Will I ever write a one-part Holy Bee entry again? This one was intended to be a one-shot. A throwaway, even. Just some random observations and lots of images. But my usual over-writing and lack of editing discipline caused it to bloat up, as if it had eaten fistfuls of instant mashed potato flakes right out of the box (don’t do that). To quote Abraham Lincoln, “As the preacher said, ‘I could write shorter sermons, but once I get started I get too lazy to stop.’”
I toyed with idea of dividing it into two entries.
But no! It’s staying a one-parter because it’s a stupidly indulgent entry, and just not worth spreading over two monthly installments. Word count-wise, I managed to keep it on par with a typical entry here, but all these pictures…your scrolling wheel may wear out before you get to the end. Read with caution.
Anyway, on with it…
Get Back, Peter Jackson’s landmark three-part series on the filming & recording sessions that ultimately produced The Beatles’ Let It Be album and documentary, has been out for almost a year now. It has inspired websites and podcasts to do recaps, reviews, and “deep dive” analyses of the development of the songs, and especially the interpersonal relationships and late-period band dynamics that give this project such dramatic heft. And everything from George Harrison’s color-coordinated outfits to the copious amounts of toast the band consumed (the toast rack seemed to be an essential piece of studio equipment) has been remarked upon many times.
I will try to avoid the most talked-about and analyzed stuff because I’m almost a year too late to that party. Mostly, I want to look at the little things that I noticed, or wondered about.
I mean, really inconsequential things. This is going to get ridiculous.
It’s all about clutter in the background or quick cutaways, and little bits of dialogue that didn’t get heavily mentioned, or mentioned at all, in the hundreds of other reviews and recaps. My observations are really lopsided towards Part 1, just because there was so much being introduced. Part 3 is almost non-existent here because there wasn’t much new to notice, a big part of it was taken up with the rooftop concert to which I have little to add, and frankly, I was getting a bit burned out by my “micro-watching” of this whole thing.
I will assume the reader is familiar with the overall story of the “Get Back” sessions, or has watched the documentary already, so let’s jump right in.
Part 1 – 12:42 — Does the Hare Krishna (identified as Shyamasunder Das) randomly hanging out on the Twickenham set really keep his few worldly possessions in a tartan handbag from Freddy, a high-end Paris gift shop?
Also, why exactly is he there? Clearly it’s at George’s invitation. After an initial meeting the previous month, George, whose interest in Eastern religion and philosophy was passionate, agreed to help the small religious group set up a London temple. Upon Paul’s arrival for the session, he and John dismissively refer to Shyamasunder with a few lines of dialogue from A Hard Day’s Night (“Who’s that little old man?”). Although a tacit supporter of the Krishnas (he let several stay on his property later that year), John finally makes the offhand remark, “It’s a bit daft him being up there, isn’t it?” Daft or not, a couple of Hare Krishnas come and go through the first few days of the Twickenham sessions.
1 – 13:12 — Sticker Time! (1): The Bassman sticker makes its first appearance. The sticker was originally included with the Fender Bassman amplifier that was part of a sweet deal made with Fender the previous summer. The company would send along instruments and amps they thought The Beatles would like, and also fulfill their requests — all for free, in the hopes of getting some promotion or endorsements, or even just having The Beatles be seen using the equipment. At some point Paul peeled off the sticker and applied it to his Hofner “violin” bass, where it stayed through the rooftop concert.
1 – 14:15 — Sticker Time! (2): Both Ringo’s rack tom-tom and his floor tom-tom sport a “Drum City” sticker. Drum City was located at 114 Shaftesbury Avenue in London, and naturally enough, it’s where Ringo got all of his drums starting in 1963. At that time, he acquired his signature Ludwig set with the black oyster pearl finish. Drum City owner Ivor Arbiter designed the world-famous “Beatles” logo to go on the bass drum head for an additional £5 “artwork fee.” Ringo’s most recent Ludwig kit from Drum City was acquired in September of 1968, and for the first time broke away from the black oyster pearl, going with a natural maple finish.
