Latest posts by Michael Gerber (see all)
- From Faith Current: “The Sacred Ordinary: St. Peter’s Church Hall” - May 1, 2023
- A brief (?) hiatus - April 22, 2023
- Something Happened - March 6, 2023
Through the magic of the internet (actually my friend @comicthief on the rapidly decaying Twitter) I stumbled upon this chunk of fine writing by Ian Leslie on Peter Jackson’s Get Back. So many solid insights here, I’ll forgive the insane length.
I always feel so bad castigating contemporary writers for their prolixity; it’s just contemporary style. But ye gods, we need Doctors Without Borders, but for Editors. Leslie warns you right up top, then makes it too good to stop reading in the middle. Unfair! 🙂
Anyway, read it. It’s Dulbloggy, and you’ll enjoy it.
Excellent article (and recommendation). It’s especially gratifying to see my favourite moment of the documentary shared: the overhead shot on the roof where the band are seemingly hit with electric jolt and instantly rediscover the sheer joy of playing to live audience, albeit out of sight (man). Also pleased to see, at last, a satisfying analysis of the ‘Get Back’ genesis with Paul riffing ideas on the bass. So many have marvelled at how Macca seemingly plucked a brilliant song from the ether without realising their hindsight bias. It’s an amazing scene, for sure, but I always felt many missed the point. The moment is wondrous because you’re hearing the first fragment of the classic song you know so well. You’re seeing the base metal, and it’s awe-inspiring because you’re familiar with the gold it became. And, luckily enough, we got to see the sometimes tortuous process of the alchemy in action. It’s thrilling to see the inspiration – and, after all, it’s an inspired genius in action – but the final work of genius is the product of perspiration from four supremely gifted artists who make magic when working as one. Without that, the initial scene of Paul jamming his ideas and the resultant riff is unremarkable. One lightbulb, four Beatles, to paraphrase George. For me, the biggest takeaway from Get Back was seeing how that four-piece jigsaw puzzle fitted together and completed the picture (or didn’t when one was missing). Anyway, enough metaphors already.
That’s a great piece, I actually wished it was longer! My only disagreement is with this –
“A phone rings. John picks up a film reel case, pretends to answer it, embarks on a glorious riff which culminates in a joke about scouts and masturbation which leaves Paul, so morose just a minute ago, helpless with giggles.”
I think that’s a misreading. The feeling I got from that scene was an old friend who used to make you laugh at school, still making the same old jokes but they’re just not funny anymore and you force yourself to laugh out of politeness. I think Paul was more irritated than amused, pretending to giggle with Lindsay-Hogg but wishing he was elsewhere.
If there ever is a “Doctors Without Borders” for editors, I will volunteer! This piece is very good but I think it would be even better with some editing.
I love these lines particularly: “In the flowerpot conversation, we hear Paul reassuring John that he’s the boss, has always been the boss, John demurring. Paul has power without legitimacy; John has legitimacy but no longer wants power.” That seems to me to capture what was going on in this period of the band’s life.
Respectfully disagree about the need for editing. As this thread demonstrates only too well, opinions on the Get Back doc are heavily subject to confirmation bias and, indeed, any other type of bias – as is the case with every other aspect of Beatles mythology (and let’s not attempt to kid ourselves that mythology isn’t what we’re dealing with, because there is no definitive ‘truth’ even as far as the protagonists are concerned), but I’ve read so many teeth-grindingly bad takes on the series that the article was a refreshing oasis of perspicacity and balance – so more, not less, is what I crave here. Again, let’s be aware that our analyses and subsequent conclusions of the events of January 1969 amount to little more than parlour games – as much as our delusions of grandeur and claims to real insight might tell us – but some play better than others, so props to Mr Leslie.
So, @Hieronymus, your response here joggled out a question:
Given that we have more raw data by and about The Beatles than nearly any other historical phenomenon I can think of off the top of my head–more interviews, more footage, a nearly complete record of their work, etc; that The Beatles were not a solipsistic individual, but on the other hand being just four people are bounded with a reasonable limit to the amount of data generated; that they were an item of pop culture and not something strictly political or one where lives were/are at stake; that they are over, but not so far in the past that we cannot perceive them clearly; since, in other words, they seem to be almost lab-built for being examined and understood in full, or close to it–do you believe that no definitive “truth” is possible in any historical event? Or just in The Beatles? And if it’s just The Beatles, why? And if it’s NOT just the Beatles, why?
Great question, Michael, and it goes right to the heart of a quandary I’ve pondered for quite some time – not limited to the context of the Beatles but they provide an excellent case in point for the very reasons you mention. The short answer is that I’ve come to the conclusion that pure, unadulterated “truth” of a past event is impossible to extract from analysis of data – which, really, is not too controversial when you think about it. George Harrison, as we know, was completely dismissive of any writer attempting to chart Beatles history if they “weren’t there”. His view on this even extended to the likes of Mark Lewisohn, who tends to keep his work as grounded in actual evidence as much as possible. George, being George, was an absolutist about it but I have a lot of sympathy for his standpoint – after all, he was there and they weren’t. The Get Back/Let it Be sessions certainly had their share of downers but didn’t look like the exercise in abject misery that John and George described. Maybe they misremembered or allowed the later squabbles to darken their hindsight, as some have speculated. Or maybe they just felt utterly wretched the whole time even when appearances suggested otherwise. We can’t know for sure. Maybe Paul found John’s smack-comedown humour genuinely hilarious when he was reduced to giggles or perhaps it was just his way of relieving the tension. We can speculate and we can be reasonably confident in our conclusion but we can never know for sure. Now, I’m not arguing against the speculation – on the contrary, it’s the lifeblood of the noble and honourable pastime of Beatle overthinking. I love the analysis and speculation. But I like it done WELL (which, after all, is what this place is about, right?). And, for me, that means trying to temper the biases we’re all subject to and also maintaining an awareness that the real, unadulterated ‘truth’ will forever remain illusive because – to return the original question with a slightly nebulous philosophical answer – it only exists in the moment. And these moments have long since passed beyond a fully accurate analysis from even the surviving protagonists and eye-witnesses. Not that I’m dismissing those either – for example, while I’m on the subject, check out this fairly recent podcast with MLH, in which he notably pushes against the received view of Allen Klein:
Also kind of related, I was listening to the Paul McCartney disc interview from 1980 recently and he was talking about how the White Album sessions were really the most tense and fraught, more so than Get Back/Let it Be. Except he cited ‘beds in the studio’ so he was probably misremembering and meant Abbey Road. But who knows – he was there, after all. (Or was he? Haha.)
