My girlfriend has a golden rule when at the movies: "Always watch the little letters". There were a few that could not wait to get out of the theatre when the small letters started showing the hundreds upon hundreds of people who work on a movie. I was amazed that for each interview with the talking heads that documentaries carry, took at least 20 people to get on film. In each and every city where they were filmed and recorded. The next batch missed the band's banter on its 1963 Christmas record for the members of the fanclub. The sound heard over the little letters. And even more missed the annex glued to Ron Howard's documentary movie on the live years of The Beatles: the full Shea Stadium film. All 30 minutes. That was how long a show took those days. Compare that to what Paul McCartney does in recent years.
I have missed the live years of the Beatles, although I was around in the year they went to Hamburg for the first time. Tucked away safely in my crib and was in third grade when they played the, now famous, roof top concert, that seemed like the end of this film. John's voice saying something like: "that's rather a nice ending, isn't it"?, seemed to wrap it all up. For me that was the reason to go to this documentary, as it focuses on the live music and less on the impact of the band's music overall on the teenagers and society in general, as that part of the story is well documented. When a commentator somewhere along Eight Days A week stated: "This is something like we've never seen before", it had already changed for me. The impact was so much larger than I even imagined. In a certain scene I saw the most inner instincts of a girl standing behind a fence during a show. Had a Beatle come within her sight, she would have killed instantly and taken a piece, whatever part, home with her to keep forever. The sight on the girl's face, now a grandmother, is downright frightening.
This was what the band went through every single day. Until it was worn out in each and every way but creatively. The bubble didn't burst, the band just walked out and closed the door in 1966 to go on and produce its finest, most creative songs before it all ended. The rooftop tells it all. George looks extremely doubtful, John starts to have a good time, like Paul and Ringo already have, and then that one second when a camera glimpses Yoko Ono, sitting on the roof, sullen, perhaps even angry looking, bored. There and then is the end of the band in plain view for perhaps two seconds. In my mind that was the defining moment. The Beatles should have gone touring in 1970 and do what the Rolling Stones did, grow ever higher and better. But oh those few people in those other roofs!
That was the final episode. All before is the famous story, often told and viewed once again or in part for the first time for me. How a band grew from a pop/beat band to the most important band in history and the greatest writers of songs ever. Up with the very, very great. The screaming girls never stop amazing. Mass hysteria. The pace of the band. It's relentless! The sum-up by Ringo of an average Beatles day is so telling. But like Paul said, it brought focus. The need for the next hit, kept them on their toes and brought out the best in them. Every moment counted and the results show. The string of hits is still amazing.
And confusing for The Beatles in a very specific U.S. sense. What album is the song we're playing on? They undoubtedly knew for the U.K. version of the albums, but for the U.S. ones? It seems like they didn't. The Beatles VI? Even I have never heard of it. 'Yesterday and Today'? I had never heard of it, until literally this week. If you like what you heard in Eight Days A Week, then '1966. The Year The decade Broke' by Jon Savage is a book of interest. A whole section of the book was told here in the movie by Savage. The photo shoot with dolls and meat, the pressure on the band, the segregation in Jackson and the influence The Beatles had on that discussion, the album burnings. etc. It's all in there and a lot more not on The Beatles. So did Savage add that to Eight Days a Week or was he put on a story? Interesting. It's these parts to the story of The Beatles that I thought highly interesting. But when all is said and done, it's about camaraderie. Four young lads from Liverpool who took on the world together. Their humour, talent, friendship and one for all, all for one attitude that got them through the stress and madness around them.
In a movie theatre in the middle of the day with mostly pensioners, baby boomers, I had a great time. Eight Days A Week gave me piece of something that I never could have been at and experience now in full. For The Beatles it is too bad that they are not able to play now. That we need The Analogues to show how it could have sounded like. The Beatles remain the originals though and always will be.
Paul and Ringo are still here, in their 70s. As the film dedications show a lot of the core team isn't any more. Soon to be a memory, soon to be beyond a memory. The music and the films will always be there for future generations to muse about. Also live it just didn't get much better than this. I somehow tend to forget how good this band is, because of all the other stuff going on musically, but there are always little moments like these that make me realise that when all is said and done there's only one band that matters and that is the one that entered my life first, as a very young boy, The Beatles.