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Review of a Review

But Hey, It's About The Beatles

By Paul LevinsonPublished 10 months ago Updated 10 months ago 3 min read

I don't usually write reviews of reviews -- in fact, I'm pretty sure I never have -- but Joel McKinnon, whose views on science fiction, music, and the world at large I've found invariably worthy, strongly recommended that I read Ian Leslie's lengthy review of Peter Jackson's lengthy masterpiece The Beatles Get Back ("Knowing how much you loved Get Back I think you'll love this beautiful essay about it," Joel told me), so I did, and he was right.

In fact, from the very first line of Leslie's review -- "A friend of mine, a screenwriter in New York, believes Get Back has a catalytic effect on anyone who does creative work" -- I knew that Joel was right. Because that's exactly what watching Jackson's eight-hour documentary did for me. I'm always writing reviews, other nonfiction, science fiction, lyrics and music, whatever, but I've been on one thrill of a creative ride since I saw Get Back at the end of November (including writing an alternate reality story about The Beatles and WFUV Radio -- It's Real Life -- which has in turn sparked my writing all kinds of other linked stories). And that's because Get Back is a paean to, as far I know, the greatest creative work of the words and music of songs in human history, and Leslie's review gets that, too.

Here are two other other points on which Leslie and I manifestly agree:

  • Leslie likes McCartney's "toothy, boyish, involuntary grin" which, he notes, even showed up after the British bobbies arrived on the roof of the Beatles' rooftop concert. As I noted in my review of Part 3 of The Beatles: Get Back, McCartney's response to the police on the roof -- the whew!, the smile, the dancing around -- was my favorite moment in the entire documentary, and there were a myriad of contenders (see the next point).
  • Leslie cites Ringo's "I would like to go up on the roof" as a pivotal moment in the true narrative that Jackson gives us. In that same review of Part 3 of Get Back, I mention that another favorite moment is Ringo making that statement. I've been thinking on and off about that since the end of November, and I'd say that statement and its result of getting the Beatles up on the roof is sweet proof of the important role that Ringo had in the group, concomitant with his drumming.

Ok, now here's a brilliant part of Leslie's review which I didn't talk about at all: Leslie approvingly paraphrases Rick Rubin's observation that "The Beatles are the single best argument for the existence of God". I really like that -- not surprising, given that I thought Rubin's McCartney: 3,2,1 was a kind of masterpiece, too. I'd put that in a theological tract, if I was inclined to write one.

I could go on, but you surely get the picture by now. If you love the Beatles, and loved Jackson's documentary, read Leslie's review. It provides a really attractive fence around the magnificent garden of music that was and is The Beatles, and the astonishingly satisfying lighting that Jackson's movie has shone on it, and those metaphors are not sufficient.

But I'll end this review of a review with offering an answer to one of Leslie's minor questions: He wonders what John meant when he says to Paul, “We’re altogether, boy". Leslie also wonders if Paul knew. I'd say John was referring to Paul's "All Together Now," recorded in 1967 and released in January 1969. The key is spelling "all together" with two ls and as two words. Plus. the timing is perfect. Of course Paul knew.

60s music

About the Creator

Paul Levinson

Novels include The Silk Code & The Plot To Save Socrates; LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up; nonfiction includes Fake News in Real Context, The Soft Edge, & Digital McLuhan translated into 15 languages. Details here. Prof, Fordham Univ.

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