Excellent, @Hieronymus, thank you! Do you have a timestamp for that portion of the podcast? I’d like to hear it.
To me, Allen Klein is a perfect example of how data CAN give you the truth. Klein’s biggest clients, all of them, withered under his management; for a manager, that is the test, and Klein fails it. Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s opinion of the guy doesn’t matter; the facts surrounding Sam Cooke, The Stones, and The Beatles paint an excruciatingly clear picture. One doesn’t need to build a case against Klein; Klein did that. Similarly, Brian’s reputation must be viewed in light of his making his clients the biggest act in the history of showbiz. Epstein fucked up Seltaeb, for sure; but no Brian, no Beatles. Factually, Epstein is mixed but skews positive. Factually, Klein had his talents–he shook down EMI–but he was instrumental in the breakup of The Beatles. These are durable, sensible, logical readings of “what really happened” based on data.
Re: White: I’ve heard that from Paul, too–maybe I read it at the time? Remember that in 1980, the trope “Paul broke up the Beatles because he was bossy during the Let It Be sessions” was the common reading, so Paul would have a vested interest in pushing back against that. Not in some nefarious mastermind way, but because everybody wants to look good.
When we attempt to overturn a basic tenet of the conventional story, I think we have to
1) have powerful reasons for doing so–the tenet has to fundamentally not work in a large way; and
2) apply an extremely high standard. Sixty years on, The Beatles story has not been decided upon arbitrarily by a few people; it was developed over time, by many people, and agreed to by the principals.
For example: I am sure there are fans out there who, because they are anti-drug, don’t want to believe that John Lennon took LSD often, if at all. And we only have his word, and the words of others, saying that he did. The only reason we don’t have tons of comments here explaining that “John really only experimented with LSD a few times and just wanted to be cool so he said he did it a lot”, is because the idea behind it isn’t attractive to enough contemporary fans. Contemporary fans seem much more likely to attach to theories reinterpreting Paul or defending Yoko, which I suspect is more about contemporary attitudes than What Actually Happened.
“The short answer is that I’ve come to the conclusion that pure, unadulterated “truth” of a past event is impossible to extract from analysis of data”
I think there’s a nugget of wisdom in this viewpoint, when applied by a thoughtful person like you in a responsible way. However, I think a healthy respect for the subjectivity of experience can be taken too far, to the point of “nobody can know anything, so everything is an opinion.” That’s not so; D-Day happened, Eleanor Roosevelt was biologically female, FDR won four terms, etc. But facts are the bricks of stories, and so informational nihilism is pretty common in the digital world, where vehemence of assertion and size of platform too often win the day. It’s the horseshoe where seemingly individualist ideas (“Don’t believe the biased gatekeepers”) bend back around to functional authoritarianism (“I have a lot of Twitter followers, so I set what is true”). Holocaust deniers deny mountains of data, thus people who wish to exonerate the Nazis for whatever reason feel free to do so. Most people are not responsible enough to drive a car, much less tease out the truth from an historical record. And many who could do it, won’t do it, because it is often painful. Every hero I can think of has huge flaws.
With something like The Beatles, it doesn’t really matter whether the factual record is bashed around by the desires of vocal segments of the fandom. But I think the boundaries between history–which I define as a good faith effort to determine what actually happened–and alternative history–a history-like narrative that is pleasing/enticing in some way–are blurry and getting blurrier. Whereas in 1980 I would consider gatekeeping to be a bigger problem, today I find informational nihilism more troubling, mostly because of an informational sharing system which rewards emotional attachment.
As I endlessly reminded myself when I read about the assassinations, any historical reading that connects with me emotionally–any one that I LIKE–should be viewed skeptically. Those are the theories that must be interrogated most relentlessly.
As Beatles fans, we naturally wish for the Get Back sessions to be harmonious, fun, and fruitful. Jackson’s doc, because it presents this reading, should be viewed skeptically. Assessing more data can be helpful, or it can be a way to keep rolling the dice until you get the double-sixes you wish. It’s all a question of responsibility and intent.
“Assessing more data can be helpful, or it can be a way to keep rolling the dice until you get the double-sixes you wish. It’s all a question of responsibility and intent.” I think that absolutely nails it, Michael – thank you for taking the time to indulge my ramblings with such a perspicacious and articulate response. On reflection, I think my position is that there’s not so much an absence of truth in the data but rather one or several – or many – among multiple others that combined in the moment to construct the full, unadulterated 3D image. While we can’t (yet) travel in time (come on, scientists, pull your fingers out!) to observe that full picture in, say, the heavy, heady atmosphere of Middlesex TW1 or London W1 in that typically gloomy January 54 years ago, I wholeheartedly thank the gods of whatever – or at the very least Michael Lindsay-Hogg – that we have a feast of footage to extract, ponder and debate the multifarious truths therein. And speaking of MLH, I’m not sure whereabouts in that podcast it is that he mentions Klein as it was a few months ago I listened but I intend to give it another spin soon as he’s good value, and all evidence suggests he’s also another one of the good guys – unlike Klein.
Personally, I did not care for the ‘Paul has Power WITHOUT legitimacy; John has legitimacy but NO LONGER wants power” that statement diminishes Paul’s leadership, vision, talent and presence within this band. IMO, over the years as all of the peels of the onion come off, we learn more and more that it was Paul who was the visionary, driver and navigator of this machine much more, yes much -than John.
So much depends upon how “power” is defined, and how the holding of power is understood within the group. I think it’s fair to say that John was the recognized chief power in the Beatles, particularly early on.
I don’t think it diminishes Paul at all to note that at the time of “Let It Be” he had “power without legitimacy.” Instead, I think it explains why the debacle with Allen Klein went as it did, with Paul being the only holdout (and thus the one who ultimately helped to save the band’s legacy). Mikal Gilmore gets into this dynamic in detail in his “Why The Beatles Broke Up” article for Rolling Stone.
One of the things I appreciated about Leslie’s piece was its focus on the Lennon/McCartney dynamic, as the main “bonds of the nucleus” in the band.
Perhaps it might have rung just a bit truer if he had said “power without portfolio” instead of legitimacy?
I kinda/sorta get the idea he is conjuring, but I am not quite clear on the wording.
“…we learn more and more that it was Paul who was the visionary, driver and navigator of this machine much more, yes much -than John.”
