the Best in Kerouac & the Beats, Adventure, Politics, Music, Movies, Poetry & other Lifejoys

Brianland header image 1

The Beatles: Get Back — Time-Coded and Annotated

December 28th, 2021 · Movies, Music

The Beatles: Get Back

Time-Coded and Annotated

Beatles Get Back John Lennon rooftop guitar raised


Some of the characters beyond the Fab Five:
(And yes, it’s five — because in this doc The Beatles become a quintet.  😉)

Peter Jackson — the cinematic master behind this entire production

Jabez Olssen — Peter Jackson’s super-skilled right-hand-man editor – never seen on screen, but is a part of every second of footage

George Martin — The Beatles’ Music Producer, one of a handful cited as being “the fifth Beatle,” dapper, suave, smart and cool

Michael Lindsay-Hogg — original 1969 Director – directed The Rolling Stones Rock n Roll Circus the month before, and The Beatles’ Hey Jude and Revolution videos at Twickenham four months earlier – hereinafter referred to as MLH

Tony Richmond — original 1969 Director of Photography – also the D.P. on The Rolling Stones Rock n Roll Circus the month before – with the mustache, looks like Freddie Prinze

Glyn Johns — Recording Engineer & Co-Producer – looks like Nicky Hopkins – dresses like Austin Powers (as Peter Jackson joked).  The New York Times even did a funny–cool piece about it.

Alan Parsons — credited as Tape Operator (was only at Savile Row, not Twickenham).  Seven years after the events of this movie he would go on to write & produce one of the great albums of all time, Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Edgar Allen Poe) which you can hear in its entirety here.

Denis O’Dell — Apple Films Producer – associate producer of A Hard Day’s Night, producer of Magical Mystery Tour, and was producing The Magic Christian with Peter Sellers and Ringo as Get Back gets started — looks like Milos Forman

Mal Evans — beloved Road Manager & Assistant to The Beatles – been with them since the Cavern days

Kevin Harrington — Beatles Roadie – the ginger-haired kid – looks like Ed Sheeran

Neil Aspinall — Producer / Apple Corps Managing Director – childhood friend of Paul & George, started out as the band’s van driver back in the Pete Best days

Peter Brown — the band’s quasi manager after Brian Epstein died – started as a salesman at Epstein’s NEMS music store in Liverpool

Derek Taylor — The Beatles’ Publicist – originally a journalist, Epstein hired him to work for the band full-time in early 1964

Ethan Russell — 23-year-old still photographer in the sessions – had shot the Stones’ Rock n Roll Circus the month before – his band portraits of the band members are on the Let It Be album cover – cool short 2020 interview with him here.

Chris O’Dell — Apple employee, and later author.  (No relation to Denis)

Robert Fraser — nicknamed “Groovy Bob” by Terry Southern, he was a leading “Swinging London” art dealer and all ’round bon vivant who put on John’s first Yoko-inspired avant garde art show “You Are Here” at his gallery in July of ’68.

Les Parrott — Camera Operator

Peter Sutton — Sound Recordist  🙂

Paul Bond — Clapper Boy and Additional Camera

Dave Harries — Apple Sound Engineer

Sally Burgess — from the Apple Press Office, short red-ish haired woman with the big glasses at Savile Row

Debbie Wellum — Apple Receptionist and unsung hero for delaying the cops in the lobby

Jimmy Clark — Dapper Doorman

Bob Smeaton — thanked in credits — Anthology & Festival Express director


The must-see nearly 4-hour Peter Jackson interview:


The songs that seem to be directly (or subconsciously) about where the band is at and where they’re heading —

All Things Must Pass (January 3rd)

Two Of Us (On Our Way Home) (January 6th)

Get Back (January 7th)

Carry That Weight (a long time) (January 9th)

Let It Be (January 9th)

Bye Bye Love (Everly Brothers song) (January 25th)


The credits run 6½ minutes at the end of each episode.  In episode 3, they run concurrent with footage.  But in episodes 1 & 2 they run with a black screen — so you can knock 13 minutes off the total run time of 468 minutes = 455 minutes = a 7½ hour documentary.



EPISODE ONE  —  Days 1 thru 7  —  January 2nd thru 10th, 1969

2 hours & 30 mins (plus 6:50 minutes of credits)

Writing / Rehearsals at Twickenham

The opening title cards that appear before each episode:

“The ‘Get Back’ project in January 1969 produced over 60 hours of film footage and more than 150 hours of audio recordings.”

“Numerous editorial choices had to be made during the production of these films.”

“Scenes that contain audio-only material have been supplemented with representative pictures.”

“At all times, the film-makers have attempted to present an accurate portrait of the events depicted and the people involved.”

0:40 – 11:00 — starts with an 11-minute recap of their career.

Opens with audio of The Quarrymen singing the early McCartney/Harrison original In Spite of All The Danger — set to historical footage of Liverpool in the late 1950s.

Other than the minor date / age errors, this is a good basic quick Beatles history narrative set-up to how we got to the sessions and film we’re about to see.

Peter Jackson is a *great* cinematic storyteller.

11:00 — DAY ONE — Thursday, January 2nd, 1969

Of note — the band was last in the recording studio October 17th, 1968 — only 2½ months earlier — finishing recording The White Album.

Great use of the calendar to show the days — a smart / easy-to-follow story structure.

Love that Mal Evans is the first person we meet as the January journey begins.

11:30 — On The Road To Marrakesh/Child of Nature (later to be Jealous Guy) — John’s singing voice begins the story, just as it did the band.

It’s so cool to see the Twickenham soundstage completely empty, then begin to get filled in.

Boy — is the editing ever good right outta the gate!!  Gawd — this is GREAT filmmaking!

And the pictures are so sharp!  Wow.

12:05 — George correctly asks, “Where’s the console?  The mixer and the 8-tracks and all them.”  🙂

12:15 — John leading George & Ringo through a part of Everybody’s Got Soul – a Lennon song that never got finished.

Peter Jackson’s doing a *great* job with the title cards explaining what’s happening and why.  The band must write, perform and record 14 new songs in the next two weeks.  (!)

12:35 — Don’t Let Me Down — new John song — first early run-thru.

13:15 — George correctly points out “I don’t think this is a very acoustically good place.”

13:35 — Co-producers of the album Glyn Johns & George Martin first appear.

13:55 — MLH asks the band to turn down their amps because it’s drowning out their conversations, and George asks, “Are you recording our conversations?”  😄

14:20 — I’ve Got A Feeling — Paul teaching it to the band.
John & Paul sitting side by side and having fun.
Great camerawork and editing!

16:20 — the first meeting off to the side.  Paul is the only bandmember in it!  George Martin mentions how Twickenham is not good acoustically.  He wants to do something with a PA, like doing a live performance, because it will “trigger” something.  Film Producer Denis O’Dell is in on the conversation, explaining how he’s leased Twickenham until the end of May to film The Magic Christian (with Peter Sellers & Ringo Starr).  MLH wants a “spectacular” venue for the performance climax.

17:25 — Johnny B. Goode  bit
17:35 — Quinn the Eskimo  bit
17:44 — I Shall Be Released  bit

18:00 — Yoko in the shiny black (satin?) body suit.

18:30 — Don’t Let Me DownPaul helping John write it — they’re obviously a team … and writing together.

19:40 — Paul, Glyn, MLH discussing where to play a concert.  MLH pushing for the amphitheater in Libya — but Ringo “put his foot down” that he’s not traveling.

Paul to MLH: “I think you’ll find we’re not going abroad.”  😆

21:25 — Two of Us (On Our Way Home) — Paul teaching it to the band, working out lyrics.

23:30 — DAY TWO — Friday, January 3rd

23:35 — Paul on grand piano, Ringo tap dancing.

23:40 — Great shot of the colored lights being turned on, creating the beautiful wash on the floor-to-ceiling scrim behind the band.

23:47 — George reading the latest Beatle fanzine — including about Paul visiting official Beatles biographer Hunter Davies in Portugal.

24:30 — George talking about all the songs he’s written – “and they’re all slowish.”

24:45 — Taking a Trip to Carolina — by Ringo!  Then he sings it while playing the grand piano.

25:50 — Paul & George talking about getting 8-track recording equipment and how EMI should be taking care of it.

26:30 — Paul says there are about 100 songs John & he wrote together in the early days that they never recorded.

26:40 — Just Fun  (Lennon/McCartney)

26:55 — Because I Know You Love Me So  (Lennon/McCartney)

27:40 — Thinking of Linking  (Lennon/McCartney)

27:55 — Won’t You Please Say Goodbye  (Lennon/McCartney)

28:15 — One After 909  (Lennon/McCartney) – old song that they loved – laughing and having a great time

Cool early B&W photos and young John & Paul playing together.

30:00 — goofing on Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da. (Lennon/McCartney)

30:20 — Midnight Special (traditional, Leadbelly)

30:35 — What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For?  (written by Howard Johnson, James V. Monaco, and Joseph McCarthy in 1916, a hit for Emile Ford & the Checkmates in 1959)

30:50 — The Harry Lime Theme  aka  The Third Man Theme (instrumental, by Anton Karas, 1949 film score)

31:45 — George gets shocked by microphone.

32:30 — working on I’ve Got A Feeling – writing the lyrics / coming up with arrangement.

34:00 — Mal keeping track of the lyrics with pen and paper.  💖

34:45 — They ask Mal to time Don’t Let Me Down cuz John thinks “it’s only about ‘alf a minute long”  🙂 — turns out to be 3 minutes 40 seconds!  😁

34:55 — Don’t Let Me Down – partial

35:35 — Gimme Some Truth !! — jointly composed by John & Paul; would later appear on Imagine as a John song.

37:05 — Lowrey organ carried in.

37:30 — All Things Must Pass — first time playing for band – John on Lowrey organ.
Like Paul’s Get Back — another song that seems subconsciously (or consciously) about where the band is at and going.
They are all jointly composing/arranging the song.
Really shows yet again their collaborative process.

40:00 — Somebody asks if they want pale ales.
Paul gets a pale ale.
George — white wine.
John — “I’ll have a beer.”
Ringo nothing.

40:00 — George advocates for their live recording approach as opposed to the overdubs of The White Album etc.
He also talks about maybe including “some oldies but goldies” in the TV show so the audience can recognize something – but then says it would be okay if the show aired a week after the album was released.  So funny how they just take as a fact of life that their fans would know the songs a week after their album was released.  😮

Paul looks high.  😎

41:25 — George recommends bringing back Every Little Thing (Lennon/McCartney) from their 1964 Beatles For Sale album.

41:55 — George talking favorably about Clapton’s leads and improvising, and how George isn’t as good at that.

42:25 — Paul: “It’s jazz, man.”

42:45 — George mentions Ray Charles and Billy Preston!  “The best jazz band I saw was Ray Charles’ band.  That jazz really moves me in a fantastic way.  Billy Preston is too much!  I’m sure you’ll dig it when you see it.  Billy plays piano with the band.  Then he does his own spot where he sings and dances and plays organ solo.  Then Ray Charles comes on.  He’s better than Ray Charles, really, because he’s, like, too much!  Because he plays organ so great.  Ray Charles doesn’t bother with the organ now.  He’s just, ‘I’ll leave it to the young guy.'”

The show he’s referring to having seen was the Saturday Sept. 21st 1968 Ray Charles show at the Royal Festival Hall in London, three months prior, which he says in the Anthology book (p. 318) that he attended with Eric Clapton.  It has mistakenly entered Beatles lore that George saw Ray (and Billy) during the week he left the band later this month (and then invited Billy to the studio), but that’s not accurate.  He saw them in Sept. ’68.  And he’s talking about having seen them on January 3rd, before he took his break from the band a week later.

43:22 — I’m So Tired — Paul has red eyes like he just stepped out for a spliff.  🤪
Great eye-rubbing “tired” footage.  👍  This is the end of their second day back working together after 2½ months.

Of most interesting note:  also on this day but not included in the doc was a conversation where George tells Paul about seeing Beat poet Michael McClure’s play The Beard, prompting me to explore that beatific Beat–Beatles confluence and uncover a ton of cool new stuff about that connection that you can read here.  😉

44:30 — DAY 3 — Monday, January 6th

44:30 — Glyn & Paul talking about getting George’s and EMI’s recording equipment into Twickenham.  (MLH & Tony Richmond also present.)
Glyn stressing that this filmed show be approached as a live performance.

45:00 — Ringo arrives hungover hazy.  “I won’t lie.  I’m not too good.”  😁

45:10 — MLH pestering that they should be thinking about the show.  Paul responds, “But we are thinking about the show.”   😁  And John goes, “We never stop thinking about it.”  😁
The band are just waking up, just coming to, and again MLH goes on about it — “Wouldn’t it be nice if we did this show with a big audience?”
George responds: “I think we should forget the whole idea of the show.”  😆
Paul goes: “Yeah, okay, I’ll go along with that.  We’re back to square one.”
MLH is SO painfully out of synch with the band (and Glyn).

45:35 — George’s 8-track arrives.

45:55 — Great edit — George H asks, “Is [Magic] Alex going to plug all that up?”  And Peter Jackson cuts to George Martin, who gives a classy knowing “Yeah, right” smirk.  😄  Then George M goes on to say that Alex rang him up yesterday and said the band didn’t need an 8-track because Alex was going to build one.  (!)
I only know George Martin from various interviews over the decades, but I gotta imagine the lads could read instantly how seriously George Martin took Magic Alex.  🙂

46:00 — Magic Alex footage — he first met John — who made the mistake of trusting/believing in him — like he would soon do with Allen Klein and Phil Spector.   😥

46:50 — You Wear Your Women Out  (writing credit to all four)

47:05 — My Imagination — also credited as group-composed – short high-energy jam – nice surreal camerawork / editing.

47:25–56:00 — group writing Don’t Let Me Down

47:25 — Paul, John & George working on the lyrics / arrangement.

48:25 — They start talking about needing a piano player.  John: “We need a guy that plays piano all the time.”  Paul: “Somebody like Nicky Hopkins.”

49:00 — John mentions “watching that pop show on BBC2.  The Move were on.”  (Roy Wood’s band)  He mentions how their voices were different and “they never joined into a group.”

Paul is very much leading the working out of the arrangement.

50:56 — Hare Krishna guys in Twickenham.

52:35 — Love to see the boys using pens on paper writing the lyrics.  🥰

It’s very much the three of them — Paul, John & George — who are more or less equally batting around ideas.

53:25 — producer Glyn Johns sits among them also throwing in ideas.
This is something about The Beatles — that from the very beginning they were open to collaborating — from following Brian Epstein’s advice, to embracing George Martin, to the carte blanche they gave Richard Lester, and all down the line through photographers and tailors and art designers — they were very open to incorporating other artists’ input.  😉

54:24 — Paul counts in John’s song — like John later counts in Paul’s.

55:05 — George says that what they’ve come up with is corny.  “I think it’s awful . . . If you had a tape recorder now and recorded that and played it back you’d throw that out straightaway.”  😆

Even though they’re not solidifying the magic at the moment — it’s clear they are three equals working together.  (With, of course, Ringo laying down exactly the right backing for what the three frontmen come up with.)

56:15–1:02:14 — group writing Two Of Us

Again, it’s the three of them bouncing off each other.  Paul is definitely in a bit of a quasi-leadership role.

57:30 — The beginning of the “I’ll play whatever pleases you” scene
Seeing the full lead-in and lead-out from that, unlike in MLH’s Let It Be — you now see it in context.

57:48 — Paul gets up and takes his guitar off.  “I can’t do this on camera.”

58:00 — Paul: “I’m scared of me being the boss.  And I have been for, like, a couple of years.”  Paul to George: “I always feel as though I’m trying to put you down and stop you playing.  But I’m not.  I’m trying to stop us all playing until we know what we’re playing.”

58:10 — George: “But you’ve got to play in order to find which fits and which doesn’t.  That’s all we can do.”

58:40 — Paul: “But doesn’t everyone agree that it’s confused at the moment.  So, all I’m trying to say is we’ve only got 12 more days, so we’ve really got to do this methodically.”
George: “I’ll wait until you get all your bits and then work my part out if you like.  It’s a matter of working it out with you while you’re working your bit out.  You know, have you got your bass bit?”

Paul gets defensive or is frustrated.  “I’m not trying to get to you.  I really am trying to just say, ‘Look lads, the band, shall we try it like this, you know?’  It’s funny though how it only occurs when the — it’s like, ‘Shall we play guitar all through Hey Jude?’  Well, I don’t think we should.”
George: “Yeah, okay, well, I don’t mind.  I’ll play, you know, whatever you want me to play.  Or I won’t play at all if you don’t want me to play.  Now, whatever it is that will please you, I’ll do it.  (pause all around)  But I don’t think you really know what that one is.”

And that’s the whole thing . . . that has been twisted out of context and blown out of proportion for all these decades.

George is being totally cool and is not annoyed.  They’re just working it out.
It’s almost exactly like the conversation they were having minutes earlier about Don’t Let Me Down.
This is a TOTALLY normal conversation between guys in a band sitting around jamming ideas on a song.
Even right after this mistaken-for-tense moment, they’re all just carrying on a normal conversation between bandmates.

Even Two Of Us (On Our Way Home) is like a song written to and about the band.  (I know it was inspired by he & Linda — but art is filled with creators tapping one vein that echoes another.  😉)

All Things Must Pass . . . On Our Way Home . . . Get Back . . . all songs addressing where they are as a band and where they’d like to be heading — subconsciously or consciously.  Wild.

1:02:30 — DAY 4 — Tuesday, January 7th

1:02:35 — Paul, joking: “Lennon’s late again.  Thinking of getting rid of him.”  😁

1:02:48 — George, joking: “You’re playing that bass again,” referring to Paul strapping on his classic Hofner.

1:02:55 — Paul & George asking soundman Peter for better mics.

* * 1:03:10–1:06:40 — Paul starts writing Get Back * * — in a way the song is a hymnal entreaty to the band “to get back to where they once belonged.”
Ringo listening intently.
George starts playing along — Ringo starts clapping a beat, then singing harmony!
1:06:15 — Ringo moves to the drums.
1:06:40 — suddenly Lennon’s there on guitar.

1:06:55 — four bandmates & MLH & Glyn Johns talking about the show / concert.
MLH says Denis O’Dell suggested doing it there at Twickenham, but MLH wants to do it somewhere better.  “Because you are The Beatles.” . . .
Paul: “The only thing about that is, we don’t want to go away.”
Then MLH goes on about it AGAIN!  “Think of the lights on the water.  Torch-lit.  2,000 Arabs.  Visually it’s fantastic.”  🙂
Paul says again: “But we’re not going away.”
Then MLH goes at it AGAIN: “I will every day say Tripoli.”
Then Paul says: “We should do the show in a place where we’re not allowed to do it.  You know, like, we should trespass, go in, set up, and then get moved, and that should be the show.”
1:07:46 — Then he jokes about playing in the main gallery at the Houses of Parliament “and getting forcibly ejected, still trying to play numbers, and the police lifting you,” then mimics getting dragged away singing She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.  🤣

Then MLH becomes a full-on Monty Python character saying, “What about a hospital?  But I don’t mean for really sick kids.  I mean for kids with broken legs. . . .  Or maybe an orphan’s home.  What about an orphanage?  How does that grab you guys?”  😳

Some say John seems detached.  Maybe he’s high, but I see him as simply listening and thinking.

1:09:23 — John: “I’ve decided the whole point of it is communication.  And to be on TV is communication.  We’ve got a chance to smile at people, like All You Need Is Love.  So that’s my incentive for doing it.”
John: “The worst that we have is a documentary of us making an LP.”

The break-up conversation:

Paul: “But we haven’t played together, you see.  That’s the fucking thing.  But when we do come together to play together, we all just sort of talk about the fucking past!  We’re like old age pensioners.  ‘Remember the days when we used to rock?’  😅  But we’re here now, and we can do it, you know?  But all I want to see is enthusiasm.  See, the thing is also – I get to a bit where I just sort of push all my ideas.”
George: “A lot will come out of it if we could get the enthusiasm.”
Paul: “I mean, why are you here?  I’m here because I wanna do a show.  But I really don’t feel an awful lot of support.”
George: “We keep coming up against that one, and I keep saying, ‘Yeah well, I’d like to do this, this and that.’  And we end up doing something again that nobody really wants to do.”
* 1:10:35 — Paul: “If this one turns into that, it should definitely be the last for all of us.”  (!)  “Because there just isn’t any point.  It’s stupid.  It’s just stupid.  The people who are being stupid are the four of us.”
* 1:11:00 — George: “We need to be creative, instead of being in the doldrums, which it always is.  The Beatles have been in the doldrums for at least a year.  Ever since Mr. Epstein passed away, it’s never been the same.”
[As confirmed in this doc, and also from doing a deep dive into other sources, it was really the unfortunate death of “Mr. Epstein” that started an inevitable domino tumble towards dissolution.]
Paul: “We’ve been very negative since Mr. Epstein passed away.  And that’s why all of us, in turn, have been sick of the group.  It’s discipline we lack.  We’ve never had discipline.  We had a sort of slight, symbolic discipline.  Like Mr. Epstein.  You know, and he sort of said, ‘Get suits on,’ and we did.  We were always fighting that discipline a bit. (everybody laughs)  There really is no one now to say, ‘Do it,’ whereas there always used to be.  Daddy’s gone away now, and we’re on our own at the holiday camp.  And I think we either go home or we do it.  I think we’ve got a bit shy of certain things.  I think I’ve gotten a bit shy of certain things.  Cuz you know how often, like, on albums we sometimes blow one of your songs [to John] cuz we come in in the wrong mood.  And you say, ‘This is how it goes.  I’ll be back.’  And we’re all just, ‘Oh, well you … (scat sings)’  So it’s like, if we’re doing the show, then we’re gonna have to work hard.  And that means by the time a week from now comes all these songs we’ve got, we gotta know perfectly.”
George: “I don’t wanna do any of my songs on the show (!) because they’ll just turn out shitty.”
Paul: “No, but — thinking it’s not gonna come out great won’t help.  If we cancel the show now, we’ll be throwing it away.”
MLH: “But equally, at the moment we haven’t got a show, and so none of us really want to do it.”
* 1:12:35 Paul: I’ll do it.  I’m not interested in spending my fucking days farting around here while everyone makes up their minds whether they want to do it or not.  It’s like Mal said last night, ‘If you’re gonna do the show here, you’ve gotta decide today.’  And as far as I can see, there’s only two ways — we’re gonna do it, or we’re not gonna do it.  And I want a decision!
* 1:12:57 — George: “Maybe we should have a divorce.”
Paul: “I said that at the last meeting.  But it’s getting nearer, you know.
John: “Who’d have the children?”  🤣  the guy who adds levity to the heavy.
Paul: “Dick James.”  😥  (the guy who’s ripping them off for their royalties)

MLH: “We all need you.  And if you can’t get it together, that’s really very sad.  I think what we should do now is let you play a little.”
All agree.

