suggests using a nonsensical phrase, “pulls me in like a cauliflower,” until something better comes along.
“Seeing them working together is an enormously important artifact, not just for the fans but for anyone who is creative.”
During the movie, viewers can see how McCartney’s song “Get Back” came about by crafting a riff on the side, and he and Lennon swapping lyrical selections and brainstorming to turn it into a song that critiqued anti-immigrant sentiment and the entire band working on the arrangement. Satisfied with the end result, it is Harrison who suggests releasing it immediately as a single.
“Seeing them working together is a hugely important artifact, not just for Beatles fans but for anyone who’s creative,” said Bob Spitz, author of “The Beatles: The Biography,” published in 2005.
The footage showed the Beatles breaking up
Verdict: Essentially true. It is clear that Lennon and Harrison’s enthusiasm for being the Beatles is waning. Lennon is clearly in love with Ono; McCartney tells Harrison and Starr that if it all came down to a choice between her and the Beatles, Lennon would go with her.
Harrison, growing up creatively, is uncomfortable with his supporting role. Talk to Lennon about making a solo album because he has enough songs written to fill his “quota” on Beatles albums for another decade. To prove their point, the Beatles rehearse Harrison’s majestic “All Things Must Pass,” but refuse to record it.
In the movie, Lennon and Starr also discuss a meeting with the Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein about taking over the Beatles business, foreshadowing a bitter split from McCartney.
“It’s full of mini stories,” Jackson said.
Jackson, from whom a mainstream documentary was expected, said he was nervous about showing his much longer final product to McCartney, Starr and the families of Lennon and Harrison.
“But they came back and said, ‘great, don’t change a thing,'” he said.
Among the priceless moments he unearthed is the joy on the Beatles’ faces as they played on the roof of the studio.or. The movie shows all the acting, the Beatles rising to the challenge and having a great time.
When the police finally put an end to it, the band and entourage retreat to the studio and listen to a recording of what they have done.
“This is a very good rehearsal for something else,” says producer George Martin … something that, sadly, did not come to be.