John was definitely the driving force during the early years. But on Rubber Soul, Revolver, and the White Album, he was just as dominant in terms of direction and contributions as Paul was. Lennon was an active and willing participant on Sgt Pepper too, even if Paul took charge, and this only seemed to fester into a resentment retrospectively when things had turned acrimonious. Abbey Road is definitely where Lennon’s lack of input is most apparent. I agree that Paul’s vision and motivation was essential, I just don’t think we have to mitigate John to emphasize that fact, just as we don’t need to do the reverse to appreciate John.
John stopped collaborating. He doesn’t seem to have contributed anything to Paul’s songs, but Paul’s singing and bass lines add a lot to his (and to George and Ringo’s). On side two, Paul elevated John’s throwaways and created the medley; John contributed a guitar solo. Paul may have been overwhelming or exhausting, but he did great work on Abbey Road. I don’t think he was as open to John or George’s attempts to alter his songs, and that may explain why they disliked “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and others.
I read Ian Leslie’s article a while ago and thought it a good article, despite a few inaccuracies (America was the last country to topple to Beatlemania, not the second) but, to be fair, I think it suffers itself from confirmation bias or received information to some extent. Again, it fails to address John’s behaviour towards George in the studio; it is Paul who shows scant interest in George’s songs (I didn’t see that) and treated the others like session men. Why would this sort of thing not cause resentment? Paul has never admitted to treating them like session and there is no reason why he should. Their often misleading and contradictory accusations were in response to Paul’s depositions to the court, in which the judiciary ruled in Paul’s favour and likely for reasons beyond financial issues. I think it’s important to remember that ‘antipodean’ Jackson edited much of Get Back out of context. The lunchroom tapes were not just Paul and John; Yoko, Ringo, Neil Aspinall and others were also there and Paul in particular was likely mindful of their prescence. Power with or without ‘legitimacy’ is the construct of historians. There seems to be some widely held belief that John somehow ‘relinquished’ or ‘let’ Paul lead (because, of course, if he hadn’t then John would still be the ‘number one’ songwriter, right?). The facts contradict themselves particularly when Lennon started to reinvent his past. We see him actively engaged during the filming of Magical Mystery Tour. There he is behind the camera with his arm out directing others. We see him leading the group sing-a-longs during their time in Rishikesh. It is only with the advent of Yoko and heroin do we see John’s ambivalence towards Paul. Yet both of them continued to maintain a high level of creativity from Sgt Pepper onwards. I propose that much of John’s later behaviour towards Paul had its origins in his Quarry Bank days. As admitted to Hunter Davies in the only authorized biography, he had to be number one, had to be kingpin. Once at grammar school and competing with equals, he dealt with it by rebelling in his most idiosyncratic Lennonesque way. And that is meant as a compliment. John knew Paul was his equal right from the start and by the mid sixties the only way to deal with Paul’s unstoppablility and to save face was to go left-field with Yoko.
@Lara wrote, “John knew Paul was his equal right from the start and by the mid sixties the only way to deal with Paul’s unstoppablility and to save face was to go left-field with Yoko.”
Yep. This is at the center of what went wrong between them. And to lay some of it at Yoko’s feet, while convincing John he was a true artist (he was), she half-convinced him Paul was a lowly pop musician (he wasn’t).
John was privately dealing with deep-seated psychological problems that the fame and fortune he’d so desperately sought hadn’t fixed. He felt out-paced by Paul’s seemingly endless drive, but Paul saw John’s power and brilliance, and at least at this point, only glimpses of his jealousy.
From the day he met Paul, John could see that he might pose a challenge to his superiority. If his decision to invite Paul to join the Quarrymen had come back to bite him and he now felt the need to stifle Paul… good luck with that. Instead, he escaped by reforming himself as JohnAndYoko.
Has the basic tenet of the conventional story been overturned though? What is interesting about the Beatles story is not always the parts that have been left in but those that have been left out. There is always room for interpretation or reinterpretation of undeveloped themes, facts or not. Or ‘truth’. Otherwise there is nothing left to say about the Beatles.
@Lara, I would say that “the sessions in January 1969 were very unpleasant, showing the creative processes of the band breaking down, and ultimately presaged the breakup of the group” is a basic tenet of the Beatles story. Anything that says, “Oh those sessions weren’t so bad” flies in the face of this up-til-Jackson completely accepted tenet, which was completely accepted because it seemed to be demonstrated by Let It Be the film, and because it’s both a logical and efficient explanation of what happened next–that is, they fought a lot, made an uneasy truce that allowed them to produce a wonderful album, and then split.
@Michael, I didn’t say that though, which was why I questioned that it had been overturned. However, while I think the atmosphere was unpleasant and tense most of the time it wasn’t all of the time. Furthermore, any unpleasantries were not due to one person alone (or two) and the Get Back footage, previously unavailable to the public, has allowed room for some reinterpretation which is a positive not a negative. Both the Let It Be and Get Back documentaries were filmed out of context and that’s not meant as a criticism: its brief was to provide a fly-on-the wall snapshot of the Beatles at work at a given time. But this was to become problematic. Michael Lindsay-Hogg has mentioned in various interviews that the situation was not expected to unravel so quickly. In effect he was left with a big headache in how he was going to edit and present his film in 1970 by which time the Beatles were effectively finished. He had no choice but to provide a negative slant within that frame of reference.
@Lara, I’m sorry, you’ve lost me here.
In an attempt to clarify: I think Peter Jackson’s version of the Get Back sessions is a definite departure from the story as we’ve known it previously, and because it is such a departure, plus because it’s a much sunnier, more palatable, more marketable version of the story, I think we have to be skeptical towards it.
“He had no choice but to provide a negative slant within that frame of reference.”
MLH made the movie The Beatles wanted him to make. The question isn’t, “How did circumstances force MLH to skew it in a certain way?” but “Why did The Beatles allow a cut with such a negative slant and sour feel to be their swan song?” There were other avenues for fulfilling their UA deal–The Long and Winding Road, for example.
@Michael I remember you posted an article before Get Back came out on similar notes, and I disagree, today as then, mainly because I think the view of Let It Be as a deliberately sad and negative film is too influenced by the coincidences around it than by the film itself. It came out right after the announce of the break up and everyone, including the Beatles, viewed and remembered it as a sad film about the break up.
I am of the opinion that it wasn’t a deliberate choice, and MLH has said so also in recent interviews. As I see it, it’s a verité style film with a good mix of boring, funny, sad, and exciting moments (among the funny ones, some are in Get Back like the Heather moments, some are not like Besame Mucho). It ends on a high note with the rooftop performance. I think that if it came out in a different moment – say late summer 69 together with Abbey Road – it would have been received and remembered very differently.