1:13:50–1:17:30Maxwell’s Silver Hammer — Paul on grand piano, very upbeat, teaching the song to and working it up with band.
George on the Fender Bass VI.
Whistling – and tongue clucking.
They’re all very chipper and goofing shortly after their heavy conversation about the band breaking up.

1:15:00 — band goes to lunch (in the Twickenham cafeteria)
Paul says as he’s walking out: “Mal – we should get a hammer.  . . . And an anvil.”  😂
Mal looks around, like “Huh? . . . Me? . . . . . .  An anvil?  . . .”  😄

1:15:20 — Mal on the anvil (!)  HUGE smile on his face  😍
1:15:35 — full band whistling  😀
Full run-thru of song.

1:17:30–1:20:05 — Across the Universe – playing John’s recording (apparently on an acetate lp!) to teach the band — then the band plays it.
Apple’s Peter Brown seen in background.

1:18:01 — band starts to play Across The Universe

* 1:20:05 — Rock and Roll Music by Chuck Berry — Peter Jackson incorporates live Beatles 1966 concert footage — blending with the Twickenham performance! — incredible editing!!!
This is a hit video single from the movie.  😉

1:22:00 — DAY 5 – Wednesday, January 8th

1:22:10 — George talks about what he watched on BBC2 last night (Out of The Unknown) and then the show Europa that then inspired him to write I Me Mine.
Great find by Peter Jackson of the printed TV listings for that night.

1:23:30 — I Me Mine — “Do you want to hear the song I wrote last night”  🙂 — George plays it solo on guitar.
1:25:00 — John’s unfortunate: “We’ll see you later.  We’re a rock n roll band, you know?”  😥

1:25:45 — Paul face-to-face with John: “Have you written anything else?”
John: “No.”
Paul: “We’re gonna be up against a crisis.”
John: “When I’m up against the wall, Paul, you’ll find I’m at my best.”
Paul: “Yeah, I know, John, but I wish you’d come up with the goods.”
John: “Look, I think I’ve got Sunday off.”
Paul: “Well, I hope you can deliver.”
John: “I’m hoping for a little rock n roller.”

1:26:20 — MLH & band & George Martin discussing show ideas — whether to do it at Twickenham a la Hey Jude or somewhere else.
1:27:04 — George Harrison: “I don’t know of anywhere.  That’s why we came here.”
George Martin: “I think you might as well do it right here.”
Paul: “But acoustically it’s not very good here, is it?”
George Martin: “It’s not as good as it could be elsewhere.”
1:27:24 — John sings his answer: “I’d like to say that I like the intimate idea, rather than the large one, simply because we should concentrate on the sound.”

1:27:45 — Two Of Us – Paul singing as Elvis impersonation, John & Paul dancing together!

1:28:07 — Don’t Let Me Down  snippet
1:28:18 — I’ve Got A Feeling  snippet
1:28:40 — Stand By Me – snippet – Paul lead vocal

1:28:58 — George: “Legalize pot.”  😊

1:29:10 — Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

1:29:15 — George’s Les Paul falls over — hadn’t anyone invented guitar stands by 1969?

1:29:30 — You Win Again by Hank Williams – (a song the Dead also covered!) – John vocal, on grand piano, Paul on drums, George on the Fender Bass VI electric bass – an instrument we’ll see frequently in the doc, played at different times by George, John and Billy Preston!

1:30:14 — I Me Mine — John & Yoko waltzing while the other three guys play the song.

1:31:00 — George plays flamenco music, John does a Spanish dance.

1:31:10 — the interminably intolerable MLH wanking on about “staging” each song until John finally tells him to “Just sod off!” and everybody laughs.  😂

1:31:28 — MLH & Denis O’Dell (head of Apple Films, producer of Magical Mystery Tour and The Magic Christian) discussing staging a TV special at Twickenham.
1:31:40 — they show possible staging sketches to Paul — it’s compared to Around the Beatles, their April 1964 ITV hour-long TV special where they played in-the-round.
You can see the whole show complete with sixties go-go dancers, a young Long John Baldry (Got My Mojo Working), Beatles sister Cilla Black, The Beatles’ only ever live performance of Shout (by the Isley Brothers), and the band playing *to* Ringo instead of him behind them, on YouTube . . .

1:31:55 — Paul tells Denis O’Dell — “Show it to John.  John & Yoko know about that.  They’re artists.”  (!)
John: “It’s – Around The Beatles ’69.”  🙂
They talk about putting plastic transparencies in front of the band.  You can hear Paul playing Let It Be in the background.

1:32:35 — MLH talking to Ringo: “Think of a helicopter shot over the amphitheater …”
Ringo: “Yes, but that’s the only argument you’re giving me is the helicopter shot, and you’ll see the sea and you’ll be in the theater.  And that is for one, two minutes, say, of that shot — and that isn’t worth me going out there, when I really prefer to do it here.”  🙂

1:32:55 — John talking about putting in “blocks of plastic in any shape we wanted.  We could move the audience round.”

1:33:10 — back to MLH hectoring Ringo.  🙂  He goes into some weird tangent — “It’s like four years ago.  And there’s nothing wrong with four years ago, except we’re all 28 now …”  Ringo literally laughs at him.  “Well, yes, we are.”  This guy’s nutty as a fruitcake, as my mother used to say.  🙂

1:33:35 — back to John & Denis O’Dell, who riffs on John’s plastic box idea, “Like Kubrick would do.”  (!)  Denis had actually set up a meeting the year before with Kubrick, John & Paul to discuss them making a version of Lord of The Rings.  United Artists had approved the idea, John & Paul were all for it, but Kubrick thought it was unfilmable, and Denis said years later that realistically the band could never have devoted the time to it that it would have taken.  And now here’s the band and producer 50 years later in a movie directed by the guy who finally got Lord of The Rings made!  — and won Best Director and Best Picture Academy Awards for the third installment. 

1:34:00 — MLH — “If it is going to be your last TV show ….” (!)
Ringo responds: “Yeah, but you’re only surmising that.  Just cuz we got a bit grumpy.  We’ve been getting grumpy for the last 18 months.”
MLH: “But I don’t want you to be unhappy cuz, like, I love you like I love your three colleagues.”
I reckon the only reason they didn’t just fire this guy who was clearly so out of his league and out of place was because they were already under such pressure to write the new album in two weeks they didn’t want to also deal with finding a new director and getting him up to speed.
It has certainly crossed my mind more than once — what if they’d asked any number of the very happening late-’60s directors to do this like D.A. Pennebaker, Mike Nichols or Francois Truffaut?

1:34:14 — John with pen in hand drawing a stage plan on the back of the original sheets.  (Boy, these’d bring a pretty penny today!)

Ringo to MLH: “See, I’d watch an hour of him just playing the piano.”  Then he smiles, like, “Sod off with your kooky ideas.”  😄
Then MLH does make the valid observation that he doesn’t want to do it “here on a stage with tubular scaffolding around it.”

Funny / cool editing by Peter Jackson, cutting back & forth between Denis O’Dell talking up the Twickenham shoot, and MLH trying to convince Ringo not to do it there.  🙂

MLH to Ringo, interminably: “If you will take the veto off . . . ” and Ringo just smiles and shrugs, like, “Fat chance.”  😂

1:35:15 — MLH & Tony Richmond join John & Denis.
MLH argues to them that doing it in a studio isn’t the “one in a million” setting he’s going for.  (he’s right about this)  Then he goes back into his “Can’t you see this at night, torch-lit in the desert” routine.  😮

1:35:27 — Denis asks MLH: “What’s George’s latest reaction to all this?”
MLH: “I don’t know.”
Denis: “Well, you’ve left out a quarter!”  🙂
MLH admits “the documentary is running out of gas.”
Denis responds “It’s really why I’m letting you go on shooting stock — cuz I knew you’d come on the third day and say, ‘What else is there?'”
* People give MLH credit for the original footage — but it was an Apple decision and production and funding.

1:35:50 — MLH to John: “Paul and you are not getting on as well as you did.  It’s not as easy.  What do you feel about that?  It [this show] might make it better again – whatever the wound is.”
John: “Yeah.  That’s what I was thinking.”  (!)

1:36:20 — Everybody moves to a group meeting around the grand piano.
Paul: “An outdoor scene has to be in England.”
Denis: “It’s too bloody cold.”
Paul mentions the super-ornate & gorgeous Tower Ballroom in London.  [click on this link and see this room!  😉]
George suggests them doing it as “a nightclub act.  Just the smoochy low lights and about ten people.”  [they ended up with a seated audience of four on the roof!]
MLH keeps stressing the audience “really ought to be the whole world.”
Denis says they’re now circling back to the Sabratha amphitheater in Libya.
MLH: “I don’t think anything is going to beat a perfect acoustic place by the water out of doors.”
Denis begins advocating for the amphitheater.
1:38:35 — John arrives and joins conversation.
MLH: “We’re off to Africa.”
Paul: “No we’re not.”  🤣
George: “What is the point of doing it abroad?  I’d much rather do it here, and then go away.”
John seems to like the outdoor amphitheater idea: “It’s like having the most fantastic set on earth.”
Ringo: “But how many are going to be looking at the set besides us and him?”
John mentions how “Every time we’ve done an album, we’ve said, ‘Why are we stuck in EMI?’  We could be doing it in L.A.  We could be in France.  And here we are again, building another bloody castle around us.”
Paul: “Well said, John.  Well said!”
John: “And this time we do it there.  I’d be thrilled to do it — timing it so as the sun came up just on the middle eight.”
John: “Just give me one reason to stay here.”
Ringo: “For the people!”
John: “The people?  That’s the only reason.  Alright, so we take ’em with us.”
Paul: “Look, we were gonna give tickets away at this door here.  We’d give out those tickets, but they include a boat ride as well.”
MLH: “We take them with us, and that’s the show.”
George: “It’s just impractical to try and get all these —”
Paul: “But it’s not, you see —”
George: ” — lug all them people there, and try and get all that equipment …”
John: “That’s not our problem.”
George: “Of course it’s our problem.”  [good for George!]

1:40:15 — WHAT is with MLH and these stupid code names for the bandmembers?  NOBODY uses them but him.  The guy is so infantile and so off-base so often!  For the life of him, he can’t play in the key of the song being played around him.

Paul: “So, like, I’ll come in with you, as long as you can get a couple of boats, like the QE2.”

George: “And then we’re stuck with a bloody big boatload of people for two weeks.  😄  At least you can go home from here.  You can get away from it all.  I think the idea of the boat is completely insane.  It’s very expensive and insane.  Who’s gonna cough up for that?  They haven’t even made back the money it cost to buy the film for Magical Mystery Tour.”  (!)  Boy, it sure comes across in the many hours of this doc how absolutely essential George was to this magical alchemy.

John: “We should be able to get the boat for the publicity they get from it.”

George: “They won’t even give us a free Fender amp!”  😂

Denis: “You’d love the place.”

George: “I may love the place, but I’d rather do the show here, and then go and love the place.”  😂

Ringo rightly asks: “How are you going to get a ship in a couple of days?”
John: “We got the American Navy for How I Won The War.”
Shows footage from the 1967 Richard Lester film.
Ringo: “I was there.  Yes, I know.  But they were passing by and you only used them for a few hours.”

It ends with MLH trying to get them to agree to the Libya idea, and bandleader John lays it down – “We’ll mull it over tonight.  Leave it in the air and just think about it.  We can all say yes now and somebody can decide no tomorrow.”  [see, also: tomorrow]  🤣

1:42:15 — DAY SIX — Thursday, January 9th

1:42:20 — Paul brings Linda to Twickenham

1:43:12 — Another Day by Paul & Linda — Paul solo on grand piano

1:43:40 — The Long And Winding RoadPaul running thru it solo on the grand.

1:43:55 — Ringo to MLH: “I went off the boat, actually.”
MLH keeps arguing for the show being for “the world.”
Ringo says: “The biggest part of our world is America and England.”

1:44:50 — Paul and Mal discuss locations for the show.
Paul suggests doing it on a farm in Scotland. (where he bought a farm in 1966 and would retreat later this year as the band dissolved)

1:45:20 — Mal asks Paul if he ever saw The Wizard of Oz  🙂  and Paul says No!!

1:45:52 — Mal helping Paul write the lyrics to Long & Winding Road!

1:46:25 — MLH & Linda praising Ringo.  Linda: “I feel the most relaxed around Ring.”

1:47:35 — Golden Slumbers — early take – Paul solo on grand piano – with Ringo sitting at his side.

1:47:42 — Linda taking pictures.  And Peter Jackson incorporating them!  Wow!  😉

1:48:58— George arrives.

1:49:40 — Carry That Weight — Paul’s song for Ringo to sing!
George and Ringo gather around the piano and sing it with Paul.
Another song about what they were all going through to add to All Things Must Pass, On Our Way Home, Get Back, & Let It Be.

1:50:53 — the beautiful (Grateful Dead-like) The Castle of the King of the Birds  (!)  (writing credit to all four Beatles) – George on drums!  😮

1:51:25 — For You Blue — George song, on acoustic guitar.  Paul on grand piano.

1:53:00 — Get Back again — the version condemning white nationalism.

1:55:00 — Commonwealth  (Lennon/McCartney) — the commentary song on British racism — Yoko dancing in her seat!  John & Paul laughing together.

1:58:30 — She Came in Through The Bathroom Window — great
John on grand piano.
Fantastic film editing!

2:01:05 — Mal mentions it was Elvis’s 34th birthday yesterday.
John salutes “God bless our gracious king.”  😁

2:01:20 — George talking about locations for the show.
George: “Shall we do some other people’s tunes as well?  That’d be nice.”
John: “I don’t know any.  I can only just bear doing your lot’s songs.”  🤣
George: “Some other people’s songs are much better than ours.”
John: “That’s why I don’t learn them.”  😂
[Sure wish George would have mentioned some songwriters or songs he admired!]

2:01:50 — Honey Hush by Big Joe Turner for ten seconds

2:02:05 — For You Blue for a few seconds

2:02:35 — Suzy Parker – Beatles original, composition credited to all four – John lead vocal

2:03:05 — House of the Rising Son for a few seconds

2:03:33 — Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind — 30 touching seconds of George on acoustic guitar singing Dylan

2:04:00 — Across The Universe — goofing version

2:04:25 — Shakin’ In The Sixties — goofing riff

2:04:55 — Let It Be — serious Paul solo on piano run-thru — great version.
Linda taking pictures.
2:06:10 — Linda & Yoko talking.
John playing the Fender Bass VI.
Glyn definitely helping with the arrangement (again).
More great visual editing by Peter Jackson.

2:08:05 — Let It Be take two — vocal harmonies
2:08:40 — Yoko & Linda talking again.

2:09:40 — DAY 7 — Friday, January 10th

2:09:45 — weird awkward scene with music publisher Dick James – reviewing the Northern Songs catalog.  Paul doesn’t seem to like/trust him.
2:12:50 — Ringo to George: “Would you like to see what you have half a percent of?”  😢

2:13:20 — George: “Neil [Aspinall] would like us to have a meeting.  He was very excited.”
John: “Was he?  Good news?”
George: “Yes, very.”
John: “Oh, alright, I’ll come for good news.”  😁

2:14:13 — Get Back – rockin crazy high-energy version

2:14:30 — Hi-Heel Sneakers (by Tommy Tucker) – John lead vocal

2:15:00–2:21:05 — Get Back
2:15:10 — shots of Glyn Johns’ makeshift recording console room.
John & Paul face-to-face, happy, working out the chords.
Jamming it / rocking it out / having fun.
It’s a beautiful thing to see them collectively working together.
Paul writing / working out the arrangement with the band; and then the lyrics.
Paul is being critical of George’s contributions.  😥

2:21:05 — Two Of Us — cool film editing.

2:22:20 — George leaves band — when they break for lunch — ie; early in the day
George to John: “I think I’ll be leaving the band now”
John: “When?”
George: “Now.”

George: “Get a replacement.  Write into NME and get a few people.”
Mal: “I’ll ask George Martin to see about residuals.”

2:22:57 — Film shows George’s diary!!  Is this real?!?  It presents it as real.

Friday January 10th, 1969:
“Got up, went to Twickenham, rehearsed until lunchtime – left the Beatles – went home.”

2:23:40 — I’ve Got A Feeling / Don’t Let Me Down — just the trio — almost primal scream therapy versions.
2:24:30 — Yoko “singing”
2:25:25 — Paul on drums
2:25:30 — Ringo’s funny faux radio report – “The big sound of 1969.”  😁

2:25:49 — Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

2:25:51 — Paul playing on scaffolding like a monkey-gym.

2:26:06 — MLH still pimping his show while the band is breaking up in front of him (!) I don’t know if I hate this guy or just strongly dislike him.
MLH: “Maybe for the show you could just say George was sick.”  😮
John: “No.  I mean, if he leaves, he leaves.”

2:26:18 — John: “If he doesn’t come back by Tuesday, we get Clapton.”
Yoko at the microphone singing “John John John” (!?)

2:26:45 — Maureen Starkey’s first appearance!  (aka Mo)  Soon to be a hero of the story.  💓
and Neil Aspinall — Apple Corps Managing Director – two people who were there from the Cavern onwards
— both appear on the scene — undoubtably because of the new band crisis — sitting in the chair circle on the soundstage.

2:26:53 — Neil: “Really, the box that George is in, it’s him versus John & Paul, when it comes to what they’re gonna do and what they’re gonna play.  You try doing that for a few months, you’re gonna end up pissed off.”

2:27:08 — George Martin: “They’re our songwriting team, and he’s his own team.  And if he’s not working on his own song …”
MLH: “Yes but, John & Paul aren’t writing together much anymore, are they, really?”
George Martin: “Nevertheless, they’re still a team.”

2:27:20 — Paul jokes to Maureen — “A-7 … D-7 … G-7 — get ’em off over the weekend and you’re in.”  🤣
I love the love between Paul and Mo.  ❤️‍🩹

2:27:27 — band meeting in chairs on the soundstage – also with George Martin, Neil Aspinall, MLH & Glyn Johns.
John approaches — “So, cats and kittens, what we gonna do?”  🙂

2:27:41 — MLH talks about being an actor and working with Orson Welles.  (There was an unsubstantiated rumor MLH was Welles’s son.)  He talks about Welles quitting a production — but he came back an hour later.

They sure don’t seem worried about George leaving.

2:28:05 — Paul: “The Mersey Beat Award for Best Couple of The Year goes to John & Yoko.”  🙂

2:28:20 — Paul: “I think we should do the show in The Cavern.”  (!)
George Martin: “Location isn’t really a main problem at the moment.”

2:28:35 — George’s song Isn’t It a Pity starts playing over somber-looking faces.

* 2:29:10 — John, Paul & Ringo all huddle and embrace with coats on by the scaffolding.

Title card:
“John, Paul & Ringo decide to meet with George, hoping to convince him to rejoin the band.”

2:29:29 — Image of Ringo’s beautiful house.
Title card:
“On Sunday [Jan. 12th], the four Beatles, along with Yoko & Linda, meet at Ringo’s house.”

. . .  fade to black  . . .

“The meeting does not go well.”

2:29:50 — Credits start — they’re 6 mins 50 secs long.
The song credits are unique to each episode, and songs are listed in the order they appeared in the episode.

Recording of Isn’t It A Pity by George plays over closing footage and credits.

Then The Castle of the King of the Birds  (!)  (like the Grateful Dead’s Fire on The Mountain)


Re: George leaving the band:

Peter Jackson said in that must-see 4-hour discussion about the film (in the YouTube link at the top of this page) that at the time George left the band he was also having a domestic crisis at home, which Jackson didn’t include in the doc, in part because there was probably no audio or video of it, and also he didn’t want to get into those kinds of personal side stories.  But Pattie Boyd writes about it in her memoir Wonderful Tonight that at this exact time in early January ’69, George was having an affair with a 20-year-old French girl (Charlotte Martin), and Pattie actually left him over it.  Plus his mother was seriously ill up in Liverpool (necessitating George’s trip there mentioned in episode two), so there were serious external pressures in his life besides whatever was going on with the band.


Some Post-Episode-One Observations, written and posted online before Episode Two was released:

In interviews, Peter Jackson tells the story of how, back in 2017, 29 seconds of silent unseen Beatles footage was uncovered from when they were filming Help — and how it became a news story all over the world.  😮 Even if you subtract the original film’s entire 81 minutes from this 455 — that still leaves well over six hours of footage of unseen footage!  You can catch the 29 seconds here.

GREAT sound editing — including inserting the sound of pages turning when they’re flipping through a magazine (or birds chirping with the photo of Ringo’s house in the next episode) and other such subtleties that help bring the images more to life.

And the film editing is just f’ing BRILLIANT.

Upon second viewing I’m choked up / crying in joy.  This is SO well made!

I find my mouth hanging open so often when I’m watching this.  🙂  I’m literally jaw-dropped.  😮

This is the greatest movie ever made!  🙂  or so I think right now.  😄

Glyn Jones is really the album’s producer — George Martin isn’t there very much at Twickenham.

Phil Lesh was a trumpet player — then was enlisted as the bass player.
Paul McCartney was a guitarist — then morphed into being the bass player.

“Liverpool is the capitol of Ireland.”  Paul in McCartney 3,2,1.

I know Peter Jackson praises Michael Lindsay-Hogg, but Hogg f’ed up.
He missed the joy; and he misrepresented what happened.
He was as misguided in his documentary choices as he was in his insistence of the show being in Libya.

I don’t know how songwriting royalties work on streaming services — but a LOT of songwriters (or their estates or whatever) are gonna get nice paycheques from this.

John & Paul are really a creative partnership, no matter who comes up with the song first.

This has clearly joined Don’t Look Back, Woodstock and The Last Waltz as one of the greatest rock docs ever made — it’s just whatever order ya wanna rank ’em.  😉




EPISODE TWO — Days 8 thru 16 — January 13th thru 25th, 1969

2 hours & 47 mins  (plus 6½minutes of credits)

Rehearsing / Recording at Savile Row

0:55 Day 8 — Monday, January 13th, 1969 — still in Twickenham

2:05 — Ringo, Mal, MLH, Tony Richmond & Kevin Harrington talking about the band meeting yesterday with George.
Ringo: “It started out fine, then it all sort of fell apart in the end.”

