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Do you think George really wanted to do the anthology documentary?
19 November 2013
9.41pm
acmac
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I agree with most of what Bewareofchairs has said. I think that Paul and George got along fine when it was just about hanging out casually, having dinner, etc. The Anthology interviews were tense for a few reasons, I think.

Number one: Legitimate, unresolved tensions and resentments about the Beatles experience. In a way, Paul and George doing a documentary about the Beatles would be like any of us doing a documentary with a loved one all about that one thing or that one time that has always been a sore spot in the relationship. In other words, the result would not be a good representation of the relationship as a whole.

My thoughts about these tensions and resentments: On George's side, he totally did get short shrift during the last few years of the Beatles. On Paul's side, he did apologize for that (according to George himself) and further, George did retaliate by saying and doing some very hurtful things to/about him throughout the '70s and '80s. BUT, since George was seen as the "underdog," he had greater leeway to do such things with impunity, whereas if Paul had replied in kind (or even dared to say something fairly innocuous, like that he felt for George the same as he felt for his "little brother"), he gets accused of being mean and patronizing to George. Having to play with loaded dice like that must have been frustrating for Paul. But on George's side again, Paul "walking on eggshells" for appearance's sake is pretty cold comfort -- even insulting, on some level, because what he really wanted was Paul's respect and appreciation, honestly and freely given. But on Paul's side again, I think it's really hard for him to express his true feelings well when he feels defensive and scrutinized. He may in fact be saying what he honestly feels, but if it's a situation where he knows "all eyes are on him," it can come out sounding forced or insincere (I think this quote from Hunter Davies illustrates this tendency: "Paul does look ahead, seeing what might happen, working out the effect of certain actions, but he often ends up tying himself in knots, not necessarily getting what he thought he wanted.")

And then there's the matter of having to do all of this in front of cameras. George wasn't happy about doing the doc in the first place (his did it because of financial pressures), which would have been galling enough, but you add in George's general dislike of doing interviews and I think you have a perfect recipe for Grouchy George. On Paul's side, I don't know what was going on with him between about '87 and '97, but to me he seems especially awkward and full of nervous energy in his filmed interviews from that period.

TL;DR: Putting those two together in front of a camera was bound to be a bad combination, no matter how they may have interacted when left to themselves.

 

20 November 2013
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parlance
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Thanks for the insights, everyone. I'm learning a few things from the analyses in this discussion.

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

21 November 2013
7.33am
bewareofchairs
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DrBeatle said 

bewareofchairs said 

DrBeatle said 

trcanberra said 

meanmistermustard said 

I don't think George wanted their help, he would rather have been a moderate success of his own than piggyback on the Beatles name which would have happened if John or Paul had gotten involved. If anything he wanted to lose the connection to his ex-band that was always attached whether he liked it or not.

Wonderwall was all George's idea & concept with no other Beatles involved.

I suspect there is something in this.  There is a Lennon interview where he says George approached him to help him finish a song.  John said he had to bite his tongue trying not to tell him to bugger off because he only worked with Paul.  I suspect George picked up on the vibes so maybe didn't ask again.

 

That song was Taxman and yes, John admitted as much that he wanted to tell George to fuck off but he sucked it up and helped him anyway. John was also almost ALWAYS "coincidentally" absent from the studio when it was time to record George's songs, especially '67-'69, whereas Paul always helped out and did extra duty on instruments, vocals, and arguably turned in some of his best performances (see "Something," etc) yet to his dying day, George idolized John and would shit all over Paul. Complicated guy!

That attitude of John's always annoyed me, tbh, because George was always happy to help him with his songs, and he benefited a great deal from it. George appreciated Paul's help and has said as much. In fact he was probably on better terms with Paul throughout the 70's than he was with John. I think his reluctance to publicly criticise John was more to do with John being likely to turn on him if he felt offended. You only need to look at how he reacted to George's book, and Yoko not being allowed to perform at the Concert for Bangladesh to see why George might've felt he had to walk on egg shells. Paul, on the other hand, was like family and the fact George felt comfortable enough to say whatever he wanted about him is I think in a way a testament to how strong he felt their relationship was.

