The Beatles are a band so steeped in iconography that peeling back the facade of the Fab Four can sometimes be as rewarding as their music. A closer look at the relationship that has done its part to shape so much of their fans’ lives can often provide a thrill like no other.
The footage below handsomely fits into that category as we have some rarely seen footage of John Lennon and Paul McCartney joking around and mocking some previous Beatles classics like ‘Help!’ and ‘Please, Please Me’.
The clip comes from the Let It Be Sessions which would see the final nail in the coffin of The Beatles inch ever closer to sealing their fate. The group were in a spin creatively. George Harrison’s growing talent as a songwriter had somehow only hindered them as a group while Lennon’s growing heroin habit and determination to share every moment with Yoko Ono had also had a detrimental effect.
Meanwhile, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney had clearly seized the opportunity to let their own hair down. What it meant was that, largely, the Let It Be Sessions were a bust. Too fractious for any cohesive sound the group prattled on throughout the recording sessions never really creating much.
Below we catch a glimpse of such behaviour as John Lennon and Paul McCartney share a few jokes with Ringo Starr and Yoko Ono. The two principal singers of the band lead their small audience through a routine of Beatles classics, appropriately dismantled with either silly playing or nonsensical accents and distortions.
The double-act perform pub rock versions of ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘Please, Please Me’ and ‘Help!’ all accompanied by either Lennon putting on a rather brilliant accent or Paul McCartney doing the most painfully wretched harmonising.
That’s not to say that Lennon or McCartney didn’t like these numbers, in fact, Lennon always cherished ‘Help!’ once naming it as one of his favourites, saying of the song: “I meant it, it’s real. The lyric is as good now as it was then, it’s no different, you know. It makes me feel secure to know that I was that sensible or whatever- well, not sensible, but aware of myself. That’s with no acid, no nothing… well pot or whatever.” Lennon clarifies his point, “It was just me singing ‘help’ and I meant it, you know. I don’t like the recording that much, the song I like. We did it too fast to try and be commercial.”
They certainly don’t do that here as Lennon and, especially, McCartney are rolling around the floor laughing at just how badly they’re butchering some of their most prized songs.
It marks a fleeting moment of joy between a band who were nearing the end of their rope and their journey together. Luckily they had another album in them yet with Abbey Road but the seeds were sown in these sessions, despite the jovial atmosphere.
Watch Paul McCartney and John Lennon make fun of some Beatles classics during a recording session in 1969.