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Get Back Documentary

I finished watching Get Back on Disney+. I am so glad this exists.

It took me a while to get through because I could only watch so much in one sitting. The “fly on the wall” approach recalls a dispiriting truth of recording sessions: if you don’t have anything to actually do, they can get boring, no matter how special the artist.

But what a treat! Like almost all reasonable people, I love the Beatles, adore their music, and am in awe of who they were and everything that they did. As a kid I loved their early rock hits, and now as an adult I am more drawn to the late-period studio experimentation.

Their melodies, lyrics, vocals, performances, arrangements, innovations, hits—their charisma, humor and wit. The way they forged four personalities into a whole that was so perfectly balanced.

I’m not going to say anything that hasn’t been written by many others who are better educated on the band than I am.

I remember hearing and enjoying their music from a young age, when my parents would play it in the house in the 1970s and talk about this great, special band that had sadly broken up and never got back together.

And like a lot of kids, I’m sure, I wondered why a band was named after a bug. I think I was quite old when I realized the “Beatles” spelling—as in “beat,” rhythm. Duh.

Though there remains this great sight gag on the Muppets:

We had a tan metal lunchbox that held our household’s old 45s, and the Beatles’ ones were green. For some reason, my brother and I had “Roll Over Beethoven” (a cover of a Chuck Berry song, with vocals by George Harrison) as our favorite—we’d ask to listen to it over and over again:

I was six when John Lennon was assassinated, and I remember my parents being horrified and so deeply heartbroken over the news. And they had to explain to us (my brother was four) what happened—geez.

So there’s a tinge of sadness in watching Get Back, because of the band’s imminent breakup, and Lennon’s tragic fate.

But there’s joy, too, because the guys were just so talented, magnetic and brilliant. And now we can watch almost eight hours of them, still at the height of their powers.

Sometimes they’re annoying—horsing around, singing in silly voices, goofing on their famous songs.

But then they do a take, for real, and—those voices. That musicianship.

Above all, they just had such great, great taste. And they were still so young.

The rooftop concert—that must have been really something. Just to watch the faces light up of the civilians listening on the street. Even some of the older folks, who you wouldn’t think would be into rock and roll—they love it!

Because the band just had an uncanny ability to create great songs—again and again—that human beings love to hear.

And to think most of those songs were, if not entirely written, then certainly rehearsed and crafted in a three-week period, all of which is chronicled in the documentary.

So thank you—and well done, everybody.

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