Things We Learned From The Beatles Get Back Episode 1 -
The Beatles Get Back

The Beatles Get Back

Things We Learned From The Beatles Get Back Episode 1

by Paul Cashmere on November 26, 2021

in News

The origins of the ‘Get Back’ sessions that became the ‘Let It Be’ album was for The Beatles to create 14 new songs over two weeks and perform a concert at the end of the sessions for what was first envisioned as a television special.

A crew, lead by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, would capture the creation of the songs. The original documentary was the Lindsay-Hogg ‘Let It Be’ movie from 1970 which to date has never officially been released on DVD although a cinema version was followed by a VHS released and it did occasional air on television in the 80s and 90s. Peter Jackson has created ‘Get Back’ from Lindsay-Hogg’s original 60 hours of video and 150 hours of audio footage.

This ‘Get Back’ documentary is made diary style, day by day starting 2 January 1969. The Beatles used Twickenham Studios, rented by Denis O’Dell who was making the movie ‘The Magic Christian’ with Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers at the time.

First 10 minutes is the history, starting with ‘In Spite of All the Danger’, the earliest known recording of a Beatles song from 1958 when they were still known as The Quarrymen.

Episode one features a lot of discussion about where the live event would take place. Lindsay-Hogg suggested a Children’s hospital. Tripoli and the Middle East were also considered. So too was a boat cruise. McCartney had a good idea, The Cavern in Liverpool, but in the end, it was done on the Apple rooftop in London. That full performance will feature in Episode 3.

The big take-home for the first episode of The Beatles’ ‘Get Back’ is George Harrison quitting The Beatles.

When I spoke to George Harrison in 1994 at one point he told me about the frustration of Paul McCartney disregarding his songs. In my George interview he said, “It was frustrating at times when we had to wade through millions of ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’s before we could get to one of mine, you know. Because I think now that when you look retrospectively, that there were a couple of my tunes that were good enough — or better — than ones that Paul or John had written occasionally. But you know, that’s just how it was. It doesn’t bother me, really. I was just on hold for a while”.

“I think I’ll be leaving the band now”, George says and leaves. What happens next is concern and chaos. After lunch they come back with George and go into this wild session that sounds more like ‘Helter Skelter’ Beatles than Fab Four. This is the most “rock band” sounding Beatles you will ever here, clearing turning their anger with George’s departure into energy.

George Harrison clearly had issues with Paul McCartney during these sessions. McCartney takes a leadership role in the band at this time. John Lennon is clearly more interested in Yoko Ono than The Beatles and Ringo often looks worried, knowing that this was the end of an era for The Beatles.

Unreleased Beatles songs from these sessions that go on to become solo songs:

Gimme Some Truth (eventually on John’s ‘Imagine’)
Another Day (a single for Paul)
All Things Must Pass (from George’s All Things Must Pass)
Isn’t It A Pity (also from George’s All Things Must Pass)

The amazing thing about ‘Gimme Some Truth’ is that Paul McCartney co-wrote the song with John and until recently, had no idea he did so. Peter Jackson told Stephen Colbert this week, “Gimme Some Truth is an incredible song on the Imagine album. I had no idea Paul McCartney was involved and clearly had co-written the song. The next time I see Paul I say ‘I had no idea that you co-wrote Gimme Some Truth’ and he looks at me and says ‘what, John’s song from his solo album? No I didn’t have anything to do with that’. I get out my iPad and I show him and he says “I have no memory of working on that song”. And then he says “that’s a really great song so I’m happy to take a little bit of credit for it”.

Again in my interview, I asked George what The Beatles would have sounded like had they not broken up at the time. He said, “This is the funny thing, isn’t it? If the Beatles had continued making records, all of the solo stuff that we’d done would have been on Beatle albums. So “Cloud 9” would have been a Beatle record and all that stuff like that. So I don’t know. Somebody just asked me about the songs on the ‘Live in Japan’ record, saying did I worry about putting so many Beatle songs on. But so much time has elapsed. I don’t even think of them as being Beatle songs so much, you know. When you go back to ‘I Want To Tell You’ and ‘Taxman’, they, to me, were just tunes I wrote, and they were recorded at that period, and it was the Beatles. And ‘Cloud 9’ was a song that I wrote, but I recorded it with those other guys, and it was a solo album. Basically, the thread that binds it all together was that I wrote it, so I don’t really see things as Beatles or solo. I just see it as a body of work that I’ve been involved with one way or another”.

The Beatles Get Back is a three part series streaming on Disney+.

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