The Beatles: Get Back showed a remarkable side of The Beatles that had been both confirmed and unknown prior to its release. The tension between the band members, specifically between George Harrison and Paul McCartney, was well known. The goofiness and playful banter between the two, however, was less publically known.
But the biggest surprise of the entire series is just how loose the writing sessions were for tracks that would go on to be some of the biggest and most influential songs of all time. There’s a notable portion of the film in which Paul McCartney simply conjures ‘Get Back’ out of thin air while waiting for John Lennon to arrive at the studio. Elsewhere, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg is once again pushing for a live performance as McCartney is composing the chords to ‘Let It Be’.
Obviously everyone involved with the project knew how big of a deal it was (well, except for maybe Peter Sellers), but nobody really knew when or where magic would strike. The image that the members were sequestered away while writing their material, far from the influence of each other and others, is completely false.
Case in point: McCartney calls on roadie Mal Evans to write down some words that he’s pairing with a new piano part. He’s called it ‘The Long and Winding Road’, and as Ringo Starr reads a newspaper, McCartney and Evans pick and choose some of the phrases they prefer. Meanwhile, Lindsay-Hogg and Linda Eastman have a discussion about Starr while McCartney continues to work. Lindsay-Hogg has a really unfortunate history in the series of talking over some of the most magical moments of spontaneous music composition.
It’s probably a little too generous to contend that Evans should share songwriting credits on the final song, but it is surprising to see someone as authoritarian as McCartney be so open to other people’s opinions, especially when they’re not his bandmates. It all contributes to the often-off the cuff splendour that appears randomly during the making of Get Back and later included on Let It Be.
Watch McCartney and Evans work through ‘The Long and Winding Road’ down below.