2:35 — MLH on the state of the documentary.

2:57 — Flowers arrive “for Mr. Harrison.”  (from the Hare Krishna people)
MLH: “Harry who?”  😂  

3:40 — Paul & Linda arrive.

4:30 — Neil Aspinall (Apple’s Managing Director) — frizzy hair — joins.  Then Glyn Johns also joins.

4:35 — Sitting in a circle of chairs in Twickenham:
Paul, Linda, Ringo, Tony Richmond, Glyn Johns, MLH, Kevin Harrington, Neil Aspinall.

4:50 — Linda saying that at the George meeting yesterday Yoko was speaking for John and she doesn’t think he (John) “believes any of that.”  (!)
Paul says George walked out, saying, “I’ll see ya.”

5:10 — Long riff by Paul about John & Yoko — defends them as a couple.  He REALLY doesn’t mind her being there.
5:20 — Paul: “If it came to a push between Yoko and the Beatles, it’s Yoko, you know.”

5:40 — MLH: “When John and I were talking the other day, John said he really didn’t want to not be a Beatle.”

5:50 — MLH asks about Paul & John writing together.
Paul: “We’ve cooled it because we’re not playing together.” … “We used to live together, in the same hotels, get up at the same time every morning …”
Paul: “Musically we can play better than we ever have before.”
Paul: “It’s difficult starting out from scratch with Yoko there.  I start writing about white walls cuz I think John & Yoko would like that, but they wouldn’t.”

6:30 — Paul: “She’s great.  She really is alright.”
Paul: — “It’s silly for anybody to say, No you can’t do that.”

7:09 — Paul: “For them to be able to compromise, I have to be able to compromise first.”

7:18 — Paul: “We probably do need a central daddy figure to say, you know, ‘Nine o’clock, leave your girls at home, lads.'”

7:30 — Paul: “It’s gonna be such an incredible sort of comical thing, like, in 50 years time  (!)  ‘They broke up cuz Yoko sat on an amp.'”

Paul & Ringo start bringing their girlfriends/wives to the studios after John brought Yoko.  This is a great thing breaking the old-school world of women being second class citizens, and as reflected in John’s song on Sometime In New York City

8:25 — MLH and Paul talking about short-term plans.

9:00 — Paul’s news bulletin show idea — and the final bulletin would be “The Beatles have broken up.”  (!)

9:35 — “And then there were two.”  Paul says, looking sad, teary eyed.  [And, ironically, it’s the two who are the only two still living in 2021.]

10:20 — Linda — “We looked at Help the other night, and Hard Day’s Night, and that was them playing …”

10:35 — MLH to Linda — “I’m a bigger fan than you are.”  (!)  What an incredible jerk this guy is.

11:15 — MLH: “I thought the other day I might leave, but then I thought, they won’t even notice.”  That’s one thing he’s got right.  😁

11:40–16:00 — The John & Paul cafeteria scene with the mic in the flowerpot talking about the George problem.  SO cool.
If you think it’s hard to understand now — you should hear the original on bootleg!

John:  It’s like George said — he didn’t get enough satisfaction anymore, because of the compromise he had to make to be together.  It’s a festering wound that we’ve allowed to … and yesterday we allowed it to go even deeper, and we didn’t give him any bandages.  And when he is that far in, we have egos.

Paul:  The thing is, that’s what I was trying to say to George, you know.  Whereas previously I would have said, ‘Take it there with diddle-derddl-diddle-der.’  But I was trying last week to say, ‘Now take it there.  Anything you like.  Put whatever you…’

John:  You see, the point is now, we both do that to George this time, and because of the buildup to it.

Paul:  Yeah, we treat him a bit like that.  See, cuz he knows what we’re on about.  But I do think that he’s right.  That’s why I think we’ve got the problem now, you know, the four of us.  You go one way, George one way, and me another.  But I know it’ll apply to all of us, if one day you can all be singing like you sing.  George can be really playing, I mean, like he plays, not like I keep trying to make him play.

John:  Yeah, okay, because you’re afraid that how he’ll play won’t be like you want him to play, and that’s what we do, and that’s what you do to me.  And I’m not gonna tell you what to play.

Paul:  See, that … that seems to be the trouble, is that if you’d have been able to say that on the occasion, just even to say, ‘Look, I’m not gonna say anything about the song because it’s very difficult, I’m gonna really try and now…’

John:  You know, I’ve always done the numbers like that.  Now, the only regret about the past numbers is when, because I’ve been so frightened, I’ve allowed you to take it somewhere where I didn’t want.  And then, that my only chance was to let George take over, or interest George in it.  If you give me your suggestions, let me reject them and pinch the ones I like… is where my writing side is.  Same goes for the arranging.  I don’t want it to… I don’t know.

Paul:  I know.  I do know.  I know what you mean, yeah.

John:  ’Cause there was a period where none of us could actually say anything about your arrangements ’cause you would reject it all.  I’d have to tell George and I would just say, you know, like you do about me.  You know, ‘I’m Paul McCartney’, and a lot of the times you were right, and a lot of the times you were wrong. Same as we always are.  But I can’t see the answer to that, because you’ve suddenly got it all, you see.

Paul:  I really don’t want you…

John:  Well, all right.  I’m just telling you what I think.  I don’t The Beatles revolve around the four people.

Paul:  You know, but I tell you what.  I tell you one thing, what I think.  The main thing is this: you have always been boss.  Now I’ve been, sort of, secondary boss.

John:  Not always.

Paul:  No, listen.  Listen.  No, always!  Really, I mean, it is gonna be much better if we can actually just stick together and say, ‘Look George, on I’ve Got A Feeling I want you to do it exactly like I play it.’  And he’ll say, ‘I’m not you, and I can’t do it exactly like you do it.’

John:  But this year, what you’ve been doing, and what everybody’s been doing, I’ve not only felt guilty about the way we’re all guilty about our relationship to each other, cuz we could do more.  And look, I’m not putting any blame on you.  I’ve suddenly realized this, because that was my game, you know, but goals, they’re still the same.  Self-preservation, you know. I know what I like, I’ve let you do what you want and George too, you know.

Paul:  Yeah, I know

John:  If we want him, if we do want him, I can go along with that, because the policy has kept us together.

Paul:  Well, I don’t know, you know. See, I’m just assuming he’s coming back.  If he isn’t, then he isn’t, then it’s a new problem.  And probably when we’re all very old, we’ll all agree with each other, and we’ll all sing together.

16:20 — Loading George’s 8-track recording equipment back into the truck.

16:25 — Ringo: “George has gone to Liverpool.  He’s due back Wednesday.”  [George’s mother is sick; she would pass away 18 months later.  Ringo’s saying this on Monday – so George is not in London for 3 of the 7 days he “quit.”]

16:40 — The three start rehearsing again.

16:55 — Get Back — Mel handwriting the lyrics.
John & Paul writing / trading lyric ideas.

18:35 — Paul citing the use of “Tucson Arizona” because that’s where they make the High Chaparral TV show on NBC.  🙂
[Chris O’Dell, from Tucson, was given the job of typing up these lyrics, and she got a pang of fear that they were telling her to leave — to get back to where she once belonged!  🙂 ]

18:40 — taking a crack at Get Back.

19:45 — more show planning with MLH & Paul.

20:25 — Paul shows setlist still taped to his bass from the last U.S. concert tour!

20:30 — DAY 9 — Tuesday January 14th

20:35 — Paul telling Paul Bond (clapper guy / second camera) how all the music ever written is on the piano.

21:15 — Martha My Dear — Paul solo on grand piano.

22:10 — Ringo shows up – Paul: “Good morning, Rich!”
Ringo & Paul’s joyous animated duet on grand piano.
It’s SO great cameras were rolling for this!

Glyn Johns sure seems cool.

23:20 — Paul singing Woman on grand piano — early Beatles song.

25:00 — The Back Seat of My Car — Paul song — on grand piano.

25:20 — Song Of Love — Lennon/McCartney song — goofing in Elvis impersonation.
Ringo operating the film camera.

26:25 — sets for The Magic Christian coming onto the soundstage.

26:34 — Paul taking about making a scripted movie.  Funny group goofing on roles for different people.
Paul: “Do you want to be a goody then, Glyn?”
Ringo: “The roughneck who changes.”
Glyn: “With a bit of sentimentality.”
Paul: “The hard drug-dealing yob.”
Ringo: “With a good heart.”
Paul: “Who turned to religion.”
Paul: “Ringo’s the schoolteacher who goes to see him.”
Ringo: “Mal’s the policeman who’s gone wrong.”
Mal: “They’ll never get anything out of me unless they use a pump.”
Paul: “Tony [Richmond] is in it.  He’s the fence — where Glyn gets rid of the drugs.”
MLH: “Can I be in it?”
Ringo: “You can be a traffic sign.”  🤣  🤣  🤣

27:45 — Paul goes up on chain pulley into the scaffolding.

28:20 — John, Paul & Ringo sitting in chairs goofing — classic Beatles humor — something both Brian Epstein & George Martin cited as an important reason they first wanted to work with these nobodys.
Glyn and Mal sitting behind.
John: “A lot of us started with Rosy.”  🤣

29:00 — John: “I see you’ve given up smoking, Richie.”  😁

29:25 — Peter Sellers shows up.  The Beatles were fans of his from The Goon Show days in the late ’50s.
Sadly he doesn’t do much but smile.
John goofing and being funny.  “You’re talking to the ninth-best-dressed pop singer in the world, you know? . . . Look out Tom Jones, I say.”  🤣
31:30 — Peter Sellers leaves.

31:40 — Talking about the documentary and scheduling.

32:10 — John: “I was up late, sorta stoned and high and watching films.”

32:54 — Paul: “We can’t carry on like this indefinitely.”
Paul: “What we need is a serious program of work.”
Paul: “To wander endlessly is very un-swinging.  Un-hip.”
Paul: “What we need is a schedule.  Achieve something every day.”  (!)  <— that’s MY working practice in life!  💖
Paul’s drinking white wine pretty early in the day!

33:50 — George Martin shows up and sits with them.
John goofing with camera and scat riffing.
John on masturbating — “You don’t go blind … but very short-sighted,” he says, squinting through his thick glasses.   🤣

35:40 — Mean Mr. Mustard — John song — audio only, no footage.

* 36:20 — Madmen – unreleased John song – on electric piano!

36:52 — Discussing immediate band plans in the absence of George.
37:01 — Paul: “I think we stop filming now — as a matter of policy.  That’s a wrap for you, lads.”
37:08 — audio only — Paul: “George is in Liverpool now [Tuesday], and he’s supposed to come back tomorrow.”
John: “So we should go and see him, you think?”

Title cards:
“Rehearsals are cancelled for tomorrow.”
“John Paul and Ringo will meet with George again.”  [at Ringo’s House – “Brookfields” – a 16th century mansion in Elstead, Surrey, that he bought from Peter Sellers]
“The meeting [on Wed. Jan. 15th] is positive and productive.”
“The live TV Special is abandoned.”
“They will relocate to their new Apple Studio, and record the songs there.”

37:55 — Nice Savile Row footage.

38:15 — DAY 10 — Thursday, January 16th

Packing up at Twickenham.

38:40 — Glyn Johns in his little temporary control room at Twickenham.

38:50 — Oh! Darling – Paul solo on grand piano.

39:05 — Twickenham band gear being broken down and carried out by Mal & Kevin.  (Mal in a suit!?!?)

40:20 — George Harrison seen showing up at Twickenham.  (?)

George Harrison & Glyn go to Apple and find the studio unacceptable. (no footage)

41:08 — Shot of the Abbey Road Studio doorway when it was still called EMI Recording Studios.

Friday January 17th / Saturday the 18th / Sunday the 19th — the Abbey Road (EMI) team installs new equipment into the Savile Row basement — creating the Apple Studio.

Title cards:
“An 8-track recording desk is created by lashing together two portable 4-track mixing consoles.”
“The sound is then fed into George Harrison’s 8-track recorder.”

41:55 — DAY 11 — Monday, January 20th  —  Apple Studio 

42:00 — More great Savile Row area footage.  Rosemary’s Baby on an Evening Standard poster with the headline: “The Weird Mia Farrow Film That Has The Censor Anxious”  😁

42:20 — Title card:
“On Monday morning Apple Studio is not quite ready.  The Beatles will continue to rehearse, and start recording on Tuesday.  For this first day at Apple, cameras are not allowed inside.”

42:30 — The documentary film crew interviews two girls out front — “Apple Scruffs” Eileen Kensley & Sue Ahearne — who can be seen again on the street during the rooftop concert in episode 3 at 1:53:25 standing behind the hood of the silver car.
John & Yoko arrive in white Rolls Royce.
It looks like it’s DP Tony Richmond who’s interviewing the girls, and he asks them about John & Yoko — who wonderfully answer, “It’s his choice, isn’t it.  It’s got nothing to do with anybody else really.”
Tony asks them — “You’ve obviously read in the papers about the possible split of the Beatles.”  (!)
“What would you like to see the Beatles do now?”
The girls answer — “A show.  A live show.  Any show.”
. . . . then the camera pans up to the roof.  🙂  This is great freakin filmmaking.

44:05 — DAY 12 – Tuesday, January 21st
Savile Row studio recording — green (apple) carpet, white walls, small-ish room.

44:47 — George Martin sashays in like a gunslinger who owns this town.

45:43 — The band seems to be happily reunited.  George: “Good vibes, man.”  🥰

46:30 — Yoko asks George Martin where to buy music scores.

47:30 — News story about Beatles punching each other.  “It wasn’t the first time they traded a few punches.”

48:00 — Derek Taylor — being asked about the bad press.

John is totally together and into it — showered, hair combed.

48:30 — You Are my Sunshine – a Ray Charles #1 hit in 1962 – John singing.

So good to see all four back together and smiling again.
Especially including George!

The Beatles Get Back all the band smiling and happy

51:00 — John reading from the newspaper – funny – band jamming on it.

52:00 — Mal arrives with crazy Magic Alex bass/regular guitar with spinning neck.  🤣

53:10 — New Orleans (originally by Gary U.S. Bonds) – all three on vocals

53:20 — Queen of the Hop (by Bobby Darin) – Paul & John trading lead vocals

George looking through a stack of new albums.

Glyn & company moving in PA speakers, setting up recording consoles.

53:46 — Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen By The Sea – a 1954 hit in the U.S. by a group called The Four Lads  (!)  — and in England by Max Bygraves.  Lead vocal by John.

54:15 — Thirty Days by Chuck Berry – but was a hit for both Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks and Cliff Richard & The Shadows who both called it & and sang it as Forty Days.  John lead vocal.

54:42 — Too Bad About Sorrow – Lennon/McCartney original ­– Paul & John sharing lead vocal

56:00 — Dig A Pony – new John song

56:54 — Glyn Johns: “I keep telling you not to, and you won’t listen to what I say.”
Paul: “You’re right.”  😁
This back-and-forth reflects the cool joking banter that the Beatles themselves exchange — and that George Martin and others have cited as a difference between the three Beatles and Pete Best.
MLH is the Pete Best of this collective.  Glyn Johns is Ringo.  😉

56:58 — unboxing the Leslie speaker.

57:55 — My Baby Left Me – by Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup – John on vocal, Paul on drums.

58:16 — Hi-Heel Sneakers – by Tommy Tucker – John vocal, Paul on drums.
Yoko actually seat dancing!

58:40 — Hallelujah I Love Her So – by Ray Charles – John vocals

58:56 — George looking at Beggar’s Banquet album.

59:09 — Article appears — “The End of a Beautiful Friendship” — ie; The Beatles breaking up is WAY in the air.
59:36 — Paul reading from the fucked-up article.  John & George play to it — a spoken-word and music improvised collaboration.  😍

1:01:00 — Good Rockin’ Tonight – John singing Elvis Presley’s hit

1:03:30 — Dig A Pony – great full band run-through

Peter Jackson said the move to Savile Row was when you saw John resume control of the band.  And he’s right.  (of course)

1:05:15 — Shout “Shag”  🙂  by the Isley Brothers (the song they climaxed the Around The Beatles TV show with)

1:05:50 — They go in control room to listen to playback of recording.

1:06:20 — They’re totally goofing and having so much fun.  😍

1:07:08 — Dig A Pony – take for Glyn

1:07:50 — John writing Dig A Pony lyrics – blue pen on paper.

1:08:20 — Dig A Pony – next take
John suggesting to Ringo drum patterns for the song.

1:09:40 — Madmen song bit again

1:09:50 — I’ve Got A Feeling / Don’t Let Me Down
great editing of images together

1:11:07 — John: “We need somebody else.  Probably be like a guy that plays piano all the time — that one that plays with the Stones.”
Paul: “Nicky Hopkins.”
John: “Yeah.”

1:11:50 — crazy playful goofing on Don’t Let Me Down

1:13:00 — She Came In Through Bathroom Window — John on electric piano, Paul teaching it to them.
Incredible visual editing by Peter Jackson.

1:15:40 — GREAT John & Paul talking, eye to eye.

1:16:20 — DAY 13 – Wednesday, January 22nd

Ethan Russell photographer
Derek Taylor in studio

The boys are getting along GREAT.

1:18:35 — The studio walls seem to be equipped with folding panels that can switch from metallic reflectors to padded absorbers. (!)  (?)

1:18:40 — Paul & MLH discuss Primrose Hill show idea.

1:19:40 — John: “Did you see Fleetwood Mac on Late Night Live last night?  They were so sweet, man.  Their lead singer [Peter Green] is great, looks great.  And he sings very quiet as well.  He’s not a shouter.”  Then John mimics the sound, as George leans in, riveted.
Paul: “It’s a bit like Canned Heat.”
John: “Yeah, but better than Canned Heat.”
George: “There was only four of them last night, weren’t there?”
John: “Yeah.  They’re really good, though.  It’s just that sweeter, just the guitar hanging.”

1:20:10 — Going Up The Country (Canned Heat) — Paul vocal

1:20:45 — Dig A Pony – full band take (short)

1:21:40 — I’ve Got a Feeling – rough working out

They’re having SO MUCH fun!

1:23:15 — new goofing take on I’ve Got a Feeling

1:24:15 — John talking about MLK!!  “Like a big poem it was.”  How he was like a poet.

1:26:30 — Billy Preston arrives — doesn’t know they need a keyboard player
[the exact half-way point of the episode, to the second!]
He’s in London to do a couple of TV appearances.  According to both Tony Bramwell and Chris O’Dell, Billy’s UK agent Larry Curzon was at William Morris next door to Apple and was always coming by their building.  When it became known that Billy was in town, Chris called Larry to arrange a time for him to come by.

Big smiles and happy greetings all around.

1:26:50 — John gives Billy the lay of the land — how they’re playing everything live.  “Every number’s got a piano part.  And normally we overdub it.  But this time we want to do it live.  I mean just live to ourselves.  Straight off, one number after the other.  And that means having somebody in on it.  If you’d like to do that, you’re welcome.”

1:27:05 — Billy — big laugh / smile — “Sure.  Beautiful!  Ha!  Are you’re kidding?!?!” and he giddily laughs again.

The Beatles and Billy Preston at Apple Studio 3 Savile Row

John is the leader who asks him to play with them.
Nobody else in the band could have done that.

1:27:25 & :31 & :34 — George Martin seen smiling bigger than I’ve ever seen him.  🥰

1:28:23 — kick-ass “I’ve Got a Feeling” — Billy on electric piano – BEAMING away!  🙂
I reckon this is the first song he played with them.  And of course he’s locked right in.
1:28:34 — euphoric Paul smiling at what’s happening — ten seconds into the song!!
Fantastic camera work & editing throughout all this!
1:29:00 — Yoko seen smiling at the music being played.
1:29:28 — song ends
John: “You’re in the group.”  😍  🤣

And just like that  —  The Beatles are a quintet!!!   🤩

In these 3 minutes, the entire storyline changes.

Imagine when Billy got back to wherever he was staying that night and phoned whoever he was closest to at the time.  “You’re not gonna believe this, but . . . ”   🤩   🥰

1:29:45 — Don’t Let Me Down – short

1:30:01 — John: “You’re givin us a lift, Bill.” 🙂

Wow — they’re really starting to gel!

Billy is just BEAMING ear-to-ear

1:30:15 — Don’t Let Me Down – couple more takes – Billy takes a rockin solo

1:32:10 — Save The Last Dance For Me – the 1960 #1 hit for The Drifters with Ben E. King on lead vocals

1:33:05 — Dig A Pony with Billy

1:34:20 — the band goes to the control room to listen to playback

1:34:40 — Don’t Let Me Down – John flamenco guitar

1:35:35 — MLH again talking about concert plans

* 1:36:10 — John tells MLH how they *have* the documentary —  “It’ll be fantastic.  With this whole buildup from bits of paper in Twickenham, all that scene, and it’ll be a movie, not a TV show.  It’ll be the third Beatles movie.  It’s good enough now.”

1:36:40 — Peter Brown Apple exec shows up — talk about Allen Klein  😥

Brian dying and Klein comin in were a one-two death knell to the band.

1:37:30 — DAY 14 — Thursday January 23rd

1:38:00 — Freakout Jam — Yoko screeming — Paul on drums.
Band members filmed from 2nd floor window arriving at 3 Savile Row.

1:38:55 — MLH in a full suit & tie, John, Ringo & George Martin plotting out the recording and show schedule.
1:39:05 — George Martin: “You’re working so well together right now [John “Yes”] let’s keep it going.”
1:39:14 — MLH: “I think we’ll aim for next Thursday.” [which turned out to be the day they indeed did it.]
They plan to work thru the weekend — for once!  🙂

1:39:45 — Twenty Flight Rock by Eddie Cochran — Billy dances into studio.  🥰
This is the song Paul played for John (and impressed him) the first day they met (July 6, 1957).

1:40:20 — Paul cites great names of the ’50s – Eddie Cochran, Gene Burks.

1:41:30 — Oh! Darling

1:43:06 — first time we see George playing his custom-made Rosewood Telecaster that he’d later play on the roof concert.
Sometime in the next year he gave the guitar to Delaney Bramlett, who ended up lending it to Jerry Garcia to play during an Ian & Sylvia jam in the Festival Express documentary about the infamous 1970 train trip across Canada, finally released in 2003, and directed by Beatles Anthology director Bob Smeaton.

Jerry Garcia playing George Harrison's Rosewood Telecaster on stage with Ian & Sylvia in the Festival Express documentary

1:43:30 — Get Back — major working out of arrangement, several versions

John even counts in the Paul songs.

Boy, they’re having fun!

