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Sir Peter Jackson's The Beatles: Get Back
4 December 2021
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meanmistermustard
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No one is saying it doesn’t deserve rewards. My point is it doesn’t ultimately matter if it doesn’t because it’s actual value is far more than how many trophies are given out, especially when there are so many stories of awards and nominations being bought. It’s always nice to get a pat on the back and acknowledged by your peers but, let’s face it, most award ceremonies are a nonsense anyway. 

The documentary is incredible, it deserves and requires multiple viewings to take everything in. So much of what has been written, believed, thought and speculated for 50 years has been shown to be at the very least needing re-evaluated and at times completely thrown in the bin. 
It’s what a documentary of this kind should do but frequently fails to achieve. As for all.the idiots out there who refuse to believe what they see and still believe Yoko was evil and the only cause of the breakup and Paul was almost bullying George; they are best ignored as nothing will change their opinions. 

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There’s a lot of interesting commentary on the series coming out: the most recent Struggle Session episode starts off with a great discussion on the film which will probably provoke some thoughts. A good point they make is that even if you aren’t a Beatles fan at all, this is a great doco to watch because you’ll become fans of the guys, that’s how good it is. And another point is how it’s an effective critique of the art of documentary-making in itself, they pointed to a conversation that MLH had with Paul where MLH was asking him after George quit where he asked Paul “how honest do you want this, should we cut this out?” and Paul doesn’t understand the question. Everything I’m reading relating to the film is basically riffing on the meta of this sort or another, it’s like you say @meanmistermustard   it’s such an effective rewrite of the characters in former popular Beatles myth that it’s given us older fans a break from having to explain so much.

Pending certain extra scenes in the extended version, for me it’s being able to definitively test the the Ian MacDonald myths. We can still say that the Beatles are still affected by their drug-use, particularly John, depending on the day, but MacDonald’s claim that John sabotaged Paul deliberately  by playing badly on the bass IV, is, I think, a big old reach. John’s just a terrible bassplayer. Overall, whether you sympathize with MacDonald’s hatred of the ‘random’ or not, you have to admit that the repetitive jamming method of honing songs that characterized their later process was damaging to their relationship if the circumstances weren’t right, particularly if the songwriter had trouble engaging the others, or worse, had to instruct them. When it was working, as with Get Back itself once Billy Preston was on board and contributing and they had enough of the song to work with, the arrangement ideas came thick and fast and they could all be productive. But then this came at the expense of valuable time and other song development. I think the film puts the lie to MacDonald’s characterization of Harrison particularly, he had a lot to put up with; in the end however MacDonald comes down against Lennon vs McCartney and again, unfairly I think. Relationships are too complex for such simple justifications.

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I’m amazed in watching this how strong the Lennon/McCartney team is.  From watching Let it Be, it looked like Paul was a dictator and John was mostly out of it and disengaged.  Wow, was that ever a wrong impression.  But they’re largely on the same page here, and John pushes the project forward just as much as Paul does.  And on the roof, their energy was palpable.  

But John wanted to do other things aside from being a Beatle all the time.  Not only do his own projects with Yoko, but just to relax and enjoy himself.  Paul was a workaholic, and when the project was over and John went off to “be in a black bag” or whatever, Paul would be kind of lost.  Paul is full go all the time, and I think John was tired of trying to keep up that pace with him.  At least in part.

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The Guardian has reported that Kenneth Womack, who has been given access to Mal’s  diaries, revealed in The Observer 

Womack added that Evans, with his assistant Kevin Harrington, had created the makeshift stage on the roof of the Beatles’s Apple Corps HQ in Savile Row: “The police demand that they turn down the sound or stop the concert. They tell Mal they intend to arrest the Beatles. At that point, Mal turns off George Harrison ’s amplifier. Of course, George is very unhappy with that and barks at Mal. As Jackson’s Get Back documentary shows, the Beatles performed a brief, stilted version of Get Back , and then the concert was essentially over.”

Of the police’s threat to arrest the Beatles, Evans wrote in his diary: “I felt that this would have been a silly thing to let happen and, making an effort to keep the peace, I switched off the power, starting with George’s amplifier, just as they were about to break into a new number. Then George got a right cob on. I put the amp back on. They played that last number and finished.”

