Keeping it together as the Beatles fall apart 

I’ve been binging on Peter Jackson’s documentary series, Get Back, about the Beatles and it really couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s the kind of show, in my opinion, that doesn’t require acute attention and that’s kind of where I am at present.

The project most certainly was a labor of love for Jackson and, while I think the Beatles are one of the most influential bands of the last century, the sheer amount of footage he spliced together for this project is overwhelming. And maybe even a tad indulgent.

The length of the episodes (each clocks in between 2 and 3 hours) is formidable but, fortunately, I don’t feel the need to watch the screen every instant. Instead, I work on this year’s holiday card, today’s crossword puzzle or folding last weekend’s laundry.

I’m most compelled to watch with the most attention when I hear the Beatles working out new songs. It’s a pretty amazing thing to listen and watch as they arrive at the lyrics which are etched on my brain from hearing them for my entire life. Those songs are most definitely a part of history, my own included.

My impression had always been that George was the most gifted musician of the group, but I’ve been blown away by the talent of each of the “lads.” Seeing Paul bounce from bass to piano to drums is pretty damn amazing and I’m apologizing right here, right now, for undervaluing Ringo’s skills as a drummer – along with his blue eyes. He’s pretty damn terrific.

The hardest thing, for me, about this documentary is knowing what happens. These long haired, bearded, beautiful boys will never perform together again after the live concert that they’re preparing for the entire length of the series. The marriages, cancers, assassination, all still to come for them, but in the past for me and other viewers… That part is really difficult.

What’s also been difficult is the situation with my mother. The dredging up of the past brings new waves of pain and sadness. How does one inform hospital professionals, be it social workers or physicians, of decades of family history which has resulted in estrangement? What is my responsibility to the person who brought me into the world and then spent years making me feel as if I took her life from her?

I just don’t know.

I might Get Back, but there’s no going back and, like the Beatles, some things are never going to be together again.

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