EXACTLY! It's been widely and factually shown over the years, too, that George was nasty to Yoko from day 1 and he never softened his stance on her, whereas Paul even got them back together in the mid-70s, to his own detriment (John had planned on writing and recording with him and Wings for the V&M album before Paul got him back with Yoko, who promptly put the kibosh on that!). Don't forget that Paul, in addition to letting George use his house for his dying days, also paid a large part of George's treatments in that last year. I know that George deep down did love Paul like a brother...hell, all FOUR of them felt that way about each other. It was just some of the lingering resentment that George had a hard time over the course of his post-Fabs life.

I'm currently reading and will subsequently review the new George bio, "Behind the Locked Door," and I'm interested to see what it has regarding this very complex relationship between Paul and George.

  

I adore Paul and George's relationship. It is indeed complex, and I believe very touching in many ways. In regards to George's resentment, obviously we can never know for sure what happened between them, but based on what we do know this is how I see Paul's relationship with George compared with John's:

With John, George seemed to insulate his anger and let it build up inside him until John would push him too far and he'd explode. This happened once during the Let It Be sessions and again in 1974. However, the fact that they had those huge arguments allowed John to see how hurt George was which helped them to resolve some of their issues. Most people think George and John fell out after the glasses incident, but in Chris O'Dell's book it's revealed they ended up staying up all night reminiscing about old times. It's true John was able to get away with a lot due to George's hero-worshiping. At the same time though, for all his nasty remarks about George's music, John allowed him to contribute ideas to his songs and of the other three Beatles, he was also the one who gave George the most support in his interest with meditation and chanting. I think those kind of things meant a lot to George and made him feel respected.

The trouble with him and Paul is that they're too "nice" and would both rather walk around an issue and be passive aggressive than actually confront it, so those negative feelings just sort of lingered for several decades until they were forced to deal with them in front of a camera. According to George's interview in Guitar World in 1991 (or was it '92?) at some point Paul did apologise, but if what George said in the Anthology was really new information to him and there was still tension there while they were filming, they must not have gotten to the heart of the problem.

Ever since the day he met him Paul reminded George he was younger. He was his best friend and did everything he could to get him in his band, but eventually that tiny age gap became wider and wider as Paul became closer to John. From George's point of view, I imagine it felt like his friend abandoned him and never looked back. After that point it was all "Lennon/McCartney and the John, Paul and Yoko triangle". Paul wasn't mean in the same sense as John, but he would tell George his guitar parts weren't necessary, wanted complete control over what he played, didn't stick up for him and generally didn't show much interest in what he had to offer. His partnership with John was always the main priority in his mind which I reckon bothered George more than anything else in the long run. Even after George left the band and John and Paul discuss how they've treated him, they ended having more of a conversation about their own relationship while they project onto George. I also wouldn't be surprised if John manipulated George to get him on his side on the Klein issue and told him things which would make him even angrier at Paul. As I say, I sympathise with Paul because I don't think he was conscious of what he was doing. He just knew what he wanted and was extremely motivated.

Sorry for the rant. I got carried away there, haha. All speculation of course, and I could be completely wrong.

21 November 2013
7.42am
trcanberra
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^ Nice rant - and some interesting speculation to think about.

21 November 2013
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bewareofchairs
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acmac said
I agree with most of what Bewareofchairs has said. I think that Paul and George got along fine when it was just about hanging out casually, having dinner, etc. The Anthology interviews were tense for a few reasons, I think.

Number one: Legitimate, unresolved tensions and resentments about the Beatles experience. In a way, Paul and George doing a documentary about the Beatles would be like any of us doing a documentary with a loved one all about that one thing or that one time that has always been a sore spot in the relationship. In other words, the result would not be a good representation of the relationship as a whole.

