Saturday, January 8, 2022

Beatles Get Back 5: January 8

George and Ringo are first to arrive today, and are discussing the previous night’s television entertainment with Michael Lindsay-Hogg. This may seem innocuous, until Jackson edits in a portion of the exact show that inspired George to write the waltz-time “I Me Mine”, which he then demonstrates on John’s electric (unplugged) for those present, including the newly arrived Paul. When John arrives, he ridicules the tune, reminding George that they’re a rock band. George replies that he doesn’t care if anyone likes it, as it can go into the musical he and Apple press officer Derek Taylor are supposedly writing.
Seemingly to George’s defense, Paul asks John point blank if he’s written anything they can use. John hasn’t, and says so. This leads to a testy-sounding exchange about work ethics, but the footage reveals that they are clearly playing up to the boom mic overhead that’s been (not very discreetly) capturing all of their conversations. Meanwhile, Ringo’s having fun with the reverb and feedback on another microphone.
Once again Michael goads a discussion of just how the proposed TV show will be. George Martin says he hopes they don’t do what they did with the “Hey Jude” promo clip, which ended up with the audience practically crawling all over them, and suggests a barbed wire fence be erected around them. The band still doesn’t know where they want to perform, and wonder how to improve the soundstage they’re in for such a purpose. Here Jackson includes a musical suggestion from John about how they should “concentrate on the sound”; most sources, including the recent official hardcover tie-in book of dialogue transcribed from the Nagra tapes, have this happening during the rehearsal on January 6, making its inclusion at this point baffling.
A montage of performances follows, including an Elvis-style take on “Two Of Us” (a highlight of the Let It Be film), “Don’t Let Me Down”, and “I’ve Got A Feeling”. There’s a jokey take on “Stand By Me” sung by Paul while George gets another cushion for his posterior, and a glimpse of John intoning “the queen says no to pot-smoking FBI members,” which was included on the Let It Be album. Halfway through “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” we have a lovely shot of George’s unattended Les Paul sliding off the cushions and hitting the floor. The song stops, but only Mal Evans gets up (from his position at the anvil) to retrieve it. John leads a well-remembered version of Hank Williams’ “You Win Again” on piano, then waltzes with Yoko around the soundstage while the other three rehearse “I Me Mine”. George encourages this for the show, and plays the temporary flamenco break for the song while John pirouettes like a Spanish dancer. (Throughout today’s segment, he’s much more animated and involved than he was the day before.)
This gives Michael yet another opportunity to grill them about The Big Show’s concept, and Denis O’Dell arrives with sketches of proposed sets, which would feature the Beatles “in the round”. Paul says that would be a great idea if they hadn’t already done that in 1964 for the Around The Beatles, and slyly fobs Michael and Denis off onto John and Yoko to discuss it with them, as “they’re artists.” John’s immediate reaction? “It’s Around The Beatles ‘69.”
He gets Denis going on what they could do in the way of plastic sets that could be seen through. Michael, meanwhile, is still trying to sell Ringo on the cinematic potential of helicopter shots over the amphitheater in Africa they’ve consistently vetoed. In the background, Paul is playing “Let It Be”, and eventually a piano piece that has been (improperly) identified as Samuel Barber’s “Adagio For Strings”. These three scenes overlap for what seems like several minutes, until Michael feels he’s got some leverage with Ringo. Denis astutely asks what George’s reaction is to all this, and it’s pointed out that he hasn’t been consulted.
Everyone, including George and Glyn Johns, gathers around the piano to rehash the pros and cons of performing in front of an audience, any audience, large or small. Denis is back on the amphitheater again, encouraged by John who wonders aloud why they never recorded anywhere but the same studio in London. Paul suggests they bring an audience with them on the boat to the amphitheater, doing a show on the boat and again at the destination, but George immediately balks at the “impracticality” of such a venture, plus the prospect of being “stuck with a bloody big boatload of people for two weeks.”
As they wrap up for the day, the band lets Michael and Denis believe that there’s still potential in the amphitheater idea, but it’s clear they do this just to end the discussion and get out of there. Unspoken but still hanging over their heads is the fact that whatever the show is, they still haven’t written enough songs for it, much less learned them.

No comments:

Post a Comment