The Beatles ‘Get Back’ doco reminds us that deadlines are an ingredient for success
“We’ll do one more just to cover ourselves.” Paul McCartney’s final word in Peter Jackson’s three-part documentary on The Beatles could be dismissed as a throwaway line, but listen closer and it’s everything you need to know about the process of creating art and making it stick.
Here, McCartney addresses his bandmates after cutting what turned out to be the album version of ‘Let It Be’, the day after their iconic performance atop the Apple Corps building in a posh part of central London.
There’s something utterly anticlimactic about returning to the studio when the real highlight — the comeback rooftop gig, what turned out to be the band’s final concert — has been and gone.
But there was work to do.
McCartney and Co. knew the instruments were set up, the iron was running hot. Hit one more take, just to be safe, just to be certain you nailed it. Who knows, the next one might be even better.
Here was a band, bigger than anything that came before or since, understanding the need to finish the job, to the highest possible standard, without needing anyone to crack the whip.
Indeed, at this point, The Beatles were between managers. One had died, the other was entering the picture. It didn’t matter, because the band had reached it apex. There would be two more studio albums, and then, history.
Get Back is a documentary on a documentary, a seat at the table of the most famous band of them all, creating their final works. It’s part myth-busting exercise, and part myth-building. And there are takeaways everywhere.
In Get Back, The Beatles is entering its final days with purpose. Record an album, perform some of these new works, and deliver a live set, all captured for posterity. And do it within a handful of weeks.
No one digs a deadline, but without one, few of us would get anything done.
Despite their riches and fame, the Fab Four weren’t afraid to step outside of their comfort zone and into a war zone dictated by a deadline.
Certainty of grand failure. Small chance of success. Why not?
Peel back the layers, step out of the time capsule, and Get Back is a labour of love with a local angle.
Legendary NZ director Peter Jackson painstakingly edited the film from 60 hours of rushes into what we have today, roughly eight hours of material split across three episodes.
PJ clearly loves a trilogy. And he completed it despite tire spikes thrown out by the pandemic.
Long before he converted Lord of the Rings for the big screen, PJ created Bad Taste, a DIY splatter masterpiece which he wrote, directed, starred in and shot on weekends with his mates.
In it, Jackson plays two characters, one of whom, Derek, who drives a Beatles mobile.
Jackson is a lifelong Beatles fan, handed the Holy Grail. With it comes a certainty of failure, small chance of success.
Get Back is the completion of a full circle for a dreamer who understands a deadline. He worked eight days a week for eight years to complete LOTR. He’s the type of creator who would do one more, just to cover himself.
The Beatles are either in your world, or they’re banished from it. There’s no way to walk through life without being exposed to their music.
The Beatles: Get Back is your idea of watching paint dry set to the voices of Scousers, or it’s music’s Dead Sea Scrolls.
Some will look for the super cut, which like the radio edit is never as good as the real thing. There are no shortcuts here.
If music floats your boat, if you dig history, if you want answers to questions, and an astonishing look at creatives doing their thing with the clock ticking, Get Back should be on your Christmas holidays to-do list.
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This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.