Musicians respond to ‘Get Back’

Local performers react to Peter Jackson’s 7-hour Beatles documentary.|

Before Nov. 25, you might have heard someone say “get back” if you were too close to them while waiting in line at the Quickie Mart to buy a lottery ticket. Since that date, “Get Back” is the talk of the town, but not in that social-distancing kind of way.

“Get Back” is the new Disney Plus movie about The Beatles. Released last month, it was shot in the recording studio in 1969. The movie chronicles the Fab Four as they grovel and claw their way toward a daunting three-week goal: 14 new songs, an album and a TV special based upon a live performance. All the while, “ciggies” are being smoked, tea is being served, conversations are being recorded, cameras are rolling and tempers are being tried.

Viewing the movie can also be trying.

Rather than pass on my impressions and thoughts on this remarkable work, I flipped through my Rolodex and contacted musicians who know all about this kind of thing. I asked their opinions of the film and its seven-plus hours of stolen moments from 53 years ago. These musicians have all been in similar band situations. They know the pressure, angst, relief, joy and wonderful sense of accomplishment playing music with others can bring.

The many comments received from all over the country and spanning several genres were all quite well considered and reflected what their experienced eyes saw in the film. Many of the responses were quite lengthy and have been edited.

Spoiler alert: if you have not seen the film, flip now to Kathleen Hill’s stories starting on page B1 and take her up on those hot, delicious tips.

Musician’s thoughts on “Get Back”:

Glen Ellen’s Dave Aguilar wrote, “Personally it really made me appreciate all the great people and musicians I’ve had the chance to create music and record with. It is such a team effort and process. Sometimes easy, but very difficult to reach the goal. It inspired me to simply play and record as much as I can.”

Sonoma boy Gerard Serafini has been in bands most of his life, and currently fronts Peace of G. Serafini pointed to Paul McCartney’s position with the band. “What I have learned that rings so true to me was Paul’s role being the captain. That has been my role in all my bands. You can have good rowers, but you need a captain to keep them in line, working in sync and having an idea where they are going.”

New Sonoma County resident John Beland is veteran of bands and projects with people like Linda Ronstadt, Glenn Frey, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Kris Kristofferson, Rick Nelson and Dolly Parton. Beland was also the last artist signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records. He knows all about this stuff.

Beland wrote, “By 1969, The Beatles had done it all. Having accomplished so much, it’s amazing they could still reach down and pull out yet even more amazing songs and do it in the midst of legal wars, new relationships and shockingly no management. The Beatles are arguable the Eighth Wonder of the entertainment world and always will be. No other musical act comes close to what they accomplished and how they influenced pop culture. “Get Back” is simply jaw dropping.”

Chloe Tietjen, of the Oakland based indie-folk T-Sisters, was gracious enough to put down her newborn future musician and write, “It takes an incredible amount of trust and musical chemistry to undertake something like that. I am just in awe. You get to see their brilliance but also their humanity. You can relate to them as being friends, musicians and see so much of their individual personalities. I think those of us who’ve been in bands can relate to some of the dynamics you see in the series. It a heartwarming and painful and amazing slice of history.”

Ruben Valtierra, the chatty Latin orchestra band leader and longtime musical director for “Weird Al” Yankovic, chimed in with, “After watching “Get Back,” you know who my favorite Beatle is now? All of them.”

Valtierra continued, “George was so amazingly coming into his own. He was presenting works that were finished, works that would prove classic. He had found his “voice,” so different than Paul and John’s, yet equally important. His thoughts and opinions were already those of a wisened master, so inspiring to see. And, at the same time, so sad to see the works he would offer still be dismissed (by the others).”

Several more musician’s comments will be published next Friday. In the meantime, if you have not seen “Get Back,” and if you have an interest in the Beatles, you should most certainly see this movie. It is a raw yet brilliant look at the world’s best band and how they rode that last wave.

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