It has its limits, though, which contribute to its sad vibe: the quality of the images in 16mm, the limits on what MLH could show and explain (George’s leaving the band, too much John & Yoko, Klein requesting to cut scenes with the entourage, which now thanks to Get Back we know were interesting and engaging, etc.), and some choices like putting Let It Be and The Long and Winding Road right after one another.
I also disagree with the view of Get Back as just a sunnier version of the story. I think Get Back shows that the breakup was drawing nearer DESPITE the funny and touching moments of friendship, and for me that’s not too far from what we know was happening at the time from various sources. And in a way it is even more sad, seeing the inevitability of it, seeing Klein’s shadow looming over them and knowing what would happen later.
I do agree it’s a marketable product, and that sometimes the narratives Peter Jackson has absorbed and wants to communicate prevail on facts. PJ wants to show that Paul was sad about the Beatles breakup – he transform a bleak joke into a tragic moment (“And then there were two”); he wants to show that Yoko was not responsible for the breakup – he silences her for most of the film. Too much of this editorializing is annoying and make Get Back not a reliable historiographical document, but still I get that it works to convey the messages to the large public. And in the end Paul WAS sad, even if not crying in that particular moment; Yoko WAS NOT responsible for the breakup (even if she was a factor in it as all of them).
“I think the view of Let It Be as a deliberately sad and negative film is too influenced by the coincidences around it than by the film itself. It came out right after the announce of the break up and everyone, including the Beatles, viewed and remembered it as a sad film about the break up.”
All we know is that it was authorized–approved by all four, and released by their company. And they viewed it and must’ve seen how it was a downer, and been okay with that. The why of that is more interesting to me than arguing that it isn’t really a downer.
I first saw “Let It Be” in 1981, not in 1970. Yes, the received wisdom was that the film was a drag, and showed Paul being bossy and the others not liking that, but…that’s what the film showed. And that reading of the film dovetailed very closely with Lennon’s memories in 1970, and Harrison’s later, and Martin’s, and…really everybody’s. There has never been any secret “LIB is skewed negative” underground movement…until Peter Jackson’s film. Which is what I predicted and I stand by that prediction. Beatles fans want their heroes to be happy and funny and work well together and don’t want to hate Yoko or Linda and–this is all completely logical. “Get Back” serves that audience very well and I see nothing wrong with that except its revision to a stable historical record. It can, and should, temper our view of the era; but “Get Back” shouldn’t change it. It was too uniform, for too long.
“Get Back” would have less of a credibility problem as a source if the multi-decade consensus on “Let It Be” hadn’t been so uniform; if you don’t find it a downer, you are a rare viewer. And that is why it alone of the Beatles’ movies was never released on DVD, even to this day; most fans didn’t like it. And why should they? It’s ugly and muddy and shows them bickering and (whispers) the songs aren’t very good. You gotta be a hell of a big Beatles fan to watch LIB and think, “Oh man that ‘Besame Mucho’ scene was worth the price of admission!” I was easily that big of a fan in 1981 and…I was still depressed. LIB is depressing; when I watched a pirated DVD in 2014, it was still depressing.
When a movie about four guys who were Joy in human form is that depressing, and exists as a photographic record of the breakup for fifty years without being fundamentally gainsaid, and then suddenly Apple puts out a new documentary by a famous director that just happens to be a lot more fun to watch and makes everybody a lot of money…I’m just dubious, that’s all. I’m not mad, I just think what’s at work is capitalism, not history.
“I think that if it came out in a different moment – say late summer 69 together with Abbey Road – it would have been received and remembered very differently.”
That’s an interesting idea, similar to mine about Magical Mystery Tour being released as a midnight movie in 1972 rather than a 1967 Boxing Day extravaganza. But ultimately, all we know is that LIB is a drag, just like MMT is a shambolic mess. (I kinda love MMT for precisely that, but I’m not going to say people who dislike it are wrong.)
‘Let It Be’ is depressing. Whether it is deliberately depressing, that’s a question. Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s original cut that he screened for the Beatles and their wives was almost twice as long. What we got left with is presumably the result of his whittling down to accommodate four divisive egos (or five, because John&Yoko sort of count for two people.) That original cut is seemingly lost to time, so we’ll never know how much it differed, or if it was better spirited. We won’t know whether the 80 minutes of mostly apathetic tedium that made the final cut was a conscious choice or an incidental one; or for that matter, whether the rough cut was actually worse: imagine the 1970 Let It Be just like it is but doubled in length. That’s an ordeal. But like Michael said, just about everybody involved recollected the sessions in a way the original film accurately reflects, which is why, I’m sure, when it came to approving the film, nobody imagined that something different could be made out of it. What little joy involved was obviated in their memories by how overwhelmingly unpleasant it was. Jackson takes the Beatles performative moments, clowning about and what not, and amplifies them into the crux of the film instead of the periphery. Those moments are either a direct reaction to how glum the collective mood was, or a natural response to having cameras trained on themselves. It also asks you to forget that the duration of this perceived mirth is relative to almost a month’s work, and notwithstanding all the squabbles, angst, and business problems occurring in between and outside the filming. All this seems akin to me to somebody who watches ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and mistakes it for reality. But in all that time, they emerged with a dearth of worthwhile material. That isn’t the outcome of happy, productive people working together. Just the lack of realized music is evidence of how bored and apathetic they were. Jackson did an amazing job restoring and making available all that footage, for which I’m sure we all agree to be grateful. But the narrative imposed on it definitely should not be taken at face value.
One of the reasons I am a eager and frequent reader of this blog is that I like how you, Nancy, and others, closely examine the shifting lines between just-having-fun fandom and “wishful fandom” as an easel upon which fans paint their wishes as to how the heros should appear to them.
Viewing, Jackson’s GB was indeed fun. Yet I always prefer the historical record and some rationality in drawing conclusions. Not to make it dry as dust off course, but I believe that the overall arc and history is compelling enough. I don’t need embellishments. In fact, I would argue that a rational and accurate recounting actually affords the viewer a deeper and more meaningful learning experience. I applaud directors who will take the step in this direction. Just the facts ma’am as Joe Friday said might be a little too sterile, but it would help us draw conclusions
BTW, is LIB to be found anywhere on the net? Is there a copy stored deep underground in the seed vaults north of the arctic circle in Longyearbyen/Svalbard? I have not seen it but would lto.
You can watch it in the link below, in fact it’s pretty easy to find in several sources, this copy is easily within reach.
Thank you @Cristian.
I had a most unusual thought as I watched the section of the rooftop concert and the pedestrians on the streets below being interviewed.
