The Beatles Get Back Film (Review & Perspective)

It started streaming right at midnight (PT) on Thanksgiving on Disney+. The line on our TV below summed up what The Beatles were facing by trying to write and learn 14 songs in two weeks, and then perform them in a concert.

(The Beatles face a daunting task.)

The Get Back documentary is fascinating and frustrating.  It’s amazing to see The Beatles’ songs being born, but you want to tell them the lyrics and arrangements they’re struggling to find.  There is no whitewashing of the problems originally shown during the Let It Be movie (in fact, more problems are shown), we just get a more complete look at what happened.

We learn during the first part of the documentary that even though The Beatles weren’t breaking up, it was often mentioned as a concern.  It would be fair to say Get Back shows the pending breakup of The Beatles.

The film also shows that the presence of Yoko Ono at the sessions did not cause the breakup.  Of course John Lennon wanting to spend his time with Yoko probably did contribute to his announcing that he was leaving The Beatles eight months later.

At the beginning of the sessions The Beatles are having trouble coming up with songs and completing them.  Then on January 9th, Paul arrives early, sits down at the piano and plays portions of “The Long And Winding Road”, “Another Day”, “Golden Slumbers” and “Carry That Weight”.  George soon arrives and plays “For You Blue”, and you’re reminded they’ll eventually develop enough material.

It’s hard to believe, but not only did they write enough songs for Let It Be, they also started 11 songs that ended up on Abbey Road, and other songs that later appeared on their solo albums…all in January!

Part 1 of the documentary ends shortly after George has casually left the band on January 10th, 1969.  His leaving the band wasn’t included in the original movie, because The Beatles asked to have it left out.  George had been frustrated by the conditions at the cavernous film studio where they were working, by a concert he didn’t want to do, and by the domination of Paul and John over the songs and arrangements.

George’s leaving had the other three Beatles concerned, and they shared a private group embrace that the cameras caught.

Part 2 shows that all four Beatles met twice privately in order to work things out.  George was right about nearly everything.  The project moves to Apple headquarters, where a comfortable new studio is being set up.  Plans for the TV concert at an exotic location are scrapped. Instead, they want to plan a more reasonable concert to provide a climax to a movie that will be made from the film footage.

As The Beatles are rehearsing, they realize that without overdubbing, they can’t play the keyboard parts some of the songs require.  Billy Preston, a keyboardist for Little Richard & Ray Charles and a friend since their days in Hamburg, stops in to visit.  He’s asked to join the recording sessions.  What a difference he makes!

As you can see from this screen shot and the caption (reaction to a joke by George), things were getting better (all the time).  The keyboard part Billy Preston adds to “Don’t Let Me Down” greatly improves the song, and The Beatles’ own playing is elevated.

It’s noteworthy that at times The Beatles get upset with one another, but never really angry.  There’s no shouting or name calling.  Most of the time they’re working with affection for the music and each other, and with lots of humor.

Producer George Martin says… “You’re working so well together.  You’re looking at each other, you’re seeing each other.  It’s happening isn’t it?  The other George nods in agreement.  At the end of Part 2, the roof of the Apple building is considered as a concert site.

Part 3 is mostly the final recording and rehearsing before the rooftop concert.  Actually, The Beatles are still debating whether they even want to do it.  Ringo is the one who likes the idea the most, George the least, and John & Paul aren’t sure.  No one knows if they can even pull it off.

The film gives us portions of songs in take after take, and there’s a feeling that none of the songs were completed.  We only know they must have gotten some good takes, because words on the screen say… “This version was used for the Let It Be album.”

At one point, George tells John that he has enough songs for ten years worth of albums based on his quota of two songs per album.  George says he wants to make a solo album to hear what all his songs sound like together (spoiler: really good).  He says.. “I’m Just gonna do me for a bit.” He also says it would be nice if any of them could do separate projects as well, and still preserve The Beatles.  So, even though he quit for a few days over some problems, he wanted The Beatles to keep going.

Finally (Jan. 30th), The Beatles start playing on the roof.

The filming of the concert is very complete with enough cameras to capture the band and the reactions of people in the streets below.

The use of split screens is very effective to show it all.  The complete concert is included.

