Nov 292021

Seriously? Nobody is going to post about Get Back?

I’ve always felt like a Beatles neophyte around here. I only read my first Beatle book about 2 or 3 years ago, while some of you seem to have a wing of your personal libraries devoted to them. I don’t own all their albums. I haven’t even heard all of their songs despite the fact that they’re readily available on Spotify. But they’re the Beatles for chrissake! Even as a Stones guy I can admit that they had the greatest run of any band ever. And I’m enjoying the hell out of this unprecedented peek behind the curtain. Watching them make up songs on the spot that would go on to be so ubiquitous for the next half a century is fascinating, as is hearing them glibly sniffing around the idea of disbanding. This show is great and I can’t tell if everyone is too jaded to be impressed or has collectively moved to other platforms (I suspect the latter).

I’m only partly though the second episode but here are some of my observations so far:
– Mal Evans looks like an extra from the Benny Hill show;
– Magic Alex appears to be adding nothing of value;
– I’m increasingly nervous about the pressure being put on Glyn Johns to compensate for Magic Alex’s shenanigans;
– Michael Lindsey Hogg is terribly irritating;
– Yoko was very close to being rehabilitated in my mind but all that has now been erased. Good lord, she is the worst;
– Paul is somehow both the most annoying guy in the band and the most understanding guy in the band;
– After a solid 4 decades of being my least favorite Beatle, Ringo has emerged as my favorite. This isn’t based on Get Back alone. It’s been in the works for a while but even I’m not totally sure how I arrived here.

Anyone else care to chime in?


  28 Responses to “Hey, Rock Town Hall, Get Back To Where You Once Belonged!”

  1. I’ve only watched the first episode. Don’t tell me how it ends!

    Hogg gets more audio time than Lennon. STFU about going to Tripoli you twat.

    Despite being miserable, Harrison still seems like the best hang to me. He’s the most conversant.

    I love when Paul is telling George his guitar part is corny that he couches it in, “I’m just trying to help you”. Passive/aggressive gold medal!

    Did Paul take Mal’s advice on changing a lyric on Let it Be? “Standing” there. Good on Ya, Mal.

    It’s great. Looking forward to watching parts 2 and 3. That first chapter was long though! It’s a little bit like listening to Sweet Apple Tracks bootleg with images. That can drag at points.

  2. I lack the requisite streaming service. But I do intend to get to it.

    I do have Amazon Prime if anyone needs to discuss the six-part Grateful Dead documentary. It was really good.

  3. Watched the entire thing and loved it.
    The first was the least purely enjoyable, due to the tension, but I still dug it.
    It’s a fascinating study on how a song is constructed.
    Yoko was so so so much less intrusive than we’ve ever been led to believe. I found Linda far more intrusive (and I like Linda).
    There’s virtually never any tension between John and Paul, which was a shock–in fact, John’s generally in a decent mood and often outright happy.
    Also, Magic Alex is one of the great conmen in history. I mean, that’s overstating, I suppose, but no, you’re right: he never provided a thing of value to the Beatles, but he surely did take a lot of their money.

  4. Thank you, cdm! I’ve been doing the thing that put RTH on life support years ago: blowing my wad on Facebook. I may paste in some of my key themes from there and then catch up with everyone. I have been chewing on an offshoot post around this historic documentary and COVID-era Moment of Healing that I will save for this forum.

    As the kids say…My bad!

  5. FACEBOOK?!?

  6. From my Facebook feed…

    Days 1-7:

    It’s so real to life!

    Paul is relentless!

    George is spunky!

    For a guy who is generally checked out, John could check back in with ease!

    Did I once know that Michael Lindsay-Hogg was American and forgot it? He’s so in over his head!

    Ringo is patient.

    Who knew Paul smoked cigars?

    I liked how they thought to put a mic on Linda’s camera.

    …and Dick James as Satan.

  7. Starting Days 8-16. What did we do to deserve getting to hear the flowerpot discussion?

  8. As I reach the midway point of episode 3, maybe the biggest surprise is how much white wine they consumed.

  9. The leadership dynamic of those two is outstanding. Paul guided the agenda; he looked outward. John is the Field General. Once he perks up, the ground troops are all in. And Paul is so happy to have it that way. He knew the strength of their dynamic.

  10. From some other friends’ discussions…

    I was saying to another Beatles nerd friend that we all need to go off in group retreats and work through what we’re processing. From an AARP cover story perspective, “Who says we can’t see life anew by watching Peter Jackson’s Get Back?”

    This doc helped me understand the Kid Brother syndrome that George lived through. As a lifelong Big Brother, I realized that I have projected my domineering, bullying impulses on George and his fans through the years. For that, I apologize to all kid siblings, George fans, and George’s estate.