1 – 15:28 — John’s propensity for wordplay twists the title of his section of “I’ve Got A Feeling” from “Everybody Had A Hard Year” to “Everybody Had A Hard-On.” Paul adds to it “…except me and my monkey,” referring to the White Album song. John’s delighted smile when Paul nails the punchline is one of my favorite moments. (And The Beatles were nothing if not self-referential. They knew their own history very well and were fond of reminiscing, at least at that point.)
1 – 17:42 — Assistant roadie Kevin Harrington distributes orange drinks. Too thin and translucent to be orange juice, not fizzy enough to be mimosas or proper orange soda, this must be one of those weird British drinks that they seem to enjoy as flat and tepid as possible. My guess is it’s “orange squash” of the type made by British brand Robinsons.
1 – 18:44 — Paul seems to have taken up cigar-smoking, probably under the influence of director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who was seen puffing on one in the opening few minutes, and perhaps brought a box to share. Paul’s cigar habit did not seem to last beyond the “Get Back” sessions, and even by the time they switched over to their Apple studio, he was mostly back to cigarettes (with one or two exceptions).
1 – 19:28 — George waves off a tray of sandwiches, presumably ham and/or roast beef, saying “we don’t eat these.” He’s either facetiously referring to himself with the royal “we,” having been a vegetarian for a while at this point, or referring to himself along with John and Yoko, who stick to a Japanese macrobiotic diet. George does graciously offer a sandwich to Paul, who is still a few years away from going veggie himself, before they’re whisked away by one of the army of people who are hanging around off to the side of the action.
1 – 19:33 — A cutaway to the supplement/dessert for the sandwiches, now their only snack option: a tray full of, in John’s words, “dry buns” and what appear to be currant or chocolate chip scones. There’s something chocolate-covered, and something cream-filled, but…the Twickenham commissary whiffed it on this one. The tray rests on the drum riser incongruously next to a copy of the Robert Johnson album King of the Delta Blues Singers, a compilation released in 1961, and a major influence on the early British R&B scene. (John goes on to call what’s on the tray “rock cakes.”) Eventually, the snack of choice for the sessions ends up as toast. So. Much. Toast.
1 – 21:18 — Lindsay-Hogg rather tastelessly jokes that Paul should get a wide-brimmed hat and grow payot (the ringlet sideburns) to go with his black beard, implying that he looks like a Hasidic Jew. “That way we could do [the show] in Israel!” Paul is quite clearly not amused. (Many have remarked on Lindsay-Hogg’s talent for putting his foot in his mouth and not realizing it at all. I know I’m in the minority, but I actually grew kind of fond of Lindsay-Hogg and his upper-class twittery.)
1 – 23:45 — George cracks open the new issue (#66) of The Beatles (Monthly) Book. This was the official fan magazine of the group, established in August of 1963 by publisher Sean O’Mahoney. The Beatles Book issues are now hugely valuable to researchers, as they contain tons of exclusive features, essays, and interviews unavailable anywhere else, written as events were actually happening, before fading memories and the patina of legend hampered secondary historical sources. Issue #66 (January 1969) contained a look back at how the Beatles spent all their New Year’s Days going back to 1962, an account of George’s visit to the U.S. the previous fall written by roadie Mal Evans (who had gone with him), and other bits and pieces. (#77 — December 1969 — was the final original issue, although it has been periodically revived.)
1 – 29:55 — George’s seemingly random remark — “The Animals reunited” — is true. The British R&B band’s original incarnation ended in December of 1966, but they reunited for a single charity show in their hometown of Newcastle a few weeks before the “Get Back” sessions.
1 – 37:05 — The arrival of the Lowrey Heritage DSO-1 organ. George was very much inspired by The Band at this time, which had a Lowrey-heavy sound, so it may have been trucked in at his suggestion. However, The Beatles were no stranger to the Lowrey — it was the organ on “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” (set up to sound like a celeste).
1 – 48:10 — For the first time, the idea of adding a fifth instrumentalist to the line-up is mentioned. Since the idea was to have no overdubs on these songs, an extra pair of hands, especially on keyboards, would fill out the sound. (Session pianist Nicky Hopkins, who had played on “Revolution,” is suggested.)