After the performance The Beatles, their significant others (Linda, Yoko, & Maureen Starkey), and the studio staff listen to the rooftop recordings.

The next day (Jan. 31st), The Beatles do the final studio recordings of “Two Of Us”, “The Long And Winding Road”, and “Let It Be”. We’d been listening to bits of those songs throughout the entire film.  It was going to be great to hear and see them finally complete.  Unfortunately, those final takes were not shown…just incomplete portions of them.  With nearly eight hours of film, Director Peter Jackson couldn’t include the finished performances of three of the best songs, including two #1 hits?…unbelievable!

Jackson probably didn’t want to end the film with three non-rocking songs after that rooftop concert, but they deserved to be included.  It’s like a documentary of a house being built, but they never show the completed house!

Using “The Long And Winding Road”, followed by the more up-tempo “Two Of Us”, and then showing “Let It Be” (the last song they recorded) as the credits rolled would have been very effective.  Using just bits of the songs, like we’d heard the whole film, was a horrible decision.

Overall, it’s great to have a film record of The Beatles writing, arranging, and finally completing songs.  Seeing the interactions of the four Beatles is fascinating, but the 3-part film is definitely too long (about 2-and-a-half hours per part), with too much tedious repetition of the attempts to get songs right.

Peter Jackson said he didn’t want to leave out anything he thought was important, because whatever he didn’t use could go back in the vault for another fifty years.

We know the planned version of the Get Back movie for theaters was 2-hours-20-minutes, and the version used for the premieres was an-hour-and-forty-minutes.  It would be nice to have at least one of those available…maybe as a Blu-ray release or digital purchase.  The original Let It Be movie, with the technical improvements to the film & sound, should also be made available.

It was an extremely long and winding road for the nearly 60 hours of Let It Be footage to come together as Get Back.  Even though there are some problems, Peter Jackson’s hard work is very appreciated.  The new version is definitely worth seeing, but don’t try to watch all those hours in one sitting.

Tom Petty…Somewhere You Feel Free (Film)

It’s a gift to fans.  While Tom Petty was recording the Wildflowers album, some of the process was being filmed.  The raw footage was discovered by his daughter, Adria, in 2020, and now it’s a film we can watch free on YouTube.

The documentary combines the original footage with other film from that time, plus there are recent interviews with producer Rick Ruben, and Heartbreakers Mike Campbell & Benmont Tench.

Tom Petty fans will find it all fascinating.  We’re given insights into what was happening in Tom’s life in 1993 & 1994 during the writing and recording of what he considered his best album.

Producer Rick Ruben was especially insightful.  He said we think of the song “Wildflowers” as just Tom Petty and an acoustic guitar.  He explained the reality is there are “fifty elements”, including orchestration, that are light touches adding to our pleasure as we enjoy repeated listenings.

Ruben also explained that the album sounds more intimate, because they didn’t layer the guitars as on previous Heartbreaker albums, allowing for a more singer-songwriter feel.

Tom Petty quipped…”I never really hired Rick as the producer, he just kept showing up.”  Actually, Tom admitted he would write some songs, and then call Rick to come over.

(Mike Campbell & Tom Petty during the Wildflowers sessions.)  

Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench added many details about the whole project.  They agreed that making Wildflowers was the most fun they had making an album.  They said the reason there were so many songs is that the process was so enjoyable they didn’t want to stop.

(A recent shot of Benmont Tench)

The documentary is about 90-minutes long.  Besides all the revelations about the songs, I love hearing pieces of the recordings.  Those included isolated voices in harmony, individual guitars and keyboards, and hearing the orchestrations all by themselves

There’s also a separate interview piece on YouTube with those responsible for the project.  They include (top row) Adria Petty, director Mary Wharton, interviewer David Fricke, (bottom row) co-producer Sarah Haber, editor Mari Keiko Gonzalez, and producer Peter Afterman.

You can hear the passion they all had for the project, and they obviously did a great job.

Anyone who misses Tom Petty will be thankful to spend a little more time with him.  Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free…streaming now on YouTube.

Paul McCartney…The Lyrics

The two volume set of Paul McCartney’s songwriting memories The Lyrics was released this week.  The books are not just filled with lyrics, they’re packed with personal photos, and stories about the songs.

