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My Review of The Beatles: Get Back

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The Beatles: Get Back

In January, 1969, the Beatles went into the studio to record a new album, the follow-up to their classic The Beatles (White Album) and single “Hey Jude”. Cameras and microphones were allowed to follow their progress, which originally was to result in a television special followed by a live concert (location to be determined), their first live performance since stopping touring in August, 1966.
In 1970, the film Let It Be was released, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. I remember the film, which I saw with my Dad, as depressing, as it appeared to show the Beatles as they were breaking up, as it was indeed released right after the band broke up.
We now know that there was more than 60 hours of video and 150 hours of audio that had never been seen or heard. Three-time Oscar winning director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit), reviewed the unused material, beautifully digitally restored the video and synced up the audio to produce a three-part docuseries that debuted on November 25, exclusively available on Disney+, that runs nearly 8 hours.
I have been a Beatles fan since watching them on the Ed Sullivan Show in the early 1960’s at my grandparent’s home. I remember listening to a bootleg recording of these sessions at a friend’s home, as the Let It Be album was delayed (that’s another story), not being released until 1970, which was after the band’s last recorded album Abbey Road was released.The docuseries, which includes some adult language, and a lot of smoking indoors – which is so different than today – is an incredible look at the band at work, along with their producers, engineers, road manager, etc. We see them working on songs, such as “Get Back”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, “Something”, “Let It Be” and many others in their very early stages of development. Some of the songs would end up on the Let It Be album, while others would show up on the Abbey Road album, some would show up on McCartney, Lennon and Harrison solo albums, as well as some that were never recorded.
Jackson begins the series with a brief history of the Beatles. Recording then begins in the cavernous Twickenham Studios, where the film The Magic Christian, which Ringo Starr was to appear in, was to be filmed immediately afterwards. Later the band would move to their own Apple studios, which delayed the rehearsals a few days. The band, none of them yet 30 years old, challenged themselves to write, learn and record a full album’s worth of new songs and perform them live in three weeks. The film does show the drudgery of the recording process, but it also shows their creativity, comradery and fun as they played rock and roll standards in between learning the new songs.
The series, unlike the original Let It Be movie, shows George Harrison quitting the band for a few days in the middle of the recording process. We see Yoko Ono almost always by John Lennon’s side, and we also occasionally see Linda Eastman (later to be married to Paul McCartney), her daughter Heather, and Maureen Starkey (Ringo Starr’s first wife).
A highlight is the arrival in the studio of keyboardist Billy Preston, who the band knew from Hamburg in 1962. Preston, was in London to film a television program and had just stopped by to say “Hi”, not knowing that the band needed a keyboard player. The band immediately put him to work, and we see him adding significantly to songs such as “Get Back” and “Don’t Let Me Down”.
At times, the purpose of what the band was doing was not clear to them. Were they recording an album, doing a television special, a movie, a live concert? And if they were to do a live concert, where would it be? Eventually, the band would play their live concert on the rooftop of their Apple headquarters in London before being shut down by the police. It would be the last time the Beatles would play live.
In some ways, the Beatles lacked leadership after the 1967 death of their manager Brian Epstein. It’s clear that Paul McCartney tried to take over the leadership of the band in the absence of Epstein.
As a Beatles fan, I thoroughly enjoyed The Beatles: Get Back. I enjoyed seeing them working together on the new material. I also enjoyed the late 1960’s fashions. A good companion piece to the docuseries is the recently released Let It Be Super Deluxe album, overseen by Giles Martin, the son of the Beatles longtime producer George Martin.
You can watch the trailer here:

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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