Two of Us - the Beatles
There has been much publicity about Peter Jackson's new documentary tv series "The Beatles: Get Back", his re-editing of the original film footage filmed for the 1970 documentary movie "Let it Be". So too around the launch of McCartney's autobiographical new book "The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present". The Beatles are much again in the spotlight, if they have ever been out of it. The peculiar thing is that the more Sir Paul tries to assert himself and come across as a good guy, the more there seem to be people who say that he isn't.
Over the past month I have spoken with quite a few individuals who claim that he is conceited, that he has been on radio undermining Lennon's contribution to the Beatles' output and bigging up his own. I have made a point of listening to these interviews and can find nothing to support what they say, but there is no doubt that they think they hear it, even if I don't. It is a peculiar thing, that the once legendary and vaunted Lennon McCartney songwriting partnership is now often perceived as a Lennon v McCartney affair. This is largely because McCartney has for some while retrospectively been emphasising which songs he wrote as opposed to those that were by Lennon. He has never, as far as I'm aware, knocked or laid claim to any of Lennon's output.
The impression I get from McCartney interviews is of a deep platonic friendship between the two, and of his continuing great sadness over the premature death of Lennon.
The extraordinary thing about the original "Let It Be" film is that it bought into the myth that the Beatles were at each other's throats during its recording. The new Peter Jackson "Get Back" paints a very different picture, that of a group being torn apart by intruding outside pressures and people, never happier than when everyone else leaves the room and they are left alone to create together.
The magic of Lennon and McCartney was that they were the closest of friends and the finest of collaborators. It is useless to argue which is their best song, there are so many good ones, but this is right up there with them, Paul singing of their friendship, relaxed but moving, light but deep, John harmonising beautifully, easily.
It's ironic that it should be Walt Disney who have put out the "The Beatles: Get Back" in that, in retrospect, the film marks the final chapter of a fairy tale, four poor boys become kings, with the fairy godmother (Brian Epstein) deceased, the good wizard exiled (George Martin produced the original recordings for the "Let It Be" album, but Phil Spector was brought in to do the final mix and was given full credit) but still triumphing fifty years later.
The lyrics mix images of childhood while harking back to a time when they weren't the world's most famous band, when they could spend their time mucking around without being noticed, when they were teenagers playing skiffle versions of folk and rock and roll:
"Two of us sending postcards,
writing letters on my wall;
you and me burning matches,
on our way back home"
Surrounded by record company executives, marketing men, hangers on and who knows who, there is a wistfulness for the freedom that they used to share before their era of fame. No wonder they broke up.
"Two of us wearing raincoats,
in the sun;
you and me chasing paper,
on our way back home"