* 1:54:00 — Hilarious goofing version of Help.  Paul loses it laughing.  🥰

Then Please Please Me

* 1:55:00 —  Peter Jackson’s hit single video edit of the namesake song of this documentary Get Back — maybe the peak video collage of the film so far — including a rockin’ Billy solo.

1:56:37 — George in the control room during playback saying to John: “It would be nice to put it out as a single.  Just do a single of it now.”
John:  “Okay — let’s knock it off as a single.”  😉

And again for anybody who wonders who the bandleader is in The Beatles in January 1969 — it’s John Lennon who puts a new guy in the group, and John Lennon who’s asked to make the decision about the band’s next single.  😉

The Beatles become a quintet with Billy Preston

1:57:50 — DAY 15 — Friday January 24th 

Billy’s not there in the studio — he’s rehearsing for the Lulu show — which aired tomorrow the 25th.

1:57:50 — John to Paul: “Did you hear about the book idea?”
Paul: “Yeah”
John: “I think the photos are great, man.  Really great. . . . They can have the book and the film out simultaneously.”

1:58:55 — John: “We’ve got Billy a contract.  We got him off Capitol.  (!)  George [Harrison] will produce him.”

1:59:15 — George: “The main thing, Billy is just really so knocked out, so thrilled doing it.  And also he sees it’s his great opportunity. . . . We’ll have to decide about paying him.  [John: “Yes, right.”]  Cuz if we were having Nicky Hopkins we’d have to pay him session musician rates.”
George really does seem like Billy’s ear and representative within the band.

1:59:45 — John: “I mean, I’d just like him in our band, actually.”  George enthusiastically nodding yes.  “I’d like a fifth Beatle.”  (!)

1:59:50 — John: “At Twickenham, suddenly there was three, now there’s four of us, then there’s five!”  🙂
George: “We can do that as well.”  [It’s SO too bad they didn’t!]
George: “If I asked Dylan to join the Beatles, and he would, you know.  And we get ’em all in here.”  🙂
John: “We’ll call it The Beatles & Co.  That’ll be our band.”  (!)  – like The Dead & Company!
George with a smile: “I mean, it’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, innit?  We could get ’em all.”
Paul: “I just don’t kniw, because it’s bad enough with four.”  🙂  [at least they all laugh]

2:01:00 — John sings – I’m On The Road to Marrakesh (which became Jealous Guy)

2:02:00 — Hail, Hail Rock n Roll by Chuck Berry – (brief) – Mal on tambourine.  💖

2:02:20 — Stand By Me – Ben E. King – (brief)

2:02:44 — John: “We seem to be at a loss without Billy.”

2:03:00 — Two Of Us
2:03:34 — John & Paul on acoustic guitars

2:04:25 — Two of Us – playful
John & Paul eye-locked again.

2:05:50 — their comical ordering of lunch — John: “Sparrow on toast.”  🙂  Paul: “Boiled testicle.”  🙂

23-year-old photographer Ethan Russell very present and taking tons of what turned out to be great pics.

2:06:10 — Paul noticing the connections between the songs — Get Back and Two of Us (on our way home)  “So there’s a story.  And there’s another one — Don’t Let Me Down —> Oh! Darling.”

2:06:30 — George gets his bowties.  🙂

2:07:00 — Two of Us – killer partial take

2:07:30 — control room hang n talk

2:08:30 — Polythene Pam – John singing and on acoustic guitar

2:09:17 — Mal opens the case for the lap steel they call “the Hawaiian”

2:09:37 — Her Majesty – brief – George on the Hawaiian

2:10:01 — Teddy Boy — McCartney song written in India last year.  According to Mark Lewisohn this was the first time the song was presented to the band.

2:11:15 — Maggie Mae (traditional) — John & Paul both on acoustics.  According to Lewisohn, this was a “traditional Liverpool song about an infamous local lady of the night.”

2:12:00 — Fancy My Chance With You – early Lennon/McCartney song written when they were teenagers.

2:12:45 — Paul to Billy – “Nobody’s asked if you’d mind coming in every day.”
Bill: “Oh no, it’s a groove.  I had nothing else on.”

2:12:53 — Paul mentions him getting paid.

2:12:55 — Dig It! – John on the Hawaiian

2:13:13 — Pattie Boyd (Harrison) makes her only appearance

2:13:40 — Ringo showing off his Sony home video camera  🙂

2:13:50 — I Feel Fine

2:14:00 — George H asks George Martin about how his studio is going.  I think this is AIR Montserrat that became a major studio, recording the Stones, Elton, McCartney, Michael Jackson and scores of others until it was tragicly destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

2:14:30 — DAY 16 — Saturday January 25th – no Billy Preston

2:14:30 — Footage from Maharishi’s in India –  while Dehra Dun by George Harrison plays

2:14:50 — John mentions to Ringo that he looked at his clothes from India last night “next to me Pepper suit”  😁

2:15:03 — Peter Jackson shows more Maharishi footage set to George’s song Within You, Without You

2:15:20 — Paul talks about watching the footage from India last night.  “I’ve got all the film of it.”
He raves about the opening, and then they show it, with images of Cynthia Lennon, Pattie, Jane Asher (!), Donovan and their whole traveling krewe.

Lots more footage of India.

2:17:10 — Paul describes the long shot of John walking with the Maharishi, “And it’s just not you, you know?”  😄

They talk about John going up in the helicopter — and how he thought the Maharishi might just slip him the answer.  😆

2:19:00 — Why Don’t We Do It In The Road – to two monkeys humping  🙂

2:19:34 — John in India looking for all the world like John Sebastian!

2:19:55 — George talking about the whole purpose of them going was to find themselves.  “And if you were really yourself, you wouldn’t be any of who we are now.”  (!)

2:20:10 — John says “All Act Naturally now, then plays the 1963 Buck Owens hit and Ringo staple on acoustic guitar.

2:20:23 — Glyn: “Is Billy coming today?”
George: “No, he’s doing a TV show all day.”  Again, it’s George who knows what Billy is doing.

2:20:30 — Bye Bye Love — John singing the Everly Brothers hit on acoustic guitar, Paul harmonizing.
I don’t want to be accused of reading too much into things, but once again this is a song about saying “bye bye happiness” as the band seems to be winding to a close.

Yoko making a calligraphic painting — black Japanese characters on white paper.

2:21:30 — Two of Us – playing with it – many variations

2:22:55 — first appearance of Alan Parsons — with title card — close-up, in his orange shirt, although according to Mark Lewisohn he started two days earlier, on Jan. 23rd.

2:23:30 — John does Two Of Us in a Dylan inflection  🙂
George with his funky-cool slipper-boots.  🙂
They’re all smiling and laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
Then they do the song reggae style.  🙂

2:25:25 — Glyn with the practical advice to get one number down (duh!) . . . and then get another one finished.

2:25:30 — George: “Have we got to have this album recorded by Tuesday then?”  (!)
Glyn now says he’s not going to leave until Thursday.

2:25:55 — George asks “Are we still doing the show?”
Paul: “I don’t know, really.”

2:26:15 — George wants the piano to sound like a bad honky-tonk piano.

2:26:20 — George Martin putting newspapers on the grand’s strings so it won’t sound so grand.

2:27:00 — For You Blue — George’s “honky-tonk” song.
John playing the lap steel.
According to Mark Lewisohn, this song was arranged, rehearsed, recorded, and in-the-can in one day!

2:27:48 — Chris O’Dell with the short blond hair holding clipboard and pen next to Mal.

Chris O'Dell at Apple Studio 3 Savile Row

2:28:15 — While George is running through For You Blue, John tells everyone, “Just don’t talk when he’s playing, gang.”  — once again looking out for his younger brother.

2:28:30 — take 2 of For You Blue

2:28:50 — 20-year-old Alan Parsons in orange shirt & black tie in control room.

Alan Parsons in Apple Studio in Peter Jackson documentary

2:29:05 — Then John requests they do For You Blue once more so George “can get the guitar like he wants it.”

2:29:10 — they start another take — which becomes the take that appears on the Let It Be album.

John on the lap steel.

2:29:52 — George during group playback in the control room — “I think we’re getting a good sound in Apple Studios.”

2:30:16 — John has an idea about the mixing, and Paul says, “That’s a good idea.”
John: “Yeah, I’m full of ideas like that.  I’m famous for ’em.  Literary Beatle, you know.”  😁
George: “Hail to the captain.”

Title card:
“The Primrose Hill concert is no longer possible.”

2:30:53 — show/concert talk:
MLH points out they don’t have a show planned.
John: “I would dig to play onstage, you know?”
Paul: “Yeah.”
John: “I mean, if everything was alright, and there was no messing around, and we just play on a stage.  That’s why I said yes to the TV show.  I didn’t want the hell of doing it, but nobody else wants to go on the stage or do a TV show.  Nobody wants to get out there, you know?

The band loves being in the Apple studio.

2:31:45 — George: “The things that have worked out best ever for us haven’t really been planned any more than this has. . . . You know, whatever it’s going to be, it becomes that, you know?”
John talks about how this started out as Paul’s “number” — “but now it’s turned into our number.”
2:32:50 — John asks George “What do you think?” — nice.  But George doesn’t answer in the moment.
John is really leading the discussion to come up with what they’re going to do.
George on the Apple Studio: “I think this is the nicest place I’ve been in a long time, this studio.  Also, this is the most I’ve ever played, by playing every day.  I can feel my fingers getting loose.  I just wanna play.”
John: “That’s what it was about.”

2:34:50 — Paul on the difference between 16mm and 35mm.  (The film has all been shot on 16mm so far, but one or two 35mm cameras are seen on the roof.)

Show planning talk that really reveals they all have it in their minds that this is the end.

2:34:57 — John: “Just the still photos would make a UA movie with a soundtrack on it.”  [and fulfill the third film requirement of their 1964 3-picture deal with United Artists]

2:35:03 — George: “I think we should blow it up to 35 and if they don’t take it they’re fucking fools because they aren’t going to get anything else, are they?” — again, more group acceptance that there isn’t any more coming for this band.  This documentary really makes clear over and over that they knew the band was wrapping up.

2:35:15 — Paul says (correctly) that blowing up 16 to 35 “is a mess.”
MLH claims this will blow up alright — but of course the finished product as seen in theaters and on other formats proved it didn’t.

2:35:30 — Glyn: “It just seems like the last two days have gone so ridiculously well.”
John: “He’s right, you know.”

2:35:55 — Paul talking about the final show being “the end of it.”
Paul: “I want to go and have fun with it, rather than just finish off exactly as we started.  I’d like to do a (phoosh — grand arm spreading flourish) for the finish.” — again, it’s all talk about this being the end.
Paul: “I mean, just get out in the open, a change of scene, and go and do it somewhere else, do a live show, do it on a stage.  You know, I’d like to light a rocket to really sort of take off for the end of it.”  (!)

2:36:07 — the first time we see George with his psychedelic Stratocaster that he hand-painted himself in DayGlo colors that could be seen exactly a year earlier, January 1968, in color, on the Magical Mystery Tour TV broadcast.  😍

2:36:50 — I Lost My Little Girl — Paul song sung by John

Title cards:
“Arranging an alternative concert location within the next couple of days is not possible.”

“However, Michael and Glyn have a suggestion that might give Paul the payoff he’s hoping for.”

“They could stage a performance at a much more convenient location . . .”    😎

* 2:37:35 — GREAT footage of roof scouting  —  Paul & Ringo & Glyn & MLH & Mal & Kevin & Ethan the photographer, and obviously a cameraman, probably Tony Richmond.

2:39:02 — Paul & George Martin planning logistics including time for getting the other cameras in to shoot on Thursday.

The lads drinking red wine — and getting pretty loose and goofy.

2:39:17 — Ringo opens the box with his new music stand.  🙂

2:40:00 — Let It Be — many takes
George with his psychedelic painted Stratocaster.

2:40:45 — John playing the Fender Bass VI.

2:42:00 — “Groovy Bob” – Robert Fraser the art dealer shows up  🥳

2:45:19 — George Martin lying on floor reading newspaper.  😁

2:46:35 — Title cards:
“The Beatles decide to stage their rooftop performance on Wednesday.”

“Four days from now.”

2:46:50 — Credits start.  They’re 6 mins 25 secs long — again, song credits are unique to each episode, listed in order of appearance.

Cool Billy Preston-led “Blues Jam” plays over the credits.  This is likely the recording Mark Lewisohn cites as coming from the January 23rd sessions.

The Walk – a 1958 R&B hit by Jimmy McCrackin with Paul on lead vocals, recorded at Savile Row January 27th.

Without A Song — cool song from 1929 (!) by Vincent Youmans — Billy singing, and sounds like he’s on the grand piano.

Love Me Do — jamming version with Billy wailing on the electric piano.


Some observations after 2 episodes / 5½ hours, and just before the climactic episode drops at 3AM (Eastern) . . .

I’m SO glad — as Peter Jackson said, when they were given the 6-hour window by Disney, Peter & his editor very quickly decided, and I quote, “Let’s just make the movie we want,” he said, rubbing his hands together.  😍  And he said he included everything a Beatles fan would want to see, because (something like) “If we don’t put it in, it’s just going to go back in a vault for another 50 years.”

The fur coat John wears on the roof and is always referred to as Yoko’s was in fact the coat John always wears and carries with him.  And according to Deep Beatles aficionado Jan Fennick, the coat was actually his wife Cynthia’s mother’s!

My 33-year-old neighbor told me how she’s been watching it with her daughter, who has become a huge Beatles fan.  I’ve read similar comments online about how people are experiencing this intergenerationally.  This is a beautiful thing.  How many other rock bands / pop artists would evoke such a response?

John & Paul are really a creative partnership.  I was as guilty as many who thought they’d pretty much gone their separate ways even by The White Album the year before.  But you can see them here looking into each other’s eyes and working up these songs in tandem.

It was so great to see Paul so strongly defending John bringing Yoko to the rehearsals.  I had bought into the easy story that she had caused a fissure — but it’s clear none of his three bandmates are bothered by her at all.

It’s so nice to see John really on top of it and in control by the time they moved to the Savile Row studio.  I love how it’s John who asks Billy Preston to join the band, and that we get to see Billy’s ear-to-ear beaming reaction and blurting out “Are you’re kidding?!?!”  🥰

Peter Jackson has done a masterful job showing the real-life drama that was going on — the pressure of the pending live concert deadline, the near breakup of the band, the desperate need for a keyboard player — and then one just shows up!  Whadda story!!

I love how the band becomes a quintet — for both the sound and the energy.  John says at one point, “I’d like a fifth Beatle.”  To which Paul jokes, “It’s bad enough with four.”  ?

And I love how Paul is the big-picture structuralist, noticing the connections between the songs and mapping out a sequence — how Get Back and Two of Us (on our way home) are connected — and Don’t Let Me Down reflects Oh! Darling.

I know it’s been 5½ hours and will soon be nearly 8 — but this is the most intimate portrait ever made of the most influential band ever formed.

They knew the end was coming.  In Part One there was talk of a “divorce” and in Part Two they’re talking about going out with a bang.

It’s SO bizarre that guitar stands and music stands were not staples of major studios and bands’ gear in January 1969.  This is the biggest money-making group in the history of the world . . . and a Les Paul falls over at Twickenham cuz there’s no guitar stand in the joint!  Then when they get to Apple, there’s not a one, and they’re always picking them up lying on the ground!  Ringo is seen opening the packaging of the cheapest kind of music stand that exists … and he’s got a kid–on–Christmas–morning smile on his face like this is some treasured gift!  How the hell does EMI or Apple not have tons of great music stands?!?!

And now, the entire rooftop concert — which no layperson has ever seen, ever — is about to be streamed on this blessed Beatles day, minutes away.


EPISODE THREE — Days 17 thru 22 — January 26th thru 31st, 1969

2 hours & 18 mins

Recording, Rehearsing & Rooftop Concert at Savile Row

Title cards:

“The Beatles have been rehearsing for 16 days for a live album …
and possibly to stage some kind of a show.
They have to be finished by the end of the month.”

“The latest plan is to perform on the rooftop of their own building.
Three days from now . . .”

1:24 — Beautiful shot of bobbies on horseback riding past 3 Savile Row.

DAY 17 — Sunday, January 26th 

1:30 — Octopus’s Garden – Ringo singing his new song on the grand piano — only the second song he’s ever written (!) according to George.  Yay Ringo!

1:55 — George Harrison helps him writing it.  So nice.
3:28 — George Martin comes over and listens and mouths harmony.
4:03 — John calls Ringo Richie  🙂
4:25 — John plays drums for Ringo on his song.

Red wine or sherry or scotch or something in bottles on table.

4:29 — Paul is the last to arrive — with Linda and Heather.

4:45 — Heather funny kitten / cat talk – John goofs with her about eating them.  😁

5:35 — Let It Be — Billy back in the studio on piano.
6:12 — George Martin on electric piano.
6:42 — Heather on Ringo’s hi-hat.
7:03 — Paul instructing Ringo on lightening up on the drums.  At least according to the film editing, Ringo seems none too pleased with the suggestions.  😄

7:48 — Band jamming on something they called I Told You Before (Get Out Of The Door) — songwriting credited to all four — Paul on drums — Billy on the organ — George on guitar — John on the Fender Bass VI — and Yoko on atonal screeching, which 6-year-old Heather starts imitating.  Two versions of this song appeared on bootlegs, a 21-minute jam, and this is from the 8-minute version.

8:50 — John merging Twist and Shout and Dig It  (!)  — part of this performance is on the Let It Be album.  Paul on grand piano, Billy on organ.
9:34 — George Martin playing a shaker!
Lots of Heather footage.  🙂
9:39 — Mal dancing with Heather.  Mal’s got moves!  🙂

10:13 — Photographer Linda and band photographer Ethan Russell seen sitting together.

11:07 — Blue Suede Shoes – the Carl Perkins-penned song was first a hit for Perkins, then for Elvis.  John lead vocal.
Paul on the grand, Billy on the organ.

11:50 — Shake Rattle & Roll – the Big Joe Turner hit, also a hit for Bill Haley & the Comets.  John & Paul share lead vocals.

12:30 — The Long & Winding Road — several varying takes, Paul giving instructions.
John playing the Fender Bass VI.

13:07 — Linda taking photos

13:30 & 14:06 — Chris O’Dell seen sitting on the floor with Linda & Heather lying down.  She has a haircut like Goldie Hawn had around this time, but she tells me it was not intentional and was cut by Linda Cavendish in London.

Chris O'Dell in Peter Jackson's Beatles Get Back documentary

J&B scotch bottle in background.

14:33 — George Martin working with George Harrison on acoustic guitar.

15:00 — Paul coaching John on Long & Winding Road.

15:34 — Mal & Glyn trying to fix George’s guitar.

16:40 — the Long & Winding Road that appears on the album.

Funny–cool to see George Martin sitting on the floor in the studio.

17:20 — great long scene in the control room talking about the arrangement of Long and Winding Road.
18:15 — Paul: “The only way I’ve ever heard it in my head is like Ray Charles’ band.”
Billy Preston listening in.
That looks like Maureen Starkey in the green dress sitting on the floor.

19:30 — DAY 18 — Monday, January 27th

19:30 — Shake, Rattle & Roll again – band rockin out — Paul wailing on the grand.

20:18 — Kansas City (George lead vocal) / Miss Ann (Little Richard song – John lead vocal) / Blue Suede Shoes  (John lead vocal) 

20:19 — John seen jumping around, crunched down, t-shirt over knees.  🙂

Alan Parsons in pinstriped suit jacket in control room.

21:10 — John & Paul dancing together in control room  🙂

21:35 — George wrote a new song – it’s “happy and a rocker”  🙂
Talks about John’s advice “I keep hearing your advice from 10 years ago saying ‘finish ’em straight away, as soon as you start ’em, finish ’em.”

22:35 — Old Brown Shoe — new great George song – plays on grand piano for band – works out song in real time.

22:50 — Paul dancing to it.

23:30 — Hammond organ brought in — to go with the Leslie speaker (which George puts his guitar through, including on the Let It Be single).

23:35 — Paul on drums – using brushes.
23:40 — George on grand piano.
24:00 — Ringo on Fender Rhodes piano.
24:05 — Billy Preston on electric Fender Bass VI!

25:10 — Let It Be
Billy on electric piano.

26:37 — The Long & Winding Road

28:25 — Trying to get the PA and mics right.

30:20 — Oh! Darling
Glass of white wine on Billy’s piano — but at 38:30 you see Paul drinking from it.  😉
30:50 — John says, “Just heard that Yoko’s divorce has just gone through.”

31:30 — Don’t Let Me Down

31:55 — John handwriting lyrics on the top of the grand piano.
32:24 — Great Billy electric piano part — John: “Oh, Little Willie! Yeah!”

33:10 — The film & studio guys goof around on the instruments — Alan Parsons on Billy’s electric piano.

33:30 — The band going over the proposed book layout — and reading newspaper reports about themselves and laughing and goofing on them.
34:01 & 34:23 — Newspaper headline: “John Lennon loves Yoko.”

34:00 — Strawberry Fields Forever!  Paul singing (!) on grand piano.

34:35 — MLH planning the shots for the roof concert.

35:05 — Get Back — multiple takes

36:02 — 20-year-old Alan Parsons seen in control room – then again at 37:20, 38:26, 39:55, 42:30, 42:42, 42:56, 1:04:40.

37:00 — Take These Chains From My Heart – Hank Williams hit (although he didn’t write it) – Paul singing

37:35 — George Martin: “You were very good, Bill.”

High energy in the studio as the concert approaches.

38:00 — another Get Back – several takes – lively.
George in his flower slippers  😁

40:00 — Get Back — more different versions, including the one from the album.

40:14 — great shot of George & Billy smiling and grooving together in the control room.

40:31 — Ringo gives Yoko a stick of Doublemint Gum – cute scene of her tearing it in two and giving half to John.

41:25 — I’ve Got A Feeling — John’s voice ragged (a la Twist & Shout)

44:00 — Ringo rockin out at the end.  🙂

The short red-ish haired woman with the big glasses is Sally Burgess from the Apple Press Office.

45:15 — Paul: “John’s got something [a meeting] at 1:30, and so do I.”

45:50 — George Martin: “Good night, Rich” to Ringo.

46:00 — DAY 19 — Tuesday, January 28th — two days before rooftop concert

Title card:
“A bad weather forecast delays the rooftop concert by 24 hours.” (pushing it to Thursday)

46:35 — Writing down list of songs they can do on the roof.

