Get Back (or, Watching The Beatles Write Songs Is Kind of Awesome)

I’m a fan of The Beatles. 25 years ago, you didn’t have to say that because everyone was a fan of The Beatles. But most people under 20 years old today probably don’t know or care about them. As it should be, I suppose.

There’s a new documentary about The Beatles called Get Back on Disney+. It’s eight hours long, and I watched it twice (then promptly canceled Disney+).

That seems like a long time to watch people goofing around and kind of making a record. But I own Day By Day, The Complete “Get Back” Sessions, which is a 3 box set of 76 CDs, so long doesn’t scare me. 😉

It’s amazing to watch them sit there and write the songs that ended up on Let It Be, but it’s also great to hear Beatles harmonies on George’s songs that The Beatles didn’t record like All Things Must Pass. But George was right. All things must pass, even The Beatles.

The thing that makes me laugh, as a guitar player with a lot of guitars and gear, is how pragmatically and casually they treated their equipment. Their guitars were not precious artifacts. They were tools. They left them lying on the floor, they were always falling and knocking into things. Mainly because there weren’t really any guitar stands as we know them today in 1969.

But one of the most notable things to me was that they made every one of their records without guitar tuners. There were relatively portable tuners they could have used in 1969, but they just tuned to each other or the Fender Rhodes (electric piano).

That’s how everyone worked in those days, yeah, but it’s worth thinking about in these times when records can be made without any musical instruments at all. That’s progress, and that’s technology.

Every musician I’ve ever known fully embraces new technology. The minute a new instrument or sound is available, they’re messing around with it. That can be a great thing, or it can be disastrous (see: the entire decade of the 1980s).

And I’m not a Luddite. But we have lost a certain kind of sound that came from humans playing music through microphones and onto tape. They can recreate the sound pretty well now, but “pretty well” isn’t the same.

Go watch Get Back to see how it used to be done by the best who ever did it.

day 22


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