Hello and Happy Thanksgiving!
We’re here with our update after watching Part One of the new docu-series, The Beatles: Get Back, which aired its first installment on Disney+ Thursday (Nov. 25).
The three-part series, which airs Thursday, Friday (Nov. 26), and Saturday (Nov. 27), is all about the group coming together to record again, this time for the band’s famed album, Let It Be.
Below are some of the most interesting things we learned from the first part, which begins with the band arriving at Twickenham Studio with three weeks to complete 14 songs and a live show.
The series is arranged one part per week. And the first episode clocks in at well over two-and-a-half hours. But what should we expect from the director, Peter Jackson, who brought us three nearly four-hour movies of Hobbits carrying a ring?
So, without further ado, here’s what we learned so far:
1. The series opens with a title card: The “Get Back” project in January 1969 produced over 60 hours of film footage and more than 150 hours of audio recordings.
2. The doc goes through some quick history: The Beatles started in Liverpool as The Quarrymen, a band founded by John Lennon, who asked Paul McCartney and then George Harrison to join. A couple of years later in 1962, Ringo Starr joins the band officially. Brian Epstein finds them and decides to manage them based on their songs and stage personas.
3. With the help of producer George Martin, the band becomes Britain’s No. 1 recording artist. In 1964, the band hit America. Their chemistry and mop-top haircuts are infectious. Hit records follow. Catchy pop, blues-based rock tunes. Movies follow in the mid-’60s. Stadium shows.
4. In 1966, the band decides it will no longer tour or perform live. This comes after Lennon’s comments that the band was bigger than God. They’ve had enough of the screaming madness. In 1967, the doc states, the band was able to spend more time in the studio and, thus, their recordings became more complex. Along with their facial hair.
5. Epstein dies at the height of the band’s psychedelia. 1968 hits, the Beatles find themselves in India. The band pioneers new recording tactics—speed changes, multi-tracks. But this, in a weird way, divides the group, since they no longer ever really have to play together as a group.
6. Yoko Ono enters the picture, the band forms its new label Apple. They record “Hey Jude.” In 1968, they shoot a promo video for the single. It’s the first time they’ve played together in front of a live audience. The band loves it, decides to record their next album live in front of an audience. Thus, no tricky recording techniques. They are under a clock, too: Ringo has to leave to shoot a movie, The Magic Christian.
7. A dress rehearsal is set for the new year: January 18, 1969. Live shows for January 19 and 20. Now the movie begins in earnest. It’s Day 1, Thursday, January 2, the end of the decade known as the ‘60s. The “Get Back Sessions” commence.
8. The Beatles smoke a lot of cigarettes. There’s seemingly at least one burning in every frame.
9. The room they’re rehearsing and recording in is big. It’s a sound stage and will be used for Ringo’s movie when these sessions are finished. There are also early complications regarding volume. The directors want to pick up the band’s conversations and also the music. But the two compete.
10. The band works on “I’ve Got a Feeling” and it’s magical. You’ve seen bands rehearse and knock out new tunes. But not all-time greats from the ground-up like this. The joy and creative chemistry between Lennon and McCartney are juicy. “Don’t Let Me Down” is built one phrase at a time. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in real-time.
11. Along with the band, there are other folks around as they rehearse and write. Yoko sits right by Lennon—it is admittedly odd. Roadies are bringing them orange juice (cocktails?). Martin is trying to manage the sounds and needs of production. It’s a bit frantic but the stakes are high.
12. As the sound arrangements continue to be discussed, McCartney and some other producers begin to plot an “out of doors” concert. Perhaps… on a rooftop?
We’ll be back with more tomorrow. Check back with us then and have a Happy Turkey Day, music fans!