Friday, January 7, 2022

Beatles Get Back 4: January 7

Everyone except John (and Yoko) is present at the start of this segment, and John’s tardiness is noted verbally. Paul starts strumming his Hofner bass—the one with the setlist from the 1966 tour still taped to it—and begins to formulate a melody over it. Ringo watches and George yawns, but then he starts playing chords and lead lines over the simple riff. Ringo claps out a rhythm, and then we hear it: “Get back to where you once belonged.” As Paul continues, the second verse (about Loretta) falls into place and Ringo sings along with the brand-new chorus, before moving to his kit to pound out a steady beat. They’re still playing when John finally arrives, and he picks up both of the chords with little difficulty. Just like that, their next hit single has appeared out of thin air.
Unfortunately, the conversation turns yet again as to what The Big Show is supposed to be. Michael Lindsay-Hogg is doing his best to cheerlead them into something phenomenal, but they’re even more resistant to his cajoling than they have been to Paul’s. (For his part, Paul doesn’t like taking orders from anybody, as five decades of solo work have since shown.) The director keeps harping on an exotic overseas location, despite having been told daily and repeatedly that they will not go abroad. They’re not just being stubborn; Ringo is committed to filming his role in The Magic Christian at this same film studio in a few weeks’ time. Paul raises the idea of setting up to play someplace forbidden, resulting in them getting thrown out.
Michael moves on to suggest performing in children’s hospitals or orphanages, while the camera holds on John’s face. He appears to be in something of a trance for several seconds, with a faraway smile on his face, then mutters his objection to playing an orphanage. As the conversation continues over the purpose of whatever they’re going to do, he offers the idea that, like the “All You Need Is Love” performance on live television via global satellite, is communication, to bring a smile to the world.
Paul bemoans the perceived lack of enthusiasm from the other three; he wants to play music as a band again, but nobody else seems as keen. George offers that he constantly makes suggestions that are ignored. This, too, is ignored. Paul then states that if they can’t be bothered to keep going, they should pack it in and stop wasting each other’s time. George astutely comments that “ever since Mr. Epstein passed away, it’s never been the same.” Paul agrees that they don’t have anyone to instill the discipline that they always resisted but still used in order to create.
Throughout this discussion, Paul continually attempts to engage John in some kind of response. Only after George says, “Maybe we should have a divorce,” to which Paul responds that he brought that up at a recent meeting, John asks, “Who’d have the children?” Paul replies, “Dick James,” referring to their music publisher. Michael expresses the sadness he’d feel—as a fan—were the Beatles to break up, and suggests the crew give the four space to play music before lunch.
In the next segment, Paul is at the piano. George is playing the six-string bass the Fender company gave them the year before, and the band rehearses “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”. While Jackson’s edit didn’t show it, they had worked on the song the previous Friday (as seen in Let It Be), so we are now hearing a song that’s mostly together. George even comes up with several hooks that Paul gleefully adds to the arrangement.
As they break for lunch, Paul asks Mal Evans to find them a hammer and anvil. Despite having received these kinds of requests for six years, he still looks befuddled as he’s left alone on the soundstage. Sure enough, having presumably returned from lunch, they’re working on the song again, and there’s Mal sitting next to them, giddily clanging an anvil on cue.
From here they move on to “Across The Universe”, which they had originally recorded a year earlier, but hadn’t released because John didn’t like the mix. An acetate is provided, as well as the lyrics, to spur John’s memory as to how the song goes. They perform a few decent electric versions, with Paul encouragingly harmonizing, but John is fed up and switches to a sloppy bash at Chuck Berry’s “Rock And Roll Music”. The band joins in, with feeling; however, Jackson chose to weave in footage of the band playing it live in Tokyo in 1966, complete with screams. This juxtaposition is distracting, but we notice John keeps repeating the wrong words anyway.
While slightly more productive than Monday, they still have a ways to go, and it’s getting harder to imagine that they’ll have a show ready in ten days’ time. Still, Jackson’s choice footage again gives more insight than can be gleaned from just the audio.

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