One of the gentleman being asked for his opinion appeared to be a touch older than 70. Another gent, standing to the immediate left of another man being interviewed looked as if he were even older.
It is not outside the realm of possibility that these men could have fought in the first world war. At Ypres, the Somme or theVilny Ridge. Yet here they were in January 1969, listening to the Beatles deliver a concert using instruments (electric guitars) and amplifiers that were far from being invented in the early 20th century.
It just made me think that this concert was closer in time to the Armistice than it is to today. It is rapidly slipping into a time when all those gathered around the studio that day will no longer be with us.
…just an unusual thought. Thank you again for the link.
The hours of footage presented to Peter Jackson in Get Back where we see John and Paul dancing, for example, or all of them laughing and fooling around, or working together, do not make those scenes either revisionist or inauthentic. Is it being suggested that they were acting? All of the footage, good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, presented the same snapshot of the Beatles during those three weeks of January 1969. Michael Lindsay-Hogg could not use those scenes because it was incongruous to do so in the light of the Beatles acrimony… starting out then but mainly played out in the following months. I think it obvious that each Beatle authorized the final version of Let It Be because the downer scenes represented how they FELT in 1970 and not because of how they actually WERE in January 1969. This is not to deny the cracks were showing then; quite obviously they were – and in 1968. The Get Back docs show Paul to be bossy. But so what? Interviews with John in late 1965 and early 1966 show him to be happy and funny when he clearly was not during his self-described ‘fat period’. This narrative gained traction, not because of outward appearances, because John told us so. To ‘show’ someone or something is meaningless without context. In lieu of John and George’s quote where they stated that musically they wanted to go in the underground direction (they didn’t) and Paul wanted to go in the pop direction (he didn’t), it seems clear that they did not want to work on some of Paul’s songs. They more or less had said so. In the recorded version of Let it Be, John can be heard to mock the song with his Hark the Angels comment. If Paul at times treated them like session men then maybe it was because they acted like session men. Their behaviour was passive-agressive: expressionless, yawning and gum-chewing throughout several takes. Heck, that’s an insult to session men because even they behave with a lot more courtesy and respect. That’s my interpretation and of many others. If others see it differently then that’s fine but I’m not seeing any rights or wrongs here.
I find the ownership of the Beatles disturbing. We look at them from the hindsight of the 21st century where thousands of bands formed in the aftermath providing templates for how band members should behave. There were no such templates in 1962 for a bunch of 20 somethings, least of all for a phenomenon such as the Beatles. If Get Back provided some sort of closure for Paul and Ringo then so be it. It was their history, not ours. They were members of the band not us. We don’t know how John and George may have felt about it but who has the right to speak on their behalf? The breakup was acrimonious. But if it was THAT acrimonious they would have NEVER spoken or contacted each other ever again. The fact that after 1970, John and Paul particularly, reached out to each other in interviews, in songs, and in letters indicates that they were hankering for good times – even in their
very public spats. It belies the fact that Get Back is supposedly revisionist. Heavily edited, yes, but that’s something else.
@Micheal “All we know is that it was authorized–approved by all four, and released by their company. And they viewed it and must’ve seen how it was a downer, and been okay with that. The why of that is more interesting to me than arguing that it isn’t really a downer.”
Between January 1969 and May 1970 they apparently viewed it twice and requested changes, so it seems to me that, as for the album mixing, they weren’t fully satisfied and probably there were (strong?) differences of opinion among them. In the meantime, the situation at Apple had radically changed with Klein, Paul had both isolated himself from Apple and been isolated by the others, Klein and John were taking unilateral choices such as the involvement of Phil Spector, and by March 1970 the Beatles were actually over. So I don’t know how you can support the thesis that the decisions around Get Back/Let It Be were approved by all four as, let’s say, Abbey Road release or MMT.
So maybe some of the Beatles (John? Paul after the press release? But we know they weren’t really speaking at the time…) thought it was okay by May 1970 to make a declaration through the film that they were over. Maybe it was a commercial strategy from Klein to cash in on the drama (wasn’t the change to “Let It Be” his idea?). Or maybe they were just tired to review a project that was more than one year old, they knew the band was over and released as it was after the various changes and cuts. Maybe it was a bit of all of these things, at this point we cannot know, but I think the director’s opinion that it wasn’t an intentional declaration should be given relevance.
“And that reading of the film dovetailed very closely with Lennon’s memories in 1970, and Harrison’s later, and Martin’s, and…really everybody’s. ”
This is where it’s really problematic for me. In Lennon Remembers John says that the film presented Paul as a god, that it was a vanity project of Paul to show how talented he was, and he seems jealous of MLH’s cameras focusing on Paul. So what was it? Did the film show Paul to be an unsufferable bossy guy or a talented god? Was it MLH and Paul’s showing off project or an intentional declaration on how miserable the Beatles were? It cannot be both.
My point would be: the Beatles breakup was quite a trauma for them all to go through, and their memories of anything linked to it, such as the film, are to be taken as very emotionally charged and not in any way unbiased representations of how things went, especially the closer they were to the breakup, but even years and years later.
John looked at Let It Be through the lens of his jealousy and anger at Paul, and maybe an unhealthy bit of paranoia. George through resentment at not being valued enough, and probably with a little bit of shame at how he throwed a tantrum in the middle of the project. Paul through anger at the others’ lack of enthusiasm and probably (in later years) with a lot of guilt at being insensible to the others’ feelings and not being good enough to fix their problems. Ringo maybe with a lot of sadness at how inevitable it all was? He’s the more difficult to read for me.
But memories so emotionally charged cannot be used to confirm or reject a reading of the film, and I would also claim that they very much informed that reading, especially John and George’s, so it is a vicious cycle of bias and confirmation.
Reflecting about the complex relationship between how things went daily, memories and received views: I think if MLH and his crew had filmed the Beatles in the studio every day from The White Album sessions until Abbey Road, the raw footage wouldn’t be much different from what he took in January 1969, a mix of negative and positive moments. We’ve read the stories of bickering and tensions, that even G. Martin and Emerick struggled with them, but we’ve also heard the audios of them being silly and affectionate, we’ve also seen how productive they were.
We know that their memories were very different. John remembered the White Album as the moment when he came back into his strength, Paul as the most tense period (and he said this well before Get Back came out), Ringo as a moment when he felt very close to the others even if he was the one who left, etc. They’re all true in the sense that memories truly reflect the feelings of what the person was going through at the time. The received view, the one that becomes mainstream, cannot accommodate this complexity, and so it takes one of their view or a simplified version. I’d say most of the times it favoured John’s recollections, mainly for the influence of Lennon Remembers and Shout!, but sometimes it went with Paul’s or even George Martin’s, such as with the Abbey Road period.
