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January 1969
22 November 2016
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Ron Nasty
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Yes, I know, there are more than one thread that deal with the album and movie that came out of this month, but I thought it might be useful to escape the scripts those offer us to look at that month as a whole.

The first question to be asked about this project is if it was too soon after the White Album ?

Myself, I think had they taken off until the beginning the April, the sessions might not have been so fraught. They didn't have the cool off time.

Ignoring that, there is the suggestion that George - after spending the end of 1968 with Bob Dylan and The Band in Woodstock - came into the sessions quite negative because of the tensions in the Beatles at the time. Is this true?

I would suggest that it isn't. I would suggest that (especially) John and Paul's dismissal of George's increasingly impressive offerings defeated George. At the beginning of the process he sounds interested. On the 3rd he asks, "Are we gonna do any oldies but goldies?" going on to suggest there needed to be for the American market.

It sounds like a hopeful George having his hopes lost as the days went on.

January 1969 is a pivotal month in the story.

How do you read it?

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty

 

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22 November 2016
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Pablo Ramon
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1. It was certainly too soon after the White Album both in terms of the band being worn out and following too closely on the heels of an exhaustive closet-cleaning album.

2. John's attention was not on the band - he was wrapped up with Yoko and heroin, which left Paul pushing the group forward in the project itself AND as the primary songwriter...Which might not have been such a burden had George felt like his songs would be afforded the same level of attention as John's or Paul's, but...

3. George's overall level of dissatisfaction was growing, he clearly resented Paul treating him like a sideman and not a creative partner, and he was clearly stockpiling songs which either would never get presented to the others OR would be rejected or given short shrift - which is the reason he had such an explosion of fantastic new material for his first solo album - many of which would have been sore thumbs on a Beatles album. George had also gotten the short end of the publishing stick up to 1968 when he freed himself from the yoke of Northern Songs - up until the White Album , John and Paul earned more from George's compositions than he did, which surely bred further resentments.

4. Their usual recording habits were disrupted by the need to film the sessions - the hours and location were outside their comfort zone.

5. The project itself was a bit formless from the start - kind of like Magical Mystery Tour mark II in its own way... They had decided on a "live, warts and all" approach without settling on any details like where and how to perform, let alone what material to use. The magical group dynamic that had made the whole add up to more than the sum of its parts on prior projects just never kicked in.

6. Then there were the business issues. They were losing money on the Apple ventures that were outside their area of expertise, inability to agree on a management path...

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22 November 2016
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meanmistermustard
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I thought George was quite hopeful at the beginning of there being something new to get them going but found it to be the same old and quickly got fed up (again) of Paul being overpowering and John having Yoko as his spokesman 24/7. 

George speaking (sourced from the 'Anthology' book) proves it to be the case.

I had spent the last few months of 1968 producing an album by Jackie Lomax and hanging out with Bob Dylan and The Band in Woodstock, having a great time. For me, to come back into the winter of discontent with The Beatles in Twickenham was very unhealthy and unhappy. But I can remember feeling quite optimistic about it. I thought, ‘OK, it's the New Year and we have a new approach to recording.’ I think the first couple of days were OK, but it was soon quite apparent that it was just the same as it had been when we were last in the studio, and it was going to be painful again. There was a lot of trivia and games being played.
            As everybody knows, we never had much privacy - and now they were filming us rehearsing. One day there was a row going on between Paul and me. It's actually in the film: you can see where he's saying, 'Well, don't play this,' and I'm saying, 'I'll play whatever you want me to play, or I won't play at all if you don't want me to play. Whatever it is that will please you, I'll do it...'
            They were filming us having a row. It never came to blows, but I thought, 'What's the point of this? I'm quite capable of being relatively happy on my own and I'm notable to be happy in this situation. I'm getting out of here.'
            Everybody had gone through that. Ringo had left at one point. I know John wanted out. It was a very, very difficult, stressful time, and being filmed having a row as well was terrible. I got up and I thought, 'I'm not doing this any more. I'm out of here.' So I got my guitar and went home and that afternoon wrote 'Wah Wah '.

