Thursday, December 09, 2021

The Beatles - Get Back - Part 3

Oh good, Yoko has some correspondence to read. I'm glad she has something to do,
I wouldn't want her to be bored in the middle of a Beatles recording session.

Very annoying op-ed in the NYTimes by Amanda Hess the other day. She admits Ono was rude - literally using the word rude, at one point, but Hess means rude in a good way.

She perches in reach of John Lennon, her bemused face oriented toward him like a plant growing to the light. When Paul McCartney starts to play “I’ve Got a Feeling,” Ono is there, stitching a furry object in her lap. When the band starts into “Don’t Let Me Down,” Ono is there, reading a newspaper. Lennon slips behind the piano and Ono is there, her head hovering above his shoulder. Later, when the group squeezes into a recording booth, Ono is there, wedged between Lennon and Ringo Starr, wordlessly unwrapping a piece of chewing gum and working it between Lennon’s fingers. When George Harrison walks off, briefly quitting the band, there is Ono, wailing inchoately into his microphone.

And in spite of Ono's obsessive, groupie-like behavior, Hess tries to argue that this makes Ono a feminist icon and a role model for Heather McCartney.

In Jackson’s film, you can see the seeds of this generational shift. One day, Eastman’s young daughter, Heather, a bob-haired munchkin, whirls aimlessly about the studio. Then she spies Ono singing. Heather observes her with scrunch-faced intensity, steps up to the microphone and wails.

I think the psychology here is more like, Heather figured, if a grown-ass woman could scream into a microphone, why couldn't she?

I do find some things to admire about Ono, but her behavior in the studio with the Beatles in 1968-69 was appalling, to be so oblivious to the feelings of other people in a room. 

Hess compares Ono's behavior to a performance piece, but there's a more likely, if prosaic explanation: Ono was from a family of wealthy Japanese aristocrats. The Beatles were working-class musicians. In the world that Yoko came from, you didn't worry about the feelings of the people you outranked. Why should she care if she was irritating the fuck out of everybody? 

A disruptive person in the studio was not only a sign of Ono's disrespect for the men in Lennon's band, it was a sign of Lennon's disrespect for the men in the band. Hess can call Yoko a feminist hero all she wants but Yoko was a tool that Lennon used to drive a wedge between himself and the band.

Speaking of George, the buzzkill is back. Between George and Yoko, it's a miracle the Beatles didn't end in Twickenham studios.

Luckily they had Ringo...

...and Billy Preston

Unlike Yoko, Linda was a fan of the Beatles.

Great shot in the film of all four Fabs

Lennon was mainly subdued in Twickenham studios, but once they got into the Apple basement, he perked up considerably and displayed his charisma and goofy, infectious sense of humor, the things that made him, in McCartney's words, "the boss," and which made all the difference in the sessions.