47:20 — John: “I’m trying to get us to do one of George’s in the first batch.”  💝

47:55 — Kevin opening wine bottles.  😄

48:00 — Something by George
48:01 — Fleetwood Mac’s single Need Your Love So Bad seen on top of Billy’s electric piano.
48:03 (and 1:00:40) — roadie Kevin adjusting some weird instrument

Kevin Harrington adjusting weird instrument in Apple Studio in Get Back

48:15 — George trying to figure out the lyrics for Something, asks Paul & John.
John: “Just say whatever comes into your head each time.  ‘Attracts me like a cauliflower,’ until you get the word, you know?”

49:45 — Love Me Do — their very first single! — but the first time done as a quintet!

50:15 — Paul leaves to go to a meeting (!)  It’s never revealed what it is.

50:25 — I’ve Got A Feeling — just the three of them plus Billy — several takes.
George with his psychedelic hand-painted Stratocaster.

50:45 — John asks Glyn to fix his mic cuz “it keeps falling down” – requires a screwdriver.

50:48 — image of typed lyrics to I’ve Got A Feeling

51:35 — fans looking in the basement window — again around 53:30, 1:00:35 and 1:04:30.

52:35 — Kevin opening white wine bottles, then pouring glasses.

53:00 — John mentions meeting with Allen Klein, then starts raving about him.  😓  “I just think he’s fantastic.”  “He knows everything about everything.  Very interesting guy.  I was there till 2 in the morning.”  😥
John didn’t want to bring it up in passing like this.
John to George: “He knows me as much as you do!”
John says the Stones get much more in royalties than the Beatles do.
Images from the Stones’ Rock n Roll Circus show.

55:25 — Old Brown Shoe — George on grand piano, then standing delivering vocal sans instrument.
Billy on the Fender Bass VI, and then on piano as George sings.

55:35 — George wants some black leather shoes, size 8.  😄

56:50 — First John, then Ringo, then Billy playing the weird handheld electronic instrument — a Stylophone — a stylus-operated keyboard invented by Brian Jarvis in 1967, first put into production in 1968.  Bowie used one on Space Oddity.

58:10 — Paul back in studio.

58:25 — Don’t Let Me Down

59:00 — John to George Martin: “I’ve had some wine you know.”  🤪

59:20 — Don’t Let Me Down — the version released as the B-side of Get Back.

1:00:00 — I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (Lennon/McCartney)
Paul on giant shaker.

1:00:20 — Half A Pound of Greasepaint (Lennon/McCartney) — goofing song

Lots of full white wine glasses being passed around.

1:00:51 — Ringo playing a bell tree in his leprechaun-green suit matching the Apple carpeting.  😁

1:01:15 — Control room playback footage.  Derek Taylor’s there.

1:01:30 — John: “Allen Klein’s here.”

Title card:
“The Beatles head upstairs for their first meeting with Allen Klein.”  😰

1:01:50 — DAY 20 — Wednesday, January 29th — the day before the rooftop concert

1:01:55 — Ringo tells MLH they’ll have “about six” numbers to do on the roof tomorrow.  (They end up doing five different ones.)

1:02:15 — John & Glyn talking about Allen Klein.  John says how they met last night till 12 or 12:30.  “Went through everything.” … “He’s fantastic.”  😥  Glyn thinks Klein’s “strange, very strange,” rude and dismissive of others.
1:02:35 — John: “We’re all hustlers.”
Ringo: “A conman who’s on our side for a change.”

1:03:10 — MLH talking about 9 cameras for the roof concert.  He certainly does get cameras in the right places to capture the climax.

1:03:12 — Paul: “The best bit of us, always has been and always will be, is when we’ve got our backs against the wall, and we’ve been rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing.  And he [John] knows it’s a take on the dub.  And he does it great.”

MLH talking about the need for some kind of an audience.

1:03:45 — Ringo’s “I farted.”  😮

1:03:55 — Tony Richmond: “Paul, what’s the problem?  We’ve got everything set for tomorrow.”
Paul: “The roof is, like, too far out.”  😲

1:04:30 — John & Paul tight face-to-face conversation.  Glyn sitting right next to them.  (Alan Parsons sitting a few feet away – looks stoned  😎)
John: “I can’t wait to work it, you know?”
Deep conversation about their aim and goals.
Paul saying it’s just an album that they’re doing.  John says “albums is what we do.”
John sort of looks a bit old and weary.
But I love the way he really does focus right in on Paul’s face — very intently.  These are two guys who’ve sat face-to-face and had heavy life-changing conversations for 10 years.

1:05:00 — Paul mentions how George doesn’t want to do films.
Paul: “For who is tomorrow the day?  It’s not for me.”
Paul wants to do the end of the movie *in* the studio.  What an idiot.  😮  He embraces it once it happens — but how does not see its potential?!

1:07:10 — John: “I think we’d be daft to not do it.”  [the rooftop concert]
1:07:15 — George joins the conversation.
1:08:00 — Ringo joins.
Ultimately it’s — John, Paul, George, Ringo, George Martin, Glyn Johns, MLH & Tony Richmond.

1:08:20 — John: “We’ve only got to seven [songs].  Let’s do seven.”
Paul pauses and sort of reluctantly says “Yeah.”

1:08:38 — Paul: “The only people who have to agree to what we’re doing is the four of us — and we’re the only ones who haven’t even talked about it.  We had the meeting before all this and said ‘TV show.’  That’s what I have to get in my head.  [But] It’s an album.”

1:08:50 — George: “All that footage of film could make about half a dozen films.”

1:09:15 — Paul: “This TV show was supposed to be a TV show of the last album.  But when we came to do it we said we’ll write new songs.”

1:09:23 — John walks away briefly from the Paul–Glyn conversation.

1:10:05 — George Martin says the songs are “at a stage where it’s a dress rehearsal stage, where if you did a performance, it would probably be it.”  Sounds like he’s advocating for the performance on the roof.

1:10:20 — John talks about the physical strain of doing Don’t Let Me Down and all the rest.

MLH keeps stressing how “we don’t have an ending.”  But what’s the rooftop concert if not a climactic ending?

1:12:00 — Paul: “Get it together now [record the songs properly] instead of talking about the show.  Get it so we’ve got the 14 songs.  We’re talking about this abstract thing we hope to get, and by talking about it we’re not getting it.”

1:12:55 — George: “I’ll do it if we’ve got to go on the roof.  But I don’t want to go on the roof.”

Paul & George don’t want to do the rooftop concert – Ringo & John want to.  As do the film crew, and seemingly George Martin.

* 1:13:05 —  BOOM!  When George & Paul are poo-pooing it  —
Ringo says, “I would like to go on the roof” — and that really seems to change the equation.
Paul to Ringo: “You would like to?”  Ringo nods in the affirmative.
John: “Yes, I’d like to go on the roof.”

1:13:20 — Paul: “Have we got a list of the songs we’ve done?”
And George Martin cooly pulls one out of his jacket pocket.  😍
They go through all the song titles of everything they’ve been working on.

1:14:30 — Dig It — very high energy / crazy.
John cross-legged on chair — sings the song list like it’s lyrics.  🙂
Paul McCartney’s brother Mike seen playing the grand piano.

1:16:15 — George H. to John: “I’ve got my quota of tunes for the next ten years, or albums.”
Discusses the idea to do albums solo but also preserving the Beatles.
Yoko: “It’s great.  That’s a good idea.”
It’s so sad they couldn’t have just taken a break and done solo projects.  The Grateful Dead members used to put out solo albums that various bandmates would play on — but they didn’t disband the group.
Ringo album had all four Beatles contributing in 1973.
Paul said after this conversation came to light via Peter Jackson that he wished he knew about this idea back then.
How music history might have been different!

1:17:30 — I Want You – great wild jamming.
* Billy singing his own improvised “I had a dream” riff.  Great!  Joyous.  Cool.  Free-form fun.  Great highlight segment.
Paul on lap steel (the “Hawaiian”).
Billy moves to the Hammond organ — then the Fender Rhodes.
Great high-energy fun jam to climax the in-studio playing before the rooftop show.

1:17:52 — As mentioned above — it’s so bizarre they don’t have guitar stands.  You can see George’s just leaning up against the wall.  (!)

1:19:40 — Two Of Us – funny – with clenched teeth.  🙂

THIS is a FUN band.  Like Brian Epstein said how their sense of humor was part of what attracted him to them.  And it reminds me of what Jerry Garcia’s bandmates shared about him in recent years, that Jerry’s motivation was always, “Will it be fun?” and if the answer was Yes, he’d do it.  🙂

1:21:38 — Looking at the set list and order.  John: “That’s the existing cacophony.”  😅

1:21:42 — John: “Put the ones we know in a hat, then shuffle them out to see which order we do them in.”  🙂

John puts on the fur coat.

Note:  On this day, according to Lewisohn, the band also played Not Fade Away during their workouts.  Geez — sure wish Peter Jackson included that somehow!  They also played a more obscure Buddy Holly song — Mailman Bring Me No More Blues, also not in the film.  We live in hope for the DVD/Blu-Ray extras.  😘

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Something cool about the rooftop concert I wasn’t expecting is that we as viewers now know so many of the characters who are on the roof!  Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Tony Richmond the DP, Mal Evans, Kevin the red-headed roadie, Maureen Starkey, Peter Brown of Apple … there’s a richness of character development that I wasn’t expecting.

Michael Lindsay-Hogg and Tony Richmond do deserve top props for their short timeframe preparation and their camera work.

1:22:55  —  DAY 21  —  ROOFTOP CONCERT  —  Thursday, January 30th

10 cameras total — five on the roof, three on street, one on the roof across the street, one hidden in the lobby.  💖

I assume when the DVD/Blu-Ray is finally released, there will be the option to watch the entire rooftop concert without any street cutaways. 😉

DP Tony Richmond in a later-to-be Johnny Depp hat.  😄

Footage of George Martin & Glyn Johns entering Apple on this climactic day.
Then both seen down in the basement control room.
1:24:25 — Alan Parsons seen loading tape in downstairs studio, and later working on roof.

Debbie Wellum — Apple receptionist
Jimmy Clark — dapper doorman

1:25:22 — Paul (in a 3-piece suit) comes out of the stairwell first, followed by Ringo & Maureen, then Billy.

1:25:59 — Love the fans seen on the roof across the street leaning against a chimney!  Paul waves to them, and they yell, “What’s going on?”  🙂  How fun & cool it must have been to be those guys!!  They’re like me — up on the roof.  🙂

1:26:09 — There’s a quick closeup shot of Paul with the St. James church spire and Big Ben just beyond him. 😉

Peter Jackson's Beatles Get Back documentary rooftop Paul McCartney

1:26:18 — Ringo: “Mal?!  You nailed me down in the wrong place.”

1:26:20 — Chris O’Dell seen sitting in the end seat on the stage left side.

1:26:24 — George arrives on the roof.
1:26:28 — John arrives on roof.

1:26:31 — Chris O’Dell seen again, talking to Maureen in their seats.
Those are chairs from downstairs that they’re sitting on.  I always wondered.

1:26:48 — Alan Parsons on the roof helping set up Ringo’s drums. (orange shirt, suit jacket)  He’s later seen (1:30:50) standing on stage right with the sound/recording crew.

Great cinematic storytelling by Peter Jackson.

1:27:30–1:27:59 — Get Back – 30-second soundcheck / tech test.

1:27:55 — Great shot of the four (and only four!) guests / audience — Yoko, Maureen, Ken Mansfield in the white coat (Apple Records U.S. Manager) and Chris O’Dell.

1)  1:28:25 – 1:31:29 — Get Back for real.  George counts it in (!)  😉  3-minute songs, man!  Wow.
Peter Jackson does split screens!
Then triptychs!!!
1:28:47 — great camera pan of the London skyline — you can see Westminster & Big Ben in the nearby distance, and St. James’s Church spire close by.

view from Beatles rooftop with Big Ben and Westminster Peter Jackson documentary

1:28:55 — Kevin Harrington can be seen rocking out in joy on stage left.  💓

1:29:25 — great split-screen edit — 4 guys waving from a rooftop, and Paul seeming to see them and get a kick out of it — maybe in part because they looked so much like the four bobbies on the wall in last year’s Magical Mystery Tour.

Peter Jackson Beatles Get Back documentary Paul McCartney and fans

1:29:33 — John blows on his fingers mid-song to warm them up!
It looks like Apple’s Peter Brown behind the stairwell window.

Ringo’s crackin . . . and Billy’s wailin. 😉

1:30:58 — There’s a nice shot from behind the band, and you can see Mo (Maureen Starkey) rockin out.  🙂

1:31:10 — Nice capture in upper right of Mal & Kevin groovin in joy.

1:31:22 — The cameraman in the beige trench coat in back of the band with wooden tripod shooting people on other roofs has a 35mm film magazine.

End of the song John is holding his hands together trying to warm up his fingers.

There’s talk about getting more vocals in the monitors.  (there’s always talk about getting more vocals in the monitors!!  😄)

Street commentary.  Funny typical Londoners circa January 1969.  🙂

2)  1:32:25 – 1:35:29 — Get Back – take two — again, three minutes

More wonderful triptychs!  Very cool choices and collages by Peter Jackson.

1:33:27 — the classic man with pipe & hat walking out onto the roof.

1:33:30 — Great closeup of Mo rockin out again.  🥰
Gawd bless ‘er . . . and see below.  😉

Billy’s wailing.  🙂  He loves this song.  😍

More great triptychs by Peter Jackson!

1:34:40 — Tony Richmond, sans hat, seen hastily carrying the 35mm camera from behind the band to in front of them, with the guy in the long beige trench coat trailing.

1:34:57 — Tony laying down on wooden floor in front of John & George with the 35mm.  Then he scooches up right underneath John.

1:35:25 to 1:36:06 — Numerous clear shots of Tony Richmond with the 35mm on his shoulder sitting on floor looking up at John and George.

Yoko is so sadly unresponsive and stoney-faced throughout the entire concert.  😢

Think about the 50 or 100 people (tops) on the various rooftops who were watching.  What an experience for them!  And they’re all just employees of neighboring stores on Savile Row.

It’s kind of amazing there’s such a clear audio recording of the vocals and different instruments, including in these windy conditions.  Gawd bless George Martin, Glyn Johns & company.  💖

Peter Jackson is really into telling and merging the stories of the multiple experiences — from the band, to the crew people, to the spouses, to those on the rooftops, to those on the street.  He’s a natural storyteller. 😉

3)  1:35:47 – 1:39:04 — Don’t Let Me Down – take one – 3:17 long.
Great triptychs!  If this was eligible for an Oscar, this chit would win him and Jabez Olssen Best Editing.  😉
There is a Best Editing category in the Primetime Creative Arts Emmys — so maybe there.
Great sound!
John wailing!

* 1:36:07 — great shot from across the street of the whole “set.”

3 Savile Row from across the street in Peter Jackson Get Back documentary

Funny plays with street-level reactions.
Great band camerawork!
1:37:34 — Tony Richmond seen lying on his back shooting up at George. 

1:38:18 — Cops first show up on the street – 10 minutes after the band started — noise complaints – “disturbing the peace.”

4)  1:39:05 – 1:42:33 — I’ve Got A Feeling — the version deservedly on the album
The band is really getting into a joyous groove.
I disagree with some of Peter Jackson’s choices here with so much focus on things other than the band’s historic performance on the roof.
But great two- and four-camera screen splits!

Paul and the band are really getting into it.  Loosened up — and rockin. 😉

Paul McCartney cute and smiling on Apple rooftop in Beatles final concert

Cops enter Apple lobby.
Hidden camera in lobby is hilarious and brilliant.
They just leave the cops standing in the lobby.  🤣

Receptionist Debbie mentions Derek Taylor — who has been oddly absent from most-all the doc footage!

Great visual storytelling by Peter Jackson.

1:40:58 — the 35mm is now on the shoulder of the beige trench coat cameraman pointed across the street.  It seems to be used mostly to get distance shots.

1:41:22 — Nice (but sadly rare) Billy footage in the 2-shot with him on the right screen.

As soon as the song ends, John holds his fingers together again to warm them up.

1:42:45 — John then George then Ringo walk over and look over the roof edge at the people below.  🙂

The street comments are both hilarious and cool.
1:43:25 — the goofy rosy-cheeked young guy who doesn’t like them because, “Not now.  They’ve changed completely.”  😅

1:43:40 — Bitchy old lady — “It just can’t see that it makes sense.  It woke me up from my sleep and I don’t like it.”  😁
It’s funny — you can see a middle-aged guy in a suit leaning against a wall kind of laughing at her.  🙂

5)  1:43:59 – 1:46:43 — One After 909 — the version that’s on the album — again a 2¾ min song!
GREAT triptychs!
Billy Preston — great contributions!
1:45:13 — George Martin & Peter Brown seen in the roof doorway.

1:45:38 — The super-valuable cameraman who caught such great shots from the top of the structure next to the roof entrance is seen in a brief shot on the left screen.  He’s holding a 35mm.  It’s either the same one we’ve seen on the deck that’s been passed up to him, or after the discussion 5 days earlier, MLH & Tony Richmond brought in a couple higher resolution cameras for the London skyline panorama distance shots.  We never see well enough the camera on the roof across the street to tell what he’s using.

1:45:59 and on & off thru the end of the song — Mo is boppin her head and REALLY into it — just as she would be in the control room playback later.  Maybe she remembers them playing it back in the Cavern days.
She sure seems like the coolest and most fun of the significant others at this point.

She’s also the link — The Cavern regular who just loved their music … and Ringo most of all.
Along with Mal, she’s the only one who was in the Cavern cellar AND the Apple rooftop when the basement lads had grown to be the biggest band in the world.

1:46:10 — Here begins several great shots of the band, the stage, the assembled listeners, and the immediate neighborhood by the cameraman on top of the stairway entrance.
And in the middle, there’s another real nice establishing shot of the building and block from across the street.

Their hands are cold.  John’s holding his fingers together trying to warm them.

1:47:22 — Post song: Mal to the cops in the lobby – “I’m The Beatles’ Road Manager.”  Says he’ll turn off the PA . . . and then doesn’t.  😂
Noodling of Dig A Pony heard in the background.

Poor Debbie in the lobby holds off the cops but never gets to see the show of the band she’s working for.

Johnny Depp-like Tony Richmond doing the clapper. 

6)  1:49:30 ­– 1:53:15 — Dig A Pony — the version on the album.
John counts in the song.
Ginger Kevin holding the lyrics for John.

More great triptychs!

Cop: “Surely something can be done.”  🤣

Mal bullshits cops he’s turned off the PA and is now going down to the studio, and the cops say, “Okay.”  🙂

1:50:15 — John’s absolutely loving this live performance experience!  🙂

1:53:16 — John, post song — “Me hands are getting too cold to play a chord now.”

1:53:25 — The two “Apple Scruffs” – Eileen Kensley & Sue Ahearne – who we met in episode two can be seen standing behind the hood of the silver car.

1:53:53 — Great street comments.  Funny cool chicks.  “They get around don’t they.”  😊
1:54:18 and 1:55:08 — and old man in hat.  Wants his daughter to marry a Beatle “because they’ve got money.”  😆

1:55:17 — Funny cool jam on God Save The Queen  🙂  According to Mark Lewisohn this was the band filling in time as new tape rolls were loaded downstairs.

7)  1:55:45 – 1:59:18 — I’ve Got A Feelingtake two – great 3½ min. version
Street comments about their sons liking the music.
Ringo has never used the music stand he unwrapped and has next to him.  😅
Billy P great again!
Ringo’s kickin ass!

1:57:34 — White coat Ken moves to stand on the side next to Kevin the roadie — and Yoko, Maureen & Chris O’Dell are now sitting side-by-side.  💝
1:57:51 — nice to see photographer Ethan Russell rockin it & directing cinematic traffic on the roof.

1:58:20–58:32 — Six screen split!!  Incredible!!  — the five cameras on the roof, plus the one on the roof across the street.

* 1:58:56–59:10 — beautiful, incredible triptych of Ringo absolutely powering the band!!

* 1:59:12 — the great Ringo final cymbal crash end to the song  😍
Do not miss!  🎁

8)  1:59:40 – 2:02:58 — Don’t Let Me Down — take two — 3:18 – great performance
1:59:37 — Mal ushers the cops onto the roof.
1:59:48 — you can see the legs of the cameraman & somebody else on the higher roof structure where they’re getting those shots from.  😉
1:59:56 — Tony Richmond physically moves a cameraman into place.
2:00:00 — Paul looks back and sees the cops – smiles and lets out a big happy “Wooo!”  😍
2:00:24 — Ringo notices them shortly thereafter.
2:00:42 — John’s the last to notice cuz he’s at the mic singing.
Mal’s holding the cops off.
* John’s rockin!!  🤩

John Lennon pointing on Apple rooftop

Billy’s cookin again.  The lads love him.  😉
2:01:39 — Senior Sargent cop shows up on the street, then in lobby, then goes up to the roof.
2:02:33 — some actual Billy footage!

9)  2:02:58 – 2:06:00 — George kicks them right into a rocking Get Back — take three


2:03:08 — Mal turns off George’s amp (as per the police)
2:03:21 — then Mal turns off John’s amp
John & George both turn to Mal.  “What?”
*  Ringo, Paul & Billy keep wailing.  *

*  2:03:34 — George turns his amp back on!  😍

Beatles rooftop concert best moment George Harrison turning his amp back on

We always think (correctly) of John being the rebel leader in the band.  But in this moment it’s George.

2:03:40then Mal turns John’s amp back on.

Ringo, Paul & Billy keep playing and don’t lose the song — gawd bless ’em.

It was GEORGE’s act of subversion that makes the grand finale happen.  In that moment he’s the bandleader calling the tune!  He deserves huge props for that.

2:04:25 — funny Monty Pythonesque shot of Sgt Cop in his comical helmet scowling in the back while Paul is singing.  🙂

2:05:17 — cops leave down stairway.

Billy’s WAILING.

Peter Jackson’s choice to includ the final Savile Row guy’s complaint in the middle of this last song is my only real editorial beef with his 7½ hours.

2:06:04 — Paul: “Thanks, Mo,” with a big smile to Ringo’s wife.

I’m a stage performer, and I’m sure you’ve heard this before, cuz it’s true — you often perform to one person in the audience.  If you can make them love it, maybe everyone else will, too.  John Fogerty tells the story about CCR’s performance at Woodstock, and how one guy yelled out a line of support, and John says he played the whole show to that one guy.  Well, on the Apple roof, the performers were playing to no one but a film crew and four guests.  THAT’s why Paul thanked her.  At least one person was getting it.  And I know as a performer, that’s all you need.  . . . and how horrible this performance might have been for the performers if there wasn’t one person who was responding.  Unassuming relatively unknown Maureen Starkey deserves the highest praise for the joyous vibe of The Beatles’ last performance.

