The Beatles: Get Back (2021)

This is a thread for the three-part film (streamed on the Disney channel)–The Beatles: Get back, a Peter Jackson documentary, assembling footage from 1969, while the Beatles worked on new songs for a live performance. Eventually, I believe, some or much of the music appeared on Let It Be, and Abbey Road. (Some like “Don’t Let Me Down” may have become a single.)

4 thoughts on “The Beatles: Get Back (2021)

  1. Episode 1

    Notes:

    • While listening to the entire Beatles discography, my impression was that McCartney was the mastermind/genius over the music, not Lennon–especially for the later albums. Vocally, Lennon seemed to dominate on the earlier albums–in terms of singing more songs and sounding more confident and developed than McCartney. Towards the end of the the 60’s McCartney’s singing sounds a lot more developed and more confident, perhaps. But I’m not really thinking of the vocals–but the music–specifically the compositions sans the lyrics. This episode only reinforces this impression. Lennon seems more like a bystander, particularly when it comes to shaping the music. McCartney seems to be the most in charge (to the annoyance of Harrison).
    • Seeing the dispute between Harrison and McCartney was pretty interesting. I feel for Harrison a bit because McCartney is directing things, and sometimes suggesting less playing from Harrison. That must get annoying after a while. But McCartney isn’t simply taking control–but he’s also producing the best music–or at least that’s what it seems to me.
    • One somewhat droll bit: One person is stuck on the idea of performing in a Syrian outdoor amphitheatre–in spite of being told George (?) insists he won’t do it.
    • Watching the process of music-making is interesting, but I tend to think the film would be stronger with more editing. What’s included seems more for very hardcore fans–and I don’t think I fall into that category.
    • In my notes to the Let It Be album, I said the music felt like the Beatles’ hearts weren’t into it, or that the music felt incomplete or not fully finished. The first episode lends evidence to that. On the other hand, Abbey Road sounds terrific. My sense is that the recording is one where McCartney (and maybe George Martin) takes a strong hand–basically being the primary author of the album.
      In this episode, the musicians don’t seem to be in it–except for maybe McCartney; the band is falling a part (i.e., George wants to quit). I get the feeling that McCartney is reaching his peak, while the others are burnt out.
    • One sign of the burn out–or I should say boredom–is the way they goof around when they’re singing–including dramatically changing the tempo, singing nonsense lyrics, and giggling while doing so. This feels like they’re bored; the music isn’t really interesting to them. Maybe I’m totally off on this, though.
  2. To clarify (in case anyone reading this looks for it) it’s not on the Disney Channel, but on Disney +, the streaming service.

  3. Episode 2

    Notes:

    1/26/2022

    I forgot to mention a few things, so I’ll do that now.

    • In the first episode, the Beatles alluded to the loss of Brian Epstein, their longtime manager, who died in 1967, about two years before the sessions in this documentary. Specifically, what they said created the impression that he was a father-figure–someone who could crack them into shape or get them to get serious and focused. If that’s true, his death may have been huge. Sgt. Pepper’s was the last album they made prior to his death. The White album came out after that–and that’s kind of a hodge-podge of an album, although I like it. And of course, Abbey Roadcomes after, which I think is great. But just based on what I’m seeing, I don’t know how they made something as good as Abbey Road. To put it another way, the greatness and talent that is behind AB isn’t really present or obvious in this film. Indeed, I’m a little let down by the musicianship that I see–with maybe McCartney as the exception. I really like Lennon’s voice, but his guitar playing, as well as Harrison’s, are kind of unimpressive. Same with Ringo’s drumming. (I never thought Ringo was great, but I thought he was solid–especially for their music. But he’s underwhelming in this. To be fair, so much of what’s shown is the Beatles fooling around. Still, I would think one could see glimmers of greatness in this moment, if the musicians are really talented.
    • As I mentioned, the episodes make me wonder how the musicians I’m seeing made AB. Because of this feeling, I’ve formed a hypothesis–namely, either McCartney–took a role like Brian Wilson, Frank Zappa, or Prince–and basically functioned like the main architect/composer/mastermind behind it. Or maybe he and/or George Martin functioned in this way. To be fair, I’m not sure McCartney shows enough in the first two episodes to support this hypothesis.
    • On another note, I don’t know if it’s just me, but I kinda find Yoko Ono’s presence, while the Beatles are actually trying to compose the songs, to be kind of annoying. Why be there? I don’t think I would stay there, if I were in her shoes. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.
  4. I’m not going to see the third episode, but based on the first two, I would say I’m a bit disappointed. There are too many “warts” and not enough “beauty spots.” The struggles, of both the music and the interpersonal aspects, are more prominent than the magic that I get from their recordings.

    In this respect, I prefer Hulu’s 3 2 1 McCartney, with Rick Rubin and McCartney listening to excerpts of the recordings. The series may not be great, but there are great moments and interesting insights and anecdotes (without a lot of boring fluff).

    There’s one moment I recently saw that I really liked. Both were listening to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and Rubin isolates McCartney’s bass, which is rough, clunky, and aggressive, which, as they point out, seems odd match for the music–particularly with the strumming acoustic guitar, which has a sunnier sound (although that sound is odd, given the lyrics).

    Rubin points out that there are almost two songs here. McCartney comes to this realization, pointing out the bass has a rougher sound; and then he starts improvising a wordless, rocking vocals over the bass, and it sounds great!

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