1 – 50:56 — John and Paul take each other’s musical critiques quite well. Paul repeatedly calls the chord changes in “Don’t Let Me Down” “corny” (in this context meaning “clichéd”), and says that the lyrics “aren’t that good.” John simply nods and agrees that the song needs more work. (John bristles more at George’s criticisms, however, but George is blunter, calling the song “shit” at one point.)
1 – 51:11 — As they continue to work out the arrangement of “Don’t Let Me Down,” they are adding some misguided call-and-response backing vocals. One thing I’ve noticed when listening to Beatles outtakes and works in progress is that they always seem tempted to over-complicate, and add frills and filigrees as they work their way through the song. Once it’s out of their system and they’re confident in the basic arrangement, they strip all that away and the final released version is perfect.
1 – 1:13:41 — The first appearance of the Fender VI six-string bass. Like the Bassman amplifier, it was “gifted” to The Beatles by Fender as part of a marketing push. It was first seen when George Harrison wielded it during the “Hey Jude” promo film (although he didn’t actually play it on the recording).
When the “Get Back” sessions rolled around, the band found themselves in a conundrum. Paul was both The Beatles’ bass guitarist and main pianist. In an ordinary recording session, this was no problem. He would just play one on the basic track and overdub the other later. But their current project had a “no overdubs” rule, and a couple of McCartney’s new songs were heavily piano-based. What to do? Enter the Fender VI. With its six strings, it felt familiar and comfortable to a traditional guitarist like John or George, and could produce some nice, rounded bass tones, especially when played through the Bassman amp. So during Paul’s “piano” songs (“Let It Be” and “The Long And Winding Road” specifically), John strapped on the Fender VI. (He’s not the steadiest of bassists, and later jokingly laments he was only given “two notes” on “Let It Be.”)
1 – 1:17:32 — It didn’t take long to realize the band simply did not have enough new material for the “Get Back” project. They had already dredged up one of John’s pre-Beatles teenage compositions (“One After 909”) to good effect, but they were still scrambling. Then they remembered John’s very pretty “Across The Universe” from an early ‘68 session. The song had sort of fallen through the cracks, and was given away to be included on a charity compilation album for the World Wildlife Fund. Then the charity album itself sort of fell through the cracks as well. “Across The Universe” was ripe for rediscovering…but no one could remember quite how it went. The only copy of the song they had was an acetate demo disc. Someone arranged to have a small portable record player delivered to Twickenham so they could play the disc and re-learn the song. If you’re The Beatles, simply ask for something — anything — and odds are it will be delivered on a silver platter in a matter of hours, or less. (The charity album eventually came out in December 1969, adapting a line from Lennon’s song as its title — No One’s Gonna Change Our World.)
1 – 1:22:08 — In January of 1969, there were only four television channels in England. BBC1, BBC2, ITV, and, as of July 1968, Thames TV. So viewing options were limited. Chatter on Beatles studio outtakes reveal that, if they’d had the previous night off, that night’s television programs were a favorite topic of conversation, since they were dedicated telly-watchers and odds were they’d all watched the same thing. George came in at the start of this day’s rehearsal with a new song about human ego, “I Me Mine,” inspired by a pair of shows he’d watched. As he described one of them in detail — an episode of the sci-fi anthology series Out Of The Unknown — it started to dawn on me that this was the exact same plot as the 1992 mega-turkey Freejack, starring Emilio Estevez and The Beatles’ friend Mick Jagger. (Both the episode and Freejack were based on the 1959 novel Immortality, Inc. by Robert Sheckley.) Yes, I saw Freejack in the theater back in the day.
NOTE: Unlike John, who had a bad case of writer’s block during these sessions, George had been quite prolific, at a rate of almost a song a day. Much has been made of John and Paul’s dismissal of George’s songs at this point, but he had been creating deliberately delicate, down-tempo, contemplative numbers that — by his own admission — were completely unsuitable for the type of live show they were attempting.
1 – 1:25:46 — John’s writer’s block is addressed in a kidding-but-not-kidding exchange between him and Paul as they test microphones. (John: “When I’m up against the wall, Paul, you’ll find I’m at my best.” Paul: “I wish you’d come up with the goods.” John: “Look, I think I’ve got Sunday off.”)