2:06:06 — John: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and myself, and I hope we passed the audition.”

2:06:13 — rooftop performance over.

In this doc the performance runs — 1:28:25 to 2:06:13 — roughly 37 minutes and 50 seconds.

From Paul walking out on the roof until the end of the rooftop footage is 41:30.

9 songs.  5 different.

Get Back — 3 times
Don’t Let Me Down — 2 times
I’ve Got A Feeling — 2 times
One After 909 — 1 time
Dig A Pony — 1 time

The performances that made it onto the Let It Be album:

I’ve Got A Feeling
One After 909
Dig A Pony

Great wrap-up shots.

2:06:47 — MLH: “As soon as you’ve got that covered, that’s a wrap.”

2:06:53 — Cops leave out the Savile Row lobby.

2:07:17 — Band in the downstairs control room talking about the show and listening to playback.
Fantastic post-show debriefing, and jamming other ideas of how to do a rooftop concert even better.  🙂
2:08:00 — Maureen Starkey’s LOVING it!  🙂  and again at 2:09:30.
2:09:09 — John & Yoko closeness shots.
2:09:56 — Ringo puts his hand on Paul & Linda’s.

The band members were clearly at ease with the cameras at this point, and everybody was feeling great, and the film crew were able to capture some pretty special intimacy here that would normally never be seen outside of the handful of those present.  And I mean any band’s intimate moment this.  And this is the freakin Beatles!  … right after they walked offstage from arguably their greatest live performance ever.
This is incredible stuff!  💖

The band want to keep recording, but it takes too long to get their gear back down from the roof and re-set up, so they call it a day.

2:10:50 — Day 22— the last day — Friday, January 31st

“The Apple Studio Performance” — as Lewisohn says the tape boxes are labeled for this day in the basement studio.

2:11:07 — Credits start to roll — set to footage of different song snippets they run through with 2-and-3-screen splits.

2:11:07 — Take This Hammer – a few seconds of the old Leadbelly song
2:11:18 — Two Of Us – snippet
2:11:27 — Friendship­ – the Cole Porter song, with modified, shall we say “Liverpool lyrics”
2:11:39 — Five Feet High and Rising – by Johnny Cash
2:11:47 — Run For Your Life – Beatles song from Rubber Soul

2:12:20 — Two Of Us — staged studio performance (partial) — the recording that’s on the album.
3 screens.

2:13:24 — The Long and Winding Road – several partial takes.

* 2:14:37 — Let It Be – staged studio performance – parts of various takes — eventually includes part of the performance on the album.

They’re having so much fun together.

2:15:45 — John: “I’ll never get Maggie Mae done if we go on like this.”  🤣

2:18:00 — END OF FILM




Some post-doc thoughts . . .

I sorta feel at the moment like this is the greatest movie ever made.

I’ve been seriously studying film for the last 18 months, and there is nothing like this — 7½ hours of prime-time behind-the-scenes footage and storytelling of masters making masterpieces.

I know we’ve had some Mona Lisas — but this is the Sistine Chapel of music documentaries.

This is an historic portrait of the most important collective of artists, probably ever, in any medium.

I love me some Grateful Dead, and Michelangelo blows my mind, and I’m a huge Scorsese fan . . . but none of these people changed the world the way The Beatles did.  And there’s never been anything remotely like this documentary on how this collective created their art.

This is an expansive, detail-rich novel of a movie.  (Not to mention a novel movie  😉)

People today are used to getting their news and art in meme-sized chucks — and suddenly here’s this guy creating a non-fiction Lord of The Rings-like epic.

Or think of it this way —
There’s no 7½-hour behind-the-scenes creation documentary like this about Dylan or Bird or Orson or Picasso or Sinatra or Elvis or Dali or Kerouac or . . . . . no deep-reveal multi-hour intimate entree into any of their processes.

But there now is for The Beatles (no less!)


One other observation — they took the weekends off — even in the middle of recording an album — on a tight deadline!

When I’m writing a book, I don’t think, “Oh, it’s Friday night, I’ll knock off for the weekend.”

When people are making a movie, it doesn’t all stop for two days on Friday evening.

It’s just so funny / bizarre that they keep sorta blue collar workingman hours.  😲


The Technology:

The new MAL technology Peter Jackson & company invented while making this is revolutionary — turning single track tapes into multitrack.  Not only is this documentary historic because of its Beatles reveal (and an unmitigated masterpiece of editing) but it’s also gonna be known to history as the film that invented an audio ability to separate tracks.

Also, if you don’t know — Peter Jackson and his co-creator named it MAL — for Mal Evans!  but also cuz it’s M-ultitrack A-rtifical intelligence L-ogistics, and it rhymes with 2001’s famous artificial intelligence machine HAL.  They would say to each other as they were editing a new section, “Let’s give this to Mal.”  🥰  

He said of the audio improvements via the new MAL system, they originally needed around 2,000 closed captioning comments, but after Mal got done with it, they were down to 500.

Then add to that the visual information saturation we see in this digitally remastered footage — making this effectively a different medium than the original documentary.  We can now read words written on notepaper and see what other instruments are lying around in corners.


I love these quotes from the Variety review . . .

““Get Back” isn’t a breakup movie — it’s a miniseries filled with great musical makeup sex.”  😍

“A film project that lets us look in, at leisurely length, on the creative process as well as personalities of genius-superstars who really are Just Like Us.  In 60 years’ worth of pop music movies, that’s something we’ve never really gotten.”

“Seeing Lennon and McCartney invested so thoroughly in each other’s songs here, and Harrison taking great pains to offer brilliant contributions to both despite the feelings expressed earlier, and Starr as the glue-iest glue of all time… there’s little way to compare their complementary humility to anyone else’s, other than to imagine that Tchaikovsky kept coming by Beethoven’s flat because he really wanted to help out with the arrangement to make his songs better.”  😄



If you want to support living artists and this page you can always buy a book!  🥰


If you liked this, you might enjoy this nonfiction Adventure Tale about the original Beat in the Beatles — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac — including tons of references to the band and Lennon.  🙂

Or if you like Adventures in sixties music you’d probably love Holy Cats!  Dream-Catching at Woodstock about sneaking into the 25th anniversary of the ’69 concert and catching Bob Dylan, the Band, Joe Cocker, Traffic, the Allman Brothers & a ton of others — all with a heavy weaving presence of John Lennon.  😍


Or if, like John, you’ve got some political activism and Prankster playfulness surging through your soul you’d prolly love Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy: Adventures in Politics 1980–2020 including some rooftop escapades.  😉


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

→ 62 CommentsTags: ·····················

The Power of Recycling

November 30th, 2021 · Weird Things About Me

The Power of Recycling


I inherited a bunch of stuff when my dear friend Uta passed away a few years ago.  One thing was her old laptop.  I wiped it clean of her personal files, and always thought I might use it, but it’s a PC and I’m a Mac guy, and “once you go Mac you never go back,” and so the thing just sat here for years.

I finally went to sell it online, and when I opened it up there were now vertical lines through the screen, meaning it was either failing with age or maybe something banged it while it’s been sitting around.  Either way, I couldn’t really sell it, so I looked into how to recycle laptops, and the nearby Staples office supply store accepts them.

I planned a trip over there — it’s about 5 miles away — I hadn’t been since the pandemic, and there was a couple things I had to pick up anyway, and they also recycle pens (if you can believe that!), and batteries, and ink cartridges.  Ever since I learned about this upon relocating to Jokeville, I been throwing all three used items in an old coffee tin in the garage, and it was starting to overflow, so it was a good time to do a huge drop-off to their various recycling bins.

When I got about a half-mile from the store I started thinking about what they do with the old computers and figured they probably didn’t try to find them new homes.  I realized this thing still worked even though it had some lines through the screen, and maybe there’d be somebody who would love a free working laptop, rather than just dumping it for parts.  I almost turned around, but I was nearly at the store, so I kept going to at least drop off the pens, batteries & toner and pick up the couple of staples (ha-ha).

I talked to a manager there and he confirmed the old computers were broken down for parts.  He didn’t know what the hell they did with the old pens.  🙂

When I got home, I took a picture of the laptop, and posted it on the Free Stuff in Oakville Facebook group, and within a minute, people started asking for it, including a woman who said her grade 9 daughter “who’s a great kid” accidentally dropped hers.  “She was absolutely devastated,” including cuz all the other kids in her class are sitting with their laptops on their desks and she doesn’t have one, and how the family was saving up for a new one — but now the mother’s coming over to pick it up, and the unit will live an extended life in deserving & desirous young hands.

I could have just junked it — but because Staples recycled, and I had a ton of other stuff to take there anyway prompting me to make the drive over, and it was in that process that the lightbulb went on to find a user.

The lesson is — save up your batteries, pens & ink cartridges in the garage for a once-a-year drop-off — and if you’ve got something that still even barely works, list it on a “Free” group in your town (on Facebook or other), and there’s gonna be SOMEbody out there who could *really* use it and be ever so grateful for the chance.


recycled PC laptop


You may also enjoy — The Spilled Coffee Test  😉 

Or you can check out my YouTube channel for a buncha fun videos.

Or I’m an author of cool books about politics, music and the Beat Generation you’d probably like.  😉


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

→ 5 CommentsTags:

Bill Clinton Election Night in New York City 1996

October 23rd, 2021 · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Politics, Real-life Adventure Tales

When The Good Guys Win — Head To The Skyscraper Rooftop



A wee rooftop Adventure excerpt from Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy  . . . 

The Democratic Party victory party at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan in 1996 . . .

New York City is a very liberal and a very Democratic town.  And it’s where the money & media & power are.  So every major Dem was there at the party, and most of them spoke from the stage.  The esteemed and now mightily missed Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan; our ’84 Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro; former Governor Mario Cuomo; our senior House Representative Chuck Schumer who would go on to end the nightmare that was Alphonse D’Amato and become a Senator in the next Midterms in ’98; longtime Harlem Representative Charlie Rangel; Brooklyn Representative and “the Librarian of Congress” Major Owens; a young Jerry Nadler long before he’d chair the eventual impeachment hearings of another New Yorker who shall remain nameless; Representative Carolyn Maloney representing my district in Manhattan; former Mayors David Dinkins and Ed Koch; and a couple thousand or so of us various levels of operatives.

We may not have won back the House or the Senate that night, but it was still a helluva party.  They had a huge balcony off the ballroom looking down from the second floor over Seventh Avenue right near Times Square which was an ideal place to smoke a celebratory joint or three beyond the noses of the new Giuliani police.  There were all sorts of New York characters who had managed to find their way into the party.  I remember this limo driver who carried in his wallet a picture of every cool person he’d ever driven, and had concocted elaborate stories about how they’d become best friends.  And there was a comedian who was doing a one-woman show in the East Village and seemed to be making up new political material on the spot.  But the most memorable was a magician in full top-hat-dapper-suit regalia who was spitting playing cards out of his mouth in the middle of conversations.

Since I was in this nice hotel where I didn’t usually find myself, I did what I did in every building I ever temped in — I went up to check out the roof.  Back in the pre-9/11 daze, almost every roof in the city was accessible.  I went out to the deli and grabbed some beers, and came back in the hotel as a guest of the party, but pushed the top floor on the elevator.  I was always tempted back then to write a book about how to get onto every roof in the city but I knew that would blow the secrets of all the sacred lookouts I’d found.

Outside every elevator door there’s a floor-plan with the stairwells marked In Case of Fire.  All you had to do was go to the one that had a stairway going up to a door with a sign that said “NO ROOFTOP ACCESS” and then push that door open — and Whoosh! you’d feel that big gust of 40-story-high wind and know you were home!

The thing about New York is — it’s crowded.  It’s the greatest city in North America, at least, and everybody wants to be there.  But one place you could have the city to yourself was on the roof of a skyscraper.  The madness was going on all around you, but you had a space the size of a building all to yourself, with 360 degree views, open air, and the adrenaline jazz of being someplace you weren’t supposed to be — but were!

What was cool about this roof was the massive “Sheraton” sign.  Something I first experienced on the Essex House roof on Central Park South was that you could climb up the ladder onto the iron scaffolding that the sign was attached to and boy — that is a freaky wild experience!  It’s one thing to be standing on a rooftop with the wind blowing around you and being able to look out into the crowns of the other architectural masterpieces that every damn building in New York — but, man, when you’re up in the scaffolding with the wind blowing up from below, suspended on a narrow little fire escape type walkway in the middle of the air above the city, it seems like you’re flying. It’s the closest thing I’ve experienced to what a bird must feel.  And that’s what I saw coming on top of the “Sheraton”!


Find the ladder — and get higher still!  Up I went until I was right there at the crest of the giant two-story-high “S” of the sign!  The wind was blowing up a storm — in fact there were wonderful storm-like conditions that night, with a very low cloud cover, and in a lit-up city like New York, the illuminated flowing clouds create this undulating 3-D painting right above your head.  And of course I had saved one last joint — which are always a bit of a challenge to light in these conditions — but I didn’t have four stars on my tie-dyed Prankster collar fer nuthin.

I sat down on the iron slats and let my legs dangle in the emptiness as I pondered all we had done and all that was ahead.  The Mission of the Year accomplished.  The first baby-boomer president was re-elected over a turn-the-clock-back geezer.  The good guys won! I thought of the button I was wearing that night — “It’s the Supreme Court, stupid” — playing on the ’92 campaign’s “It’s the economy, stupid.”  Bill had appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer in his first term, and we had big hopes for the term ahead.  Nobody ended up retiring in his next four years, but we didn’t know that on election night.

I knew Bill wasn’t Jerry Brown or Ralph Nader or anything, but he had assessed and worked the electorate.  There’d been Republican presidents pretty much my entire adult life, and America was not Greenwich Village, as much as I wished it were.  You couldn’t be as far over on the left as my friends & I and win Ohio and Florida and all the places you had to to become President.  But Clinton had tilled the middle ground.  And because of that, women’s rights were safe. Voting rights were safe.  The environment was safe.  Education was safe.  Judgeships were safe.  PBS was safe.  Newt Gingrich and his right-wing selfish pals were up to some serious no good.  And there was only one office-holder in their way.  And we just held that office.  And it was time to celebrate.  On a rooftop in New York.  Under the billowing clouds of history.



You can order a paperback or eBook here.

Here was a live stream from home as part of a Merry Pranksters Virtual Reunion weekend that includes several passages from the book —


Here’s the book’s excellent Introduction by The Beat Museum founder and lifelong politico Jerry Cimino.

Here’s the part when I met Joe Biden during the primary in New Hampshire.



by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —


→ No CommentsTags: ·······

How To Remove A Squirrel’s Nest From A Tree

September 30th, 2021 · Brian on YouTube etc., Weird Things About Me

How To Remove A Squirrel’s Nest From A Tree



We live in a very wildlife-rich area, and everybody gets along.  Well, I’m sure the rabbits have a beef with the coyotes and foxes, but other than that, the skunks, opossums, chipmunks and raccoons don’t cause each other or the non-furry animals much of a problem.  Nor do the mourning doves, owls, bats, hawks, crows, swans, seagulls or Canada geese.  Certainly none cause any widespread damage to homes or other property.

Unique in the animal kingdom ’round these parts are the tree rats — which some people call squirrels.  They ate the mourning dove eggs out of the nest on my windowsill.  Then they ate through the screen on the window and tried to get into the house (thank god the window was closed!  Then they started eating the actual windowsill!  They’ve eaten/destroyed the ornamental wooden fence posts in the backyard.  They dug up the new green lawn that was just planted.  They dig up and kill the flowers in people’s potters on their balconies and in their gardens.  They eat the tomatoes neighbors try to grow, and strip the nextdoor apple tree, taking one bite of each and dropping them to the ground.  They eat their way into attics and start breeding in people’s houses.  They eat through electrical wiring, including not only our neighbours’ expensive Christmas light strings (and sometimes causing house fires), but through the town’s elaborate tree displays, ruining the image, and causing the entire light strings to be thrown in a landfill, plus wasting all the cost and effort by the workers, and ruining the Christmas visuals for children.  And they even do it in the engines of people’s cars!  They’ve chewed on and ruined neighbors’ nice furniture in their back yard.  They strip the bark off the beautiful tree in my back yard to get material to build their rats’ nests.  And that’s when the light went on.  I started looking more closely at the trees around our complex and saw how many penthouse condos we were providing them.

The problem was, of course, that they were so far up in the trees.  So I started thinking of a way to get up there and knock them down.  Then I built the tool — with $30 worth of PVC pipes and a few odds & ends lying around the house.

Materials needed:

four 2-inch wide 8-foot long PVC pipe pieces — $7 x 4 = $28
one 2-inch by 2-inch wooden strip board — which is actually 1½ x 1½ inches — $3
one 3-prong cultivator — $20
duct tape

It’s very simple to build — I show you how in the video — and then I show you how to reach the pipe up into the tree to remove the nest.

I checked with the bylaw people at city hall to confirm it’s legal to remove a squirrel (rat) nest on your property, and they told me that it was.  Then I called the Humane Society to see what they thought of it and the local office told me as long as I didn’t hurt any animals in the process, they were fine with nest removals.

Here’s the instructional video on YouTube . . .




If you like the voice and style of the video, you’ll prolly enjoy the books I’ve written — like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.  😉

Or here’s a whole Author’s Page full of them on Amazon.

Or if you like this rats’ nest removal riff, there’s a whole bunch of other videos on YouTube in the same voice on different subjects —

People seem to like this one —


Or here’s the part of Hitchhiker’s Guide where I first arrive at Ken Kesey’s Furthur bus . . .


Or here’s one with some musical accompaniment — Kerouac’s principal musical collaborator David Amram and the mighty Kevin Twigg on drums — in a happy riff about meeting a bunch of the Beat luminaries for the first time.  😉


Enjoy the ride!  And may we all live rat-free!


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —


→ 12 CommentsTags:

The Beatles, The Beats & The Beard

August 31st, 2021 · Kerouac and The Beats, Music

The Rule of Three —

Comedians live by it.  Hockey players call it a hat trick.  Children learn about three blind mice, Goldilocks and the three bears, and how genies always grant three wishes.  The Constitution gave us the trio of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Christians talk of the Holy Trinity.  Confucius laid it down in “Analects” in 500 BC.  And it’s even found in early Latin texts — omne trium perfectum —  everything that comes in threes is perfect.

In preparation for fully enjoying Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated The Beatles: Get Back three night long documentary about  The Beatles’ final recording sessions set to air on Disney+ over three Thanksgiving nights — November 25, 26 & 27, 2021 — I decided to finally read the transcripts of the conversations between the band members from a rehearsal on the third day of January 1969, as printed in the The Beatles Get Back book published by Apple in 1969 and released in the original box set of the Let It Be album in the U.K. and Canada, but not in the U.S. (thanks to Rod Griffith for the backstory deets) — and imagine my jaw-dropped surprise seeing George quoting to Paul, Michael McClure’s play The Beard!


When I first saw the words “The Beard” I immediately thought of McClure’s (pretty obscure) play, but thought, “No way he’s talking about that.”  Then he goes on to describe the plot, the staging, and actually quotes from it!

In the 52 years this Beatles Get Back book has been in existence, I’ve never seen anybody pick up on this Beat–Beatles connection in all the hundreds of Beatle and Beat books I’ve read.

The Beard is McClure’s 90-minute one-act two-person fantasy play featuring Billy the Kid and Jean Harlow courting “in the blue velvet of eternity,” as the playwright describes it, and has some fairly graphic sexual content that prolly wouldn’t raise much of an eyebrow today, but the same hypocritical puritans who were going after Allen Ginsberg for Howl and Lenny Bruce for comedy routines figured plays like this had to be stamped out.  And their persecution of all three also led to each’s elevation, both contemporaneously and historically.

But what was perplexing was how and where George Harrison could possibly have seen the play.

There’s a detailed accounting of many of the mid-’60s productions on an Andy Warhol site here.  The Warhol people chronicle it because Andy made a film of a performance in New York that he put on in order to shoot it — but did so without the playwright’s permission.  When Andy flew to California to give some private screenings of it, McClure hated it, and hated it so much he had prominent counterculture lawyer Melvin Belli send Warhol an injunction preventing him from ever selling it or even screening it publicly.  According to IMDb, Warhol then gave the only print of the film to McClure.

But what remained a mystery was how the heck George Harrison ever saw a production?  Using a whole number of archival databases I was able to put together The Beard’s entire run up through the start of 1969 when George & Paul talk about it; then I began trying to match George’s whereabouts to the cities and dates, including using the long-established & credible Beatles Bible site.

The Beard   by Michael McClure
complete early production history

San Francisco / Bay Area:
— It was first brought to life as a staged reading at the Actor’s Workshop in San Francisco on Saturday, December 18, 1965, with Richard Bright as Billy the Kid and Billie Dixon as Jean Harlow.  The Actor’s Workshop were also the company to first stage Death of a Salesman and The Crucible on the West Coast, as well as the West Coast premieres of works by Beckett, Brecht, Jean Genet & Harold Pinter, and were basically the Western flagship for modern American theater.

— May 1966 Andy Warhol shot the film version in someone’s apartment in New York (having never seen a staging of it), starring Factory stalwarts Gerard Malanga and Mary Woronov.

— It was first staged for an audience of about 700 at the Fillmore Auditorium (where else?!) for one performance on Sunday, July 24, 1966.  They planned to do it again the next night but the police told event promoter Bill Graham if he did it again they would take away his recently acquired and much prized Dance Hall operator’s license.

As seen at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Grateful Dead exhibit in 2012

— It was next staged at The Committee Theater in North Beach (see rehearsal clip below) for three performances August 6–8, 1966.  The SFPD raided the place and arrested both Billie Dixon and Richard Bright.  They were initially charged with “obscenity,” then “conspiracy to commit a felony” and ultimately with “lewd or dissolute conduct in a public place.”  All charges were later thrown out — thanks to the ACLU.

— There was one performance at the Florence Schwimley Little Theatre in Berkeley on Saturday, August 20th, 1966.  That audience included more than a hundred ACLU-invited expert witnesses, including political activists, academics, writers and even members of the clergy.  Seven members of the Berkeley Police Department and the District Attorney’s office were also present.  The city of Berkeley brought their own charges of “lewd or dissolute conduct” against the play.  It became a theatrical cause célèbre and long legal struggle, until finally a judge ruled that while the play did contain material of a troublesome nature, it was not appropriate to prosecute it.  All the charges were dropped, and the subsequent appeal lost.

— Five nights at the California Hall in S.F., February 22-26, 1967, including a benefit for the ACLU on opening night.

