Current “Get Back” Book Shines New Light on The Beatles “Dark” January 1969 Sessions

When I first heard that there would be a new book to accompany Peter Jackson’s upcoming Beatles documentary “Get Back” I had  a “meh” reaction. 

Part of me thought it might be a nice upgrade to the original book that accompanied first UK box set pressings of The Beatles “Let it Be” album but since I own that book the other part of me said “yawn”.

After all there have been Beatles books before that have accompanied massive Beatles projects like the “Anthology” project from the mid ’90s but I’ve never really gone back to them much so why bother with this new “Get Back” book?

Well as happens frequently, I was wrong.

I managed to see a preview of this new “Get Back” book on YouTube (it’s all the current rage to post previews of all the new Beatles projects online) earlier this week and it really intrigued me. Not only did the book look well made with lots of really nice photographs from the January 1969 sessions that became the “Let it Be” album and film but the text consisted mainly of partial dialog from The Beatles themselves from the Twickenham as well as Apple studios filming and recording sessions.

Count me intrigued. Really intrigued. 

To top it off the Target chain of stores here in the U.S. added four exclusive lobby card reprints from the 1970 “Let it Be” film to the copies of the book that they were selling and for me that was all she wrote, I was in.

Having purchased the book a couple of days ago  I must say I’m very impressed. It’s a nice sized hardback book that does indeed contain hundreds of really terrific photos from throughout the January 1969 filming and recording sessions but the dialog transcripts are really the main draw here. They are fascinating and really shed new light on these sessions.

Of course the “Let it Be” film from 1970 helped to paint January 1969 as a very dark and gloomy time for The Beatles. The only moments of joy are near the end of the film when The Beatles take to the rooftop of their Apple headquarters to perform live for the last time in their career which is truly mesmerizing. The rest of the film is disjointed and jarring and The Beatles seem bored.

What’s amazing about reading the dialogue in this book is that The Beatles come across much more engaged and cooperative than  had previously been surmised. That’s not to say that by January 1969 the Beatles weren’t reaching their end as a group but there were a lot more lighter moments then had previously been seen in past documents of these sessions.

In fact having seen the new trailer for the “Get Back” documentary that comes out on Disney+ next month there were a lot of really light and interesting moments that were left on the cutting room floor. There are hours of footage that seems to show a much more well-rounded version of the events then has ever been seen before. This new trailer for the documentary makes me feel joyful and I can’t wait to see this new version.

That feeling of joy also permeates this new “Get Back” book as well. Yes there are darker moments for sure but reading these transcripts is a lot of fun and kind of washes away many of the darker aspects of this whole project that have permeated anything to do with the “Let it Be” film and album.

I’m guessing that it’s the time after the filming and recording of these January 1969 sessions when The Beatles really began to have business issues that colored everything in their minds for that period with a negative view. By the time The Beatles needed to go back and make these film and audio recordings into a unified album and film they had little interest in the project thus began the really dark association with what became “Let it Be”.

No disrespect to Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the director of the original “Let it Be” film, but I’m so glad that Peter Jackson was given the task of making something out of the fifty-something hours of used footage from the “Let it Be” film. This new “Get Back” documentary really does make the January 1969 sessions a pleasure to watch instead of the sour experience that the original film depicts.

Also after listening to the new “Let it Be” box set that comes out today I definitely have a more positive view of the whole time period and there is a lot to enjoy from these sessions that hasn’t seen the light of day until now.

By the way I also really enjoyed reading Peter Jackson’s forward in the book. I love how he describes not hearing The Beatles much in his youth and the story of his dad bringing home one of the only 45’s he ever bought, a cover of The Beatles “Something” by Shirley Bassey. 

It wasn’t until Jackson saw the 1973 Red and Blue Beatles greatest hits albums in a store window that he truly discovered the group’s music. That was my way into the group’s catalog as well so it was fun reading how Jackson became a Beatles fan.

Anyway, the new “Get Back” book is good, really good. If you’re a fan of The Beatles and the “Let it Be” album and film then you need to grab a copy of this book, it’s a very interesting read.

As usual see photos of my copy of this new book above and below.

I really think that the Target exclusive “Let it Be” lobby cards are a terrific bonus so if that kind of thing floats your boat then make sure you grab a copy of this book from a Target store or from http://www.target.com. There are other places offering bonus photos as well but to me the lobby cards are more interesting.

If you have no desire for any bonus goodies then buying the book online or at your nearest bookstore would be your best option.

Well that’s all for now.

Until next time be well and see you soon.

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