I am going to give as much context as I can give. But it won’t get posted overnight.
THE NAGRA REELS
A vital building block to understanding what was known — by some — before the doc and the main source the doc was working from.
Let’s start with some basics: there have been bootleg tapes — NAGRA reels — from the Get Back sessions available for years and years. These are the main tapes Peter Jackson was working from, but he was able to locate about ten more hours, and crucially, to clean them up. Separate out the voices. Get rid of background noises and what he calls “countermeasures” — the lads playing/noodling on their guitars to block their conversations from being picked up or to make them unsuable.
That’s also why there’s so much that’s not in sync, especially at Twickenham. Because Peter Jackson worked from the audio, which there’s so much more of, to try to understand what was happening and get the story, then he hoped there was film to go with it, but if there wasn’t they would just find “something innocuous” from that same day to put over the audio. Jackson spoke to Robert Rodriguez on his podcast “Something About The Beatles” about the process:
Here’s a NAGRA clip from the “Yoko sat on an amp” discussion on January 13, with Ringo, Linda, Paul, Neil Aspinall, and Michael Lindsay-Hogg… who all hilariously talk over each other for most of it.
And here’s another example you might recognize from “Get Back” — they’re counting the songs and they’ve got enough, yay! This is a fairly clear clip from the Nagras, but it’s still a great example of the background noises we don’t hear in the doc. And the Yoko we don’t hear in the doc. (She actually talks pretty regularly in the Nagras.)
— JANUARY 7 —
WE’VE BEEN VERY NEGATIVE SINCE MR. EPSTEIN PASSED AWAY
On January 7 at Twickenham the band talks about effect on the band of the death of their manager Brian Epstein, a person so central to these lads’ lives that, although we will flush out who he was as a to them as person and manager as we go, his centrality to the group is impossible to convey succinctly. However, in the video following this one I think John’s reaction to the news gives some idea of the depths of the wound.
When the band found out that Brian Epstein had overdosed at the age of just 32, reporters were already gathered in Bangor, Wales to cover the band meeting the Maharishi.
I’ve never seen John Lennon sound or look so devastated.
I’ve also added some audio of John in 1971 looking back on the moment they found out, then found themselves surrounded by reporters asking ridiculous questions about what Brian Epstein had thought of the Maharishi and vice-versa. It’s like the reporters forget that these are practically kids who have just had the earth yanked out from under them and are feeling the fear and dread of an uncertain future sinking in. John was closest to Brian. Brian was even John’s best man at his wedding to his first wife, Cynthia.
— JANUARY 8 —
GEORGE’S GROOVY BOOTS
My personal favorite clip off the NAGRAs is about George’s amazing boots. He wants Mal to look for him some boots, not leather ones but softer ones, “like those Afghan coats.” Embroidered ones. Groovy ones. That you can tuck your pants in.
And Paul has a pair.
GEORGE: “You know where you get ’em?”
PAUL: “Yeah, you get ’em off me—”
And speaking of the NAGRA reels, about that flowerpot conversation…
It wasn’t just John and Paul, it was all of them, including the women. (But obviously minus George.) Here’s the transcript. It’s fascinating.
And here’s how absolutely, incredibly bad the original quality was:
— JANUARY 14 —
THE HEROIN QUESTION
“shooting is exercise”
I am probably going to gripe about him a lot. Some people, including Peter Jackson, wish we wouldn’t, but with apologies to Peter Jackson, I must.
No, Michael, you are not the least pretentious person they’ll ever meet. 🙄
It’s really difficult not to make fun of him, especially because he really screws stuff up by not shutting up. I listened to more podcasts than I can count about the documentary and every regular person who feels a strange and desperate need to talk about the show after watching will quickly get to trashing Michael Lindsay-Hogg. The OG Beatles fans get touchy about it and are very protective of him, but it seems like everyone else has the same reaction: we love Mal Evans and can’t stand Michael Lindsay-Hogg.
We’re not being mean, it’s just a normal human reaction. I h learned that hardcore Beatles fans shame us all with how polite and kind they are. It’s amazing and awesome and the rest of us will try harder, but meanwhile…
In that spirit, here’s John Lennon in a NAGRA telling MLH to “just sod off with it” after MLH’s monologue on how they could have the concert at an orphanage.
Oh, and you should know one other thing: Michael Lindsay-Hogg wanted to bug The Beatles’ phone calls. You can hear it on the NAGRAS. And even though, okay, we all actually we had those conversations too, it’s an asshole thing to do.
They talk about it constantly in GET BACK:
a hint of the sound of Hamburg
100% under construction. I will keep working on it. I’ve got lots to put up, no worries.
I got “stuck” on The Beatles because I got COVID and watched “Get Back.” And when that became long COVID I just got stuck there. And once my brain started working at all again it seemed confined to something approximating a Beatles checkers board with my brain simply unable to move more than one tiny space at a time, and that very, very slowly.
I’ve mostly stood still a lot, but listening became a thing I discovered my mind was able to do. Then I discovered that it seemed to awaken my brain, at least a little. And a little at a time. (I also learned that I couldn’t listen like that for two days in a row. At least not well. Not the way I want to listen. I don’t think anyone can effectively describe audio of events they cannot see, listening day after day. I just don’t think it’s humanly possible. (I wish it was, but I am now convinced that it’s not.)