— Three nights at the Wharf Theater in S.F., March 31 – April 2nd, 1967.

— Stanford University in Palo Alto put it on for one performance, Wednesday, April 19, 1967.

— UC Davis near Sacramento also staged one show, Thursday, May 4th, 1967.

Poster for both Stanford & UC Davis featuring Bright & Dixon

August 1st to 6th, 1967, George Harrison made his visit to Los Angeles to meet with Ravi Shankar, then made his more famous trip to San Francisco and Haight-Ashbury on August 7th, then flew back to England on the 9th.

There were one or more shows at the Encore Theater on Mason St. in S.F. on or around Sept. 1st, 1967, the day on which Billie Dixon was interviewed backstage for Pacifica Radio, which you can hear here.

— California State University, Fullerton, in Orange County L.A. staged three (unauthorized) graduate drama director productions on by on Wed. Nov. 15th, 1967 — only open to students, not the public or press — but got tons of bad press anyway, being in the most conservative part of L.A.

Yorba Linda Star, Nov. 17, 1967


Then the play got its big break

Barney Rosset, founder and owner of Grove Press, staged its most important production to date at a small Off-Broadway theater he’d bought at 53 East 11th St. near University Place and named it  The Evergreen Theatre (after his Evergreen Review which published Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso & scores of others).  The wild edge-dancing actor Rip Torn made his directorial debut, and it featured the two actors who had played in all of the authorized productions in California — Dixon & Bright.

Original publicity photo with Billie Dixon & Richard Bright

One other cool Beat connection:  Gerd Stern, the poet, author, painter and most importantly in reGerds to The Beard — a multimedia projection and light show creator — was enlisted to create a complete visual environment in the theater.  Gerd had been part of the avant-garde art scene around the Bay Area since 1948 and knew all the Beats including McClure, and he and his USCO group really went to town, projecting on the side walls as well as the stage, and using sound effects to enhance everything.  The only problem was, when Clive Barnes reviewed the show for the New York Times, he didn’t really get the play — “I am not at all sure how to write about it” he admits right out of the gate — and ends up saying “I enjoyed the media-mix by USCO better than the play,” which really didn’t go over so well with Michael and Rip.  🙂 

The play ran from October 24th 1967 through January 14th 1968 — a time when The Beatles were busy filming and recording Magical Mystery Tour in England in Oct. & Nov. ’67, and I couldn’t find any account of George ever flying to New York (or America) in Dec. or Jan.

Rip Torn went on to win the Obie (the Tony Award for Off-Broadway productions) for Distinguished Direction (as they call it), and Billie Dixon won the Obie for Best Actress — so she must’ve been pretty great.  Richard Bright went on to have a successful working-man’s acting career, usually playing minor roles, with 96 credits to his name including in all three Godfather movies, The Panic in Needle Park, The Getaway, Marathon Man, Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid (though he didn’t play Billy) with nearly 100 filmed acting credits to his name.

In the Live Every Day Like It Could Be Your Last Cuz You Could Get Hit By A Bus Tomorrow Dept.:
Bright was actually hit and tragically killed by a tourist tour bus on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 2006 when he was 68.  R.I.P.

The success of the New York production led to the first L.A. run, opening on January 24th, 1968 and playing for two weeks — while George was in India and recording his debut solo album Wonderwall Music.

The L.A. run was disrupted (and made famous) by the arrest of both actors after the curtain came down at fourteen consecutive performances.  As McClure tells it — “The police would come in at the end of the play, walk backstage, arrest Jean Harlow and Billy the Kid after they’d had a standing ovation from the audience, lead them back out on stage again to the police car, and the audience gave them a second standing ovation before they went off overnight to the jail.”

Poster for the L.A. show designed by Wallace Berman

The L.A. production featured Dennis Hopper as Billy the Kid for the start of the run — until he became too belligerent with the producer and had to be replaced in a pinch by Richard Bright.  The role of Jean Harlow was played by Alexandra Hay.  Part of one of the L.A. performances (with Bright as The Kid, and Jim Morrison in the audience) can be seen in the Agnès Varda film Lions Love (… and Lies) released in 1969.

The January 1968 production in L.A., from Lions Love (… and Lies)

Although McClure & Jim Morrison first met by arrangement of McClure’s literary agent at a bar in Greenwich Village while McClure was in town for The Beard, it was during this L.A. run that they really first bonded.  Jim & Pamela came to the show, and an idea was hatched to make a film version of the play with Morrison as the Kid, but sadly that never came to fruition.

But I still hadn’t figured out how the heck George ever saw it.

He wasn’t in America when all these various productions were staged.  Warhol had given McClure the only print of the film, thus he couldn’t be privately screening it on one of his visits to England.  So how the hell is George Harrison quoting the words and describing the staging?!

Since I’d come to a dead end, I turned to a cool source I had — the Deep Beatles group on Facebook.  This ain’t a home for rookies, but rather for people deep deep deep into Beatles lore.  Literally a half-hour after I posted the inquiry, my new savior, Huw Thomas, came through with the info that a production of The Beard had been staged in London, opening November 4th, 1968!  And he even had the poster for it!


In July 1968, the 18th-century theater censorship laws in England were revoked  (transformational news!)  and the Royal Court Theater became one of the early pioneers of experimental and formerly-banned plays, staging The Beard just three months after the law changed.  Again with Rip Torn directing, and Bright & Dixon in the two roles, it ran for at least a couple of months.

Even with the censorship laws changed, the play was so sexually explicit (cunnilingus on stage in the climactic scene), performances didn’t start until 10:30 at night to make clear this wasn’t a family-hour production for tourists — and no one under 18 was admitted.  Records show Sir John Gielgud and Vanessa Redgrave attended the opening, as did the famous theater critic and National Theater Company Dramaturg Kenneth Tynan, who had led the charge to end the censorship of British theatre.  The evocative Mark Boyle’s Sensual Laboratory provided the music.

The Royal Court archives indicate another play started on Dec 11th, but their file for The Beard is dated through January 1969, so they may have run in repertory.  There was a large ad for The Beard in the December 13–31, 1968 issue of the International Times (the Village Voice of London).

That George is quoting the lines, and it’s so top-of-mind, indicates he must have just seen it.  Plus, he asks his London-based bandmate Paul, “Did you see that?”  There must have been a “that” for him to have seen.

Paul & Linda were known to have gone out to some events in disguise.  George and his wife, the much-photographed model Pattie Boyd, were surely one of the most recognizable couples in England in 1968.  I wonder how they pulled off things like going to the theater?

An ad for the play in the International Times
Apparently Newsweek saw the production in New York

The Beard ran in the newly opened 63-seat “black box” Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court, and not its main 465-seat proscenium arch theater.  A listing in the International Times newspaper from November 1968 has both McClure’s play and John Osborne’s landmark British play Look Back in Anger (which spawned the coining of the Angry Young Men genre) playing at the Royal Court.

A friend, Jim Pennington, actually caught The Beard at the Royal Court in ’68, and described it — “Upstairs at the Royal Court really did mean an almost claustrophobic under-the-eaves, up-in-the-gods theatre space, especially when coloured up and in with the light show.”

This upstairs theater is also where in 1973 The Rocky Horror Picture Show first appeared on a stage.

A paragraph about the play in an article titled
“Theatre of Change?” in the International Times, late Nov. 1968

A Beatle sharing a Beat with another Beatle

The printed exchange between George & Paul that has been misunderstood and misrepresented by some for 50 years is now set straight.  If it wasn’t obvious before, it perfectly clear now that George was quoting from a play and was in no way saying anything insulting to Paul.  They were just two brother artists jamming on contemporary cutting-edge art.

That’s not to say all the longtime bandmates were in perfect harmony during every minute this historic period — as seen by the world in that unfortunate momentary “Whatever it is that’ll please you, I’ll do it” exchange in the original Let It Be movie —  but in the main, as both Paul (“We were having fun and we respected each other“) and Ringo (“There was a lot of joy“) have shared in recent years, they still loved and enjoyed each other’s company during these final rehearsal and recording sessions.

George was so taken with McClure’s voice & vision, Michael became one of the poets slated to be recorded for Apple’s planned spoken-word offshoot label Zapple (headed up by Barry Miles) before it got scrapped by that ratfink of eternity Allen Klein.

THEN — I discovered a recent Beatles podcast where you can actually hear the recording of the expanded, full and unedited studio conversation between George & Paul about The Beard  (!)  —  on the excellent Winter of Discontent podcast, episode 17  (there’s that number again!) that aired August 26th, 2021.  A highly recommended listen.  😉   If you want to skip to it, you can just slide the playhead along the timeline to — 33:50.  It also includes a snippet of audio from The Beard.

Beat that!  🙂

When George says, “Trevelyan’s gone,” he’s referring to John Trevelyan, Britain’s Chief Censor during the 1960s, who was very unpopular with all artists and a wide swath of the public.  When the theatre censorship laws were lifted in July of ’68, George is name-checking that people like Trevelyan couldn’t censor plays anymore (although he could and still did movies).

And THEN — here’s an actual one-minute clip of Billie Dixon & Richard Bright rehearsing the play in February 1967 in San Francisco just before the California Hall shows, with playwright McClure on the stage with them!


So there ya have it! 

Another cool connection between the greatest band and the greatest band of writers!


For tons more connections between the Beatles and the Beats — including how the name of one led to the name of the other — check out my book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Or here’s where you can read How The Beats Begat The Pranksters.

And if you like the music of Bob Dylan, The Band, The Allman Brothers, The Neville Brothers, Traffic, Peter Gabriel, Joe Cocker, Sheryl Crow and like that — all with a heavy John Lennon subplot — check out Holy Cats!  Dream-catching at Woodstock about the spectacular 25th anniversary in 1994.

All those books are updated 2021 editions — and all are in both paperback and eBook form.

For a time-coded and annotated breakdown of Peter Jackson’s epic The Beatles: Get Back and one of the most-read stories here in Brianland go here.

For another investigation into a single clue leading to a whole huge story — check out this piece about the recently uncovered (and only) photograph of Jack Kerouac writing at a typewriter.

Or here’s a rich & colorful investigation into one of the central locations in Beat history — Bill Cannastra’s loft in Chelsea.


R.I.P.  —  Michael McClure  —  1932 – 2020

George Harrison  —  1943 – 2001

Michael McClure at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, 2015


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

→ 28 CommentsTags: ···················

An Autodidact Meets A Collaborative Form

July 31st, 2021 · Movies


One thing I learned during my lockdown Film Studies deepdive is just how subjective movies are.  I know all art is subjective, but maybe film is the most because of how it’s every art form blended together and being experienced at once.

Something I picked up from a Tarantino interview — that a book has words, and an album has music, and a painting has landscapes, and photographs have faces, and ballet has movement, and interior design has style, but only film brings all those art forms together at once.

And, boy — there’s sumpthin to that.

Another truism I discovered doing this autodidactical pursuit from July 2020 to July 2021 was how often movies I’ve heard praised for decades but never had a chance to see ended up leaving me cold;  and movies I’d catch that I’d never even heard the title of before blew me away (or at least I really enjoyed).  I don’t wanna mention titles here of supposedly great movies that I didn’t love cuz I don’t want people to stop reading because I didn’t like their favorite movie, but that’s sort of the subjective point I’m making.

I keep a list of everything watched, and over the last year of 330 films, documentaries and quality cinematic TV series — not counting the thousands of hours of news or guilty-pleasure sitcoms or multiple viewings of the same movie — it’s sort of become this running joke that movies I’ve heard of all my life and finally caught so often bored me . . . but things I’ve never even heard of before, like Knives Out, A Walk in The Woods or Sunday in New York have me perked right up and loving.

Something else I learned watching a ton of documentaries about making movies, plus reading some books & a ton of articles about same, and also mucking around making a few things myself, is just how hard it is to get it right.  The lighting, the sound, the appearance (costume & makeup) . . . and the performance — not to mention the sets and flow and permanence of single takes.  Even a bad movie is incredibly hard to make.

And learning about all these factors has really enhanced my enjoyment of the art form.  Even though I’m a writer, I often find myself not really caring particularly about the plot (Hitchcock’s “McGuffin”) — because I’m so immersed in the beauty of the framing, the camera movements, the meter and poetry of the dialog, the actor’s performance choices, the editing creating the pacing, the choice of locations (and knowing how difficult it is to get everything right in those places), and how the art direction really sets the tone of the film in a subliminal way.

A line I came up with over the last year, that Google didn’t show me anybody else having said, is a play on that famous truism in my mother’s field of real estate — once there’s a great script — the three most important things in filmmaking are – casting, casting, casting.

Serial Neil Simon director Gene Saks said, “Casting is the most important thing of all.”  Robert Zemeckis said, “Good directing is good writing and good casting.”  Manchurian Candidate director John Frankenheimer put it, “Casting is 65% of directing.”  The great John Huston put it at 50:  “Half of directing is casting the right actors.”  Robert Altman told Charlie Rose, “By the time I’ve finished casting a project about 90% of my creative work is finished.”  A filmmaker could have a $100 million budget and beautiful cinematography and pinpoint editing and eye-candy costumes and jaw-dropping sets . . . but if the casting is off, none of that matters.  Equally, if a film is low budget and everything about it is cheap, if there’s perfectly cast performances at the center of it, the viewer will look past everything else and into the souls of the believable characters.

And another thing — location shooting.  That’s something else that can make up for a flawed script or other weaknesses in a film — authentic locations — from landscapes to streetscapes to interiors.  Prominent location practitioner Woody Allen once said something to the effect of, “All the work I put into my movies — and all people are going to value a hundred years from now is what’s going on in the background of my shots.”

Besides Woody, some other great exponents of location shooting I’ve noticed include John Huston, Altman, Kazan, Bogdanovich, Richard Brooks, Milos Foreman, Paul Mazursky, Gene Saks & Walter SallesAnthony Minghella shot The Talented Mr. Ripley entirely on locations in Italy.  And so did John Huston for his BizarroWorld noir send-up Beat The DevilThe Naked City movie was famously shot entirely on locations in New York City (in 1948), much of it without permits or the “extras” knowing they were being filmed.  Route 66 was a TV series famous for filming in different locations around the country in every episode (from 1960–64).  Hitchcock was convincing doing some shooting on location, then switching to a set once the audience had bought in, like the Mount Rushmore climax in North by Northwest.

Another real-world inclusion in films I’ve come to love is diegetic music — music that is heard by the characters as well as the viewing audience — could be the radio, a jukebox, a record player, a musician or band playing in the room or such.  Some films, like The Defiant Ones, The Last Picture Show and Two-Lane Blacktop, have nothing but diegetic music.  Many films use it once or twice, but most have a score and/or inserted existing songs to help power a scene or propel the narrative.  Once you get hip to diegetic music, it’s cool to dig how the characters are rockin the same music you are.

I could go on, but people don’t like to read long pieces anymore. 🙂

Hopefully this added a little spice to the food for thought as you watch movies going forward:

Films blend all the arts together like no other.  It’s all about the casting.  Location shooting is way better than the best built sets.  And diegetic music is the coolest. 😉

Happy viewing!



Check out this Master Film list that’s now over 700 movies, all linked to IMDb and sorted by Comedies, Dramas, Documentaries, TV, Music Movies, Auteurs etc., and many with an informative synopsis.

Or here’s the Movie section of my website with 25 different film-related stories.

Or here’s a page devoted specifically to Beat Generation dramatizations.



by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —


→ 9 CommentsTags: ···················

Holly George-Warren Jack Kerouac biography

June 9th, 2021 · Interviews, Kerouac and The Beats

In some of the best news in Beatlandia in many a year — it’s just been announced that (A) the Kerouac estate has signed the inimitable Holly George-Warren to be the official biographer of Jack — a role originally filled by Doug Brinkley back in the ’90s until he got lured away by some other beatniks of history.  And (B) the book — working title Jack Kerouac: A Writer’s Life — has just been signed to Viking Press — the original publisher of On The Road, and which has become home to most all of Kerouac’s 50 different books in print.

And speaking of books in print, Holly has a ton of them herbadself — Janis: Her Life and Music (2019);  A Man Called Destruction: The Life & Music of Alex Chilton (2014);  Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues (2011);  The Cowgirl Way: Hats Off to America’s Women of The West (2010);  The Road to Woodstock (with Michael Lang, 2009);  Grateful Dead 365 (2008);  Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life & Times of Gene Autry (2007);  Punk 365 (2007);  Honky-Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country & Western Music (2006);  The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (2005);  The Appalachians: America’s First and Last Frontier (2004);  Cowboy, How Hollywood Invented The Wild West (2002);  How The West Was Worn (2001);  The Rolling Stone Book of The Beats (1999) . . . 


Holly rockin her ’57 Fender Jazzmaster with Das Furlines, 1987


In the Full Disclosure Department — Holly and I met in the East Village in the mid-’90s when we were both Howling there, and we connected over a love of the still-vibrant downtown music & arts scene, with an undercurrent of us both being able to talk Beats and beats by the hour.

When The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats first hatched over at Rolling Stone with Holly at the helm, we had about a thousand conversations about it as it grew from an idea into one of the most inclusive & complete portraits of the Beats ever created.

And now 20-sumpthin years later — a similar movie has just been green-lit!  And this one no less than Jack’s official biopic!  And thank gawd the screenplay didn’t go to some agenda pimp or academic wanker, but to an experienced cinematographer biographer with a passion for Jack and a fresh (and female!) perspective.

So I took this exploding-like-spiders-across-the-stars moment to catch up with Holly and get summa the deets — 

Why the heck does the world need another Kerouac biography?  What’s gonna be different about this one?

I hope to find buried treasures during a very long, in-depth search in the archives that shed new light on Kerouac’s writing process and life and thought process.  I’ll be looking at his life & work through a 21st century lens — and I’ll be bringing a fresh perspective to his oeuvre and the story of his life.

What does an “estate-sanctioned” biography mean, exactly?

The Kerouac estate and their literary agent reached out to me last fall after reading Janis.  They said they hoped I would apply the same research, storytelling and contemporary viewpoint to Jack that I brought to Janis.  They offered me complete access to the estate-controlled archives, and permission to quote from any of the personal papers etc., but with no controls or editorial approvals over my manuscript.  I got my literary agent involved and we have a contractual agreement to that effect.

This is also the agreement I had with the Joplin and Autry estates.  I would not embark on a biography like this without that autonomy being guaranteed in writing.  I included this in the very lengthy book proposal that I worked on for months, and my agent conducted an auction with numerous publishers bidding, and I decided on Paul Slovak at Viking.  It was so heartening to get so much interest from some amazing editors at a number of publishing houses!

Cool!  That’s a great story unto itself!  What did you take from doing The Rolling Stone Book of The Beats that made you wanna dig into Jack more?

That was my favorite of the 40+ books I put together while I was the Director/Editor of Rolling Stone Press from 1993-2001.  It was the project that I was passionate enough about that it lured me back to work after my son Jack was born in 1998.  In 1999, he got to accompany me and my husband on my book tour and at events with the book’s contributors.  That was his third or fourth road trip, at age 1.  The book was such a joy to put together — to commission writing from and getting to meet Joyce Johnson, Ann Charters, Carolyn Cassady, Ann Douglas, Hettie Jones, and other great writers like you, Brian! 

When I was in college at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, my professor Gordon Ball brought Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, and William Burroughs to campus.  I went to their readings and we got to meet them afterwards.  I’d also just seen Bob Dylan and Patti Smith for the first time – and knew I had to move to NYC!

Wow!  You had Gordon Ball as a professor!  Amazing.  Perfect.  To play on John Leland’s book title — why does Kerouac matter?

No other 20th century writer shaped the American imagination more than Jack Kerouac.  His musical ear and literary innovations inspired four generations of readers, writers and musicians.

Being a woman, will you have a different approach than your many male counterparts to include all the many women who knew Jack well and left behind their own illuminating memoirs?

In his novels, many of the female characters appear to need rescuing.  But in real life, Jack seemed to be attracted to strong, independent, brilliant women.  I’m really looking forward to exploring those relationships.

What are some of your favorite Jack books?

I’ve read On The Road four or five times, beginning when I was 16 — so it has a very special meaning for me.  I also love The Subterraneans, Big Sur and The Dharma Bums.  I’m really looking forward to revisiting all his other work and doing a deep dive.

Ouuu — Subterraneans!  Beautiful!  If he didn’t have that Charlie Parker soloing stretch in his repertoire, I don’t know if I’d be as blown away by his skills as I am.  Well, that and Old Angel Midnight.  But I digress.  🙂  How did he affect your life personally?

He completely opened my mind to a whole other life that existed outside of my small hometown in North Carolina.  When I saw in one of his notebooks on view at an exhibit that he possibly drove by my house on one of his road trips — I grew up on a highway that he would have taken to get to his next stop — that blew my mind!  I fantasized that I was climbing the maple tree in my front yard in the early ’60s when the car he was in drove by.

His work made me want to be a writer, to travel, to learn about Buddhism, about people unlike myself — and I started hitchhiking, too.  The longest distance was from North Carolina to Florida.  But I mostly just hitched around North Carolina.

Besides the themes in his writing and the adventures in On The Road, his work inspired me to pursue a life of experience outside “my safety zone” — so I did lots of traveling in North America, South America and Europe — but also did lots of “mind traveling,” too.  In my early music writing, I mimicked his style to an extent until I found my own voice.

Wow!  Great!  I love the maple tree in the front yard.  You and Canada waving at Jack!  🙂  When will people be able to climb into the branches of this book?

It’s targeted for 2025.

Man — that sounds like some science fiction date in the future.  I can’t even grasp that I’ll be alive in 2025.  But I’m so glad we both are now.  And, boy, there’s nobody I’d rather have at the helm of this book than you. 

Thanks so much, Brian.  You and I will both be kickin’ up our heels in 2025!  There’s an amazing adventure ahead between now and then.

And awaaay we go!!  🙂 



at The Mothership in Woodstock in 2016

A couple of authors at The Mothership in Woodstock, 2016



Here’s my Rolling Stone Book of the Beats piece on “Abstract Expressionism: From Bird to Brando — the halftime show of the century!  1945 to 1955.”

And here’s the other one on “Floating Universities: The Power of the Collective in Art.”

Here’s where you can get my book — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Here’s a piece on what it’s like at the annual Woodstock of Jack — the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac festival.

Here’s the time John Cassady & I teamed up there doing our Jack & Neal show.

Here’s a great piece on the first photographs ever to emerge of legendary Beat Bill Cannastra’s mythological loft — where Kerouac found his scroll writing paper … and his wife.

