I am only 30 minutes in to the 8 hour long — highly anticipated — Peter Jackson documentary and I already have many thoughts.
I need to get these out before further viewing, because I have a feeling I will change my mind many times over during viewing.
Let’s go Beatle by Beatle.
It’s very apparent that Paul is the undisputed leader of the band. There are no two ways about it. More than any other Beatle, Paul is the one who’s always pushing forward, making suggestions, making cuts, judging, keeping things moving. All in his soft spoken characteristic manner.
Also it’s uncanny how little Paul has changed from then to the grey haired Beatle I grew up to know. His mannerisms, speaking style, the confidence it is all exactly the same as he is now.
Of course the Beatles are always about Lennon and McCartney and it’s clear from watching the two, how they feed off one another. And what each brings to the table.
Lennon always seemed to me to be the person that wanted to be in the foreground and was very outspoken. But in this documentary so far he says very little, but you can see he first and foremost clearly enjoys being around the other guys, enjoys making music. He very much listens and responds to Paul. And he is all about making music.
They are not so much rehearsing songs as they are trying out bits and pieces: hooks, bridges, choruses, small parts of songs, again, again, and again. Throwing away what doesn’t work, keeping what does.
It’s like a relentless but gentle machine and John and Paul are constantly looking at and critiquing each other’s contributions. In a good way.
George struggles to get heard. A gifted musician, but walled in between two of the greatest singer-songwriters to ever live. It feels he is still — after a decade — trying to get Paul, and John to notice him, to get them to listen to what he has to say, to get heard.
It’s obvious Paul and John highly appreciate George, but his songs have to be better for Paul and John to notice.
Ringo listens intently, makes very few suggestions and only jokes around a little bit. He clearly knows what is expected of him, makes no fuss. He is very aware of what is going on and what his role is.
Maybe it’s because of the editing, but Yoko is present but has not said a word. Which makes it a bit weird. Why is she there, why is she the only wife/girlfriend? The others seem to ignore her.
It is absolutely amazing that this footage exists, the viewer gets to witness something extra-ordinary.The greatest band in the world, and that ever was (there will never be another Beatles) and who by that point have already achieved anything and everything and changed the face of music and the music industry in general, are filmed in full color during the creative process. A process which, by the way, is insane: creating a complete set of new songs in two weeks. But if any band could do it, it’s the Beatles of course.
I love the way they talk to each other and make suggestions, it is ever so polite and all focussed on making great songs and having fun while doing so.
But I am most floored by how down to earth and down to business the four are, while they beat sounds into submission and into songs. There are lots of other people walking around and they drop in and out of frame, but the four Beatles with their chairs in a circle, facing each other, that’s where it happens.
Very much looking forward to the rest of this documentary. I saw this clip surface on Twitter, it is just bonkers. You get to witness how an era defining tune is constructed out of seemingly thin air:
Also published on Medium.