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Am I excited for Ron Howard’s upcoming documentary, Eight Days A Week? Hell yes, I am. The story of the Beatles’ touring years is the great untold portion of their career, and it deserves more attention. In part because the touring experience was what made them who they were; in part because we think we know what it was like; and in part because no one but them could ever truly know what it was like.
In my generation, Touring Beatles (1962-66) were often dismissed as pop lightweights turned into artists by exposure to drugs and Bob Dylan. And that viewpoint has become even more common (go Google “Beatles” and “boy-band”), but it’s simply wrong. Whatever the Beatles were in 1968 was clearly present by 1965, just expressing in a different way. And it was their war-like touring experience that gave them the strength to flower in the post-touring period.
Do I think we’ll get The Whole Tale? Of course not — even if Paul and Ringo still remember it (and they don’t), they aren’t interested in a warts-and-all story. But whatever else Eight Days A Week will be, it will change touring from being primarily an expression of the Beatles as a commercial entity, into its true nature as the forcing-house of the Beatles’ unparalleled creativity and cohesion.