The Beatles’ new documentary Get Back has been long-awaited by music fans, who had been waiting for fifty years to see their favourite band rehearse and practice for what is now the Beatles’ iconic last performance on the rooftop. The documentary footage, filmed during the last days of the Beatles as a band, had been in a vault for five decades until Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson decided to finally give the fans what they wanted by releasing the film Get Back in 2021. In the three-part documentary series, we see the Beatles write, rehearse and eventually perform new songs that would go on to end up on their Abbey Road (1969) and Let It Be (1970) albums. We also bear witness to the full iconic rooftop concert.
Aside from iconic music history, the series also offers some inspirational life lessons.
Here are three that you can take from the brilliant new Beatles’ documentary that can be applied to all areas of your life:
Practice Makes Perfect
The Beatles had been together as a band for nearly a decade by the time they started the Get Back sessions. They had already performed around 1400 concerts together and that number is not even including all the rehearsing and recording of albums that they did in between. Despite all those long hours of making music together, they were still practicing every day by the time they started rehearsing for the Let It Be album recordings in the Twickenham studios.
In the documentary, there are multiple moments where the band members practice Paul McCartney’s new song Get Back. There is even a moment where the band starts the intro of the song multiple times because according to Paul it should be “a bit faster”. Even one of the greatest bands of all time had to rehearse their songs multiple times to make them perfect. All the practicing paid off when the band, by the end of the third part of the documentary, performs their famous rooftop concert flawlessly.
Even if you’re not a musician, it is not a bad idea to keep on practicing and perfecting your skills as much as you can. Whether it is writing, painting, playing sports, or skills you need to further your career, practice will help you improve. No matter how good you already are, practicing more will never hurt and give you a great feeling of accomplishment as you move forward.
Inspiration Comes When You Least Expect It
The Beatles’ songwriting process has always been somewhat of a mystery. Inspiration hit the band when they least expected it. The story goes that McCartney wrote the hit songs Yesterday after dreaming about scrambled eggs and Let it Be after dreaming about his mother.
In the documentary, we can see that other Beatles songs came about when they were just noodling around on instruments in the studios. This was the case for the title track Get Back. Halfway through part one of the series, you can see McCartney noodling around on his bass guitar while waiting for his bandmates. Suddenly, his strumming turns into a now familiar melody: “get back to where you once belonged”. The melody was at first accompanied by nonsense words, something the Beatles did a lot when coming up with new songs. Throughout the rest of the documentary, the song Get Back takes on the form as we know it today.
Later, we can see George Harrison playing around with the words of what was to become the hit song Something. John Lennon even gives George the advice to just put some nonsense words in there until he gets the right ones. So the “greatest love song of the past 50 years” (if you ask Frank Sinatra) would start with “attracts me like a cauliflower” as the substitute lyrics.
Seeing those iconic songs come into existence in the documentary is very inspirational. It shows that even the most genius inventions and works of art were not always present in the world, even if we cannot imagine a world without them now. So let inspiration hit you in unexpected moments too when you’re stuck for new ideas. Go for a walk, read a book or maybe noodle around on your instruments as well. Who knows what new ideas will come to you.
It’s Ok If Plans Change
When the Beatles started with the Get Back sessions, they planned on filming a TV special at the end of it. They even started with practicing in Twickenham film studios, so they could think of how they wanted the studio to look. Due to pressures from both inside and outside the band, those plans slowly changed. The TV special became a one-off performance. Various locations were discussed, including theatre ruins in Libya. One by one all these ideas were rejected until they came to the idea of performing on a rooftop. Even thirty minutes before the rooftop performance was set to begin, the band members were not sure if they wanted to do it. In the end, they rolled with the punches and gave one of the most famous performances of all time on the roofs of Saville Row in London.
The rooftop concert has been hailed as a defining moment in music history, on par with Woodstock. It has been imitated by other bands, including U2 when they performed Where the Streets Have No Name in Los Angeles in 1987. If the Beatles had stuck with the original TV special, who knows if their final performance would have been just as iconic. TV specials had been done before, while rooftop performances were a relatively new phenomenon.
The life, and maybe even career, lesson of this is that it is ok if plans change. Do not get married to the plans in your head and roll with the punches if other people come up with new and better ideas of how to approach challenges. Their input might just lift your initial ideas from mediocre to iconic.
The Beatles’ Unexpected Life Lessons
The Beatles’ new Get Back documentary series was not just an in-depth look at music-making but also provided some wonderful life lessons. The lessons might not immediately lead you to write iconic songs (or maybe they will, who knows) but can help you with personal growth and getting more out of life in all areas.
The Beatles were truly speaking some “words of wisdom”.