The set comes in a heavy cardboard sleeve, and the books have jacket covers with photos and the lyrics to “Hey Jude” & “Yesterday”.  On the other side are “Back In The U.S.S.R.” & “Maybe I’m Amazed”.

There are even lyrics printed right on the book covers, including “Band On The Run” and “Penny Lane”.

Here are the pages that show the lists of songs in the two volumes.  You can see the songs are in alphabetical order.  (Click to enlarge)

The alphabetical order makes it easy to find songs, but since this is also meant to serve as an autobiography, it might have been more effective if the songs had been placed in chronological order.  There are a total of 154 songs and 874 pages.

Here’s an example of how the book is autobiographical.  When Paul tells the story of “Eleanor Rigby”, he mentions how as a boy he did odd jobs for a woman who lived alone.  He felt that situation was the seed for the song.  While thinking back to that time, he also relays how he met John Lennon and joined The Quarrymen.  That’s how stories of the songs are expanded to reveal much more about Paul’s life.

Here are just a couple of random samples of photos.

John and Paul goofing around backstage, manager Brian Epstein, The Beatles in Hamburg, Germany in 1961, and John Lennon in Paris that same year.

These photos are from a trip Paul and his wife Linda took to Nashville that included meeting guitar great Chet Atkins.

The book has photos from throughout Paul’s personal & professional life.  Paul took some of the early shots, his photographer wife Linda McCartney provided more, and there are some really good recent photos by their daughter, Mary.

All major Paul McCartney and Beatles fans will enjoy getting so much new information about the songs, and seeing hundreds of previously unpublished photos.  The list price for the set is a hefty $100, but I ordered it from Amazon for $79, and then their price guarantee reduced it to $60.

The final words on songwriting come from Paul McCartney on the back of the book holder.


Let It Be Remix Box Set…Review & Perspective

The new remix of Let It Be is excellent, but let’s begin where the album did in 1969, the previously unreleased Glyn Johns mix of Get Back.  It’s a mess.  Johns has produced a lot of good music, but none of the song versions he chose for the album are better than those on the released Let It Be album.  Only three of the versions, “One After 909”, “Get Back”, and “Let It Be” are worthy of being on a Beatles album.  In the box set book, it says Glyn Johns purposely selected earlier takes to show The Beatles less polished.

Fans hoped this “raw” version of The Beatles would be good, but if the Get Back album had been released in the Glyn Johns mix, it would have been an embarrassing way to end the recording career of The Beatles.  If you’re looking for the “just the band” style originally intended for the album, go with Let It Be…Naked.  It’s a much better mix of mostly the same songs.

The one cool thing about having the  Get Back album is they included the cover that was planned…which has the photo that ended up being used for the Blue Album collection.

Here’s what the Super Deluxe CD set looks like.  The photos on the 100-page book normally show through the cutouts in the black cardboard sleeve.  The CD’s store in a trifold holder.  The vinyl version has the same covers for the records, as you see on the CD’s.

The 2021 remix of the Let It Be album is impressive, fuller and clearer. It’s definitely the best the original album has ever sounded.  It doesn’t lose the feel of the Let It Be we’ve always known, but it’s a refreshing listening experience.  The guitars have a truer ring, the bass & drums sound more real, and the singers are in the room with you.

Giles Martin & Sam Okell were able to somewhat improve the most notoriously arranged Phil Spector production…”The Long And Winding Road”.  The remix does a better job of blending the background chorus into the orchestra to lessen the “angel voices” (as Paul McCartney called them).  Despite some errors in judgement, Spector deserves credit for putting together a much improved version of the album.

The book has excellent information on each of the songs on the original Let It Be album, giving details of how the recordings were developed.

(Click to enlarge. The vinyl records have the same tracks.)

As for the extra tracks of alternate takes and rehearsals…seeing what songs they worked on is more interesting than actually hearing them.  The box set has five songs that ended up on Abbey Road, but none of the versions even approach the completed songs that are on that album.  The new Get Back documentary shows 11 songs from Abbey Road were started that January, as well as some songs that later appeared on their solo albums.

