Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Day in the Life

The book Get Back: The Unauthorized Chronicle of the Beatles 'Let It Be' Disaster, which I just finished reading, does us the service of watching and/or listening to all the existing tapes of the Beatles' aborted rehearsals for their aborted live show in early 1969. The authors see it as their mandate to report on every movement and utterance the Fab Four (and occasionally Fab Five) make, which makes for some odd transitions, such as when the Beatles decide to go up to the rooftop as the climax of the monthlong rehearsals. Since the decision to do that was reached off-tape, the authors see no need to tell us how it came about.

But since they report on every single thing recorded by the film and taping crews, you get a lot of neat stuff that's left out of other, more important books. It's not just the musical stuff, like the way the boys would warm up every morning by running through half-remembered Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins tunes, or the way Paul comes up with "Get Back" just by noodling around at the piano one day, waiting for the others to arrive at the studio. You also get such humanizing detail as the fact that every night, the Beatles would go home from the studio and watch TV. And since there weren't very many channels in London back then, they'd usually have watched the same thing and have a chat about it - Laugh-In appears to have been a popular favorite.

There's a nice moment when Paul passes out tangerines to all his mates, and the boys have lunch brought in at one point; John has a macrobiotic offering of brown rice and vegetables. If I'm not mistaken, John was also a heroin addict at this point in his life. Now, I'm not much of a nutritionist, but I suspect a lunch of brown rice, vegetables and heroin isn't really much healthier than a representative lunch of mine - say a half-dozen White Castles and no heroin.


  1. I dunno. Didn't William Burroughs always say it wasn't the heroin that killed you, it was the life that came with the heroin that would kill you? Whereas White Castle will actually kill you.

  2. The heroin itself didn't seem to agree so much with John Belushi, although he probably put away his share of White Castles, too.