Friday 15 October 2021
















The new book “Get Back,” which is composed of transcriptions of conversations during the making of the “Let It Be” album and film, put the lie to the idea that the Beatles were getting a bit prickly with one another during that time frame and that not all was fab with the foursome at the time.

“You’re working so well together!” producer George Martin is heard saying in the latter stages of the book, he, too, has got to believe it’s getting better. And then, as the famous 1969 rooftop concert approaches, the whole affair ends on a note of ebullience.

Peter Jackson said that his upcoming documentary film of the same name will capture a more mirthful or even joyful side of the band in its waning days than the notoriously dour 1970 “Let It Be” movie did. 

“It’s like you and me are lovers,” Lennon says at one point, tellingly, talking about their harmonies as things start to really click, but perhaps unwittingly speaking their deeper connection. “Yeah, well, I’ll be wearing my skirt on the show anyway,” jokes McCartney in response (during a time when they thought they were moving toward a TV special, not a feature film). 

You could see it as a little bit like a band version of “Scenes From a Marriage,” albeit with three partners moving from bickering to banter to bliss, as George Harrison is very much a key third partner in these exchanges.

The book divides the core month that was spent making “Let It Be” neatly into three “acts” — the first being the time they spent recording and filming in the foreign and uninviting environs of Twickenham Studios; the second being the cheerful experience they had after moving to the cozier confines of Apple Studios, with Billy Preston in tow; and the final, far shorter act being the famed London rooftop mini-concert.

McCartney, at one point in the first half, tells the others: “It’s going to be such an incredible sort of comical thing like, in 50 years’ time, you know: ‘They broke up ‘cause Yoko sat on an amp,’ you know [laughs]… or just something like that. What? ‘Well, you see, John kept bringing this girl along.’ What? It’s not as though there’s any sort of earth-splitting rows or anything.” 

And we read more of McCartney’s self-aware but not exactly relenting response, when Lennon tells him it’s OK to dictate parts: “I’m scared of that one… me being the boss. And I have been for, like, a couple of years – and we all have, you know, no pretending about that.”

“Ever since Mr. Epstein passed away, says George, referring to the 1967 death of manager Brian Epstein, “it’s never been the same.” Paul says: “There really is no one there now to say, ‘Do that.’ Whereas there always used to be. And we just sort of [used to think], ‘Oh fucking hell, you know. Keep getting us up at 8?’ But it’s us that has to get us up at 8 now… that’s only growing up. You know, your daddy goes away at a certain point in your life. You stand on your own feet. I mean, that’s all we’ve been faced with — Daddy’s gone away now, you know, and we’re on our own at the holiday camp.”

The day when Linda (then-) Eastman’s daughter Heather comes into the studio with reports of baby kittens. “Mmm. Are you going to eat them?” inquires Lennon. “Lots of people do, you know… You put pastry round them and you have cat pie.” “A few days they were just born, weren’t they?” protests Heather. “Oh, well, you better wait a week or two before you eat them.” (How did she sleep, after that?)

Paul seems genuinely curious as he pursues a line of questioning with John: “Can you (and Yoko) see each other in the bag?” Lennon: “Yes.” McCartney: “When you’re in the bag?” John: “Yes. We’re together in a bag.” Paul: “I know. But can you see each other inside when you’re in the bag?” .

And then there are a couple of telling exchanges toward the end,  Lennon and Harrison, can’t stop gushing about how well the sessions are going. “It’s such a high when you get home… I’m just so high when I get in at night,” Lennon enthuses. “Yeah, it’s great, isn’t it?” agrees the now ex-ex-member Harrison. Continues Lennon, “I was just sitting there listening to the last takes: ‘What have I had?'” “You know, I ask her, ‘Have we had anything?’”

And then, a dialogue between John, Yoko and engineer Glyn Johns about attorney Allen Klein. Lennon and Ono can’t stop rhapsodizing him, but Johns is subtle: “Strange guy, isn’t he?… He’s very, very clever… And he’ll ask you a question, and you’re halfway through answering it, and if he doesn’t like the answer, or if it’s not what he really wanted to hear, he’ll change the subject right in the middle of a sentence.” Ono says, casually, “Oh yeah. I can imagine it, yeah.” Johns isn’t finished: “That bugs me a bit, actually.”

There’s something that kind of says it all when they’re having one last very minor squabble about whether to proceed with the rooftop concert scheduled for the following day. Harrison says he still is really not into it, here, at the last minute. McCartney is having some second thoughts, too. Ringo, though, pipes up: “I would like to go on the roof.” Lennon agrees. Paul utters a simple two-word phrase: “Diverse people.”


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