(NOTE: My Howard’s Divine Comedy series of posts will continue after the following diversion, an interruption that I was constitutionally unable to avoid.)
And, since any self-respecting Obsessive Music Geek identifies as a fan of The Beatles, it should be no surprise that when I came across the following on Twitter a few days ago…
…my head and heart exploded:
In case you weren’t/aren’t able to watch the video, here are the most salient details:
In 1969, while The Beatles recorded what became their final album release, Let It Be, a film crew shot well over 50 hours of footage of the band at work and play in the studio. A documentary film, also titled Let It Be, was released in May 1970, clocking in at a mere 80 minutes.
This is THE BEATLES we’re talking about! These are the guys who, three years earlier — at the height of their popularity, and clearly the biggest band in the world — unprecedentedly stopped performing concerts. (Caveat: Those were three years to you and me, but since the band existed outside of normal spacetime, in those three years, more accurately measured in Beatle Time, they produced Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine, and The White Album.)
And even if you had been lucky enough to see the band live, you were unlikely to have heard the music very well above the deafening din of Beatlemania-inflicted teeny boppers screaming their lungs out.
Here in the film, however, it’s just the Fab Four and fifth Beatle, Billy Preston, in the intimacy of the studio, not just playing, but going through the process of crafting their swan songs.
(Obessive-Music-Geekness-Turned-Up-To-11 Warning!) After quitting live performance, which freed them of the need to reproduce their music in concerts, The Beatles pulled out all the stops while making Sgt. Pepper, utilizing nearly every trick known to studio engineers and even inventing new ones, resulting in lush, layered, orchestral-like masterpieces that four blokes with just guitars, bass, and drums would never have been able to perform live in any way that resembled the album.
With The White Album (1968), the band started the process of returning to their roots, simplifying arrangements, and in many cases getting back to the basic guitar-based Rock ‘n’ Roll instrumentation that they started out with.
One look at the footage from the Let It Be sessions, including the famous one-off rooftop concert they performed atop Apple Records during this time, and you see the band stripped down to the essentials, playing the most gloriously accessible music they’d played in years, the kind of loose, soulful approach that would inspire millions of musicians, myself included, to place ads in the newspaper and then online, looking for likeminded folks with the goal of forming bands.
(Bonus Geek Note: My first electric guitar was a natural finish maple Epiphone Casino, the very guitar John Lennon played during this period … um, actually, Lennon’s 1965 Casino, when purchased, had a sunburst finish that he had sanded off in 1968, revealing the maple underneath. 😜)
And now, Kiwi filmmaker and director of the epic Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Peter Jackson, has been given access to 56 hours of never-before-seen footage from the Let It Be sessions, and editing is underway for a new documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, scheduled to be released August 27, 2021.
(Gut-Punch Warning!) If I didn’t currently have only 1-2 months left to live due to ALS, I would turn 57-years old on August 28, 2021.
That’s some tragic fucking timing right there!
Bucket List Revisited
In Chapter 41 of my memoir, I expressed my general displeasure with the idea of the Bucket List, while admitting to have indulged in one bucketyish thing that I’m still incredibly grateful I was able to do. (Go ahead, read it, I’ll be here when you’re done!)
Anyway, in the case of this new Beatles documentary, to put seeing it on my non-existent Bucket List seems like the ultimate pipe dream, shot in the dark, fool’s errand, and a million other clichés.
Sure, we’ve all seen the stories of someone having their dying wish granted, in fact the amazing Make-A-Wish Foundation was founded to make this happen for thousands of children with critical illnesses all over the world.
And, I suppose I could recruit a handful of friends to conduct a PR campaign: website, online petition, press releases, social media, blogging, etc.
But, I just can’t do it.
I can’t justify dedicating such a huge portion of the precious little time and energy I have left for such a purpose. Can’t bare the thought of exploiting my unfortunate premature death to curry sympathy and special treatment.
Better to just … um … let it be.