false memories – Paul McCartney & the Beatles

the Beatles on the roof of Apple studios

Paul McCartney heard so many stories that ‘the Apple sessions’ were not a happy time that even he had come to believe it.

When Peter Jackson was first invited by Apple Corps to make a cinema film from the many hours of footage shot by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, he recalls his first thought being: “I don’t want to do the Beatles’ break-up movie.” But then he started looking at the footage.

This took the best part of a year to assemble because it had been filmed without the slates that are used to identify what was shot when, and in what order, and it could only be assembled by a team as fastidious and technically adept as Jackson’s.

What emerged wasn’t what he was expecting. “I was waiting and waiting for some big argument,” he says, “but there’s not a single angry word spoken. George gets a little tetchy with Paul at one point but it’s not angry. My respect for them has gone up enormously through watching this footage. They’re just four nice guys.”

Paul McCartney in particular was relieved to hear this is what Jackson found. Even he had bought into the myth that these sessions were not a happy time.

“It was just such a pleasure when Peter started saying, ‘It doesn’t look like that to me’ and started sending little bits where we are playing around,” the singer, now 79, admits. “It feels like something’s being corrected and the people who thought it was all a horrible period will be able to be flies on the wall and see that, no, wait a minute, these guys seem to be having a good time.”

McCartney is the ultimate Beatles fan, and therefore this quality of amity illuminating the film means even more to him than anyone else. “When I saw it, it was like: I love this. That was me and John. It was also me and George. It was also George and Ringo. All of us had that relationship, and that’s what made us strong. I loved being there with the band again, seeing my interactions with the guys. These are four mates giggling about the impossibility of it all. That was the Beatles. That was us.”

Radio Times – November 2021