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Beatleathon

January 10, 2022

Flashback city this weekend. Bought a copy of To Sir With Love on YouTube and watched it Saturday night. Realised for the first time (don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before) that, had it not been for my mother’s decision to emigrate to Canada, I would, a few years after the film was released, been at an East End school just like that, playing for a teacher like Mark Thackery. (Instead I was at a very middle class secondary school in Toronto.)

And then yesterday. My goodness, what a marathon. Arrived at Joe’s at noon and didn’t leave until 9:30pm. Lunch and dinner (Joe’s amazing ravioli) eaten on our laps. A couple of pee and smoke breaks and 8+ hours of the Beatles.

Like everyone I knew at the time, in 1970 I’d rushed out to see the original documentary, Let It Be, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and watched the unfolding implosion of my favourite band. 

Aside from being six and half hours longer, Peter Jackson’s Get Back is a completely different kettle of fish. Of course it’s a long time ago, but my memory of Let It Be was a fractious going through the motions month of fulfilling one last obligation. Indeed, checking the internet just now, I discovered that one of the many reasons the earlier film has never been released on DVD was that “Ringo Starr claiming that Lindsay-Hogg’s cut of the film was ‘joyless.”.

Yes, there is a great deal of fractiousness to be seen in Get Back, (including George Harrison walking out on the band half way through the month. This was absent altogether from the earlier film. Also almost entirely absent from the earlier cut was the sheer joy of creativity they still shared. 

One of the best parts of the new documentary for me was the ringside view of how the title song evolved from a bar of music and a couple of lines about a guy named JoJo that had latched into McCartney’s brain. And turned into this.

And of course it’s a bit gobsmacking quite how young they still were at the time. You look at them initially and think they’re guys in their thirties. Then there’s a close up and you see how baby-faced these four lads from Liverpool still were. As Joe pointed out, none of them had yet to turn thirty.

Also missing from the original (not surprisingly) was what a grandiose pain in the backside Lindsay-Hogg was. 

I don’t remember Yoko screeching in the original (although it may have been and I’ve just blocked it out of my mind). Either way, I could have easily done without it in Get Back, but that’s a small gripe.

Well worth subscribing to Disney+ for a month to see it. (Although perhaps not all in one sitting – it was almost too much of a good thing.) And if you do, while you’re there, you can also watch Hamilton. Bonus.

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