1 – 1:31:37 — Lindsay-Hogg and Apple Films head Denis O’Dell show Paul a hastily-scribbled sketch of the set design for the show they’re attempting to put on. Paul remarks it looks very much like their “in the round” TV special Around the Beatles from 1964, but defers a decision to John. O’Dell shows it to John — who had been out of earshot — and John takes a half-second glance and says “Oh, it’s Around the Beatles ‘69.” Sometimes Lennon & McCartney really were of one mind.
1 – 1:42:34 — My son pointed out that Linda Eastman’s voice sounds exactly like the voice of George Costanza’s doomed fiancee Susan Ross from Seinfeld. If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you will not be able to un-hear this once you hear it.
1 – 2:09:48 — A visit from Dick James, the music publisher who founded Northern Songs in 1963 to publish the original songs of Lennon/McCartney. The company went public in 1965. James was a smarmy, schmoozy, old-school showbiz hustler whom The Beatles were always pretty iffy about — and they grow increasingly irritated by his presence here. Evidently, James was there to tell them Northern Songs had just bought the massive Lawrence Wright catalog of 4000 songs. A handful of them were classic standards, but most of them were fairly useless numbers from long-forgotten West End shows and cabaret acts from the early 20th century.
1 – 2:10:34 — James explains to Lindsay-Hogg exactly who bought the songs: “Northern Songs…which includes John and Paul –” Paul very icily cuts him off with “Just about,” a pointed reference to James owning the majority of the publishing company’s shares, and making more money off of “Lennon-McCartney” than either Lennon or McCartney. James takes mock offense. “What are you talking about, ‘just about’?” “Nothing. No comment.” “Very substantially, sir!” “Yes, right, ok.” Paul refuses to even look at James during this exchange. When the friendliest, most diplomatic Beatle shuts you down that hard, you’re probably an asshole.
1 – 2:12:47 — George shows up partway through the conversation with Dick James. Ringo greets him with “Like to see what you have half-of-a-percent of?” “Not really.” George and Ringo, of course, have only a handful of shares of Northern Songs.
NOTE: A few months after this, Dick James royally screws over The Beatles by selling his controlling interest in Northern Songs to media conglomerate ATV without informing them or offering them a chance to buy him out first.
1 – 2:22:20 — George Quits. Although he had been unhappy in the band for a while, the impetus that compelled him to quit that day was a lunchtime argument with John, not captured on camera. (Jackson’s editing makes it look like the walk-out happened just before the lunch break.)
1 – 2:26:46 — The first appearance of Ringo’s wife, Maureen Starkey. I always thought of her as kind of mysterious. She doesn’t really register as a presence in all the Beatles books and media. Unlike Cynthia Lennon or Pattie Harrison, she never wrote a memoir, and unlike Yoko or Linda, she never made up part of a high-profile power couple with her husband. But her character was revealed in Chris O’Dell’s highly-recommended memoir Miss O’Dell. O’Dell was an Apple office aide in the ‘60s who worked her way up to being a tour manager in the ‘70s, and was good friends with Maureen. According to O’Dell, “Mo” Starkey was incredibly witty and observant, and never lost her down-to-earth, working-class attitude. Her speech was rich with salty Liverpudlian colloquialisms, and she smoked like a fiend. “There was not an ounce of bullshit in Maureen,” said O’Dell.
Part 2 – 3:22 — When a delivery man comes on to the set with flowers for a “Mr. Harrison” (who is still very much absent), we discover that the vase of fresh daffodils that had been parked on Ringo’s drum riser was a daily gift to George from the Hare Krishnas, I presume after it had been suggested to them early on that their constant physical presence hanging around may not have been 100% welcome. (“Harry who?” asks Lindsay-Hogg. He might be kidding, but I don’t think so.) Lindsay-Hogg: “Do you like India?” Ringo: “No, not really.”
2 – 3:39 — Paul is carrying a 45 single from the Atco record label, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. (At that time, Atlantic specialized strictly in jazz/blues/r&b. Atco was designed to handle output that did not quite fit in those formats.) I wondered what it was for a while, then the Get Back book, published in conjunction with the documentary and containing lots of dialogue not included in the film, cleared things up. It’s Arthur Conley’s cover of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”
2 – 22:50 — Ringo is actually a pretty passable pianist. (He’s better on piano than either John or George are on drums.)
