The first episode begins in Twickenham, the cold and unpromising space where they begin their work. When they meet, they rust, they grow apart, they are cautious. There is much in the air: hints of lazy sweat, flashes of joy as they rediscover the joy of each other’s company, burning resentments. Nobody has much material: John Lennon apparently has a song: “Don’t Let Me Down”, which is little more than a stunning chorus and about eight compelling mids. Paul keeps bringing back “I Have a Feeling,” which consists of even less: a few snippets of humming tune, a turnaround, and a soul cry or two.
“Is that called ‘I have a feeling’?” George asks, possibly poking fun at the lack of other letters.
“It’s called ‘I have a boner,’” John says blankly.
“Everybody has a boner except me and my monkey,” says Paul, laughing at himself. John’s eyes light up, he and Paul share a shy smile.
It is moving to see them so hesitant, cautiously dodging each other’s feelings, trying to find each other’s rhythm and granting each other tense little kindnesses (“Happy New Year, Ringo”). On the second day of rehearsals, Ringo sits at the piano next to Paul. Paul is playing “Tea for Two” and Ringo makes a makeshift soft shoe. At another point, Ringo interrupts the conversation with Lindsay-Hogg to listen to Paul, who is working on an early version of “Let It Be”. “You see, I used to watch him for an hour, just playing the piano,” he says, and his smile is fatherly.
When things go wrong, as they do from the beginning, the sense of immersion in Jackson’s images is so complete that you don’t feel like you’re eavesdropping but sitting at the table during someone else’s family discussion. Paul, as always, will work as long as inspiration does not arrive. John seems content to sit grumpily and patiently wait for something to come, a bolt of inspiration, or maybe just a handful of aspirin. George looks like a child who has been dragged on a field trip on Saturday.
When Paul tries to convince George to play a different chord during a “Get Back” rehearsal, because the one he’s chosen is “old-fashioned”, you can almost feel the shy Quiet Beatle shrink into himself. Finally, George gets up and leaves, calmly, announcing, “I’m leaving the band now.” The other three take a break for lunch and return, a bit in shock but still smiling and laughing, somehow, as they hit a power trio version of “I have a feeling” that sounds a lot like Nirvana. George returns in a few days, and in the meantime, we are invited into a conversation between Paul and John, captured by a microphone hidden in a flower pot, where the two admit that their egos have blinded them to George’s feelings and caused them to downplay it. .
As a Beatles fan, I lost track of moments like this where I couldn’t believe what I was hearing or seeing. The four members of the gang are on the loose with their own mythology, aware of it and seemingly capable at all times to profit from it and profit from it: there is a long and affectionate conversation at a point where Paul wonders aloud what they were doing in India. , how false they seemed to be, how self-conscious. George and John laugh with him. When George congratulates John on his suggestion for “For Your Blue,” he jokes, “I’m full of ideas like that, I’m famous for them, literally a Beatle, you know.”