The Beatles – Get Back: Days 8-16 Dir: Peter Jackson

We continue down the long and winding road of Peter Jackson’s Get Back with episode two. At a brisk 2 hours and 52 minutes, this one covers Days 8-16 in The Beatles’ march to the rooftop.

If you got through all of Ep 1, I’m assuming you’re in for the long haul.  And so we find the Fab Three in a holding pattern, wondering if George will re-join the group or if his sudden departure is permanent. Nothing like a little drama to move the narrative along, and as a filmmaker Jackson must have been rubbing his hands with glee when he came across this material.

The BeatlesOf course George returns, but not after a couple of days as the Threetles, during which time John and Paul are surreptitiously recorded (audio only) when they discuss the matter. For me, this is one of the high points of the film as we hear Lennon and McCartney, unguarded, talking about the future of the band and their long-time friend and bandmate George.  From what we hear and read (the conversation thankfully has captions), these are two stand up guys who obviously care about George, each other and the band.

It takes a few days for George to return, during which time we learn Linda is pregnant, a set for The Magic Christian film is moved into Twickenham and Ringo’s co-star, Peter Sellers drops in for a quick visit (kinda awkward). Meanwhile, George has absconded to Liverpool and I’m sure I heard a reference to John Rowles amongst the chatter.

Finally, the decision is made to leave Twickenham (yay!) and continue on at Apple leaving engineer Glyn Johns to have to quickly piece together a worthy recording studio  in about 48 hours…no pressure.

The BeatlesOn Monday, January 20th, all are at Apple, but no cameras are allowed. So, on to the 21st and the mood seems lighter, George is back but there is talk (lots of talk!) of needing a keyboard player. And viola!, the following day Billy Preston arrives for a visit (they are old mates from way back) and stays, pretty much joining the band. Now a quintet the band lays down a killer version of Get Back and they’ve never sounded better.  (I just wish we’d get to hear the full song, but I guess that’s coming when the rooftop happens).

It’s all smiles and good vibes and it feels like John has taken over as “leader”, with Paul a happy second in command, George quietly playing in the background and Ringo is still Ringo. Billy Preston comes and goes as he’s committed to appearing on Lulu’s TV show.

Speaking of John, I love how its him who seems the most in touch with the band’s past…breaking into old tunes like Help!, A Hard Day’s Night or Ask Me Why at the drop of a hat…not at all what I expected.

A favourite moment of mine comes on Day 14 (Thursday) as we are treated to a jam session featuring Paul, Yoko, John and Billy…Sonic Youth would be impressed!

There is more talk…reminiscing about their trip to India, planning the rooftop performance and we get a quick visit from George’s wife, Pattie.

As Paul pounds away on Let It Be, we finally have a band ready to record and to perform. It took a while to get there…not in their time, but in ours…but here we are. See you on the roof!

Marty Duda