DOUGLAS: Disney, The Beatles set record straight

				                                Donnie Douglas

Donnie Douglas

Two blasts from my childhood past teamed up to make this past week much, much better, and to help me rebound from a deep wound that I suffered on Nov. 26.

I speak of Disney and John, Paul, George and Ringo, which were in my life’s circle in the early 1960s – Disney, of course, with the movies of that time that not only entertained a child of my age but taught some life’s lessons; and The Beatles, who were just launching what would be a decade-long Magical Mystery Tour for all the world.

I was 6 years old and among 73 million Americans who watched on Feb. 9, 1964, when The Beatles first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show, performing five tunes — “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I didn’t know what I was seeing, but I knew I loved it.

The Disney connection, if you haven’t figured it out, is that the three-part, eight-hour documentary “The Beatles: Get Back” by Peter Jackson streamed on that channel. Although I have seen it, I am still struggling to believe the footage that I saw exists, originally captured for a planned documentary of The Beatles making the album “Let it Be,” but having gathered dust on an Apple-label shelf for a half-century.

These Beatles were no longer the ones who appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” at that time fresh-faced school mates who were hanging out and making music. These were grown men who life had taken down different paths now reunited to make an album and then perform what all knew would be their last concert, which eventually would be held on a rooftop and last 42 minutes.

They were also on the clock, with 21 days to pull it all together, time spent writing songs that have become part of my life’s soundtrack and a lot of yours as well. We are privileged – and that is the best word I can come up with – to watch that process, witnessing words and sound become one.

Spoiler alert No. 1: We watch as Paul for what appears to be the first time sings “Long and Winding Road” to his bandmates while his new girlfriend, Linda Eastman, floats around the studio taking photos.

Spoiler alert No. 2: We also see George Harrison, disgruntled because his songs don’t get the group hug that McCartney-Lennon’s do, abruptly gets up, and announces “I think I’ll be leaving the band now… .” That prompts Paul and John to have some alone time over breakfast to decide how to get George to return, but they aren’t alone. The documentary crew has planted a microphone so we hear them talk about the need to treat George more kindly.

Yep, we get to see all of that – and so much more.

But this might be the best part: Those of us who grew up with The Beatles remember, painfully for me, the breakup, which we were told was acrimonious and fueled by the “Let it Be” sessions, with much of the blame lumped on John’s shadow, Yoko Ono.

But I saw a much different script, one that sets the record straight. Yes, there were moments of tension, but the thread throughout was John, Paul, George and Ringo – joined also by the Fifth Beatle, Billy Preston – being playful, clowning, cutting up, sharing magical moments and demonstrating that they could still create tunes that have survived the test of time.

This is must-see TV.

Since I am 64, these words, written by The Beatles, seem appropriate: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?”

Yes to both.

Donnie Douglas is a former executive editor of The Robesonian. Contact him at [email protected]