    To [REDACTED] and others still sharpening knives for Paul, I encourage you to drop the notion of John-Paul dualism. If we are to accept the Holy Quartet that is The Beatles and keep it as a part of our fabric, this doc shows the dynamic of the band’s 2 leaders like we’ve never seen it before. Paul is an agenda setter, a goal-driven mofo who is also more self-sufficient as a creative force than anyone else in the band. Is he insensitive and too laser focused on his agenda at times? Yes, but he was the guy most consumed with stoking the legacy. I think being in the band covered for much of his personal loss and pain like no song he could ever write about his feelings. When he says that “And then there were two” line, as he fears John is the next to leave the band, he quickly goes from his typical Paul glibness to leaning back with eyes watering up. We don’t get a lifetime of Beatles studies without Paul pushing the agenda. Minus Paul, or should I say the often highly annoying parts of Paul, The Beatles might have been reduced to a Beatles and New Beatles historical divide, kind of like the Animals, after Alan Price left Eric Burdon to his own devices.

    The flowerpot discussion is like a lost text in the Beatles’ Bible, isn’t it? Paul and John lay their dynamic out on the table and come out of that thing assuming their proper roles in the Beatlesverse. John assumes his role as Field General. Paul is happy to sit back and follow John’s lead, pretty much as he said to the flowerpot. Paul knows that this version of the band’s dynamic is what makes his broader goals for a sustainable legacy possible.

    I think getting John back to firing up the ground troops is also what helps Paul cover over his wounds. He would never be the kind of guy to get lost in a guru or a love. He’s got a burning desire to connect with people on a broad, dynamic, adaptable level. Even artistically, I think his sense of arrangements offer a chance for change to take place within a structured setting, that is, the 3-minute pop song. Musically, I think he’s one of those artists who worked to cultivate natural phenomena within the petri dish of his songs. I think the doc shows the connection between his weird personal makeup and his artistic brilliance, even if it coughs up the occasional “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” File under: Odd Crie de Couer.

    Not everyone is down with the notion of pushing a “sustainable legacy.” I get that. It sounds sick to admit, but I think that’s part of what brought the best out of John. He’s so talented and assured and consistent in the integrity of his makeup, right down to a cellular level, but I don’t know if he could have held a job in a band with a less-intense dynamic The Beatles, as an organization, were the place where he could flourish. Paul, George, and Ringo gave that guy a place where he could do his thing. Paul knew what he had in a business partner. Coming out of that flowerpot discussion, John knew what he had, too. He must have figured, “Yoko’s not going anywhere, literally, I might as well get back to work and pull the best out of my bandmates. One more time.”

  11. How did Jackson fail to show a scene with Ringo studying his script for The Magic Christian?

  12. To a friend who was getting bored…


  13. trigmogigmo

    Signed up for a month just to watch it. (No one should be complaining about $8 for this, right?) Just started part 3. Enjoying the inside look, including the boredom, conflicts, joy, crummy songs, good songs, Paul’s remarkable musical facility, the awful audio hygiene (which kind of shows that it doesn’t matter if the performance is good), everything!

    [Mr. Mod wrote] >> How did Jackson fail to show a scene with Ringo studying his script for The Magic Christian?

    That scene with Peter Sellers was strangely awkward, wasn’t it?

    Is The Magic Christian worth watching? Seems to be available for a $4 online rental.

    Aw, damn. It was 20 years ago today, the quiet Beatle George passed away.

  14. BigSteve

    I don’t have Disney, and so I’m unlikely to see this. Isn’t this the period when John and Yoko were on heroin? Isn’t that why John seems disengaged?

  15. Lennon looks really skinny in this. He’s like a pencil. Could be the heroin dabbling.

    First it was impressive that they were able to produce all that new music in just a few weeks, but I didn’t realize how much time they spent goofing off. How many times do they need to play Two of Us while singing in silly voices. Besides the song Get Back, it seems like each songwriter brought in his tunes mostly completed. When they decide to focus on a song, it comes into form really quickly. Not sure what the benefit was of playing Maxwell’s Silver Hammer over and over. The songs didn’t sound like they were changing that much during the multiple versions with goofy voices. If they were at EMI, this might have been just a week long endeavor.

    It’s such a pleasure when Billy starts playing his parts and the songs sound whole.

  16. BigSteve, one of the questions the doc raises is, “What came first, the disengagement from heroin or the disengagement from having to rehearse ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’s?”

  17. Or did the rehearsal of MSH actually lead to the heroine?

  18. 2000 Man

    I watched half of the first episode. So far it’s boring as hell. Yoko seems pretty quiet but if I were in the band I think I’d ask her to go sit somewhere else while I was working because it’s weird. Everyone that talks sounds like a condescending idiot, or just an idiot. Why do they pan over to George’s “friends?” Did he meet them outside the airport and not understand you just give them money and they leave you alone? So far Ringo is the only person I like. I think it’s because he hasn’t said anything so far.

