Peter Jackson’s revisionist three-part documentary on The Beatles’ 1969 Let It Be sessions promises to show the Fab Four didn’t really want to break up. Now what’s clear from the first episode of The Beatles: Get Back is that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr did have a lot of fun together. Nevertheless, tensions were extremely high with the pressure of getting new songs mastered before a TV special in just two weeks time.
The plan was for The Beatles to record their new album in front of a studio audience, which would also be broadcast on live television.
The band’s new tracks needed to be sung live without overdubs or technical trickery, and all this had to be achieved before Ringo started shooting his new movie with Peter Sellers, The Magic Christian, on January 24, 1969.
So The Fab Four headed to Twickenham Studios for rehearsals, which were filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and became the original Let It Be documentary a year later.
But now with Jackson’s unprecedented access to hours more unseen footage and audio, insight into the band’s frustrations with each other have further come to light.
During Day 3 (January 6), The Beatles are seen rehearsing Two Of Us, and the seeds of why George briefly left the band four days later are clearly seen.
A frustrated Paul says to the others: “Listen now. See, we’re gonna have to sort of bring it together because we’re all at odds. We’re doing that thing we did on The Beatles. It’s not sounding together.
“We’ve got to be imaginative. It’s complicated now. See, if we can get it simpler and then complicate it, where it needs complications.”
George protested, “It’s not complicated”, before Malc replied: “You always get annoyed when I say that. I’m trying to help y’know. But I always hear myself annoying you and I’m trying to…”
After this, the Quiet Beatle lets Paul know he’s not annoying him, but the latter’s patience ends nonetheless.
Standing up, Paul, who had managed The Beatles since Brian Epstein’s sudden death in 1967, rants: “I can’t frickin do it on camera. I’m scared of being the boss and I have been for like, a couple of years.
“I always feel as though I’m trying to put you down and stop you playing. But I’m not. I’m trying to stop us all playing until we know what we’re playing. I don’t wanna say it because I really just hear myself as being the only one saying it, always. And like, the three of you just sort of sit there, like, ‘Oh, he’s saying that one again is he?’
“And I never get any support or anything. So I just think, ‘Oh, well. F*** it. And I know it’s right and you know it’s right. We’ve all got 12 more days so we’ve really got to do this methodically, this one. I’m not trying to get you. What I really am trying to just say, ‘Look lads, the band, shall we try it like this, y’know?’
After John says he’s got Sunday off and is hoping to compose a “Little rock n’ roller”, Paul replies: “Yeah well I hope you can deliver. I was hoping for the same thing myself.”
During some interview time, John’s asked: “Paul and you are not getting on as well as you did. It’s not as easy?
“In other words, what do you feel about it? It might make it better again, whatever the wound is?” He simply replies: “Yeah. That’s what I was thinking.”
The Beatles: Get Back Part 1 is streaming on Disney+, while Part 2 arrives tomorrow and Part 3 on Saturday.