He added: “On the way up to the roof, they arrested me, with one of the policemen putting me in his book. Paul, being the public relations man that he is, apologised to the police and got me off the hook.”

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forn said But John wanted to do other things aside from being a Beatle all the time.  Not only do his own projects with Yoko, but just to relax and enjoy himself.  Paul was a workaholic, and when the project was over and John went off to “be in a black bag” or whatever, Paul would be kind of lost.  Paul is full go all the time, and I think John was tired of trying to keep up that pace with him.  At least in part.
  

I think that’s a good point, that Paul was creatively unleashed and the other three had been so battered by the Beatles experience they didn’t have the energy to keep up with him. They wanted to keep working but at a pace they could manage and they had a lot of other stuff going on to work out and it was just too much to handle. Paul didn’t want to be in the position of pushing them but nor was he facing up to the fact that it was he who wasn’t in step with them, I think John saw that. While I don’t totally subscribe to the One Sweet Dream podcast view of proceedings, I do suspect John went through a bit of a grieving process over the relationship with Paul because after all, here was another person he was going to have to cut ties with. Paul would go sooner or later. They all knew Apple was disintegrating. How long would George stay?

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I felt so sorry for Paul when he said that after the sessions were done John would be back in a bag with Yoko. You could see how sad that made him, that John was going in a direction that was very far removed from something Paul could get involved in. 

There was clearly a desire from all four to keep the Beatles going, that’s far more evident now we have ‘GB’, its just a shame different interests and life were slowly taking them apart. And then Klein came onto the scene and they were done. John got so wrapped up in all the bullshit Klein spouted, George and Ringo went with John’s instincts and bought into it all whilst Paul saw thru it all and fought for their legacy. No way back. 

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Tell me I’m not the only one having watched the Rooftop performance, more than once???? a-hard-days-night-john-3 

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meanmistermustard said
I felt so sorry for Paul when he said that after the sessions were done John would be back in a bag with Yoko. You could see how sad that made him, that John was going in a direction that was very far removed from something Paul could get involved in. 

There was clearly a desire from all four to keep the Beatles going, that’s far more evident now we have ‘GB’, its just a shame different interests and life were slowly taking them apart. And then Klein came onto the scene and they were done. John got so wrapped up in all the bullshit Klein spouted, George and Ringo went with John’s instincts and bought into it all whilst Paul saw thru it all and fought for their legacy. No way back. 

  

Very true! I wonder though what happend after the GB and AB sessions that John decided to leave the Band after he seemed so eager in the GB sessions and the AB sessions were just some months later. 

Then in september in comes into a meeting with Klein and says he is leaving. I really wonder what changed in his mind so much and that he was bad outspoken of the band shortly after they broke up. 

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KyleKartan said

Very true! I wonder though what happend after the GB and AB sessions that John decided to leave the Band after he seemed so eager in the GB sessions and the AB sessions were just some months later. 

I wondered that myself.  The only thing I can figure is that the Allen Klein thing had come to a head, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It’s interesting though that even in episode one they are talking about ending the band.  So they must have felt in some way that they were getting close to the end.  

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This showed up in my YouTube feed the other day. I don’t know if it’s really news but it’s sad that it worked out that way. Theoretically, we could have had McCartney, Plastic Ono Band, All Things Must Pass and Sentimental Journey all come out in some form, and then, once they’d all got it out of their systems, gone back to the “Beatle thing” refreshed.

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forn said

KyleKartan said

Very true! I wonder though what happend after the GB and AB sessions that John decided to leave the Band after he seemed so eager in the GB sessions and the AB sessions were just some months later. 

I wondered that myself.  The only thing I can figure is that the Allen Klein thing had come to a head, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It’s interesting though that even in episode one they are talking about ending the band.  So they must have felt in some way that they were getting close to the end.  

  

Probably all the fuzz with Paul beeing against Klein. John maybe took it personal because he brought Klein in. 

