Get Back Is A Joy

The iconic rooftop concert caps the documentary Get Back.

For me, and I suspect millions of others, it was a Beatles themed Thanksgiving weekend.

We watched the Peter Jackson film “Get Back” on Disney Plus and were swept away by hours of footage of John, Paul, George and Ringo (and the great Billy Preston) working to craft the album that would become “Let it Be.”

As a lifelong Beatles fan, the documentary was a total joy— although I’m not sure the casual fan can brave the 8- hour length— but if you manage to hang in, the rewards are plentiful.

The Beatles have become so iconic that we sometimes forget that they were once a working band, consisting of real people doing real things—acting goofy, cursing, arguing, laughing—and oh yes making sublime music that still sounds amazing more than 50 years later.

Last week, also marked the 20th anniversary of the death of George Harrison and I found myself mourning his loss again while watching the documentary. George was blossoming in 1969…brimming with song ideas and chafing at the constraints of being a songwriter forced to compete with the juggernaut of Lennon and McCartney.

Watching the documentary, you see the depth of the friendships between the four Beatles—the easy camaraderie, the sheer joy they found playing together. It’s really a beautiful thing to watch and does change the conventional wisdom about their break-up.

The documentary exonerates Yoko, but also hints that the lads are growing apart and life will take them in separate directions.

Are there signs of friction and impending doom?
Sure, in hindsight.

In part 1, George quits the band briefly but is talked out of it when the other three visit with him.

When he returns, you see how quickly they fall back into old patterns of warmth, humor and amazing performances whenever the light turns red and the tape is rolling.

The best part of “Get Back” is to watch the creative process unfold and to see how collaborative the recording process is— at least for The Beatles. All four contribute ideas and you get to see how the classics came to be: “Let it Be”, “The Long and Winding Road”, “Two of Us” and a whole lot of songs that ended up on Abbey Road and George’s amazing solo album “All Things Must Pass.”

You also get to see how extraordinary the Beatles were: Paul is scary gifted, John is a remarkable singer with a sharp wit, George is an emerging songwriting talent and Ringo is the glue that keeps it all together. He’s as steady as his beat.

Local resident Max Weinberg, of E Street Band fame, has helped me appreciate Ringo as a drummer. Ringo is often given short shrift, but he had the best back beat in the business and his style served the songs. He was averse to drum solos but if you listen to his fills in song after song, you begin to realize just how important Ringo was to the band. The Beatles themselves acknowledged this saying that when Ringo joined the band “everything just clicked.” He is criminally underrated.

Of course, the best part of the film is the music. But another takeaway is the magic of real partnerships.

Even toward the end of their unprecedented run, the Beatles exhibited the best of what a true partnership can be: everyone working together in a spirit of mutual love, respect and admiration. Ideas are listened to and debated. It’s a creative environment in which good ideas become better with the input of others. It’s a reminder that when we sacrifice our egos and commit to a team dynamic, wonderful things happen. It’s a lesson for all of us.

The film leaves you with so many “ifs.”

What if they just committed to giving George more songs on future albums?

What if John had lived, would they have found their way back together?

But then again, you must be appreciative that we have what we have; hundreds of great songs, decades of memories and now this film—a document that fans of great music will return to again and again to see the masters at work.



  1. I visited Liverpool with my daughter on 2017. Trip of my life . strawberry fields, penny lane , their homes. Cavern Club !

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