    If I bother to watch any more, I’m not expecting much. I think I’d have rather seen a video of them making their first album or something, when they didn’t have unlimited time to dick around. Maybe something will happen if I tune back in, but I kind of doubt it.

  19. It’s taken me much longer than expected to get through this; I still have only watched Parts 1 and 2. Who knew my wife would want to watch it also which means coordinating the marathon with two schedules. What I’ve seen is fascinating in all it’s excesses and I still think I’d pay up for all 57 hours of footage in a DVD box.

    In the meantime, read this bit on the outtakes which we don’t see. A lot of really hilarious segments; my favorite is Day 3.

  20. I just finished part 3 last night. I thought it was a scream when little Heather visits the studio and starts doing a Yoko impression on the microphone. Who knew she was so avant-garde? Dug it, but it was a bit long.

  21. mockcarr

    I have a list of observations. The film looks so much better. I like hearing them sing each other’s songs, i.e., Paul singing I’m So Tired, John making up even goofier words to Ob La Di, George singing Every Little Thing as a suggestion for one they could play live. That Glynnis thing John bullied Glyn Johns with got tiresome very quickly. I am still surprised that they chose the inferior arrangements of Two Of Us and One After 909 to record. Watching a jam turn into Get Back is fucking awesome and makes me understand that tune better. Mal deserves royalties, it must be the tip of the iceberg watching him be their patient lackey for a few weeks, imagine years of that! Tea towels on the snare? I’m glad Ringo let that idea go eventually. John has a Marty Feldman-like quality when he farts around here.

  22. An observation I had about the best scene, the Get Back inception scene, is that Paul writes the thing on his Hofner bass. He’s strumming it like a guitar, and it sounds good! George is barely playing, and Paul is getting a nice clear melodic sound he can sing along to without the low notes just making a bottom-y mess.

    Can’t wait to go into Sam Ash and start playing the guitar part to Pinball Wizard on a Hofner bass until they kick me out.

  23. I’m late to this party. Took me a few weeks to watch it all, as much because, in a surprise to me, my wife wanted to watch it all, and that involved coordinating times. I loved it but i knew i would. And at times I felt the same excitement that i still remember from that night almost 58 years ago when that 9 year old kid knew his life had changed. And i loved it even as I recognize that a lot of the criticisms I’ve read are true. But then the Beatles could rarely do anything wrong in my estimation and that continues with this.

    Here is a great review/commentary on the movie. It says a lot of what I think about the epic and, since it’s written by Adam Gopnik, one of my favorite New Yorker writers, far better than I could say it.

  24. BigSteve

    I enjoyed the Gopnik article. Here’s a long read from critic Ann Powers, where she starts with the idea of McCartney being a “band guy” and proceeds to walk through the past 70 years of music history, taking in race, rockism, feminism, and lots of other interesting stuff.

  25. Merry Crimble Everyone!

  26. God Bless Us! 75 to 80% of us.

  27. cherguevara

    It took me forever to finally watch these films – we had houseguests over Thanksgiving, I didn’t want to watch with everyone around. There’s been so much discussion and parsing of these films, I’m not sure how much more I have to add. It always seemed that Glyn Johns got stiffed, in that he recorded a Beatles album but it didn’t come out so it’s like it didn’t happen. I’m glad to see him getting his due. Watching Billy Preston is a thrill – you know when you’re around somebody who has a cosmic relationship with their instrument – it’s more than virtuosity. He was a good hang and everything he played was tasty. It was interesting to me to see the slow accumulation of music equipment rolling in. They ask for it, and it appears. Seeing these things that I think of as vintage pieces, coming brand-new out of boxes, is fun. I’ve never seen a Leslie cabinet come out of a box, I’ve only seen them old, scratched and a little beaten up. That Fender Rhodes with the sparkle top? Way cool. It’s funny too, how they are conscious of the rooftop concert as part of the narrative, “we can make it look like we had to stop because of the police” when really, they did everything they set out to do without interference. I also wondered if it would be mentioned anywhere that Paul’s original Hofner bass, the one he played at the Cavern, was stolen from Twickenham studios during the first week and has never been found. This seems to be a downplayed thread of the Beatles story, but I guess Paul just swallowed the loss. George helping Ringo with “Octopus’ Garden” was fun too, because Ringo rolled out this snippet of non-spectacular music, and George was right there helping, tossing out ideas. I didn’t find Yoko’s presence intrusive, nobody seemed bothered by her (or by any non-Beatles in the room), they just seemed to carry on, used to tuning out the hubbub around them. At some points, I found the clean-up job on the film a little artificial looking, like those digital filters on Zoom, but overall it looked and sounded fantastic. I was concerned this was going to be a sanitized, jollified version of the events, but even with their awareness of the cameras, there is plenty of insight to be had about the inner relationships of the band members (and crew) and their creative processes. I was mesmerized.

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