We move from Twickenham to Apple, George returns, the mood lightens…
2 – 53:21 — It looks like George has been record shopping at One Stop Records, once located at 40 South Molton Street, just a half-mile away from Apple. One Stop specialized in imports and hard-to-find stuff, and was where all the cool people shopped.
George picked up a copy of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles’ 1967 album Make It Happen, amongst a few others. (George would record a song called “Pure Smokey” for his 1976 solo album Thirty-Three and 1/3.) Sadly, One Stop has gone the way of many record stores and there’s a Flocafe Espresso Room there now.
2 – 55:09 — Interesting to watch The Beatles’ basement studio at Apple gradually filling up with instruments. Here we see roadie Mal Evans testing out their new Fender Rhodes electric piano (yes, another freebie from Fender, this one at the band’s request). (Wait, can you have a “roadie” if you’re not touring? Let’s just say “personal assistant and all-around factotum Mal Evans.”) A few seconds later we can spot what appears to be a small Hohnner Pianet (last heard on Help! tracks such as “The Night Before” and “Tell Me What You See.”) In fact, the whole place is keyboard heaven. In addition to the Rhodes and Pianet, the Bluthner grand piano (which we see being professionally re-tuned after being moved) and Lowrey organ have been hauled over from Twickenham, and there’s an upright piano tucked in the corner.
2 – 56:59 — The arrival of a brand-new Leslie organ speaker. The Leslie speaker, designed to connect to a Hammond organ, revolved inside its wooden cabinet, resulting in an ethereal, swirling sound. Late-period Beatles were very fond of using the Leslie speaker to feed their guitars through (a good example is the solo on the single version of “Let It Be”).
2 – 59:05 — Likely a result of George’s recent record shopping trip, there is a copy of The Rolling Stones’ latest album, Beggars Banquet (December 1968), on the premises. And John smokes Dunhill cigarettes. Despite all being heavy smokers, The Beatles eschew cigarette lighters and prefer wooden matches (specifically Swan Vestas — “the smoker’s match”). Oh, there was one cigarette lighter I spotted on top of the piano at Twickenham. It was shaped vaguely like a shotgun shell, and will be put to good use later.
2 – 1:10:59 — Another discussion of bringing in an auxiliary keyboard player, and we see what looks like the initial unpacking and setting up of the Fender Rhodes electric piano, which was already in several earlier shots. Maybe a little editorial juggling to foreshadow the imminent arrival of Billy Preston?
2 – 1:13:50 — “On the chorus, just need it to be a bit more solid,” Paul instructs. They seem to know what he means. “Sing on the top of it.” He vocalizes for a bit. “They’re all like that.” I suppose any band that works together for long enough develops a verbal shorthand, but with The Beatles it’s closer to telepathy. One is always saying things to the others like, “We should do that thing at the end of the third bit, y’know, do it instead of the last part. Or, y’know, just reverse it.” The others nod in perfect understanding. And then they do exactly that, whatever “that” is.
2 – 1:19:11 — I’m guessing that Ringo, like any proud parent, is decorating his workspace with artwork by his child (Zak Starkey, almost 3½ at this point, so I’m also guessing that what appears to be several lines of handwriting at the top of his artwork were added by another hand.)
2 – 1:21:17 — The tea towel used by Ringo to dampen his snare sound is evidently a “Speedy Wiper.”
2 – 1:28:55 — Billy Preston is in the house, and parked behind the Fender Rhodes. His beverage of choice is a Skol lager, an “international” brand that’s actually pretty tough to find in the U.S. (I didn’t look very hard, its ABV is only 2.8%, why bother?), but has recently become very popular in Brazil. (Per Chris O’Dell, The Beatles’ preferred beer brand was Kronenbourg 1664, cases of which were stacked in the Apple kitchen.)
2 – 1:30:17 — Yoko is paging through a book of Beatles sheet music. (Despite her performance art being purposefully “anti-musical” — and yes, a little irritating to the majority of listeners — she did study music composition for several years at Sarah Lawrence College.)