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forn said

KyleKartan said

Very true! I wonder though what happend after the GB and AB sessions that John decided to leave the Band after he seemed so eager in the GB sessions and the AB sessions were just some months later. 

It’s interesting though that even in episode one they are talking about ending the band.  So they must have felt in some way that they were getting close to the end.  

  

Well, if you read the Anthology book, Ringo says of the meeting where John said “I’m leaving” that in his (Ringo’s) mind, the entire band basically came to the decision to end things and John was just the one who had the courage to say it out loud. Obviously, that’s not how Paul sees it, and probably not how George or John did, but Ringo is resolute that it unfolded that way. He also says, “I wouldn’t have been the one to say ‘end it.’ I would’ve hung around a few more years.” This is even along with him saying “there’s a possibility we could’ve carried on.”

And even Paul, when promoting Anthology, said “I certainly love being in The Beatles, think it’s great, but I wouldn’t us to be them FOREVER.” So even when, at the point in 1970 when they officially broke up and Paul was the only one still willing to apparently be a Beatle, even he would admit “I don’t want us to be tied to each other and only do Beatles things all the time.” This definitely lends credence to the whole plan George had about solo things coming out of their system to return refreshed to “the Beatle thing.” George also even proposed this plan on a radio interview after the breakup. In many ways, I don’t think ANY of them ever actually thought this would be the end and they’d NEVER come together again, not even John. But sadly, the stars never aligned to get all four of them together at once again.

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Toxic34 said

forn said

KyleKartan said

Very true! I wonder though what happend after the GB and AB sessions that John decided to leave the Band after he seemed so eager in the GB sessions and the AB sessions were just some months later. 

It’s interesting though that even in episode one they are talking about ending the band.  So they must have felt in some way that they were getting close to the end.  

  

Well, if you read the Anthology book, Ringo says of the meeting where John said “I’m leaving” that in his (Ringo’s) mind, the entire band basically came to the decision to end things and John was just the one who had the courage to say it out loud. Obviously, that’s not how Paul sees it, and probably not how George or John did, but Ringo is resolute that it unfolded that way. He also says, “I wouldn’t have been the one to say ‘end it.’ I would’ve hung around a few more years.” This is even along with him saying “there’s a possibility we could’ve carried on.”

And even Paul, when promoting Anthology, said “I certainly love being in The Beatles, think it’s great, but I wouldn’t us to be them FOREVER.” So even when, at the point in 1970 when they officially broke up and Paul was the only one still willing to apparently be a Beatle, even he would admit “I don’t want us to be tied to each other and only do Beatles things all the time.” This definitely lends credence to the whole plan George had about solo things coming out of their system to return refreshed to “the Beatle thing.” George also even proposed this plan on a radio interview after the breakup. In many ways, I don’t think ANY of them ever actually thought this would be the end and they’d NEVER come together again, not even John. But sadly, the stars never aligned to get all four of them together at once again.

  

Curious, I dont remember that quote. THX for the reminder!

I get that they wanted to do something else and be on their own. Heck they did some pretty amazing things as solo musicians. I just wish they have had some kind of reunion. Iam sure though that they would have done this in the 80’s or even 90′ if John would have lived. Its so sad what happend 41 years ago. Iam sure he would have started the reunion. The full circle: starting the band, ending it and reuniting them. 

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KyleKartan said

Probably all the fuzz with Paul beeing against Klein. John maybe took it personal because he brought Klein in.   

Toxic34 said

Well, if you read the Anthology book, Ringo says of the meeting where John said “I’m leaving” that in his (Ringo’s) mind, the entire band basically came to the decision to end things and John was just the one who had the courage to say it out loud. Obviously, that’s not how Paul sees it, and probably not how George or John did, but Ringo is resolute that it unfolded that way. He also says, “I wouldn’t have been the one to say ‘end it.’ I would’ve hung around a few more years.” This is even along with him saying “there’s a possibility we could’ve carried on.”