There are a couple of really welcome cuts.  Take 28 of “Let It Be” is the one used in the original Let It Be film.  It includes the alternate lyrics “There will be no sorrow”.  It’s good to have this version in such a quality mix.  The remix of the “Don’t Let Me Down” single is the best it’s ever sounded.

Through the years, Let It Be has been overly criticized.  All of the breakup controversy, and even comments by The Beatles, have unfairly cast a shadow on the album.

The original concept was to just have The Beatles playing live, without any “studio tricks” or overdubs. That plan slowly eroded.

The first change in the plan was the addition of keyboardist Billy Preston.  He had a positive effect on The Beatles’ recording practices, and added some excellent touches to many of the songs.

Next, when it came time to release a single in April of 1969, producer Glyn Johns and Paul McCartney (by each other in this photo) edited together two takes of “Get Back”.  That made it better than any of the single-take versions of the song.  The flip side, “Don’t Let Me Down”, included overdubbed vocals.  So, the “live only” idea was fudged on long before the Let It Be album was put together.

The same “cheating” happened again in early 1970 for the song “I Me Mine”.  On January 3rd, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr recorded a new version  of “I Me Mine” that was needed for the Let It Be film.  Later, Phil Spector would add orchestration and remix it.

When it was determined “Let It Be” would be released as a single in early 1970, George Martin wrote an orchestration for it that added horns and cellos.  Above, you can see George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Linda McCartney were at the session, and George Martin even had them record background vocals for the track.  Phil Spector used that version for the album, except he made the orchestration more prominent in the mix, and George Harrison added a new, more rocking, guitar lead.

So, with all the changes from when the album was started, what could have improved Let It Be even more?

1.  If only Paul McCartney hadn’t been estranged from Apple.  He normally would have been involved as Phil Spector was working on the album.  Paul would have been able to nullify some of Spector’s excess arrangements and over-the-top production tendencies.

2.  The original “live only” concept should have been eliminated sooner.  With all the “cheating” going on anyway, each song should have been made in its best version, even if that meant using overdubs and other recording techniques.  By dropping the pretense that this was somehow a “live” album, it could have had an improved running order.

3.  The presentation of the album would have worked better if it had been divided into these two sides…Studio and Live.  Here’s what it might have looked like.  (The source for each track is shown in case you want to make a playlist to hear how it works.)

Side 1…Studio

  1. Get Back (single from Beatles 1 remix)
  2. Across The Universe (Anthology 2, or Let It Be Naked)
  3. I Me Mine (remix from Box Set)
  4. Let It Be (remix from Box Set)
  5. For You Blue (remix from Box Set)
  6. The Long And Winding Road (remix from Box Set)

Side 2…Live

  1. Two Of Us (live in studio) [remix from Box Set]
  2. Don’t Let Me Down (Rooftop from Let It Be Naked)
  3. I’ve Got A Feeling (Rooftop from Box Set)
  4. One After 909 (Rooftop from Box Set)
  5. Dig A Pony (Rooftop from Box Set)
  6. Get Back (simulated Rooftop from Box Set)

(Back of the proposed Let It Be album)

The album makes more sense this way, with both sides flowing better.  Side 1 features studio recordings of six good songs, bringing it in line with some of the best Beatles albums.

Instead of being out of place between studio cuts, the rooftop performances complement each other.  By putting the mini-concert on the second side, Let It Be would have have been more like Abbey Road, with a unique Side 2.

“Two Of Us” wasn’t performed on the rooftop, but it was performed live in the studio, and the silly intro “Doris gets her oats” ties it in with the looser feel and chatter used for the rooftop performances.  It makes a strong opener for that side, and then we can enjoy the concert.

Any album that has so many good songs, including three #1 singles (“Get Back”, “Let It Be” & “The Long And Winding Road”) should not be looked at in any way as a bad or lesser album…as Let It Be is sometimes characterized.  The Beatles probably should have continued working on Let It Be after filming ended January 31st, 1969 (instead of starting Abbey Road three weeks later), but they were anxious to leave the filming behind and get back to making albums the way they knew best.

The Beatles Get Back Book…Review

The large companion book for the new Beatles documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, is available now, and it’s a winner!

