How ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ Fixed Paul McCartney’s Biggest Issue With the Band’s Breakup
Ever since The Beatles: Get Back premiered in November, fans have been discovering the band’s songwriting process. The three part Disney+ series shows Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr debating lyrics and musical riffs. None were more surprised by it than McCartney himself.
McCartney was a guest on the Fresh Air podcast on Nov. 3 to promote his book, Paul McCartney: The Lyrics. As The Beatles: Get Back was about to premiere on Disney+, host Terry Gross asked McCartney’s reaction to it, too.
The reason Paul McCartney expected to hate ‘The Beatles: Get Back’
The Beatles: Get Back had the potential to reopen old wounds. Director Peter Jackson used the raw footage from the 1969 film Let It Be to make a longform series. However, it still chronicled the last time The Beatles wrote and recorded together.
“I think that was something that I said to Peter Jackson originally,” McCartney told Gross on Fresh Air. “When I knew Peter was going to look at all the footage, I said to him, ‘I’m not sure I’m going to like this, Peter. It was from a very difficult period in my life and it’s always looked like I broke up the Beatles.’ That isn’t the case but the film came out and gave that impression and the associated journalism around it. So I said, ‘I’m not sure I’m going to like it.’”
Peter Jackson assured Paul McCartney of good memories
Now that fans have binged all eight hours of The Beatles: Get Back, they know that any angst is minimal compared to the joy. Jackson focused on McCartney and co.’s artistic process, because that’s what he saw in the original footage.
“So he went off to New Zealand where he works and lives,” McCartney said. “A few weeks later he sent me back a text that said, ‘No, it’s not like that at all. This is just four guys working out songs, having a lot of fun. There’s one or two little tense moments maybe but we put that down to that’s any family. It’s not all just roses. But generally speaking, this was a bit of a rose garden.’ It was us enjoying being back together, showing each other our songs, learning them and having fun with them.”
Why did The Beatles break up?
McCartney has shouldered the burden for The Beatles’ breakup for decades. He has reconciled himself to understanding how that became the narrative.
“I know why it was,” McCartney said. “It was because when I put my first album out after The Beatles, I was sent a questionnaire that asked various questions about The Beatles. There was something like will the Beatles get back together again, when are they getting back together again? And I sort of said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ I can’t remember the exact reaction but it was something like that. And then that became, as it does, blown up into a big headline. Paul Says the Beatles Are Finished, and so that became Paul Must’ve Finished them.”
In reality, however, it was neither McCartney nor Yoko Ono who broke up The Beatles. John Lennon himself decided to go solo.
McCartney said, “So I didn’t really have a chance to say, ‘No, wait a minute. There was a meeting and John walked into it. The other Beatles and me are in this room, John walked in and said, ‘I’m leaving The Beatles.’ That never came out.”