My thoughts about these tensions and resentments: On George's side, he totally did get short shrift during the last few years of the Beatles. On Paul's side, he did apologize for that (according to George himself) and further, George did retaliate by saying and doing some very hurtful things to/about him throughout the '70s and '80s. BUT, since George was seen as the "underdog," he had greater leeway to do such things with impunity, whereas if Paul had replied in kind (or even dared to say something fairly innocuous, like that he felt for George the same as he felt for his "little brother"), he gets accused of being mean and patronizing to George. Having to play with loaded dice like that must have been frustrating for Paul. But on George's side again, Paul "walking on eggshells" for appearance's sake is pretty cold comfort -- even insulting, on some level, because what he really wanted was Paul's respect and appreciation, honestly and freely given. But on Paul's side again, I think it's really hard for him to express his true feelings well when he feels defensive and scrutinized. He may in fact be saying what he honestly feels, but if it's a situation where he knows "all eyes are on him," it can come out sounding forced or insincere (I think this quote from Hunter Davies illustrates this tendency: "Paul does look ahead, seeing what might happen, working out the effect of certain actions, but he often ends up tying himself in knots, not necessarily getting what he thought he wanted.")

And then there's the matter of having to do all of this in front of cameras. George wasn't happy about doing the doc in the first place (his did it because of financial pressures), which would have been galling enough, but you add in George's general dislike of doing interviews and I think you have a perfect recipe for Grouchy George. On Paul's side, I don't know what was going on with him between about '87 and '97, but to me he seems especially awkward and full of nervous energy in his filmed interviews from that period.

TL;DR: Putting those two together in front of a camera was bound to be a bad combination, no matter how they may have interacted when left to themselves.

 

Great points. I think you're spot on.

EDIT: @trcanberra: Thank you. :)

21 November 2013
10.42am
Abrahadabra
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I read recently of an incident where George, toward the end of his life, turned up at the Barbican centre in London to attend some event and gave short shrift to a fan with an album for him to sign. 'I've come all the way from Germany' cried the fan. 'I don't give a fuck about The Beatles' replied George.

I think this kinda sums George's post-split attitude up and I'm not sure he gave much of a fuck about The Beatles for a lot of the time he was in them.
As has always been commented upon, even by those closest to George, he had a very mean streak in all senses of the word which he attempted to mitigate with his so-called 'spiritual' side but it would be more accurate to have described it as his 'philosophical' side because the 'spiritual' side can probably best be summed up by his not-so-famous response to Paul McCartney's pleading to be 'let go' by Apple and Klein, namely 'You'll stay on the fucking label. Hare Krishna.'

Although all kinds of other things have been cited as Paul's breaking point, this was definitely it, after which he no longer cared for the band, his friends, the label but only about getting as far away from Harrison and Lennon as he could. Of course, he took it out on poor Ringo a few days later when he was sent as Lennon/Harrison's errand boy to tell Paul of the latest Apple restriction on his movements.

There's no doubt that George had amassed quite a hatred for Paul and that he was quite happy that, after Rishikesh, Paul and John ceased to be a team, leaving himself and John the closer and, frankly, feeding one another's worst aspects. A lot of what happens afterwards is pure spite against Paul whose crimes essentially amount to being a workaholic and preventing them giving entirely into drug addictions and lethargy by keeping projects coming at them.
While I can understand that Paul pissed them off with this and his own (intermittent) superiority complex, their response was to gang up on him and publicly humiliate him.

