I’ve just finished the third part of Peter Jackson’s “Get Back,” which ends with the Beatles on the roof at Apple Records, 3 Savile Row after 22 days of rehearsing in January 1969, recording, praying, squabbling, and in the end, coming together.
In Part 3, the group is faced with the decision made by filmmaker Michael Lindsay Hogg, producer George Martin, and recording engineer Glyn Johns that they will indeed play a show on the roof. This is their first live performance since 1966, and, as it turns out, their last ever.
Much happens in the two hours preceding the performance. Paul McCartney, perhaps seeing his control over the situation ebbing, doesn’t want to do it. But John and Ringo do, and George comes around. Once they’re on the roof, all the tension and creative architecture of the preceding 22 days disappears. It’s really a joyous moment. If you know the “Let it Be” from 50 years ago, this much longer take on what happened is incredibly gratifying.
Some other things of note happen in this final section. Like people considering a divorce, John and Paul sneak off to see their lawyers. Paul says he’s got a “meeting” on the outside. John and Yoko have met with Allen Klein the night before Day 20 of rehearsal, then bring him to the studio to talk to the others. Glyn Johns hears Klein and immediately, wisely, distrusts him. John is completely taken in. We all know what happened next: implosion.
But the seeds of the Beatles ending soon is all there. George, emboldened by his new songs actually tells John he wants to do a solo record. He’s ready to leave the nest. John and Paul are secretly exploring ways out of the Beatles, so whoever we decide “broke them up,” it doesn’t matter. They were also each ready to helm their own armies. You can’t have three generals in the same platoon. All we worry about is who will get custody of Ringo.
And then there is Ringo. He gets my vote for most patient, and understanding human alive. Ringo’s lifelong philosophy is “Peace and love.” Truly, how he made it to the end is beyond belief. And the kicker is that once the rooftop concert is going, the camera people are asking man in the street questions downstairs. Who’s your favorite Beatle, they ask one woman? Her answer: “Ringo.”
Part 3 starts on Saturday on Disney Plus. What makes it special is the ending, which was not part of “Let it Be.” I won’t give it away. But you realize, they did go right on to make “Abbey Road” when these cameras were turned off.
My only other thought right now is, if this is what they went through with Sgt. Pepper, the White Album, Magical Mystery Tour, Hey Jude, etc, everything post- Revolver and Rubber Soul, they must have felt like they’d lived an entire lifetime by age 30. Extraordinary.
PS Note to Apple, please include the original “Let it Be” in this eventual box set.