Thursday, January 6, 2022

Beatles Get Back 3: January 6

Paul is the first one we see today, and he appears to have developed a taste for cigars after spending two days with Michael Lindsay-Hogg. He says he hasn’t thought about the project turning into a record album yet, which is odd, because wouldn’t he want to get these songs—whatever they will be—preserved? Glyn Johns puts forth the notion that the “record” should be the live performance. Ringo arrives (possibly hung over), followed by John and Yoko, then George, who is immediately shown expressing his vote against any kind of live show.
One of the misconceptions about these sessions for many years was that the performances at Twickenham were professionally recorded, suggested by the scene in Let It Be that shows an eight-track recording console being wheeled into the rehearsal space. As it turns out, that was George’s personal machine, brought in from his house for the express purpose of taping the rehearsals simply for evaluation, and not for eventual mixing and release.
This leads to discussion and brief background on Alexis “Magic Alex” Mardas, somebody John found who impressed him with primitive electronic gadgetry, accompanied the Beatles to India, and was put in charge of the fledgling Apple Electronics department. One of his propositions was that he would build them a state-of-the-art recording studio, in the basement of the Apple office building, that would far surpass anything EMI could provide them. George Martin, needless to say, was dubious.
The boys start jamming, and play a couple of uptempo improvisations, before moving on to honing “Don’t Let Me Down”. Paul is still pushing his answer-harmony idea, and goes on to recommend parts for George and Ringo to contribute instrumentally. Note that while it’s John’s song, he’s let Paul take over the arrangement. Meanwhile, Glyn Johns makes a suggestion for the bridge that actually is effective. Throughout, George is resistant, finding much of the suggestion “corny”, but still does what he’s asked. (He’s also seen adjusting various cushions to sit on; perhaps hemorrhoids were affecting his mood?)
They move on to “Two Of Us”, which is still beyond their grasp as they’re trying to rock it up. This extended scene is very informative for anyone who’s seen the “I’ll play whatever you want me to play” discussion between Paul and George in Let It Be, and again used in Anthology. Here the disagreement is given much wider context: Paul and George simply have different approaches to learning and honing a song. Paul even backs off during the conversation, because he doesn’t want to have it out in front of rolling cameras. He finds himself stuck; he makes suggestions because nobody else does, yet he feels nervous making any suggestions because he knows how pushy he comes off. He’s also feeling pressure because they’ve committed to a show, of some kind, in 12 days’ time. At the same time, it’s clear that George is tired of making suggestions only to have them dismissed outright. While this is happening, Ringo watches silently up on the drum riser from behind his kit, and John offers little guidance of his own. (Continuity blips occasionally show Yoko at this side and also not; except for one glimpse of her sharing a joke with John, she mostly sits quietly looking at her mail.)
In Jackson’s film, this day’s segment ends with another stab at “Two Of Us”, but thanks to the other documentarians we’ve mentioned, we know that they did work on other songs for a few more hours. We also know George put forth some of his own song ideas earlier in the day, which were not enthusiastically received, and likely soured his mood further. What’s more, lengthy discussion about what type of show to have was dominated by Michael, with input from Dennis O’Dell and George Martin, and quite of bit of conceptualizing by Yoko, seemingly speaking for John.
Again, none of this was included in Jackson’s edit, but still, this particular day was not the best start to a week that required progress, enthusiasm, or results.

1 comment:

  1. According to "The Beatles Forever", Klein got rid of Mardas. Based on this footage, it looks like that was a very sound decision.