The next recording session after George Harrison quit the band took place on 13 January 1969. In an effort to not be disturbed, John Lennon stayed at home and repeated attempts to phone him resulted in busy signals, implying he deliberately took the phone off the hook so that he couldn't be reached. Consequently, the studio chatter recorded that morning is remarkably candid discussion between Paul McCartney, Linda Eastman (Paul's girlfriend), Michael Lindsay-Hogg (the film's director), and Neil Aspinal (the Beatles' roadie), about the absent John Lennon and his omnipresent companion, Yoko Ono.
Excerpts from A/B Road January 13, Disc 2, Tracks 4 and 6
PAUL: Yoko's very much to do with it from John's angle. And there's only two answers: One is to fight it and fight her and try and get the Beatles back to four people without Yoko, and ask her to sit down at the board meetings. The other thing is to just realize she's there and he's not going to split with her just for our sakes. But then it's not even so much of an obstacle as long as we're not trying to surmount it. While we're still trying to get over it, it's an obstacle. But it isn't really. It's not that bad. They want to stay together, those two. So it's alright, let the young lovers stay together.
MICHAEL: Can't operate under these conditions. There'll be no work coming out.
PAUL: It's like we're striking because work conditions aren't right. But it's not that bad.
MICHAEL: But he knows that, doesn't he?
PAUL: John knows that, sure.
MICHAEL: Does he talk about it at all?
PAUL: We've done a lot of Beatles now, and we've got a lot out of Beatles. I think John's saying now, obviously, if it came to a push between Yoko and the Beatles, it's Yoko.
NEIL: Whenever John talks these days it's like Yoko is talking through him.
PAUL & LINDA: Yeah.
NEIL: Or he shuts up and lets her do it for him. And that's become a thing for him – not ever talking to him like I'm talking to you right now. … When you're talking to John, you always (these days, anyway) tend to think that you're talking to Yoko more than you're talking to John.
PAUL: That's why I say writing a song with him is a bit embarrassing.
PAUL: They're under that thing – they just want to be near each other. I just think it's silly of me or anyone to try and say to them, “no you can't”. Okay, they're going overboard about it, but John always does. And Yoko probably always does. So that's their scene. You can't go saying, “Don't go overboard about this thing. Be sensible about it and don't bring her to meetings.” It's his decision. It's none of our business to interfere in that. Even when it comes into our business, you still can't really say much except “Look, I don't like it, John”. Then he can say, “Screw you”, or “I like it”, or “well, I won't do it”. That's the only way, is to tell John about it.
MICHAEL: Have you done that already?
PAUL: I told him I didn't like writing songs with him and Yoko.
MICHAEL: Were you writing together much more before she came around, or had you cooled it then, before her?
PAUL: We've cooled it because [of] not playing together. Ever since we didn't play together.
MICHAEL: On stage you mean.
PAUL: Yes, because we lived together when we played together. We were in the same hotel, up at the same time every morning, doing this all day. And it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you're this close all day, something grows. And then when you're not this close all day physically, something goes.
PAUL: Neither of us compromise. If I can start to compromise, then maybe they'll bend a little for me.
MICHAEL: Yeah, but if her around so much has caused a lot of trouble, then you're compromising already. You've made a lot of compromise.
PAUL: I think it's because we've thought that the only alternative would be for John to say, “Okay, well, see you then”. And we'd not want that to happen.
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.