Throw in John and Paul treating his songs as little more than cannon fodder when they were clearly as good as anything John and Paul were offering and it's quite simple to understand why within a 4 or 5 days he was starting to want to be anywhere else but Twickenham. 

It was too early but the problems were there already and whilst it's easy to imagine everything settling down a few months down the line you could easily argue johnandyoko would only have been more entrenched in themselves and Paul being even more eager to direct due to the band not having worked together. I think he realised after the 'Get Back ' sessions he was being a pain in the arse to the others with his enthusiasm and had to cool it if he wanted the other four (the fourth being Yoko as no Yoko = no John) to record again. And as said above by Pablo Ramon Apple was a total mess, if anything it was a bigger mess in April.

The film studio was the wrong choice. Paul (and the others) should have realised that starting work early in the morning was not the right path as the Beatles had grown to recording at night. Also when filming 'A Hard Day's Night ' and 'Help ' they hated the early mornings and often turned up straight from nightclubs having not slept and those were just a matter of turning up and having Richard Lester point them in the right direction to speak from a script. I have no idea if it would have been possible to find a solution for the 'Get Back ' project however.

I don't think the biggest problem was when they started filming, it was that they had stopped talking to each other and they needed to get all the crap into the open and sort out the issues. There were some very candid discussions between George quitting on the 10th and the resumption on the 21st that helped clear the air and get the project back on track, tho having to move to Apple. One on the 13th January 1969 was secretly recorded, the below extract is from 'Drugs, Divorce and a Slipping Image' by Doug Sulpy 

[Paul] then offers up another pep talk, and says that if they all just allow each other to play to the best of their abilities and stop trying to micro-manage the rehearsals, things will work out a lot better. John says that Paul can’t make George play competently, because he’s afraid he won’t follow directions, and that Paul treats him the same way. Paul agrees, and John continues with the same subject, only from his own vantage point for his own songs. He says that during the recording of “The Beatles” he felt it wasn’t any use telling Paul how to play, that he (John) was drunk much of the time, and really only concerned about his own singing performance. On top of this, he didn’t want to be seen as providing a finished arrangement for the others - though he claims that “Dear Prudence ” was arranged, as simple as it is. John makes it clear that he doesn’t like directing his numbers the way Paul does, and that he can’t work in that fashion, and never did - though this has sometimes resulted in a recording that he’s not entirely satisfied with (both Paul and John remark that “She Said, She Said” is an example of this).  On the other hand, John doesn’t want anyone else to arrange his numbers for him either, but would welcome suggestions that he could either accept or reject as he chooses. He says he’d rather just sing his songs, and let someone else worry about the production (using “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite” as an example).  Paul says he feels much the same way about his own work, but John points out that at one time neither he or George felt comfortable even offering suggestions to Paul for his tunes, because they were sure they’d be rejected. Paul, in his own defense, points out that he’d given George plenty of latitude in the previous week’s rehearsals, but that George isn’t naturally the kind of guitarist who can just improvise a solo, preferring to work it out at home first.  Paul then seems to wonder aloud what method could be used with George to avoid the ego-issues raised by their telling him exactly what to play. As they discuss this, the available tape runs out. 

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22 November 2016
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Ron Nasty
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@meanmistermustard said
I don't think the biggest problem was when they started filming, it was that they had stopped talking to each other and they needed to get all the crap into the open and sort out the issues.

I agree in many ways. However, isn't it sometimes easier to sort out issues if you know you're not going to spend the next day in a room with someone? Easy as it is to guess the situation might have got worse had they left a bigger gap, it's as valid to argue that the small gap didn't allow John and, especially, George to recover from the tensions the White created.

We've seen this increasingly since, where bands take time off each other to do their own thing. The Beatles, like so many other things they pointed the way toward, were just a little early to take advantage of that being allowed.

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty

 

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22 November 2016
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meanmistermustard
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Ron Nasty said

@meanmistermustard said
I don't think the biggest problem was when they started filming, it was that they had stopped talking to each other and they needed to get all the crap into the open and sort out the issues.

