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Musings On "Get Back"

HAVING just finished the final episode of GET BACK, here are my initial thoughts (for those who may be interested). Peter Jackson's presentation and restoration is perfect, engaging and really makes you feel like you're right there in the room. The calendar motif really gives you a claustrophobic feeling and a sense of the pressure they were under.

I loved every minute of it, though even as a huge Beatle fan, it was a lot! I'd be surprised if I ever watched it again, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if I found myself forwarding to various moments for many years to come. So many highlights. Paul creating Get Back out of thin air was spine-tingling to watch. John and Paul's giddy enjoyment, incessantly rambling through the songs of their youth or just ad-libbed goofiness, really showed their love for one another (as annoying as it had to be for everyone else). You can just imagine them as kids sitting in the parlour, singing in each others faces in unison or harmonizing, learning their craft, enjoying their enormous gifts. That extended shot of Paul, eyes glazing over as he pondered whether John would be returning after hearing the news Lennon was not coming in and unreachable.

Now, let's talk about George. Knowing a bit about Beatle history, we know George had been struggling against the Lennon and McCartney collective monolith for quite some time. This was the first time we could actually see him trying to burst his cocoon and get out from under. I think his unhappiness made him snarky as unhappiness often does, evoking Eric Clapton's name too often and criticizing the Beatle catalog. When he brought "I Me Mine" to the studio, I felt like he was a bit unsure. He played it for Paul, fairly rehearsed and cautious. When Paul dug it I think he felt quite proud of his tune. When playing it for John, he's moving to the beat and more confident in his body language. Then, of course, John takes a huge crap on it. The toughest part of the 6 plus hours for me. I'd have quit too. Though we know how things end up, I thought his returning, and with a pretty good attitude to boot, showed a lot of character. I won't lie though. I tended to agree with Paul in most of his arrangement ideas. Someone should have "lost" Harrison's wah-wah.

IMHO. Bringing Billy Preston into the act should get George another knighthood.

I will say I didn't find Paul to be very disparaging of anybody's tunes. He seemed game to make music and to create constantly. Keyword: constantly. Maybe incessantly is a better word. For better or worse, nothing would have gotten done without him being a pain in the ass. His dogged insistence on his precise arrangements isn't the best approach for a band of equals, but band politics is another long conversation. To be fair, he was writing great melodies and progressions and his voice was about right at it's prime. His lyrics have always tended to be one form of gobbledygook or another but they "sang well" and consistently did the trick. The pure magnetism of his voice pulled emotions and meaning out of the other-world and imbued them into the words and into the recordings. What can I say? He's fucking Paul McCartney.

As opposed to the dour introvert we seemed to get from the LET IT BE movie, Lennon came off as jovial, mostly having a good time and game for whatever. He was game for Tripoli. He was game for the rooftop. He was game to jam on whatever. He was frickin' quick witted and hilarious. (Except when he was shitty to George grrr...)

I could go on. But it'll turn into a 6 plus hours read...

Ultimately even with all this footage, all the collected history, all the first, second and third hand accounts of these fellas, we can only make up in our imaginations what the experience was like, what was going through their minds, the depths of their feelings. The love and the anger that manifested between them. With these mythical constructs we've created, it becomes easy to judge them and pretend we have them figured out. I suspect, we don't. Maybe we dare to try and imagine what it would be like to be a Beatle. We can't.

Much like the story of King Arthur and Camelot, any way you tell it, ultimately you get a tragic ending. I'm happy that this telling of the Beatle tale left me feeling light-hearted and nostalgic in a good way and dare I say inspired.


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