The same thing is still happening at the time of the Anthology project with George quoted as saying his role is to 'cut the bullshit because John's not here' but really this goes beyond keeping Paul from dominating. It has to involve the humiliation part, and you can see both McCartney's nervousness and resilience to it at various points in the documentary.
Of course, Paul is a master manipulator but his intentions are relatively benign as he seeks to get the project done well and keep the vibes up.
Although cynics including George (and John) would say and have said 'Oh he's just trying to make himself look good', they miss the fact that Paul operates in a different mode when it's 'teamwork'. it's the 'teamwork' mode that Harrison never had time for and which he encouraged Lennon to abandon (to some credit, Lennon never completely does so even if by the end of the band, he's mainly teamworking with Paul out of sheer guilt).

What I'm saying is that George not only did not want to do the Anthology but didn't ever want to be on record or film with Paul again unless it was through editing.
To some credit, once the project has wrapped and all the material is in the can, George does rally and to some degree lead the promotion of Anthology by literally growing his hair and becoming his Beatle self again and this is surely because he knows Paul is on the ropes personally as Linda nears the end and only he knows it.

In short, I don't have much respect for Beatle George or post-Beatle George as 'disingenous' only begins to describe the character he managed to get away with in all aspects of his relationships. I'm sure this was all compensated for by his warmth away from 'the workplace' as so many people say, and Paul certainly spent a lot of enjoyable time with him 'off-screen' but he really doesn't get any medals for being a 'vibes man' for The Beatles.

 

Also, although we know the old well-worn idea that George wasn't encouraged, serviced etc in The Beatles with regard to his playing, songwriting etc, none of this was much of a personality issue at core. George simply tended to be ropey musically at inopportune times when the others were steaming ahead and this is not a new occurrence during any album but goes back to Lennon's dubiousness about him joining the Quarrymen. I can relate to George's actual position in this, having once been in a band where I occupied the 'george position' but when the singer grabs your guitar and plays it like he wants it, it's a pretty ordinary event, George! I'm not saying I never got pissed off myself but I am saying that there was some musical liability on my part on some urgency otherwise, to require that kind of move...

I can see that the dynamic of Paul/John leadership in The Beatles was always backboned by Ringo but that John could often use George as cover for any disagreements with Paul in his 'headmaster' or 'cheerleader' versions. The thing is that most of the time, Paul was required by the other three to fill this role, as once pointed out by Paul. "I saw that I was being overbearing and backed off but then the next day it was Ringo saying 'Come on, produce us!' "

I hate to be so apparently pro-Paul as if I'm anti the others. But he just got The Beatles done. If it was left to John or George, we'd not have got beyond 'Help' and that's a fact.

 

21 November 2013
2.12pm
parlance
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Michael K said
I read recently of an incident where George, toward the end of his life, turned up at the Barbican centre in London to attend some event and gave short shrift to a fan with an album for him to sign. 'I've come all the way from Germany' cried the fan. 'I don't give a fuck about The Beatles' replied George.

I'm going to call BS on that story.

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at YouTube and Vimeo.

21 November 2013
3.38pm
meanmistermustard
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parlance said

Michael K said
I read recently of an incident where George, toward the end of his life, turned up at the Barbican centre in London to attend some event and gave short shrift to a fan with an album for him to sign. 'I've come all the way from Germany' cried the fan. 'I don't give a fuck about The Beatles' replied George.

I'm going to call BS on that story.

parlance

For a story like that for a start you need context: how did the fan go about asking George, how near the end of his life did this happen. If George was battling with cancer and some random guy walks up and shoves an album in his face demanding it be signed i can fully understand why he did act that way. Not saying thats how it happened or even that it did just that we need context.

I also don't believe George had a hatred towards Paul, heavily pissed off at times yes but not hatred.

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21 November 2013
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DrBeatle
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I have no doubt George could say "I hate the fucking Beatles"...that's entirely in the realm of possibility. But I can't see him saying that to a fan. While he didn't look back on the experience with as much pride and nostalgia as the other 3, he *was* proud and protective of their legacy and I don't think he ever HATED the Beatles.

