I posted this from Bob Lefsetz over in the Keyboard Corner where there was a thread about the new Beatles movie preview, but it didn't get any traction. I thought y'all might find it interesting.
(reprinted with permission)
For those who don't subscribe to Bob Lefsetz's newsletter, I though you might appreciate this. It's long, but echoes what people are saying (in his inimitable style)
We forget the Beatles were a band. Of twentysomethings. United by the music. Which they loved playing.
I don't know if your inbox has been blowing up with this, but mine certainly has. Showing the power of virality. It seeps through society, slowly, and when it hits you and you click and you start to smile you feel both an individual and part of something greater than yourself, that was the power of the Beatles, that is the power of music.
Too much of the internet is about manipulation. Those with the greatest power are the worst. Just try to delete your account on Facebook. Purveyors are constantly shoving stuff down our throats. First, with a scorched earth publicity campaign, followed up by all kinds of online shenanigans, trying to enlist the hoi polloi to spread the word, to the point where most people ignore hype these days. Talk about being out of touch with the public, did you see the "Wonder Woman" theatrical grosses in Europe? A pittance! No one wants to go to the damn movie theatre, except those not wearing masks who believe they're immune, and there are not enough of those people to sustain all these businesses bitching that they're being hobbled by the government. So, you've got the movie business trying to hold back the sands of time, trying to keep windows in force when you're lucky if anyone is paying attention at all, when you need to hoover up the cash immediately, legs are shorter than ever, get it now, do it now. And chances are your project is a stiff, most are. The key is to get right back in the game, as opposed to promoting that which people do not want. You're a hit or a zit in internet culture, and almost nothing is a hit, and too many substandard products are vying for attention, and then you come across this clip from Peter Jackson's Beatles movie.
I'll admit, I didn't immediately click. I'm jaded. Is there anything new under the sun? The Beatles have been ravaging and raping their past for far too long. The insidious remixes, momentary dashes for cash...what I'm worried about in the future is these third-class takes will become the standard, the ones everybody knows, and they're tripe. Do you have any idea what makes a record a hit? Change one little element and oftentimes you ruin it. To create a hit, everything's got to line up...the song, the playing, the singing, the engineering, the mix... And Geoff Emerick was one of the greats, he had history with the band to boot. Do you think he mixed these records willy-nilly? Of course not, he even told me face to face that the stereo mix of "Sgt. Pepper" was not an afterthought, but never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
And film is truth. Image is truth. You believe what your eyes see. Well, you used to, before manipulation, but I didn't see any here, watching on my 5k iMac I felt like the sixties were happening right now, it wasn't nostalgia, the Beatles were positively alive, as a group, and I was in the studio with them!
Now the great thing about this clip is the lack of flourish, the lack of seasoning, the lack of shining up. Now, in this all too fake culture, we appreciate, cling to, honesty, directness. When Peter Jackson looks into the camera and talks...you feel like he's speaking directly to you, as if you were in the cutting room and he was setting you up to watch footage on a computer monitor. And he didn't don makeup, he was wearing shorts, he was a creator, not a star, someone like you and me but with a hell of a lot more on his resumé.
Then you see all the guitars. People today have no idea what gearheads we were back then. In an era where electronic gear was not de rigueur, all we had were transistor radios and record players. Guitars were exotic. We learned all the brand names, we could tell what was what by its shape, and it started with the Beatles...a Rickenbacker?
Ringo Starr is still alive, spry and active. We've forgotten that he was once just a young man, barely out of boyhood.
And then when we see/hear John Lennon reading from the paper in that voice, the one we know so well from the intro to "Two of Us"...WHEW, the record comes alive! We've been accustomed to the records for so long we've forgotten that human beings made them, with a hell of a lot less sophisticated equipment than today, and that they were inventing it as they went, there were not well-worn footsteps to follow.
And they're having so much FUN!
And then they're playing together as a BAND! For decades the focus has been on the breakup, the feuds, but here they are all together, SMILING!
And playing. They know how to do it, they've been doing it for years!
And then Lennon tapping his hand on the strings of his guitar...
Then the studio equipment, how ancient, but they got this sound down.
And then Linda and Yoko are so YOUNG, and so ALIVE! You can see the appeal of each of them, before they were dragged through the mud.
Then the band listening to the playback... The dream used to be to be in the studio, you needed access, you had none, that's where the magic was created!
And Billy Preston and George Martin, both so young, both now dead.
But the revelation is John Lennon. His reputation has been dragged through the mud, he's seen now as an angry young man, oftentimes dour, in competition with Paul. But here he's jumping around and smiling and involved, not detached, he's totally different from the legend that's been established, he's once again a musician, a creator, an experimenter, who's also sometimes an imp, the mischievous one who refused to follow norms, who questioned authority. WHEW!
And now you can see why the sixties were so great. It was about liberation! Today too many want to bring us back to a theoretical past that never existed. Where we were all prim and proper, obeyed the rules and were good citizens. But that's not how it WAS! We were testing limits, and we were led first and foremost by the Beatles, who kept pushing the envelope, getting us to question who we were, what we believed, how we dressed, everything was up for grabs, the sky was the limit.
Today "musicians" are "brands." In many cases literally, their music/fame is just a jumping off point to sell you crap. Not only perfume and apparel, but multiple album covers and merchandise, they can't stop milking fans, meanwhile the media doubles down and says it's all right, but let's not forget in the sixties the media was CLUELESS! In order to know what was going on you had to tune in to the radio and listen to the music. There was something happening there, and it certainly wasn't exactly clear.
Same deal today. No one knows what's really going on. Let's start at the top, with the presidential election, the pollsters got it so wrong that they're not even weighing in on the Georgia senatorial elections, we've learned not to trust them.
The only way you know what is going on is by firing up your computer, whether it be a desktop, laptop or the phone in your hand. Meanwhile, the oldsters can't stop decrying them, lauding physical books, like you can't read on a screen, which people are doing all day, saying we're spending too much time in front of screens when the truth is THAT IS WHERE IT'S HAPPENING! It's akin to the parents of the sixties telling their kids to turn off that damn music, the music that's still alive today.
Most definitely in this clip.
These are real human beings, who followed the sound, for years before they got any recognition. And when they finally got in the studio they kept expanding the boundaries, they did not want to be in stasis, do what was expected of them, they wanted to get turned on themselves, they knew the result would turn on their audience.
They may not have gone on tour, but they still loved to play. And create. That was the essence. They were still musicians, they were still a band, that came first, the pronouncements, the controversies, those were all secondary to the music.
And this clip is evidence. Show it to youngsters and they'll feel it, show it to ANYBODY and they'll feel it. That was the power, that was the draw, who in hell could be exposed to the Beatles and want to work at a bank, play it safe? Never forget, Steve Jobs was a big Beatles fan.
But Steve Jobs is already fading into history. But not the Beatles. Music is set in amber, it cannot be superseded with a faster chip, get it right and it lasts. But, more than five decades later we've forgotten the genesis, we're so detached from what once was that we're influenced by the penumbra as opposed to the essence. But Peter Jackson's film brings us right back.
GET BACK HOME LORETTA!