This music video features a new Beatles song, "Show Up", created in support of the new novel, Once There Was a Way: What if The Beatles Stayed Together? Performed by the Southern California band, Anchor & Bear, the Youtube video shows a session from 1971 where the Beatles got together in George Harrison's garage at Friar Park and recorded together for their new album, Savile Row. Details in the Youtube description.
The Beatles recorded "Show Up" in the garage of George Harrison's ramshackle Friar Park estate in 1971. Surrounded by gnomes and garden implements, The Beatles look and sound rough and raw, drawing on the energy of sudden creation. The song credit is listed as Lennon-McCartney, as in the old days, but Lennon takes the lead vocal, including the McCartney written chorus.
Both the song and a film version were completed in a single day as part of a johnandyoko conceptual idea they first tried on "Instant Karma." The song appears in its full version on the acrimonious "Savile Row" album, but this music video version was never officially released. In 1972, nearly a full year after it was made, an Apple employee stole it from the company's vaults and sold it to bootleggers.
Critics have pointed out that the video looks like an indulgent home movie. The music doesn't quite match the film, the actual physical quality of which appears to be low; it's grainy and washed out. The film insert shots of heartwarming moments belong in a Coca-Cola commercial, not in a Beatles video. Lennon's voice is so thin that the processing magic needed to make it sound real also renders it nearly unrecognizable. The decision to shoot only half faces because of poor lighting seems gimmicky and confusing. Finally, it's recorded in a working garage with questionable acoustics. And yet... it works.
As a song, it's not Lennon at his best, but at his most gracious. By recording it with the group, he seems to be saying he knows he's been an asshole. "Here's a rocker for you Paul, and I'll come out to George's to record it, and Ringo can wear a funny hat and smoke all day if he wants to," he told reporters when asked about what the song meant to him. "Now can everybody just be happy and not act like little bitches?"
"Show Up" derives from advice McCartney received in 1968, ironically, from American entertainer Johnny Carson's sideman Ed McMahon after a taping of The Tonight Show. McMahon felt that the key to any partnership was showing up for the other guy, even if they appear to resent you for doing it.
Certainly the song's words and drive makes it feel like an act of emotional outreach by Lennon to "show up" for his band mates after the string of bad days they'd endured because of him during both 1970's "And the Band Plays On" and 1971's "Savile Row" albums. That every man for himself effort continued the serious challenge to the band's life since going back to the difficult "A Doll's House" and "Everest" sessions of 1968 and 1969.
Over a few listens, it's not McCartney's sentiment or Lennon's performance that drills into the mind, but Harrison's hooky power riffs in the center and end of the song. Ringo's never looked more relaxed, letting his drums bring it together and pull it along.
As for The Beatles, maybe they're best when they fight, because the aftermath always compels us to listen.
Imagine it's the 50th anniversary of the attempt on John Kennedy's life in Dallas, Texas, and you're listening to a national radio show about how that failed assassination attempt changed history. Over 40-thousand people have watched this ten minute short film that was made in support of the book, Surrounded by Enemies: What if Kennedy Survived Dallas?