2 – 1:39:44 — The top of the Lowrey grows more cluttered — a half-piece of toast, ciggies and matches, a bowl of sugar cubes, a photo sheet of George, opened mail, and a clipboard full of lyric sheets. Plus what looks like a good dusting of cigarette ash to the right of the keyboard. (The tidy recording engineer Glyn Johns remarked earlier that the studio was already a “pig sty” after one day. The Beatles were never keen on picking up after themselves. That’s what they paid assistants for.)
2 – 1:40:34 — Inspired by running through Eddie Cochoran’s ‘50s classic “Twenty Flight Rock,” George requests that someone run out and get him a ‘50s style bootlace tie (“a black one…clip on”).
2 – 1:40:55 — We discover that “Across The Universe” has been dropped from consideration for the new project because it’s “going out on an EP.” The proposed EP would contain the four “new” songs from the Yellow Submarine film, plus “Across The Universe” as a bonus track. The EP was mastered in March 1969, but never released.
2 – 1:42:08 — John puts on a tongue-in-cheek “housewife in a commercial testimonial” voice and proclaims “With the [Fender] Twin Reverb amp, Paul, I find myself satisfied completely.” Sarcastic or not, it’s just the sort of thing Fender was hoping for. Too bad this footage wasn’t made public until 2021.
2 – 2:01:40 — Paul’s Rickenbacker bass is given a short airing. Although the lightweight, symmetrical Hofner bass was his iconic “Beatle” bass and used for all their live shows (so it was his go-to for these sessions, which were leading up to a concert), Paul had preferred the heavier Rick for studio work from late ‘65 on because it stayed in tune better and had a fatter sound (although he does complain about string slippage). Also visible on the floor is his Epiphone Casino, his preferred electric six-string. Unlike John’s identical model that he’s been using through the whole project, Paul’s isn’t sanded down to bare wood and retains its sunburst finish. Off to the right side of the screen is the neck of a Fender Jazz Bass, one more goodie from Fender’s bottomless well. And we’ve not reached the end of the list just yet.
2 – 2:05:42 — Yoko is on the third page of a pleading, desperate letter, imploring her to do something. Probably contribute money.
2 – 2:06:28 — It appears George’s personal shopper struck out. Either they didn’t understand what George was describing, or there simply weren’t any bootlace ties in all of London. What he ends up with was a purple velvet bow tie. He politely thanks Mal, but you can tell he’s disappointed. “They didn’t have a black one?” John now also requests one in black.
2 – 2:08:32 — A-ha! Spotted Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s box of Partagas cigars (Cubans, nice!) behind Mal.
2 – 2:11:36 — Packaging for Zilco cymbals, evidently the product name for Zildijan’s “budget” line, usually smaller swish cymbals.
2 – 2:13:06 — Once again, if you’re a Beatle, ask and you shall receive. John is now proudly sporting a black velvet bow tie, and George has one to match. (There’s a couple of earlier shots of George and John already in their bow ties, again indicating some editorial reshuffling from Jackson.)
2 – 2:19:14 — A splash of color. George sports amazingly-patterned, shin-high, fur-lined slippers (you can spot his removed street shoes at 3 – 26:18), and he’s holding his psychedelic, hand-painted Fender Stratocaster, nicknamed “Rocky,” that was never actually used for recording on these sessions. But he fondly strums it a lot between takes, and uses it for some run-throughs.
2 – 2:23:00 — Running through “Two Of Us” again. When not actually recording an honest-to-goodness, red-light-is-on formal take, The Beatles almost never bother to do the vocals straight. It’s all parody lyrics, ad-libs, scatting, and funny accents.
2 – 2:28:40 — Here we see John playing a Hofner 5140 Hawaiian Standard lap steel guitar on “For You Blue.” He’s using the aforementioned shotgun shell-shaped cigarette lighter as a slide bar. “That’s the cheapest one, actually,” John says of the lap steel. “But if [George] gets any good on it, we’ll give him a good one,” not knowing yet that it would be he himself that would play the lap steel the only time it was used on a Beatles recording.
