John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were working stiffs like the rest of us* 45 years ago today, when those four, joined by a film crew, headed back to work after New Year’s.
The hours they put in over the subsequent month has stood the test of time, as documented on the Let It Be album and film, and with the results of their labor also eventually surfacing on Abbey Road and various solo albums.
But you all knew this.
I did too before I started this blog, two years ago today. But I just didn’t know how deep the story ran and how much more there was to these sessions. Especially with so much of our knowledge of this era couched in the record’s tumultuous production and release a year later and the breakup that preceded it.
A few days ago, I rewatched the Let It Be film (I’ve been watching it every few weeks in spurts as I write, but this was purely for “leisure,” having a few beers with my wife, who wanted to see it again). Knowing what I know now, both in my own immersion in the tapes and researching what is available about the sessions (far less than you think), I’m struck by what really got me interested in the tapes in the first place: You see all of the results, but absolutely none of the motivation.
Why did they move from Twickenham to Apple all of the sudden? Who’s this guy showing up to play keyboards? Why are there so many covers, and so many songs we’d see later on Abbey Road? What’s the deal with playing on the roof? Was that the first choice for the concert they allude to really late?
The movie creates more questions than it answers. And of course, that’s a part of what makes listening to the tapes so captivating.
Finding answers is also what makes for some really deep blog posts. In 2013, I wrote 13 posts on the timeline (of 19 total posts last year) covering a little less than 3 1/2 hours on the tapes.
Yes, a mere 3 1/2 hours of conversations and rehearsals were able to form the basis of 13 posts — and more than 17,000 words therein. But talk about memorable moments in just those 200-plus minutes:
- We get the background to the infamous “I’ll play whatever you want me to play” argument as featured in the film, an incident often misplaced as the immediate cause of George’s walking out on the band.
- Paul introduces “Carry That Weight” and “Golden Slumbers” and in a remarkable morning session alone at the piano, also gives a proper debut to “The Long and Winding Road.” Moments later, “Get Back” is born largely from a jam with George.
- We learn that Brian Epstein’s ghost still hangs over the band, which is completely unmotivated at this stage in its career. Unable to come to any agreement on — or build any desire for — a live show, the group admits their doldrums have lasted more than a year. Not just ending the sessions, but breaking up the band, has become a viable, openly discussed option.
It makes you wonder what kind of film Michael Lindsay-Hogg could have made if he had his way. This drama is writing itself. And with a great soundtrack!
And to think, we’re only at the middle of Jan. 7. There’s a heck of a way to go, and I can’t wait to dig in.
I can’t say enough for the support I’ve gotten from readers, be it in comments, over Twitter, Facebook and from other blogs. It’s been amazing to share this experience — and communicate with — Beatles fans as passionate and curious as I am. I want to especially thank and point back to Hey Dullblog, Kenwood, A Mythical Monkey, Ultimate Classic Rock and the York Beatles Appreciation Society for linking to me over these years. It really makes this all the more fun to know people are reading and enjoying it.
And the most special thanks to my wife, Dianne, for being my editor and putting up with my “child-like wonder” at Paul’s playing the songs he introduced Jan. 7, 1969, live daily in 2013.
Here’s a recap of the first few days:
*- Full disclosure: While I may be a working stiff, I actually have the day off. But back to work Saturday!