Above is the book I received on Tuesday, October 12th.  The cover photo is by Linda McCartney.  Below are photos and quotes from the book to give you an idea of what it’s like.

It’s a fairly large coffee table book, seen here with the very large Anthology book, and a couple of my other favorite Beatles books, for comparing the size.  The hard cover of the 240-page book has the picture printed on it, and there’s a small Let It Be jacket cover toward the bottom.

Get Back director Peter Jackson provides the foreword, and the book contains transcribed conversations from the film that was used to make the documentary.  It also has hundreds of photos by Ethan Russell and Linda McCartney, plus a lot of screen shots from the film.

The rehearsals and filming began on January 2nd, 1969 at Twickenham Film Studios.  It was a large, unusual place for The Beatles to be working, and that uncomfortable space, along with having cameras on them all the time, added to the pressure of having to write and learn songs.  Besides that, there was a plan to do a live performance as soon as January 18th.  The schedule was too ambitious, and the text in the book reveals The Beatles couldn’t come up with a good location for a concert.  They weren’t even sure they wanted to do it, with George the most opposed.

The book is generously filled with many previously unseen and cool photos of The Beatles as they were working on songs.  It was amazing to me how many songs they had started by January 6th.  Since they began on a Thursday, and took the weekend off, there were only three days of filming by Monday the 6th.  The songs they played parts of included “One After 909”, “All Things Must Pass”, “The Long And Winding Road”, “Let It Be”, “Two Of Us”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, “Golden Slumbers”, “Carry That Weight”, “I’ve Got A Feeling”, “Across The Universe”, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, “Oh Darling”, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”,  and “Something”.  These were mostly just the early formative stages of those songs, rather than being complete, but that was quite a start for the 1969 albums that would become Let It Be and Abbey Road.

It was also on January 6th that the infamous disagreement happened between George and Paul.  As they were working on “Two Of Us”, Paul wanted to keep the arrangement simple, and then add to it later.  George thought it would be better to try guitar parts right away to see what worked. At one point, George said… “I’ll play, you know,  whatever you want me to play, or I won’t play at all if you don’t want me to play.”  A few moments later, John said to Paul… “I think if it’s your song, you’ve got to do exactly like you want it.  You say, don’t play that.  Play that.  It’s up to you, you know…”

It was four days later, January 10th, when George said… “I think I’ll be…I’m leaving.”  John says…”What?”  George… “the band now.”  John…”When?”  George… “Now.”

The three Beatles even mentioned (probably not seriously) getting another lead guitarist if George didn’t return.  They met privately with George twice, and decided to move the whole project to the much more comfortable studio they had installed at Apple.  The Beatles, including George, returned to recording.

After that change, the sessions became much happier. The Beatles helped each other with the songs as they were being created.  The transcripts show there was a lot of humor and cooperation during most of their time together.

Now at Apple, it looks like there are six Beatles.  Keyboardist Billy Preston was a welcome addition to the recording sessions.  Yoko Ono was at John’s side almost all of the time (as he wanted it), and the quotes in the book show the other Beatles grew to accept that.  Paul knew that John would choose Yoko over The Beatles if he had to.  In talking with the others when John wasn’t there, Paul said… “It’s going to be such an incredible sort of comical thing like, in 50 years’ time, you know: ‘They broke up ‘cause Yoko sat on an amp.’  (laughs).”  Paul also said… “It’s all right, let the young lovers stay together.”

In a total of just 21 days of recording from January 2nd through January 31st, the songs became more polished, and The Beatles pulled off their rooftop concert.

The rooftop performance was January 30th, and The Beatles returned to the studio on the 31st for one more day of filming. 

That’s when they nailed the film versions of “Two Of Us”, “The Long And Winding Road”, and the final song recorded, “Let It Be”.  Those performances were the highlights of the original movie.  Without them, they really wouldn’t have had enough good songs to put an album together.  Of course then they could have saved those songs for Abbey Road, and Paul could have given them the full production treatment any way he wished.

If you really want to know what The Beatles were thinking during the recording of Let It Be, this book will fill you in on all of it…plus you get the photos.