“So I don’t know how you can support the thesis that the decisions around Get Back/Let It Be were approved by all four as, let’s say, Abbey Road release or MMT.”
Because if any one of the four of them had not approved the release, there would’ve been legal repercussions; and at the very least there would’ve been a huge stink. (Like Paul’s letter about strings. <--DATA.) A fight over "Let It Be" would've been another item in the lawsuit. We must assume that all four approved the cut, because we don't have any data otherwise, and if there had been serious fighting about it, that would've been A Big Deal. The Beatles approved the final cut of Let It Be. To argue anything else--until we have definitive proof--is wishing. "So what was it? Did the film show Paul to be an unsufferable bossy guy or a talented god? Was it MLH and Paul’s showing off project or an intentional declaration on how miserable the Beatles were? It cannot be both." Of course it can be, @Anna. A talented god would likely be unsufferably bossy. It can be MLH and Paul's showing off project that was MAKING the other three Beatles visibly miserable. Honestly: this is exactly the common reading of "Let It Be" from 1970 to 2020. There is no conflict here, unless you look at "Get Back," and think, "That feels tru-er to me, so how could 'Let It Be' have been false?" Any mass of data is going to appear inconsistent if you take it piece-by-piece and WANT it to be inconsistent. The simplest, most logical reading is the one that existed from "Let It Be"'s release until "Get Back." Watching "Get Back" and then trying to retcon "Let It Be" so that the two sources don't clash is not necessary. In 1970 The Beatles, in their infinite wisdom, decided that they wanted "Let It Be" to be their message; they approved it and released it when they could've easily shelved it, and there was no big stink about releasing it. In 2020, the surviving Beatles wanted "Get Back" to be their message. Both items are not The Truth--they are artistic statements made from assemblages of footage. But of the two, "Let It Be" is the one that was assembled while all four Beatles were still alive, watched and approved by them. Plus, it came out nearer to the events in question. "My point would be: the Beatles breakup was quite a trauma for them all to go through, and their memories of anything linked to it, such as the film, are to be taken as very emotionally charged and not in any way unbiased representations of how things went, especially the closer they were to the breakup, but even years and years later." And an historian might say to you, "We must privilege statements closer to the event, while the memories are still fresh, and before age and mellowing begins to change the story and remove any unpleasantness." This bias thing commenters always bring up cuts both ways. Think about it: if you say, "Oh well, Paul said x because he was feeling overtired and emotional" or "John said Y but surely he was just speaking out of trauma" you're not giving The Beatles themselves the final word on their own story. You're imposing a framework upon it out of your own biases and--while I think that's what fans DO--I would say that ultimately there is more to be gained by accepting what they said, and trying to figure out what happened from that. "John looked at Let It Be through the lens of his jealousy and anger at Paul, and maybe an unhealthy bit of paranoia. George through resentment at not being valued enough, and probably with a little bit of shame at how he throwed a tantrum in the middle of the project. Paul through anger at the others’ lack of enthusiasm and probably (in later years) with a lot of guilt at being insensible to the others’ feelings and not being good enough to fix their problems. Ringo maybe with a lot of sadness at how inevitable it all was? He’s the more difficult to read for me." I don't take issue with any of this, but remember: it is all in your mind. This is treating the Fabs more as literary characters than people who generated certain statements and actions at a certain time and place. When you attempt to fill in the gaps--when you attempt to make them consistent and fulfulling like literary characters--you are filling those gaps in with YOU, not The Beatles. So I would just be cautious about it. "The received view, the one that becomes mainstream, cannot accommodate this complexity, and so it takes one of their view or a simplified version." If this is true about "the received view," it's also going to be equally true of any counter-reading. And so this leads us into a morass, where "what we believe" is simply a reflection of the interpreter's bias. This is common in historical situations that generate too much data, and are looked at too closely. Look, if the common view of the Twickenham Sessions was inaccurate, it wouldn't have lasted unchallenged all these years. John Lennon was alive until 1980 and was asked about this period many times, and he responded at length, and was consistent. George was alive until 2001. Paul and Ringo are still alive. The reading of those sessions was consistent until Peter Jackson's video, and anyone who says it wasn't because Paul said the White Album was worse, or Ringo said that he quite liked playing "Maxwell" a zillion times or anything--if you're trying to overturn a really settled point in a really exhaustively examined history, you have to have really compelling evidence, and whatever new story you insert has to be MORE explanatory and useful. "Twickenham sucked" is a logical, stable, useful reading that does explanatory work: it helps explain the splintering of the group by September of that same year. Pivoting to "White was worse, Twickenham wasn't so bad" begs the question: if White had been so bad, why didn't they break up then? Why did they find themselves back making two more albums in the next year? Explaining via mindstates and possible emotional interactions is just not strong enough to overturn such a basic part of the story.
Just two more points, as I feel I’ve already tried to explain why to me the view Let It Be miserable / Get Back happy is too simplistic on both sides and I see more convergence than clash between the two projects.
You say “We must assume that all four approved the cut” but there is a fundamental difference between “All the four Beatles approved -or better, not vetoed- the release of the film”, which is a simple fact, and “All the four Beatles approved it and wanted to share a message through it”, which is your interpretation, based on no evidence at all except the retroactive (and, as I tried to show, disputable) knowledge of what the message was and that they all had seen it and must have known about it.
With the same logic, I could say that all the Beatles in late 67 wanted the message out that they were lost and out of their minds after Brian’s death, because John later said so, none of them vetoed the release of MMT and they all had seen it and approved of it, and they must have know how inconsequential and messy it was, and the opinions about the film have been pretty consistent over the years.
It’s not a good logic, and to me it’s not how people work while they’re doing and then releasing projects.
“I don’t take issue with any of this, but remember: it is all in your mind.” It’s trying to make sense of their emotional states based on the millions of sources we have. Just look at the amount of Paul’s interviews available on YouTube (and yes, I am aware he might be an unreliable sorce or trying to do PR). On Ringo there is just less material to draw from, that’s why it’s more difficult.
“It’s not a good logic, and to me it’s not how people work while they’re doing and then releasing projects.”
Just as a data point, I have been “doing and then releasing projects” to large audiences (occasionally millions!) since I was 22. I’m now 53. I would say that for me–and for the many people I work with closely who do the same–we are all hyper-conscious of how that project is going to be received by the public, and how we personally will come off. The idea that The Beatles somehow did not know/did not realize/did not care that the LIB movie was a drag full of bad vibes and had been edited to show the group breaking up–that, to me, is a ludicrous idea. Precisely because “it’s not how people work.”
