New scenes from the Peter Jackson Beatles documentary Get Back find the four lovable lads from Liverpool as we aren’t used to seeing them: punchy, raw, even a little manic.
All is not well.
In decades of Beatles nostalgia, we tend to see the same images again and again: John, Paul, George and Ringo mop-topped and dressed in black suits, touching down on an American tarmac for a series of wry, bemused interviews. Or, in layer years, on an ashram, getting spiritual with late-1960s beards and elaborate outfits.
The footage from Jackson’s Get Back — which Sir Paul McCartney tweeted out early this morning — finds them in a way we don’t see as often: at work. They seem bemused by their press attention and screaming fans (or at least they’re laughing to keep from crying), and the bandmates, in their late 20s at the time of the recording, burn off nervous energy with dances and mugging.
Jackson describes the footage as a “a montage of moments that we pulled from the 56 hours of footage that we have, and it just gives you a sense of the spirit of the film that we’re making.”
Peter Jackson has released an exclusive sneak peek of his upcoming documentary “@TheBeatles: Get Back” for fans everywhere to enjoy.
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) December 21, 2020
The footage seems to be from the early days of the Get Back sessions of January 1969, which have been detailed by the site Beatles Bible. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Star arrive at the studio energized, seeming at the top of their form musically. Lennon’s new love, Yoko Ono, is in the studio, but so are other friends.
But a problem, unmentioned in the new footage, lurks in the background.
“The two of them were on heroin,” McCartney would later say of Lennon and Ono. “and this was a fairly big shocker for us because we all thought we were far-out boys, but we kind of understood that we’d never get quite that far out.”
It was around this time that Lennon and Ono would record would became known as the “Two Junkies” interview.
“In a nutshell, Paul wanted to make – it was time for another Beatle movie or something, and Paul wanted us to go on the road or do something. As usual, George and I were going, ‘Oh, we don’t want to do it, fuck,’ and all that,” Lennon would later say. “I was stoned all the time, too, on H etc. And I just didn’t give a shit. And nobody did, you know…”
And the cameras that captured the rare footage McCartney and Jackson released Monday were not welcome by everyone.
“It was a dreadful, dreadful feeling in Twickenham Studio, and being filmed all the time,” Lennon said. “I just wanted them to go away, and we’d be there, eight in the morning. You couldn’t make music at eight in the morning or ten or whatever it was, in a strange place with people filming you and colored lights.”
Jackson says he hopes the footage will “put a smile on your face in these rather bleak times that we’re in at the moment.” But it captures some occasionally bleak times for the band.