Having finished the filming and the live style of recording (without overdubs), The Beatles soon decided to convince George Martin to help them record an album the way they had in the past, and the result was Abbey Road which was completed in August of 1969.  At least eight of the songs on that album were introduced by the group during the Let It Be sessions.

The Let It Be box set is out, and the over 7-hour Get Back documentary is now on Disney+.  It started November 25th, 2021.

Here’s the link to my review of the new box set:

Extra:  Here’s the 240-page Get Back book next to the 100-page book that comes in the box set.

The Beatles’ Breakup…Do You Remember?

It’s in the news that Paul McCartney mentioned in a recent interview that The Beatles broke up after John Lennon told them he was leaving the group.  McCartney had to say that because the interviewer didn’t know the story.

Beatles fans have long known the story, but The Guardian reported McCartney’s “revelation” this way:

I guess “rock history” wasn’t paying attention to all those books that have covered what happened with The Beatles.  TMZ got sucked-in too, and called McCartney’s comments a “bombshell claim”.  Almost every news outlet ran the story as if it was new information.  It’s been known for decades that John announced he was leaving the group (September, 1969), and manager Allen Klein asked the members to not say anything while legal matters were handled.

At that time, Paul McCartney went to Scotland with his family.  It’s well documented he became depressed, because he didn’t know what he would do without The Beatles.  His wife Linda pulled him through, and Paul recorded his McCartney album.  With the release of his album in April of 1970, Paul McCartney revealed that The Beatles were no longer together.

When that happened, John Lennon said he was upset that Paul announced the breakup, since John was the one who actually decided to end the band.  McCartney did have to sue the other Beatles in order to legally finalize things, and all four Beatles sued Klein.

Paul McCartney was quoted as saying he wanted the band to continue.

Ringo Starr walked away from the band for a short time in 1968 during the recording of the White Album.  George Harrison left for about a week in January of 1969 during the Let It Be/Get Back sessions.

History shows Paul McCartney is the only Beatle who never left the band.

Music…How We Buy It (2021)

How we consume music has changed significantly, with streaming now far and away the biggest way we pay for it.

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has released the figures for the first half of 2021.   Streaming accounted for 84% of all music sales.  There are more than 80-million subscriptions to streaming.  Physical sales were only about 10% of revenues.  About two-thirds of that is vinyl records, which saw a 94% increase (skewed some by the pandemic, which hurt last year’s in-store sales).

The biggest album for physical sales was Taylor Swift’s Evermore, which sold over 100,000 vinyl copies in one week…more than any other album in the last 30-years.  Even with significant growth in vinyl sales, listening to records is mostly a hobby, and not the major way we consume most of our music.  Remember, artists used to sell millions of vinyl albums in the ‘70’s & ‘80’s.  Records and CD’s do make nice keepsakes of our favorite artists.

While vinyl continues to grow, CD purchases are still going down.  Box sets, like my George Harrison All Things Must Pass (shown above) are still money makers, but CD’s only accounted for one-third of physical sales.  To be fair, CD’s also cost much less than vinyl, so the number of units sold could actually be similar.

Digital purchases, such as on iTunes, have fallen drastically in the past few years, and now provide around 5% of sales.

That leaves music licensing (such as for films, commercials, and venues), which accounted for less than 2% of music sales.

The way we get our music shifted amazingly fast once services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music gave us access to millions of songs for relatively low monthly fees.  For the price of one box set, you can have a year’s worth of music on streaming.

Fleetwood Mac Attack

Fleetwood Mac has broken up and gotten back together many times, but based on some nasty comments by Lindsey Buckingham, he seems to be guaranteeing he’s never going back again.

Lindsey Buckingham launched some missiles at Stevie Nicks, and she returned fire.  In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Lindsey Buckingham said he was fired from the band in 2018 because Stevie Nicks said the group had to choose either him or her.  He said… “I think she saw the possibility of remaking the band more in a Stevie Nicks vein.  More mellow and kind of down, giving her more chances to do the kind of talking she does on stage.”

Then Buckingham made it even more personal and mean by criticizing her creativity, energy, and life.  “Her creativity, at least for a while it seemed like she wasn’t in touch with that.  Same with the level of energy she once had on stage.  I think that was hard for her, seeing me jumping around in an age-inappropriate way.  Also, she’s lonely.  She’s alone.”

