Beatles forever

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This article is published in issue 49 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until December 7, 2021

In the exact moment in which he burns with the desire to be perfectly deaf, fed up with good songs just to shake up the current account, sickened by hordes of guitarists who wave pop culture as a pure game of ideas without ideals; suddenly, a “grave ring” is heard: i Beatles! Yes, just like in that frightening poem of our distant scholastic youth that Giovanni Berchet dedicated to Garibaldi: «The graves are discovered, the dead are raised; THE
our martyrs are all risen … ».

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The miracle has the title Get Back and airs on Disney +: three episodes of two and a half hours each, edited and directed with painstaking passion by Oscar winner Peter Jackson, taken from 60 hours of video recordings and 150 of audio tapes shot in 1969 by Lindsay-Hogg at London, to document the latest album that will later become Let It Be and their last concert together. The bewilderment that takes you, as you immerse yourself in the “resurrection” of one of the greatest musical stories of all time, is indescribable. It is like spying on Leonardo da Vinci at his easel or Michelangelo brandishing his sculptor’s chisel. It’s like seeing a chick hatch from an egg. Before your eyes, McCartney’s random brushstrokes on guitar turn into Get Back, then the song expands to Ringo, George and John, and finally finds its solution with the entry of Billy Preston’s electric piano. Here is the shy George Harrison who plays to his companions a melody still shortened which will later become the masterpiece of Something, but he is stuck on words and asks Lennon for help. Get Back it also turns into an intimate study of the friendship between John and Paul. Especially when they fuck around, dance in the studio like drunken dervishes, a chemistry erupts between the two guys from Liverpool that explodes as sweetly as any sexual or romantic attraction. The connection between the two is so intimate that when they play Two of Us, you realize that the love that song celebrates is theirs – even if they didn’t know it. It is the definitive gust, the one that polishes our gaze like a mirror and reveals: we cannot lose them without losing ourselves. Like children deprived of something that has been unreasonably dispersed in an unexpected and enemy event. Because we know what they don’t know: that the rooftop concert will be their last performance together and that, just over a decade later, John Lennon will be dead. Part of you is filled with bitterness: you want to spur the four of them to find a way to go on, if only for a little longer; and you grind for all the songs that weren’t written and sung. By detaching the shadow from the ground, you discover that the Lennon-McCartney songbook is like a reservoir of water, piled up in a mountain basin and kept there in case of emergency. As a reserve for thirst. But it is precisely on a water so still and also so bright that their most famous songs are not only to be hummed but reflections on the roads we have not taken, on the kisses we have not given, on the missed desires, on our frailties. A creativity that has allowed John, Paul, George and Ringo to transcend an era, to unite the world of fathers and children and grandchildren, and to speak to us intimately today as yesterday. We know that memory is discounted by singing. Our past moves away from us the moment we are born, but we only hear it pass when a Beatles song ends.

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