And speaking of amazing uncovered photographs — here’s the only unstaged photograph known to exist of Jack Kerouac actually writing at a typewriter, which came to light in late 2019.

And here’s some interviews and such I’ve done on Jack over the years.

Here’s a video of some On The Road — scored with David Amram’s accompaniment — at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac . . .


Or here’s bringing the cool bus chapter from Kerouac’s Pic to life at LCK . . .



by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

→ 14 CommentsTags: ·····

Stopping and Staying Stopped Smoking

May 31st, 2021 · Real-life Adventure Tales

Stay Stopped Smoking


For all my friends who struggle . . .

These are the handwritten notes I’d read any time I was feeling an urge: 

Whatever’s bothering you will NOT be made better by drawing smoke into your tender  living lungs.

Drawing smoke into your lungs doesn’t make anything better.

Don’t die for something you don’t even want to do.

I LOVE gaining the money I save each day.  Don’t blow that.

I don’t want my house and car and clothes stinking of cigarette smoke like some completely lacking in discipline loser.

I don’t want to be a slave to something I don’t want to do.

Do not voluntarily draw the smoke from burning leafs and chemicals into your tender lungs and body.

You are not a smoker.

Don’t put your mouth on the end of an exhaust pipe.

Picture Alex Grey’s paintings of our blessed tender life-giving organs. Do NOT voluntarily destroy those beautiful organs with vicious chemical smoke.

I don’t want to wake up wheezing and hacking horkers into a sink.

Smoking is literally killing me.

I want more time in my days.  And I get so much more somehow when I’m not smoking.

I want to go visit people as a non-smoker.

I don’t want to be a weak-willed LOSER.

Save $30 a day (including on beer) to spend on needed items.

Give yourself something to be proud of.

Everyone else finds them disgusting.  Don’t be a loser doing something disgusting that you hate.

I could have bought a new furnace for free with what I spent on something that’s killing me.

I want to see how more of this movie (life) turns out — all the stories playing out in the world.  Live to see what happens, man.

Don’t jones to go out at night cuz you ran out of cigarettes.

Don’t give The Addition Rat inside you water and sustenance.

You think you want a cigarette, but you really don’t.

Shortness of breath . . . trouble breathing . . . chest pains . . . heart palpitations.

You’d rather not smoke than smoke; you’d rather be a non-smoker than a smoker.

You won’t feel better buying a pack of cigarettes — you’ll feel worse.

Smoking does NOT make me feel BETTER.

NOT smoking DOES make me feel better.

I definitely get more work done per day when NOT smoking.

I’d rather get one new book or DVD of my choice every single day than buy packs of dead leafs to burn and draw into my body.

I like myself more — and how I fill my days — when I’m not smoking.

Don’t blow your quit streak for one moment of misguided desire.

I like myself better when I’m not smoking.

I like the way my brain works better when I’m not smoking.

Having a cigarette does not solve ANYthing.

Those things are disgusting.  No wonder that’s what so many nonsmokers say.  Phucking repulsive.

I don’t want to be a smoker.


Another trick:

Write a list of both friends and famous people you admire who don’t smoke.  😉

And write a list of people you know who died of lung cancer.

You can add George Harrison, Johnny Carson, Yul Brynner, Lucille Ball, Walt Disney, Nat King Cole, Joe DiMaggio, Michael Landon, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Betty Grable, Babe Ruth, Suzanne Pleshette, Peter Jennings, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, David Bowie . . .

Here’s a full list of 227 famous people:



And speaking of lists — here’s the most complete list on the internet of Famous People Who Never Had Kids.

Or here’s a cool one of Famous Americans Who Were Not Born in America.

Or here’s another power of the mindset piece — The Spilled Coffee Test.

Or here’s a nice general inspiration piece — Be The Invincible Spirit You Are.


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

→ 12 CommentsTags:

The Play’s The Thing

April 30th, 2021 · New York City, Real-life Adventure Tales

The Play’s The Thing

113 different Playbills that survived.

An approximate history of my life in theater audiences . . .

Some of the highlights . . . which you can see the Playbills of in chronological order starting at the top . . .

Mousetrap — London — 1972 — the longest running play in the history of the planet, opened in 1952, never closed until the pandemic of 2020 — 68 years.

Sleuth — London — 1972 — sat in the Queen’s private box (with its own bathroom) because our seats had been sold twice and the other people arrived first.

Hair — London — 1972, in the Shaftesbury Theater where it first premiered with Tim Curry in 1972

Harvey with James Stewart — London, 1975 — the first time I experienced a standing ovation.

The Elephant Man with David Bowie in the title role — Broadway, Dec. 3rd, 1980 – five nights before John Lennon was shot dead. (!)

Napoleon — Radio City Music Hall, Jan. 1981 – the restored 3-screen 1927 movie with a full orchestra playing a score composed by Carmine Coppola, Francis’s father.

Amadeus — Broadway, Feb. 1981 — long before there was a movie of it, with Tim Curry in the title role, plus Ian McKellen & Jane Seymour.

Private Lives — Broadway, June 1983 — Noel Coward’s comedy about a divorced couple, featuring divorced couple Liz Taylor & Richard Burton.

Glengarry Glen Ross — Broadway, March 1984 — David Mamet’s masterpiece, with Joe Mantegna & J.T. Walsh.

Death of a Salesman — Broadway, June 1984 — Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, with Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich & Kate Reid.

Balm In Gilead — Off-Broadway, 1984 — Steppenwolf production of Lanford Wilson’s play about the Greenwich Village underworld, John Malkovich directing, Laurie Metcalf’s mesmerizing 20-minute monologue in second act. It played at the Minetta Lane Theatre, five minutes from where I lived on Washington Square North and I second-acted it probably a half-dozen times just to see her monologue. Also saw it at Circle In The Square at Sheridan Square with Malkovich filling in for one of the roles.

Hurlyburly — Broadway, 1984 — saw it’s first production directed by Mike Nichols, with William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Harvey Keitel, Ron Silver, Jerry Stiller, Judith Ivy, and Cynthia Nixon, who was also in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing two blocks away, also directed by Nichols. Her character in Hurlyburly appears at the beginning and end of the play, and she only had one scene in middle of The Real Thing, and she’d literally run between the two theaters and was appearing in two Broadway plays at the same time!

Back Bog Beast Bait, Suicide in B Flat, and Angel City all by Sam Shepard — Off-Off-Broadway in repertory at La Mama in the East Village, Dec. 1984, with Max Roach playing the music.

Strange Interlude by Eugene O’Neill — Broadway, 1985 — with Glenda Jackson.

Fool For Love — Off-Broadway, 1985 — written & directed by Sam Shepard.

Orphans — Off-Broadway, 1985 — Steppenwolf production, Gary Sinise directing, starring Gary Cole (!), music by Pat Metheny.

Arms & The Man — Broadway, 1985 — George Bernard Shaw’s play, directed by and starring John Malkovich, with Raul Julia & Glenne Headly.

Curse of The Starving Class — Off-Broadway, 1985 — by Sam Shepard, starring Bradley Whitford.

The Caretaker — Broadway, 1985 — Steppenwolf production of Harold Pinter’s play, directed by John Malkovich, starring Gary Sinise and Jeff Perry.

Drinking In America — Off-Broadway, 1986 — Eric Bogosian’s one-man play.

A Lie of The Mind — Off-Broadway, 1986 — Sam Shepard’s play, with Harvey Keitel, Aiden Quinn, Amanda Plummer, Will Patton & James Gammon.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night — Broadway, 1986 — Eugene O’Neill’s play, staring Jack Lemmon, with Kevin Spacey & Peter Gallagher as the sons.

Cuba & His Teddy Bear — Broadway, 1986 — Robert De Niro, Ralph Macchio & Burt Young; had long talk with Joseph Papp while waiting to buy tickets.

I’m Not Rappaport — Broadway, 1986 — Hal Linden, Ossie Davis, Mercedes Ruehl.

The House of Blue Leaves — Broadway, 1986 — John Guare’s play, with Danny Aiello, Christine Baranski, Swoosie Kurtz & Patricia Clarkson.

My Gene — Off-Broadway, Public Theatre, 1987 – Colleen Dewhurst’s powerful one-woman show as Eugene O’Neill’s last wife who is going mad.

Mort Sahl On Broadway — 1987 — great one-man standup show with newspaper under his arm.

Burn This — Broadway, 1987 — Lanford Wilson’s play with John Malkovich & Joan Allen.

Waiting For Godot — Off-Broadway, 1988 — Beckett’s classic with Robin Williams & Steve Martin, and Bill Irwin as Lucky. Directed by Mike Nichols.  Saw it twice in the tiny 300-seat Mitzi Newhouse theater at Lincoln Center.

Twelfth Night — Shakespeare in the Park, 1989 — with Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeff Goldblum, Gregory Hines, John Amos, Fisher Stevens, Stephen Collins, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Saw twice.

States of Shock — Broadway, 1991 — by Sam Shepard, starring John Malkovich.

Man of La Mancha — Broadway, 1992 — Raul Julia & Sheena Easton.

A Streetcar Named Desire — Broadway, 1992 — Alec Baldwin (who was GREAT and funny (!) as Stanley), Jessica Lange, Amy Madigan, James Gandolfini, Aida Turturro.

Death and The Maiden — Broadway, 1992 — Glenn Close, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman — great drama.

Abe Lincoln in Illinois — Broadway, Lincoln Center, 1993 — Sam Waterston.

Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead — Off-Broadway, Minetta Lane Theater, 1994 — Eric Bogosian one-man show, absolutely hilarious.

SubUrbia — Off-Broadway, 300-seat Mitzi Newhouse at Lincoln Center, 1994 — original production with Steve Zahn, Martha Plimpton, Josh Hamilton.

The Tempest — Shakespeare in the Park, 1995 — Patrick Stewart, Bill Irwin.

Mrs. Klein — Off-Broadway, 1996 — Uta Hagen & Amy Wright (who both lived in my building at 27 Washington Square North).

Demonology — Off-Broadway, 1996 — play about temping when my book came out about temping, with Marisa Tomei.

Capeman — Broadway, 1998 — Paul Simon’s musical, with Ruben Blades & Marc Anthony.

Cabaret — Broadway, in the former Studio 54, 1999 — Alan Cumming in his Tony-winning role as the emcee, plus Mary McCormick & Blair Brown, and Jenna Elfman pulled out of the audience into some on-stage improv with Cumming.

James Joyce’s The Dead — Broadway, 2000 — Christopher Walken.

True West — Broadway, Circle In The Square, 2000 — Philip Seymour Hoffman & John C. Reilly alternating roles each night. I saw it twice, once each way. Both mind-blowing.

Eddie Izzard’s Circle — Broadway, Town Hall, 2000 — one-man standup, saw twice, very different and equally insanely funny.

Rocky Horror Picture Show — Broadway, Circle In the Square, 2000 — Joan Jett & Dick Cavett.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest — Broadway, 2001 — Ken Kesey’s novel staged as a play.  Gary Sinise as Randal Patrick McMurphy.

The Times They Are A-Changin’ — Broadway, 2006 — Twyla Tharp interprets the songs of Bob Dylan, went with Walter R.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night — London West End, summer of 2012 — David Suchet & Laurie Metcalf – power black-out mid-play, couldn’t get restored, given refund, then I went back and second-acted it for free. 🙂

The Taming of The Shrew — Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London, summer 2012 — unbelievably great, took tour of theatre in afternoon, then drank with the whole cast on an outdoor terrace after the show.

The Secret Space of Dreams — Stable Studios, Spencer, Indiana — a Prankster production, written by Spirit and Marz, I played “Jack”.

The Secret Space of Is — Wonderland, Indiana, 2017 — I did the “Historian” introduction.

Red Roses, Green Gold — Off-Broadway, Minetta Lane Theatre, 2017 — once with Sky, George & Levi Asher, then again with Sky & Prankster Tricia; hung with music supervisor Jeff Chimenti and librettist Michael Mann both times. Plus danced in the aisles and became friendly with the cast.


For an even cooler list, check out this list of top 300 films — all sorted by categories, including by Auteur, and all linked to their imdb page.

Or here’s a tribute to the woman who first turned me onto theater and I attended more with than any other human.

Here’s a great Adventure Tale — including tons of photos — of going to Shakespeare’s Globe in London for a spectacular Taming of the Shrew.

Or here’s a vivid account of that very theatrical Prankster production when the clowns all put on a circus.

Or here’s an Adventure Review of the Grateful Dead-based musical Red Roses, Green Gold.


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

→ 2 CommentsTags: ·········································

Beat Versus Beatnik

March 3rd, 2021 · Kerouac and The Beats

21st Century Beatniks
Hieroglyphic Caricatures

There’s long been a debate about the word “beatnik” — originally coined by a sensationalist San Francisco gossip columnist in 1958, playing on the Yiddish suffix “nik” and the first Russian satellite launched in September ’57 known as “Sputnik.”  Jack and Allen & company hated the word back in the day as it was a pejorative noun for the cliché of unemployed do-nothing scatterbrain dropouts that the older generation thought anyone who read On the Road or Howl must be.

But over the decades, the caricatures faded away.  The goofy poster-child beatnik, Maynard G. Krebs, played by Bob Denver on TV’s Dobie Gillis show, went off the air in 1963, nearly 60 years ago.  In more recent decades the word has evolved into simply becoming shorthand for “the Beat Generation writers” … which is 27 letters and eight syllables … versus “beatnik” which is seven and two. 😉  That’s really why it happened. 🙂  It’s just shorter and simpler.

Personally, I prefer, and use, “Beat.”  And over the decades, I’ve explained the difference between “Beat” and “beatnik” to innumerable people — but for the last many years I get a blank stare back.  They don’t know what I’m talking about.  And they don’t care.  It’s getting to be — What’s the point?  Just about nobody anymore even knows there ever was a negative connotation to the word.  It might be a good idea to stop keeping alive some interpretation that ceased to exist way back in the early sixties.


Some old-school Beat Gen peeps still hate it — but these days when most writers and reviewers and journalists and scholars and such use “beatnik” they’re referring to Kerouac, Ginsberg & company in as favorable a light as any of the old hardcores see them.  People have forgotten the goatee goofball cliché — but remember the god-sent groundbreaking geniuses.

It’s only people who hold onto this ancient hieroglyphic caricature of “beatnik” who are offended.  Nobody else even knows it existed.  Except when one of these old-timers brings it up!  🙂

The cliché is a dinosaur.  It’s bones in an empty museum nobody visits.  I’ve been going to beatnik events pretty regularly all over North America and Europe for 40 years and don’t remember ever meeting one of these clichés even once.  They don’t exist.

The word is not going to be banished from our lexicon — so we’ve just got to embrace it, own it, and make sure the modern usage embodies the best of what being Beat is: openness in written language, honesty, sympathy, optimism, environmental respect, the value of the individual, advocating for and practicing a life of creativity and self-expression, embracing adventure, saying “Yes!” more than “no,” working together with like-minded explorers, and creating art out of one’s own life experiences.

Another thing that Beat or beatnik means is — hard work.

The idea of beatniks being lazy is 180 off the mark.  Kerouac has over 50 different books in print — and he died at age 47.  Gawd knows how many poems Allen Ginsberg wrote in his 70 years but there are dozens of volumes full of them — not to mention his nonstop public appearances.  William Burroughs wrote 15 novels, 25 novellas, and there’s 15 books of his letters, journals and interviews.  Lawrence Ferlinghetti opened a bookstore and publishing house, nurtured both for decades, and both are still thriving 70 years later.  Across the street, the Beat Museum has become an institution in San Francisco since 2006 because of the hard work put in by the founders and employees every day since.  And besides everything else Allen did, he also founded a university in Boulder in 1974 along with Anne Waldman that has employed hundreds of teachers and taught thousands of students.

These are not do-nothing bohemians.

Beatnik is cool.  Beatnik is a good thing.

Jerry Garcia & Janis Joplin, who were both living in the city where the word was coined, called themselves “beatniks” until the day they died.  In fact, one of the very last letters Janis ever wrote was to her confrere Myra Friedman at Albert Grossman’s office in New York saying, “I finally remembered that I was a beatnik.”

I just got off the phone with S.A. Griffin, a lifelong Beat poet & practitioner, who casually referred to our collective as “beatniks.”  He didn’t mean it as a pejorative any more than Barack Obama did when he referred to the Beats in his 2020 A Promised Land memoir as “beatniks.”

The Beat Museum called the last big Beat summit ever staged “The Beatnik Shindig” and the museum sure as hell doesn’t look down on the Beat writers or practitioners.

The fact that anyone uses that word should not be misconstrued as an insult.

Diane Di Prima, the great writer, teacher & spirit-force who was part of the scene since the late ’50s and stayed part of it until her passing in 2020, called her autobiography Memoirs of a Beatnik.

When Helen Weaver, the esteemed translator and Kerouac’s girlfriend in 1956, wrote her autobiography, The Awakener, published by City Lights Books in 2009, she referred to herself and all the old gang getting back together for the NYU conference in 1994 by writing, “we beatniks are senior citizens.”  She dates back to before the term was coined, and lived through all the decades afterwards, and when she was summing up her life with Allen & Gregory & company, she herself described their collective as “beatniks.”

Ed Sanders, who, sitting next to Jack on stage on the William Buckley show called him “A great poet,” titled his book Tales of Beatnik Glory not Tales of Beat Glory.

In photographer, scholar, professor & Beat confidant Gordon Ball’s excellent memoir East Hill Farm: Seasons with Allen Ginsberg, he describes his journey’s motivation as a search of “the streets of San Francisco for beatniks.”

On Donovan’s joyous 2004 tribute album Beat Cafe, he climaxes the title song by singing “beatnik café” over and over — not “beat café.”

Jonah Raskin, who many know for his books on Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman & others, and for being the book reviewer at the San Francisco Chronicle for years, just referred to himself as a “beatnik” in his tribute to Ferlinghetti.

The esteemed film scholar and New York Times reviewer Elvis Mitchell astutely connected the main characters in Tarantino’s recent masterpiece Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to the beatniks in a way I didn’t even think of — prompting both Brad Pitt and Quentin to riff on it – Brad in depth – there’s “no hassle in the castle, man” – then Quentin, impromptu, revealing his knowledge of Jack & “the holy goof.”


Since roughly 2019 there’s been a big Kerouac & Kesey fan in the writers’ room at the gold standard of gameshows, Jeopardy, with an inordinate number of clues where the answer was “Who is Jack Kerouac?”  And that erudite hardcore Beat insider reaching 10 million viewers an episode knows that “beatnik” is not a pejorative.

Jeopardy, July 8th, 2021

There’s been a billion negative portrayals of “hippies” over the last 50 years.  In fact, that word started out, like “beatnik,” as a putdown – as in – these people are not “hip” – they’re baby hip wannabes – teenyboppers – hippies … babiesBut that doesn’t make hippies or the word or idea uncool in my book.  I’m a hippie.  “Hippies” have been most of my best friends for the last 50 years.

Just because the straight world tries to co-opt and brand us with a pejorative doesn’t mean they win the definition.

1950s puritans tried to ban Howl — and that only ended up making it world famous.  The government developed LSD for possible mind-control of enemies … until a few Pranksters got a hold of it and turned on the world.  The establishment tried to pimp propaganda like Reefer Madness — and reefer is now legal or decriminalized in 44 states and the entire country of Canada.  When the straight-streets attempt to redefine our world and mores in their warped vision, it doesn’t work out so well for them.  The truth, and what is right and good, wins out in the end.  The old world establishment wanted to keep Blacks at different lunch counters, women in the kitchen, and gays out of wedding chapels.  And similarly, the world has moved on from their attempted putdown of “beatniks” to where the term now refers to the influential writers who are still affecting the world decades after their passing — and no one even remembers who the putdown bigmouths were.

English is a very malleable and constantly evolving language.  “Gay” … “hipster” … “trip” … “crack” … “cookies” … “shade” … “trump” and a gazillion other words all mean very different things today than they did in the 1950s when “beatnik” first appeared — which was proven out this past week in the global flurry of heartfelt tributes after Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s passing.  When journalists, poets, scholars and fans worldwide used the word while gushing their praise on the publisher of the Beats and host of their clubhouse in North Beach, City Lights Books, they were not implying a long-forgotten cliché, but rather referencing the most respected & recognizable group of his peers.

If you polled a thousand North Americans about the meaning of the word “beatnik” I bet less than 1% would identify it as the cartoon cliché of the late ’50s & early ’60s — and the vast majority who ever heard the word would say it meant a group of writers from 1950s.

To this day, I meet people who are Beat and have never read a word of any of them.

It’s a mindset.

When Ken Kesey was asked, “How does somebody become a Prankster?” he answered, “We just recognize each other.”

Merry Prankster Anonymous with On The Road‘s Big Ed Dunkel

Rather than poo-poo the term — one that is already accepted — we need to embrace it.  Wear it.  There shouldn’t be a negative knee-jerk reaction every time a person uses that word that they’re intending to denigrate the writers of the Beat Generation — because they aren’t.

We’re now decades into the 21st century, and the word is simply a commonly accepted term for the collective.

If somebody wants to call me a “beatnik” – fine.  We’re good people.

I’m a 21st century beatnik . . . and havin a helluva high time.  

Instead of a pocket notebook we’ve got pocket phones.  Instead of hitchhiking Route 66, we’re surfing the information superhighway.  What was once black & white has become full swirling psychedelic color.  Poetry readings at cafés can now reach the whole world with live-streaming video.  Instead of throwing up on peyote, we can micro-dose on locally-grown magic mushrooms.  And marijuana comes in a thousand flavors!

Those old beatniks would be ecstatic to see all the evolutions and modernizations — including of language — of the worlds they first celebrated.  We’re still going Furthur . . . and . . . 

Blessed are the Beatniks.



In furthur reading — here’s a great piece about the only photograph ever found of Kerouac actually writing at the typewriter — in Provincetown, 1950.

Or here’s another photo discovery story from the same year — this one of the infamous Bill Cannastra loft in Chelsea where Jack met his wife and found the scroll paper he’d use to write On The Road.

Or here’s a little sumpthin on how the Grateful Dead became Jack manifested as music.

Or here’s where you can read a whole book about following your dreams to the living rooms of your heroes in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac.

Or here’s where you can check out how those pesky beatniks ended up influencing those merry pranksters.

Or here’s where you can read a whole bunch of adventure tales about that Cassady clan from New York to Hollywood to England.

Or here’s where you can read a bunch of Beats and Pranksters raving about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac book about the history-changing 1982 super-summit in Boulder.
Or there’s more here.  Or even more here!


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —

→ 28 CommentsTags: ·························