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Music

The Beatles had codenames during the making of ‘Let It Be’

Since they first burst onto the scene in 1962 with ‘Love Me Do’, The Beatles have been hailed as one of the finest bands the world has ever seen and, without a doubt, the most pioneering. They led culture into the future with their increasingly experimental work, and without their stellar efforts, we would not be where we are today, with the countless musical genres that we love flourishing. 

When John Lennon notoriously compared the band to Jesus in 1966, there was a nugget of truth in what he said. After the advent of The Beatles, the world would never be the same again. They changed everything, and it’s a testament to their work that they’ve managed to stay so relevant for 60 years.

Whilst there are many moments from the band’s career that endure in the common memory, one recently caught the attention of everyone as it made its way onto Disney+. Of course, this is The Beatles: Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson. It covers the making of the band’s final album, Let It Be, which had the working title of Get Back and utilises the unused footage and audio material that was originally captured for Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s 1970 documentary Let It Be. 

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In one part of the series, the band discuss where they should host the iconic performance that would become the centrepiece of Hogg’s documentary. They disagreed on the venue of the show, and even an ancient amphitheatre in Sabratha, Libya, is suggested. Because of this political stalemate, Ringo Starr and George Harrison earned joke “code names” from Hogg and the crew. 

At this point in the show, the crew reveal their codenames for Starr and Harrison, which were inspired by other countries that are major players in geopolitics. “One of Russia’s points was that he wanted an English audience,” Michael Lindsay-Hogg says to Lennon, who replies, “Oh, Russia! That would be great.”

“No, no, no, that’s Ringo’s code name. He’s Russia,” Hogg then explains to the confused frontman. After this back and forth, the typically oblivious Paul McCartney then interjects by suggesting that if they were to perform abroad that they should hire a boat to bring fans with them, which could potentially include a show on the high seas. Luckily, the entrance of Harrison was enough to quell this improbable proposition. 

“Wait, here’s France coming in here now,” Hogg then chimes in as ‘The Quiet One’, Harrison prepares to give his two cents. Baffled, the guitarist swiftly responds, “France? I can’t go to France!” Unphased by Harrison’s out of character confusion, Hogg clarifies, “No, no, no. That’s your code name”.

It’s not mentioned in The Beatles: Get Back whether Lennon and McCartney were awarded codenames, but I would wager that they did and that they might not have been suitable for a Disney+ series.

Watch the trailer for The Beatles: Get Back below. 

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