If you want to say that each bandmember’s feelings about the project, and the sessions, and the whole Beatles experience, were full of nuance and shifted constantly…well, of course. But that doesn’t mean that every conclusion one can pull from listening to a bunch of interviews is strong enough to shift what has been settled history for 50+ years.
This very internet vogue of “trying to make sense of The Beatles’ emotional states” isn’t history. It is, at best, amateur psychology, shot through with
1) naivete about how celebrities interact with the press, especially during the 60s and 70s;
2) belief in one’s “interpretion” as being unbiased and not primarily reflective of one’s own beliefs, background and mental state;
3) a sense that there’s some real, untold story underneath the one we know; and
4) totally discounting the fact that these guys were chemically altered practically ALL of the time, with a mental process in that moment very different from the (presumably not high) person analyzing them decades after the fact.
I do this kind of “analysis” all the time myself. Who the hell knows whether John Lennon was an addict? He sure seems like one to me, but I’m hardly unbiased, and say precisely what dog I have in the fight and why. It’s harmless fun, but it’s not journalism, or history. It’s fan-talk.
My belief on the issue we’re discussing is simply this:
From the documents and statements we have, there is no evidence that, at or near 1970, any of the four of them felt that the LIB movie was an overly negative portrayal of a fundamentally positive experience. Later, John and George were primarily negative, and Paul and Ringo less so; and we can reasonably surmise that the legal hassles of 1971-75 might have pushed John and George towards a negative picture, and the mellowing of age might have pushed Paul and Ringo towards a more positive, but never quite enthusiastic, one.
Approving a cut for release is a corporate act; conflict over this would leave lots of paper, and lots of “famous meetings” like the ones where John declared he was Jesus or “wanted a divorce.” If any of the four really truly felt that Lindsay-Hogg’s movie was not true to their experience, we would know, because they would’ve said as much in the meetings on it, and probably publicly, at the time. And there would’ve been either a Klein-like 3-1 vote, or a 2-2 deadlock which would not allow the movie to be released.
If anybody shows me THAT–concrete evidence that the released cut was released under the formal protest of one or more of the partners–that’s good enough for me. I honestly don’t care, except insofar as this is an example of the degradation of something I DO care about: the study of history. “Emotional research” ain’t evidence. It can LEAD to evidence, like paper and sworn statements. It can, if there’s enough of it, and it’s universally attested, and fits with the rest of the story, be useful and interesting “color”–for example, Paul’s depression in 1969-70. But the idea that we can super-sleuth a bunch of interviews and figure out motivations and inner state to such a precise degree that we can responsibly shift basic points in a by this time extremely heavily researched story…I simply don’t agree with that idea. I actually think it’s harmful, especially given the onslaught of deepfakes we’re likely to get in the next twenty years. And so I privilege the story as it’s been told for fifty-plus years, while at the same time remaining open if new concrete, unquestionably authentic evidence comes to light.
For now, I’m going to keep assuming that J/P/G/R’s approval of the 1970 cut means that it was a “close enough” reflection of those sessions as they experienced them. If your point is something akin to “it was more nuanced” I would also agree with that. Indeed, life is more nuanced than a documentary. But we also must acknowledge that LIB is not a neutral issue among Beatles fans; to fans who identify with John and George, it’s proof of Paul’s bad behavior–of HIS breaking up the group. And to fans who identify with Paul, the idea that the sessions weren’t so bad is very attractive, because it exonerates their guy.
To the degree one is a fan, one is not a journalist or an historian. And it’s precisely because I’m MUCH LESS of a Beatles fan at 53 than I was at 15, that I can see them and their story more clearly. The very obsessiveness that makes one listen to endless interviews–the very fascination one has with, say, the emotional state of Paul McCartney in January 1969–makes one less able to analyze the data truly impartially. That is why I suspect we won’t have a truly solid historical narrative for about fifty more years.
I like this explanation of reminding us that what one does when entering into questions of emotions is anything but history.
After having read one (well, perhaps a tad more than that) too many viewer opinions of Jackson’s Get Back, I could not help of think of a thought experiment: Put together a passel of historians – Will and Ariel Durant, AJP Taylor, and Hugh Trevor Roper for example. Heck, you could even throw in Eric Hobsbawn just for the fun of it. There are many more of course. I just throw those out for a start.
Set them down to write the story of the Beatles within the context of their era. The thought experiment that I fancy is to then compare what they would publish with that of 90% of modern discussions about the the Four. The point being that, as you well stated, the history is what it is.
What we as moderns are doing is a lot of things, but it is not history. That’s ok, but I agree we all need to be cognizant of that going in.
@Neal, I’m just observing from the outside, but I think that this speaks to our modern confusion around High and Low. We are uncomfortable distinguishing between them; no one wants to be the guy talking about “Aeolian cadences.” How square! How stuffy! But, see, there’s a real benefit to that–a culture where everybody agrees that TikTok is Important, or that Taylor Swift is a Major Artist Shaping Our Culture (remember when Lady Gaga was that? Now she’s working Vegas), is deeply lopsided. TikTok may well be important; Taylor Swift may well be a Major Artist; but we can only make that determination in retrospect, and retrospection takes more time than our culture is willing to allow.
Historians are increasingly unsure of their own bonafides. There is no “high culture” in modern society, no perch from which scholarship can occur outside of commercially driven public discourse. It seems–once again, from the outside–that as any sort of workable life as a public intellectual is impossible outside the academy, there is a converging where more and more historians are addressing popular culture topics in highly immediate, glib, fundamentally surface ways, and mainstream writers are endlessly trying to Make A Statement, to increase their intellectual throw-weight and make it into the academy.
The problem here is two-fold: on the one side, historians and universities are interested in “relevance,” which is completely undefinable and not their proper role; and on the other, there is a rushing to codify items as culturally important long before they’ve settled into any kind of stable, study-able state. The rhythms of pop culture–from Marilyn to Madonna to Britney to Gaga to Taylor in sixty years–are not the rhythms of history. There’s just not enough time to digest.
So what you get is really popular, non-academic writers (like myself, were I to write something) attempting to speak with the authority of the academy; and then also historians dealing in platitudes because the topic is too recent.