And even Paul, when promoting Anthology, said “I certainly love being in The Beatles, think it’s great, but I wouldn’t us to be them FOREVER.” So even when, at the point in 1970 when they officially broke up and Paul was the only one still willing to apparently be a Beatle, even he would admit “I don’t want us to be tied to each other and only do Beatles things all the time.” This definitely lends credence to the whole plan George had about solo things coming out of their system to return refreshed to “the Beatle thing.” George also even proposed this plan on a radio interview after the breakup. In many ways, I don’t think ANY of them ever actually thought this would be the end and they’d NEVER come together again, not even John. But sadly, the stars never aligned to get all four of them together at once again.  

There’s an interview with John where he says it was on the flight back from Peace Live In Toronto that he knew he wanted to announce it. Im guessing if that’s true, he must have felt like George did after his stay in New York in ’68: “Holy Shit, im having more fun doing this than playing in my actual band!” and thusly, with everything else pent up inside John between his anger trauma and the drugs, he knew hw had to get out.

He had also said he’d been wanting out since ’66, but was too afraid of life without them.

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MattWatchingWheels said

KyleKartan said

Probably all the fuzz with Paul beeing against Klein. John maybe took it personal because he brought Klein in.   

Toxic34 said

Well, if you read the Anthology book, Ringo says of the meeting where John said “I’m leaving” that in his (Ringo’s) mind, the entire band basically came to the decision to end things and John was just the one who had the courage to say it out loud. Obviously, that’s not how Paul sees it, and probably not how George or John did, but Ringo is resolute that it unfolded that way. He also says, “I wouldn’t have been the one to say ‘end it.’ I would’ve hung around a few more years.” This is even along with him saying “there’s a possibility we could’ve carried on.”

And even Paul, when promoting Anthology, said “I certainly love being in The Beatles, think it’s great, but I wouldn’t us to be them FOREVER.” So even when, at the point in 1970 when they officially broke up and Paul was the only one still willing to apparently be a Beatle, even he would admit “I don’t want us to be tied to each other and only do Beatles things all the time.” This definitely lends credence to the whole plan George had about solo things coming out of their system to return refreshed to “the Beatle thing.” George also even proposed this plan on a radio interview after the breakup. In many ways, I don’t think ANY of them ever actually thought this would be the end and they’d NEVER come together again, not even John. But sadly, the stars never aligned to get all four of them together at once again.  

There’s an interview with John where he says it was on the flight back from Peace Live In Toronto that he knew he wanted to announce it. Im guessing if that’s true, he must have felt like George did after his stay in New York in ’68: “Holy Shit, im having more fun doing this than playing in my actual band!” and thusly, with everything else pent up inside John between his anger trauma and the drugs, he knew hw had to get out.

He had also said he’d been wanting out since ’66, but was too afraid of life without them.

  

Yeah. 66 was the year where Paul took the lead more or less probably because John took a step back. But 66 was also the year with the “Jesus” remark and the backlash in the US and other countries which could have contributed to the feeling in John about wanting to get out. 

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KyleKartan said

Yeah. 66 was the year where Paul took the lead more or less probably because John took a step back. But 66 was also the year with the “Jesus” remark and the backlash in the US and other countries which could have contributed to the feeling in John about wanting to get out.   

He wrote Help in ’65, so even before then you can tell he was sick of it. He talks about it in interviews, how he hated being working class and living famously. In his mind, he had become all that he hated.

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MattWatchingWheels said

KyleKartan said

Yeah. 66 was the year where Paul took the lead more or less probably because John took a step back. But 66 was also the year with the “Jesus” remark and the backlash in the US and other countries which could have contributed to the feeling in John about wanting to get out.   

He wrote Help in ’65, so even before then you can tell he was sick of it. He talks about it in interviews, how he hated being working class and living famously. In his mind, he had become all that he hated.

  

True though he did pursuit it when they started and he enjoyed it. I think there are many factors coming together why he started getting sick of it. At least by 66 he obviously was fed up by the backlash he received for his Jesus remark. It was a luck for all of us that he stayed with the band until 70 and gave us so much more good stuff with his contributions and collaborations. 

