The Beatles broke up 50 years ago following the release of their final studio album Let It Be. And with it came the movie documentary of the same name, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at their recording sessions for the album. Of course, the film was seen in the context of the break-up, which is something that Sir Paul McCartney has admitted he bought into. But more recently the 78-year-old has changed his mind about those 1969 Let It Be sessions after seeing something extraordinary.
Speaking with Sean Ono Lennon, for a special BBC Radio 2 programme called John Lennon at 80, Sir Paul shared how the footage he’s seen for Peter Jackson’s upcoming Let It Be documentary gave him an entirely new perspective on such tumultuous period in the band’s history.
Sean said: “I’ve had little glimpses of some of the studio banter from the Let It Be period and it just made me think like, ‘Wow,’ you know, growing up, there was always this myth that things were a bit grumpy or whatever.
“There was this mythos around the film and everything.”
John Lennon’s younger son added: “And actually, what surprised me was that you guys then, and throughout your career, just always seem to actually be having so much fun, like very light-hearted and you guys are joking around and enjoying yourselves.
“Do you think it was a bit of a myth?
“Looking back do you notice how much fun it seemed?”
Sir Paul replied: “You know what I think it was, I think it was the fact that The Beatles were breaking up, which was a very difficult time for us, it was like a divorce, y’know.”
The 78-year-old continued: “So it’s very difficult to collect your thoughts and to just be jolly.
“And by the time Let It Be came about that became the story of the film.
“And then that coupled with the fact that we’d broken up, left it a gloomy, left sort of cloud in the room, and I’d always bought into that.
“So for years when people say, ‘Oh,’ about Let It Be I go, ‘Yeah, you know, I didn’t really like it because it was such a gloomy period.’”
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However, the revisionist documentary The Beatles: Get Back, which hits cinemas next August, has changed all that.
Sir Paul said: “But then talking to Peter Jackson, when he was looking at the 58 hours of outtakes, I said, ‘Well, what’s it like?’ kind of thing, expecting him to say, ‘Well, it’s very gloomy. You’re all arguing all the time.’
“He says, ‘No’, he said exactly what you just said. He said, ‘It’s amazing. You’re like jolly and stuff.’ And he showed me some bits.
“And it’s just great. It really made me happy. Because I know, for years there, I thought ‘Oh God, The Beatles broke up, and it was acrimonious and we were arguing and oh’, which happens in a divorce, you know?”
Sean also asked about a picture of The Beatles at the end of the sessions and how it was obvious they were “so close”.
Sir Paul replied: “Yeah, that was a picture Linda had taken. And it really gave me hope that picture. Before the Peter Jackson thing, that was one little picture I held onto. In fact, we had an exhibition where Linda’s pictures were blown up and I bought one of them. And it’s a great big one of that thing you’re talking about, me and John writing.
“And you can just see that we’re into each other and we’re smiling, and I will write down something, so we’re engaged in doing something artistic, something interesting. And I say that every time I felt a bit down, I look at that picture and go ‘No, that’s the reality.’ And so I’m loving the fact that Peter Jackson discovered more of that reality.
John Lennon at 80 from 9-10pm airs Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th October on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds.
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