On this day in January 1969, George Harrison rejoined the Beatles with the agreement that they would leave Twickenham Studios and continue rehearsing at Apple Studio on Saville Row. He agreed to let the cameras continue to film the proceedings. His other demand was that any plans for a live concert would be dropped. It is known that by 1966 George hating touring and it seems that the bad taste it left in his mouth was still very much lingering.
While listening to and reading about the Get Back sessions, it is more and more clear how much of a catastrophe it was. I've always known it was an uneasy period for the band but the same uneasiness hung like a black cloud over the band for most of 1968 as well. If one looked at the paper upon which Paul was sketching this idea for Get Back, it might seem like a good idea. Sitting around rehearsing and recording music just like the four-piece band they were in the early years. I would love it if "going to work" entailed hanging out with my best friends while learning new songs and playing covers. I think most musicians would feel the same way, which helps one understand just how shitty it must have been for them.
Looking at the lists of songs they played during rehearsals of the first seven days, dozens of covers were touched on amidst multiple run throughs of songs that would appear on Let It Be and Abbey Road, as well as unreleased tidbits and tunes that would appear on later solo albums. The fact of the matter is that many of the covers and unfinished originals were just partial run-throughs, while most of the songs finding repeated run-throughs would be released on the last two Beatles albums. One of the greatest benefits of these rehearsals having been recorded is that we can hear a band learn and arrange new material. What can also be heard on these tapes is disinterest, laziness, and disharmony. It is widely accepted that the Get Back idea was an attempt by Paul to keep the rapidly disintegrating band together. Despite the arguing and aggravation, I guess he didn't want the ultimate rock and roll ride to end.
I think one telling aspect of everyone's disinterest is that aside from the rooftop performance, they were sitting down the entire time. To me, that screams "lazy" and "disinterested." If you look back at photos from years of Abbey Road sessions, they're standing up in almost all of them. Aside from playing drums and keyboards, they were consistently captured rehearsing, singing, talking, and playing their instruments standing up. It's tough to describe to a non-musician the difference between sitting and standing at rehearsals or performances, but there is most definitely a difference. I actually think it is the most consistent and glaring characteristic of their lackluster attitudes during these sessions.
I am not sure how I'm going to proceed with my writings about the Get Back/Let It Be sessions. In my first week of research, I have found so much to talk about but I have also found that it has all been talked about already. I have various sources for my research and it is from these that I piece together my own perspective on the sessions. In an attempt to not plagiarize my references, I think I'll have to dive in head first, consume as much data as I can and let it swirl around in my head for awhile. What I'm trying to say is that my goal of writing a bunch about the Get Back sessions in January will have to now include an open ended deadline. Or no deadline at all. Perhaps it's something I ponder every January for the rest of my life. I'd like to listen to the entire progression of certain songs and discuss their evolution from a seed/idea to a finished recorded product. I'd also like to dissect a lot of between song banter to identify how outspoken they were about not wanting to be there.
I just got Sulpy/Schweighardt in the mail so I'm gonna go and start reading their chronicle of the Let It Be disaster. Some of my other sources are/will be:
Mark Lewisohn Beatles Recording Sessions and Beatles Chronicles
The Beatles Archive (www)
and of course, the music!