Tuesday, August 17, 2010

John Lennon the Let It Be Album

"Well, it was another one like Magical Mystery Tour that . . . well, sort--this is--it's hard to say. In a nutshell, Paul wanted to make--it was time for another Beatle movie or something, and Paul wanted us to go on the road or do something. As usual, George and I were going, 'Oh, we don't want to do it, fuck,' and all that. He set it up and there was all discussions about where to go and all that. I would just tag along and I had Yoko by then, I didn't even give a shit about anything. I was stoned all the time, too, on H, etc. And I just didn't give a shit. And nobody did, you know. Anyway, it's like in the movie when I go to do 'Across the Universe,' Paul yawns and plays boogie, and I merely say, 'Oh, anybody want to do a fast one?' That's how I am. Year after year, that begins to wear you down.

"Paul had this idea that we were going to rehearse or . . . see it all was more like Simon and Garfunkel, like looking for perfection all the time. And so he has these ideas that we'll rehearse and then make the album. And of course we're lazy fuckers and we've been playing for twenty years, for fuck's sake, we're grown men, we're not going to sit around rehearsing. I'm not, anyway. And we couldn't get into it. And we put down a few tracks and nobody was in it at all. It was a dreadful, dreadful feeling in Twickenham Studio, and being filmed all the time. I just wanted them to go away, and we'd be there, eight in the morning. You couldn't make music at eight in the morning or ten or whatever it was, in a strange place with people filming you and coloured lights.

"So the tape ended up like the bootleg version. We let Glyn Johns remix it and we didn't want to know, we just left it to him and said, 'Here, do it.' It's the first time since the first album we didn't anything to . . . we just said, 'Do it.' Glyn Johns did it, none of us could be bothered going in and Paul . . . nobody called anybody about it. The tapes were left there, and we got an acetate each, and we'd call each other and say, 'Well, what do you think? Oh, let it out.' We were going to let it out with a really shitty condition, disgusted. And I wanted . . . I didn't care, I thought it was good to go out to show people what had happened to us. Like this is where we're at now, we couldn't get--we can't get it together and don't play together anymore. Leave us alone [laughs]. Glyn Johns did a terrible job on it, 'cause he's got no idea, etc. Never mind. But he hasn't, really. And so the bootleg version is what it was like. Paul was probably thinking, 'Well, I'm not going to fucking work on it.' It was twenty-nine hours of tape, it was like a movie. I mean just so much tape. Ten, twenty takes of everything, because we're rehearsing and taking everything. Nobody could face looking at it.

"So when Spector came around, it was like, 'Well, alright, if you want to work with us [laughs], go and do your audition, man.' ANd he worked like a pig on it. He'd always wanted to work with the Beatles and he was given the shittiest load of badly recorded shit--and with a lousy feeling to it--ever. And he made something out of it. It wasn't fantastic, but I heard it, I didn't puke. I was so relieved after six months of this black cloud hanging over, this was going to go out. I thought it would be good to go out, the shitty version, because it would break the Beatles, it would break the myth. That's us with no trousers on and no glossy paint over the cover and no sort of hype. 'This is what we're like with our trousers off. So would you please end the game now?' But that didn't happen, and we ended up doing Abbey Road quickly and putting out something slick to preserve the myth."


Anonymous said...

I read this and I feel sorry for Paul. He wanted to make music, and he's dealing with this absolute whiner (sorry John I love you but this is just whining) who just wants to get high and doesn't want to rehearse. John treats Paul like he's some sort of father figure that John has to rebel against. Paul must have been exhausted dealing with all this. Sure he was controlling and pushy but thank god he was or we wouldn't have had a lot of their good work.

It's amazing too how often John contradicts himself. He's dismissive here of the Magical Mystery Tour album but he was also quoted elsewhere as saying MMT was one of his favorites.

Anonymous said...

Insightful comment. Paul referred to phenomenon several years ago. The Beatles would get tired with his bossy ways, then when he stopped, they would then ask to be led. I think there was certainly blame to go around when it comes to the Let It Be sessions, but John certainly wasn't contributing very much, which he admitted when pressed at the time. I'm just glad that after that they were still able to make Abbey Road - they continued to make great music, but clearly they had become bored with the process.

JOHN O'LEARY said...

It's amazing that some decent performances DID emerge from those sessions. I guess it's hard to damage great songs. Long & Winding Road and Across the Universe were faves of mine (although I guess the tracks of Across the Universe go back to 1968). I liked the bootleg better than Spector's version of the album, as I'm sure McCartney did also.