Get Back to go Forward: N M Browne

 I have never been a particular Beatles fan. I like their music but  I am too young to have been aware of

them in their heyday and too old to have rediscovered them as something extraordinary and inspirational as a younger generation have done. I did however watch 'Get Back' the eight hour documentary that showed them rehearsing for what became their final and very brief live concert on the roof of the 'Apple' building.      It was at once blindingly dull and totally gripping: watching creative people procrastinate, muck about, fail to organise themselves or make any real decisions was like watching my own head in action or rather inaction. Then there were the strange moments when mucking about suddenly transformed into the creation of something. Watching Paul McCartney noodling around on guitar and producing 'Get Back' was electrifying, like watching a familiar sculpture being chiselled into being from raw concrete.

   It got me thinking about creativity how often it comes from boredom, from procrastination and dissatisfaction and yet depends on structure. I thought perhaps that the whole messy business exemplified some general truths about creativity. 

1 Mostly they turned up each day. Lennon was perhaps less than fully present, Harrison went awol for a few days but otherwise the group turned up with instruments and a vague intention to work most of the time. They didn't necessarily start early and there were lunch breaks from which they did not always return, but they turned up in the studio and made noise.

2 When something started to work they honed it. They didn't necessarily go with the first idea but experimented to 'make it better.' They worked at it. 

3 They were playful there was a kind of openness to whatever emerged and I don't think they wrote off ideas too quickly ( unless they came from George Harrison) 

4 They loved it. Sometimes. A lot of the time they were clearly bored and irritated by the whole business. They didn't always want to be there and things didn't work and then there were moments when everything worked and you could see it on their faces - pure pleasure. 

Of course after that roof top concert they never played live again so it wasn't all great, but they wrote a lot of songs in all the chaos of these sessions so it wasn't all bad either. Maybe that also exemplifies the creative experience? Always a little bit curate's egg, always a long and winding road?



Peter Leyland said…
Lovely to read your take on this film Nicky. Not having Netflix or whatever it's on, I will probably not see it for some time, although being from the Liverpool of the 60s I have read a lot about how it was made. A great Xmas present from my wife was Paul McCartney's book of song lyrics which shows his amazing creativity and how he was inspired. A lot of it stemmed from a teacher at his school, which was my school too a few years later.

And if you want to know more you must read my AE piece on Sunday, A Meeting with Macca, when all will be revealed...
Unknown said…
This makes total sense Nicky - and is remarkably helpful to everyone on that long and winding road!
I've only seen the 'Get Back' song clip so far but it was really interesting to read your account of it. I suppose the creative process is bound to differ a bit when it's a team effort like this, and writers probably go through most of it in their heads unless they are writing in a team, e.g. screenwriters.
Camilla Chester said…
Permission to procrastinate accepted gratefully!
Nick Garlick said…
Lovely, fascinating piece. 'Mostly they turned up each day.'That's my key take from this and it's a really valuable tip. Thank you!
Reb MacRath said…
I saw the shorter version years ago. I doubt I'll ever commit to watching the 8-hour version. Just not that big a fan. But I too enjoyed your account. Many thanks.

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