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21 November 2013
3.55pm
meanmistermustard
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You also have how George said "I don't give a fuck about The Beatles", was it that sarcastic manner of his where at the same time he is smiling and not being that serious.

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21 November 2013
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Inner Light
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I will try to be as direct as I can here. I don't believe George ever said or came across as an angel. Mister Spiritual. He was as human as anyone and had many faults. He always believed that there was something more important in life and he began his quest in search of this. LSD may had triggered this search but he kept it up until his death. I truly believe he was one who just didn't believe in playing the game. He wanted honesty and have the cards always laid down on the table. Every time someone passes away things are said usually in a negative way when they can't defend themselves anymore. We are always trying to find ways to get to the truth which will probably never be entirely told though we will keep trying. I guess it's just human nature. Harrison made many mistakes during his lifetime and has said that he was a sinner and never a saint. The important thing is that him and McCartney did work things out towards the end of his life. We all need to enjoy the music and realize how important it is that we have such great songs and inspiration which all four of them have given us throughout these many years.

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21 November 2013
8.46pm
bewareofchairs
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For starters, George would be the first person to point out that he wasn't the saintly spiritual man the media made him out to be. As MMM pointed out, assuming that story is even true, the context is very important. Don't forget George went through a lot in the last few years of his life - not only was he battling cancer but his worst fear came true at the end of 1999 when someone tried to kill him. 

George certainly struggled with his feelings about The Beatles, but the notion that he hated The Beatles and Paul simply isn't true. I could give you plenty of stories which show the opposite.

21 November 2013
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acmac
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Michael K said

Although cynics including George (and John) would say and have said 'Oh he's just trying to make himself look good', they miss the fact that Paul operates in a different mode when it's 'teamwork'. it's the 'teamwork' mode that Harrison never had time for and which he encouraged Lennon to abandon (to some credit, Lennon never completely does so even if by the end of the band, he's mainly teamworking with Paul out of sheer guilt).

What I'm saying is that George not only did not want to do the Anthology but didn't ever want to be on record or film with Paul again unless it was through editing.
To some credit, once the project has wrapped and all the material is in the can, George does rally and to some degree lead the promotion of Anthology by literally growing his hair and becoming his Beatle self again and this is surely because he knows Paul is on the ropes personally as Linda nears the end and only he knows it.

Whut? You've made a lot of pretty bold assertions based on rather thin speculation, IMO, but that last one ("surely George grew his hair out because Linda was dying") takes the cake.

I don't see any justification for saying Paul was more "teamwork"-oriented than George, especially seeing as George is the one who subsequently collaborated successfully and harmoniously with many friends and acquaintances (some of whom were bigwigs with big egos in their own right), and Paul is the one with the rep for being difficult to work with, refusing to budge from his initial vision (not that there's anything terribly wrong with that, per se; it's an artistic style, not a character flaw, and one that countless other artists get a pass on, if not admiration for).

That said, I do think Paul likely approached Anthology specifically with the attitude of "If we're going to do this, what's the point of turning the experience into a downer," whereas George probably had the attitude of "I don't even want to be here, so what's the point of pretending I do." Which is just one more reason their respective auras were probably rubbing each other the wrong way all through filming, lol.

21 November 2013
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As I said above going from the Anthology i see i think George's attitude was to try and enjoy it as much as he could because he knew The Beatles were damn good and he knew the audience watching new that so why waste time or pretend otherwise. Most of the time he looks like he is having fun, its just at times with the other two you can see him wanting to get up and walk out the room (and Ringo wasn't the one he wanted to get away from).

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
22 November 2013
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DrBeatle
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I think George had the same attitude to the Beatles that John did...it's ok for them to slag the band and the other guys, but don't anyone else dare try.

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22 November 2013
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He forgave, but didn't forget.

It's as simple as that.