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It wasn’t luck why John stayed, he was commited as can be seen thru ‘Pepper’ right up to the end of ‘Abbey Road ‘. Drugs took his focus away and then Yoko became the priority,  Brian died and they lost their father figure and direction. He was still involved and with the band. What he came to hate was the mania, myth and hypocrisy which they couldn’t escape from, and some of the reasons why they quit touring. 

As for the split. It cannot be denied that they all had different interests and lives and they themselves had changed; none were able to invest the same amount of time, energy and emotion as previous. Apple and business also proved to be a nightmare for them and that led to Klein getting in. Unfortunately, when John decided on something, he went full in – the Maharishi is one example. Trying to dissuade or  even rationalise otherwise with him could be a nightmare and lead to bigger problems. With George and Ringo also going with him it only caused far bigger issues when Paul went the other way. As has been written previously, if three agreed and one said no normally they didn’t do it (unless the other decided to just go with it like Ringo to India). Paul refusing to sign for Klein whilst the others did opened up a massive division that couldn’t be overcome because it broke one of the biggest rules the band had and caused a lot of hurt, pain, anger and resentment.

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I go by what John says here. There’s enough evidence to support his claim that he wanted to leave deep down as early as ’66. Sure, other things probably kept his interest just like anything when you’re figuring things out, and there is the ’67 interview where he says “We’ll carry on writing music forever”, but that doesn’t mean he’s inwardly happy about that.

It’s always strange to me how people factor in Yoko or drugs as being the sole thing that tore him away when they don’t look at his entire life in full context. He became a rock and roll star out of rebellion, and never had the slightest idea what he was doing. He even thought Brian wasn’t serious when he offered to sign them, and told one of his friends “I think I’ll do it just as a joke.” – he of course adapted and ran with the chance he was given, but this was a kid who had no idea what he was in for. Unlike the other three, John has gone on record multiple times saying he hated Beatlemania the longer it went on, and not just because of the crowds, He was constantly put in front of rich, well-to-do people and it angered him, because in his mind all they did was judge him, never understanding the music, or the artistry…and then to top it off, his dad came back for his money at the peak of his success. Even Paul has said after that, John changed. He was hurt, and that’s plain to see in the songwriting as far as im concerned.

Even in 1980, the most pro-Beatles period of his life since he left, he never fully embraced the band the way, say, Paul has come to. John liked being in the group, but as far as the legacy? Nah. John wanted none of the hero worship or idolizing of the band.

It’s interesting to think what would have been if Paul had been the one not here and John was left alive. I very much think he’d have a hard time signing off on Get Back . I think he’d rather it be left alone. I really do. Then again, he was involved in the earliest stages of the anthology project…who knows.

His opinion always shifted every few years. It’s hard to say how he really felt. Looking at his life, though, he clearly had his inner pain. Im glad that by 1980 he seemed to be in a happy place at last. Thank God for Sean and boat trips.

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I mentioned hypocrisy and what I meant by that was that the Beatles were held up as publci-owned beacons (and healers) to society where every word and action was analysed, reported and judged yet were treated like pieces of worthless shit by many. John despised it and was one of the reasons why he wanted out, certainly of Beatlemania, by 1965. He turned to drugs out of boredom and escapism as he was struck in a house miles from anywhere in a marriage along with a son he was away from for weeks if not months at a time. He also had a hell of an emotional and metal past to deal with thru everything that had happened with his mother and father. Maybe if something better and more fulfilling had come along earlier he may have left yet he chose to remain. He was fully involved in ‘Pepper’ and threw himself into ‘India’, he went along with ‘MMT’,’Get Back ‘ and ‘Abbey Road ’ to differing degrees.

Yoko cannot be understated because she was what fulfilled John on so many levels. As Paul said, if John had to chose one or the other, he would chose Yoko every minute of the day over the Beatles. Finally, he had found that which he had been searching for for years and gave him the courage to get out.

Ignoring all that. What got me typing was that it wasnt luck that John stayed. That’s making far too basic a statement for what a heavily complicated and tangled individual did over a number of years that very few people have and will ever experience. 

The following people thank meanmistermustard for this post:

ewe2, Richard, KyleKartan

"I told you everything I could about me, Told you everything I could" ('Before Believing' - Emmylou Harris)

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