I agree in many ways. However, isn't it sometimes easier to sort out issues if you know you're not going to spend the next day in a room with someone? Easy as it is to guess the situation might have got worse had they left a bigger gap, it's as valid to argue that the small gap didn't allow John and, especially, George to recover from the tensions the White created.

We've seen this increasingly since, where bands take time off each other to do their own thing. The Beatles, like so many other things they pointed the way toward, were just a little early to take advantage of that being allowed.  

I think its either/or. Sometimes distance and time works. Sometimes its better to be around the person(s) so you're forced to face up to the issues otherwise they can linger and grow and it gets harder to want to get together and sort them out. 

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22 November 2016
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If they had fired Paul, The Beatles wouldn't have split as quickly.

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22 November 2016
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I think the pivotal moment was around the recording of the White Album , when everything started to change, tension arose and they started to get fed up of each other. January was just the end of the road, the final chord...it was facing the fact that they were done as a band.

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22 November 2016
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I think the problem with this month was that they were being filmed.

Maybe you should try posting more.

22 November 2016
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Shamrock Womlbs said
I think the pivotal moment was around the recording of the White Album , when everything started to change, tension arose and they started to get fed up of each other. January was just the end of the road, the final chord...it was facing the fact that they were done as a band.  

Except it wasn't. January was where lots think it broke, but it wasn't the end. They would go on to record what many feel is their greatest album after.

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty

 

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22 November 2016
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sgtpepper63
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And they'd record some odds and ends for Let It Be after they finished Abbey Road .

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22 November 2016
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I meant pivotal as the point where their relationship, and their life as a band changed its direction. The rotary point. Also it could be an essential  point as from that moment on everything went worse. i know Let it be is not their last recording work as a band, but i think that recording (and filming) it was when they faced the end of the Beatles as a band. Abbey Road was just an exercise of professionalism.

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22 November 2016
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Whether or not they took the time to cooldown after The White Album , they couldn't have withstood the density of the rehearsals in January. The film cameras also causd a great deal of stress on the band. 

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22 November 2016
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@sir walter raleigh said
Whether or not they took the time to cooldown after The White Album , they couldn't have withstood the density of the rehearsals in January. The film cameras also causd a great deal of stress on the band.   

Isn't that a contradiction? We cannot know whether having a break after the White would have made a difference, but we do know they were often at the top of their game (much of 1963) with lower expectations but more concrete deadlines.

They put themselves in front of the cameras, so they can hardly argue what they did was wrong because they were in front of the cameras, but rather that it wan't as right as they might of wanted.

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty

 

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22 November 2016
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I'm not sure whats being discussed but John was very vocal on the issues of having cameras.

It was just a dreadful, dreadful feeling and, being filmed all the time, I just wanted them to go away. We'd be there at eight in the morning and you couldn't make music at eight in the morning, or ten, or whatever it was, in a strange place with people filming you, and coloured lights.

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23 November 2016
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Ron Nasty said

Isn't that a contradiction? We cannot know whether having a break after the White would have made a difference, but we do know they were often at the top of their game (much of 1963) with lower expectations but more concrete deadlines.

They put themselves in front of the cameras, so they can hardly argue what they did was wrong because they were in front of the cameras, but rather that it wan't as right as they might of wanted.  

I meant that even if they had taken a few extra months and had rehearsal in April or May the fact that they had rehearsal pretty much every day would make it very difficult for one to get along with his bandmates. 

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23 November 2016
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sgtpepper63 said
If they had fired Paul, The Beatles wouldn't have split as quickly.  

If they had fired Paul no one would have been pushing the band to actually engage in new projects. 

23 November 2016
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They should have made Yoko a Beatle when they had the chance.

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23 November 2016
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Expert Textpert said
They should have made Yoko a Beatle when they had the chance.  

I think George would have quit and never returned if Yoko had become a full badge holding, card carrying, jumper wearing Beatle.

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Expert Textpert said
They should have made Yoko a Beatle when they had the chance.  

Not being anti Yoko here, but I'm pretty sure that John was the only Beatle who liked Yoko.

Maybe you should try posting more.

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She was just too cool for the Beatles school.

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