23 November 2013
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acmac
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bewareofchairs said

based on what we do know this is how I see Paul's relationship with George compared with John's:

With John, George seemed to insulate his anger and let it build up inside him until John would push him too far and he'd explode. This happened once during the Let It Be sessions and again in 1974. However, the fact that they had those huge arguments allowed John to see how hurt George was which helped them to resolve some of their issues. Most people think George and John fell out after the glasses incident, but in Chris O'Dell's book it's revealed they ended up staying up all night reminiscing about old times. It's true John was able to get away with a lot due to George's hero-worshiping. At the same time though, for all his nasty remarks about George's music, John allowed him to contribute ideas to his songs and of the other three Beatles, he was also the one who gave George the most support in his interest with meditation and chanting. I think those kind of things meant a lot to George and made him feel respected.

The trouble with him and Paul is that they're too "nice" and would both rather walk around an issue and be passive aggressive than actually confront it, so those negative feelings just sort of lingered for several decades until they were forced to deal with them in front of a camera. According to George's interview in Guitar World in 1991 (or was it '92?) at some point Paul did apologise, but if what George said in the Anthology was really new information to him and there was still tension there while they were filming, they must not have gotten to the heart of the problem.

Great points about George's relationships with John and Paul. Totally agree about both George and Paul being passive-aggressive. The famous "fight" between them in Let It Be could be a primer on passive-aggressive conflict (non)resolution, lol.

I wish we knew specifically which part of Anthology Paul asked George about. Was it something that even made it into the final cut? I'm very curious. Paul must've had a general understanding of how George felt, but I'm sure there were some specifics that surprised him. Likewise there are probably some things that would have surprised George, if Paul had been similarly open about what he had been going through.

I also agree (with bells on) that George would have been very hurt by Paul prioritizing John over him, especially during the Yoko-And-Heroin period, when George knew Paul didn't like the situation any more than he did, but Paul wouldn't stand in solidarity with him because he was too afraid of losing John forever. Of course, it's easy to understand Paul's reasons here; he was pretty messed up emotionally at the time anyway, and his relationship with John (which was essentially a marriage -- certainly the most important relationship of his life, pre-Linda) was teetering on the brink. But it still would have been a tremendous let-down for George to be basically thrown under the bus because We Mustn't Upset John, who was really the one behaving badly (and doing a masterful job of making everyone else pay for his bad behavior, turning on each other instead of on him).

I remember being surprised recently by two pieces of info that suggest George was apparently still quite close to Paul, emotionally: someone here commented (on that other John-Paul-George triangle topic) that it was Paul George would call late at night for long conversations about how bad things were during the Get Back sessions; and I recently learned that Paul was the first Beatle George told about his mother's cancer diagnosis (I have no source on this, but the info came from an extremely trustworthy commenter from another board). If that is true, it would have made Paul's failure to stand up for him (that's what big brothers are supposed to do, right?) even more painful.

5 December 2013
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LongHairedLady
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Just saw this gif on tumblr and thought it was very fitting:

He just looks so done.  

"Please don't bring your banjo back, I know where it's been..  I wasn't hardly gone a day, when it became the scene..  Banjos!  Banjos!  All the time, I can't forget that tune..  and if I ever see another banjo, I'm going out and buy a big balloon!"

 

5 December 2013
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DrBeatle
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LongHairedLady said
Just saw this gif on tumblr and thought it was very fitting:

He just looks so done.  

Yep. It's like that in all of Anthology, though. Paul looks happy to be with the other 2 and get back into "Beatles-mode," Ringo looks thrilled in the same way, and George looks...just there. :-?

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17 December 2013
10.10am
bewareofchairs
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DrBeatle said

LongHairedLady said
Just saw this gif on tumblr and thought it was very fitting:

He just looks so done.  

Yep. It's like that in all of Anthology, though. Paul looks happy to be with the other 2 and get back into "Beatles-mode," Ringo looks thrilled in the same way, and George looks...just there. :-?

I think part of it is just his personality. He was infamous for his stone-face after all. :P

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