2 – 2:35:05 — Sources conflict as to whether or not the animated Yellow Submarine fulfilled The Beatles’ three-movie contract with United Artists, or if they had to wait for Let It Be. Yellow Submarine was released and distributed by UA, but produced independently and did not feature The Beatles’ real voices. (Their live-action cameo at the end lasted mere seconds.) I believe the mystery is solved with the discussion heard at this point. A few remarks from John hint that UA is still hoping to complete the contract. Then this from George: “I think we should blow [this film] up to 35 [mm, from 16 mm], and if they (UA) don’t take it, they’re fucking fools. Because they’re not gonna get anything else, are they?” So it seems UA is indeed still waiting. And it’s a little sad to hear Geroge acknowledge — even if it’s with a wry laugh — that The Beatles probably aren’t going to be around much longer.
2 – 2:38:48 — Refreshment time. Some milk, some chocolate-covered digestive biscuits (probably McVitie’s brand), a bottle of 1964 vintage Volnay wine (classy stuff — 2019 vintages start at $60, and go way, way up from there), and The Beatles’ old standby, J&B scotch and Coke. George serves it up in the true British style, with little to no ice. (One small drinking glass of ice cubes has to serve them all.)
Part 3 – 23:17 — Even more keyboards! They’re bringing in a Hammond organ now (looks like an L-100 model). Just how big is the basement of 3 Savile Row?
3 – 28:20 — Long-time Beatles producer George Martin had been hanging back, observing a few sessions, and letting the Beatles self-produce with Glyn Johns. When he finally steps up to offer some production advice, the dam bursts and all The Beatles start chattering their technical issues at him at the same time, like a noisy classroom talking over each other as they complain to their teacher. (“I’ll fix you, lads, I’ll fix you,” he warmly reassures them. Gotta love George Martin.)
3 – 31:45 — This is the problem of not having a Xerox machine in your workplace. Everyone’s annotated copies of the lyrics all have slight variations, and no one knows which is the latest version.
3 – 47:40 — John, who had been looking a bit scruffy over the last couple of days, has clearly given himself a wash and a shave. His hair has gone from lank and greasy to quite fluffy. And he’s also given himself a nasty nick right on his Adam’s apple.
3 – 47:57 — A couple of quick cutaways, first to a film can containing a print of their promo film for “Revolution” (directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg), and second to a 45 single on the Blue Horizon label by Fleetwood Mac (still in their pre-Buckingham/Nicks blues-rock phase, their praises had been sung by John and George earlier in the sessions). The title is out of focus, but it’s five short words, so it’s probably “Need Your Love So Bad,” a July 1968 release.
3 – 48:01 — I don’t know what the hell this thing is.
3 – 53:20 — Someone snagged a copy of Open City (an L.A.-based underground paper that circulated from 1967 to 1969) with a front-page article on the White Album.
3 – 57:08 — A new toy: the Stylophone Mini-Organ. Never used on a Beatles recording to anyone’s knowledge. You can have one tomorrow — literally — for thirty-five bucks on Amazon.
3 – 1:28:26 — I suppose I’d finally better mention the last guitar sent to The Beatles from Fender — a prototype rosewood Telecaster. It was being worked on by Fender until the last possible minute, and did not arrive with the other stuff. It was personally couriered to Apple, and got its own seat on a flight over from the U.S. in December 1968. The rosewood Telecaster became part of Beatles iconography by being George’s “rooftop” guitar.
3 – 1:42:35 — Again, not much new to observe about the rooftop concert, except why do London bobbies wear their “chin” straps under their lower lips (or literally in their mouths as we see here) instead of under their actual chins? It can’t be comfortable and it does nothing to keep those helmets on.
After all is said and done, I’m really hungry for toast now.
Thanks to Andy Babiuk’s Beatles Gear book, lododrumguy.com, guitarworld.com, beatlesbible.com, the paul-mccartney-project.com, the Internet Archive, Doug Sulpy & Ray Schweighardt’s Get Back: The Unauthorized Chronicle of the Beatles’ Let It Be Disaster, the Get Back book, Chris O’Dell’s memoir, and as always, good ol’ Wikipedia, the Lazy Researcher’s Friend.