I once heard Sting from the band The Police say, “When I saw Hard Days Night I wanted to be a rockstar. When I saw Jimi Hendrix wanted to be a musician.”
That sounds dumb to me because when I saw Hard Days Night I wanted to be a rockstar, and when I saw and heard Jimi Hendrix I still wanted to be a rockstar. I knew if I could just figure out how to play the guitar one day I could be a rockstar. I never wanted to be a guitarist that could shred a bunch of notes on the neck like a typist, I just wanted to write good songs and be a rockstar and live that life.
When I was young, I saw Hard Days Night on TV. I absolutely loved it. I fell in love with The Beatles and even though I preferred more aggressive rock music like Steppenwolf, I totally got what the greatest composers of the 20th century were doing with The Beatles. Paul was the driving force, but I liked John better because he was the cool one and the funnier of the two.
You couldn’t rent or download any movies back in the 70s. The technology simply didn’t exist. You had to tune into a specific channel on a certain night and time if you wanted to see anything. But I was probably 16 the second time I saw Hard Days Night. I loved it all over again and appreciated it even more as a landmark film that depicted the Beatles beautifully. They are all so young in it and you can see they’re really enjoying themselves after toiling away as a band in the clubs for over 8 years before they made it big.
I had a cassette tape recorder that my dad had given me and I set it for record on a little snack table next to the TV. I recorded the whole movie’s audio track that evening. Now I could go back and listen to the entire movie anytime I wanted. But like all of my Bill Cosby and George Carlin records I listened to, I learned all the dialogue and songs. So I could sit in art class at Frankford High and recite Beatles bits to my classmates. I would even do all of the accents and everything. It was a riot and I delighted my friends with my comedy bits.
I later owned the film on DVD but it just wasn’t the same as seeing it as a teenager and absorbing the magic of the movie in my mind. I recently watched the Peter Jackson film, Get Back on Disney+. I had heard about it and knew that it was something Peter had been working on for a long time. He took hours and hours of film and audio from the sessions from 1969 and created a concise picture of where the band was at the time. It’s in 3 parts because it’s so massive but it’s brilliant.
For the first time in my life, I felt like I was so close to the Beatles. The 4 guys as a band and as best friends. Working out the songs for Abbey Road and Let It Be in a recording space in the basement of the Apple Records building. It’s a long film and for most people, I think it’ll be boring, but for me, it’s absolutely captivating. You can actually see how the songs are created and composed right there live. It’s amazing to see John and Paul create these songs and you know that the song is gorgeous and finished, but they’re not quite there yet. For the composer or musician, this film is like opening a box that’s been buried for 50 years and it’s filled with diamonds and gold.
If you love The Beatles and the writing and composing process of geniuses, this is definitely worth a watch. The guys aren’t even 30 years old yet in this film and they’ve already changed the world.
It took me a week to finish it because I watched it like I do everything else I like. In little bite-sized bits.
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