I was, for example, listening to a recent podcast about the beginnings of hip-hop. I have watched several documentaries on this (in part because I was rather distantly aware of NYC in the period of 1976-1987, and then quite intimately connected to it from 1989-2001). The things that the academics said were…not wrong, but they weren’t anything different than any other reasonably smart, aware person alive at that time would’ve said, eg, “Graffiti was an important expression of outsider art, but it was also a nuisance.” My sense is that the material under consideration simply hasn’t had enough time to become digested. It is both OVER-studied and UNDER-studied, with the former causing there to be a strong orthodoxy–a pretty obvious Right Opinion which you can’t deviate from–but the latter meaning that the orthodoxy is still just commonplaces.
@Anna brought up some very good points worth exploring in her comments. From what I’ve also read John was told by his legal advisors (Klein?) that Paul had come across well compared to John in Let it Be. Which is a complete turnaround from how the film has been perceived for decades irrespective of whether people have seen it or not. With due respect, I think many people born after the Beatles ended already had or have preconceived notions about the events surrounding this film. The data is there but the data can also be cherry picked. Photographic evidence shows all four Beatles together with MLH, Yoko and Linda in a room reviewing the rushes. Linda was heavily pregnant so it was probably around August 1969. I don’t know whether this was the last time it was reviewed by one, two, or all four of them. It’s astonishing that people so willingly attempt to charge Paul with machavellian motives for everthing he does. He conspired with MLH to edit Let it Be (apparently). He conspired with Peter Jackson to edit Get Back (apparently). In fact, everything the Beatles did it was down to Paul’s shifty, sneaky conspiratorial nature in the eyes of his detractors.
Paul’s misplaced guilt is disappointing and his latter obsequiousness towards John and George irritating. Neither of them took any ownership for how they behaved. There were no winners or losers in this debacle. Tell someone enough times how bossy, insensitive and horrible they are is enough for them to eventually start believing it themselves.
Those who accuse others of hurting them are often the worst offenders and I think it pays to be circumspect in the quagmire of the Beatles final years. George Martin shouldn’t be let off the hook either. His pot boiler comments about Paul’s songs unwittingly helped unleash a whole industry based on John the deep and meaningful writer, Paul the purveyor of commercial granny pop. So what were the early reviews of Let it Be like? Not great. The biggest gripe was that it failed to deliver what was promised – a highly respected band at work developing new material in the studio. It took Get Back to rectify that. Let it Be was criticized for bad editing, too many conversations and arguments, silliness, and for being just plain boring. None of them alluded to Paul’s supposed bossiness or controlling nature. When asked about the film, Ringo said it was joyless, George said he was aggravated. What I came away from seeing Let it Be was, if anything, mild embarrassment at Paul’s over enthusiasm, his silliness at times and sadness at his attempt in his monologue to engage a clearly uninterested John. It’s interesting that much later Elvis Costello said something similiar about Paul when he worked with him on Flowers in the Dirt. That he is SO enthusiastic, that he has SO much music dripping from his fingertips, he is almost embarrassing.
Another interesting parallel: by the time Hunter Davies’ The Beatles; the official biography was published, the personal circumstances of the Beatles had changed. John had left Cynthia for Yoko Ono and Paul and Jane were no longer together. Davies provided an editorial comment in the first edition to explain that. The book was approved by the Beatles because presumably it reflected the circumstances at that time, and as such had no appetite to bring legal proceedings against an author whom they had engaged to write about their lives.
“That he is SO enthusiastic, that he has SO much music dripping from his fingertips, he is almost embarrassing”. And for a bone fide musical genius, too much of his solo work is just plain embarrassing IMO. That’s not helped by his single-mindedness to the point of excluding criticism of his works in progress. Even when he’s worked with people unafraid to question (like Costello and Nigel Godrich) and acknowledged its worth, he’s failed to pursue those partnerships beyond one-offs. John Lennon was the only guy he’d take it from and that’s why he’s never bettered his work from their partnership.
As has often been noted, while enormously prolific, Paul needs an external filter to compensate for his lack of an internal one. For all the talk of the multitude of songs he worked on during the Get Back sessions, I question whether those that ended up on his solo albums were good enough to be GOOD Beatles songs, and I might be in the minority but I wish Long and Winding Road had been kicked into the long grass far enough to prevent it making it into the Beatles discography (whether Spectorised or not).
It’s becoming deeply unfashionable and even taboo to criticise Paul (like, oh, that’s so passé and 80s) and in a way it’s understandable because he IS a global treasure and his Beatles contribution was underrated for many years (although the pendulum has swung so far the other way that now John’s is being underrated). Also, douchebags like Philip Norman did way too much Paul bashing over the years. But the image of Paul as musical Midas whose touch turned everything into gold is becoming as irksome as the perception of Lennon as godlike guru on a cloud.
Let it Be/Get Back made for some great footage but musically it was unsuccessful. Yes, John didn’t contribute nearly enough musically. Yes, George was surly and sometimes uncooperative. Yes, the whole project was overambitious in part because of Ringo’s filming schedule when arguably he should have prioritised the Beatles. But part of its failure was also due to the lack of quality of songs, including Paul’s which were either trite or required too much time to bang into shape, like Get Back. What’s more, the Beatles knew this at the time, which is why everything was left in the can for so long. And this feeling of producing sub-par work might well be the main factor that coloured (or discoloured) their view of the sessions.
@Hieronymus. I love The Long and Winding Road. I love Don’t Let Me Down and I’ve Got A Feeling too so I apologise for my poor taste. I agree to some extent that the variety in quality of Paul’s solo work can be extreme. Then again, he’s written far more dud songs than John because he’s lived twice as long as John. The idea that any criticism of Paul has become deeply unfashionable and that he’s praised to the heavens has, ironically, become fashionable in its own right. Perhaps we read different Beatles-related material, but be assured that the old 1970s bias against Paul is still alive and well. It’s the reason why he has become hardened and sensitive to ANY criticism of him, not just musical. The British press, for example, still does its best to demean and ridicule him. I think you’ve illustrated it consciously or unconsciously to some extent in your comment. Did any of the other Beatles’ solo work match up to the Beatles output? Your opinion of Paul’s songs, and of the others, is surely subjective, as is mine and millions of others. That Paul specifically needed John and only John as a filter has always been dubious. Why does Paul McCartney need to pass the John Lennon fitness test but not the other way round? Paul did have other people in his life besides John and other factors could be taken into account. His muse – Linda? Living on a farm in sleepy Sussex compared to London? Thousands of enabling fans? Massive fame and money? Expectations? Out of interest, did Eric Clapton and Billy Preston ever work with George again after the long and tiring All Things Must Pass sessions? Did John actually work with David Bowie and Elton John et al or did he just jam with them? After watching John lose his rag on the Oh,Yoko sessions I think any producer would approach him with a good deal of trepidation.