Stevie Nicks responded.  “To be exceedingly clear, I did not ask for him to be fired.  I did not demand he be fired.  Frankly, I fired myself.  I proactively removed myself from the band and a situation I considered to be toxic for my wellbeing.  I was done.  So if the band went on without me, so be it.  After many lengthy discussions, Fleetwood Mac, a band whose legacy is rooted in evolution and change, found a new path forward with two hugely talented new members.”  (Those being Mike Campbell and Neil Finn.  The concerts weren’t criticized as being “mellow”.)

Nicks also chided Buckingham for calling her “lonely” because of her choice of career over family.  She said… “I’m proud of the life choices I’ve made, and it seems a shame for him to pass judgement on anyone who chooses to live their life on their own terms.”

Lindsey Buckingham had more criticism, which he aimed at Fleetwood Mac manager Irving Azoff.  Buckingham said the decision to axe him was “driven by the money”.

Irving Azoff issued this statement.  “While I understand it’s challenging for Lindsey to accept his own role in these matters and far easier for him to blame a manager, the fact remains that his actions alone are responsible for what transpired.  Frankly, If I can be accused of anything, it’s perhaps holding things together longer than I should have.  After 2018 when Fleetwood Mac evolved with their new lineup, my continued work with the band was due entirely to the fact I’ve been aligned with Stevie Nicks in thought and purpose from the earliest of days.  While financial gain was not a motivator for me, it was a delightful bonus that the band scored their highest grossing tour ever, without Lindsey.”

(Stevie & Lindsey during Fleetwood Mac’s prime.)

So let’s take a look at what seems to be the end of Lindsey Buckingham’s chances of rejoining his band.

When the whole “firing” incident started in 2018, Lindsey wanted to do a solo tour and asked the band to delay the Fleetwood Mac tour.  Lindsey has always called Fleetwood Mac “The Big Machine”, and his solo work “The Small Machine”.  It looks like he lost sight of which one takes precedence, especially when some of the band’s tour dates had been booked.

Stevie Nicks was already upset with Buckingham, because she felt he had mocked her at a MusiCares event in January of 2018.  It seems likely, based on what she said about removing herself from a toxic situation, Stevie did force a him-or-me choice.  Even though she never asked the band to fire Lindsey, there’s no other way they could eliminate the situation that was causing her to fire herself from the band.  Despite Buckingham’s major production, writing, and guitar skills during their recording years, he was obviously more replaceable than Stevie Nicks, who had become the biggest star of the band.

The question to ask Nicks is if she would have toured with Mac if Lindsey had agreed to the timing of the tour.  If the answer is yes, then his request to delay the tour really was the last straw, and the true reason he was fired.

As the drama has unfolded over the past three years, it seems obvious Stevie Nicks’ and Lindsey Buckingham’s love and friendship has run its course.

Why did Lindsey decide to slam the door on Fleetwood Mac now?  The cynical answer might be that it’s because he has a new album that was released September 17th, and his attacks on Nicks and Azoff sure garnered attention.

J.D. Souther…Almost Famous

He was almost in the Eagles, and he was almost a solo star.  His friends became very famous…Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Glenn Frey, and Don Henley.  John David Souther may have just missed stardom, but he was very successful.

(Photos from 1971 and 1972)

J.D. Souther was born in Detroit in 1945, and was raised in Texas.  When he moved to California in the late ‘60’s, he met another Detroit native, Glenn Frey, and they formed a Country Rock duo called Longbranch Pennywhistle.

What?  You don’t remember their 1969 album?  It would probably be completely forgotten if it weren’t for the historical perspective it provides.  As the Eagles formed in 1971, J.D. Souther was encouraged to join.  They even worked on one of his songs, “How Long”, but J.D. thought the band already had enough guitarists & singers, and decided solo was the way to go.

His self-titled album came out in 1972, just like the Eagles’ first album.  One of the albums was a hit, and one went to the cut-out bins.  Souther wouldn’t release another solo album for four years; however, he soon found great success…as a songwriter.

Let’s look at some of the songs J.D. Souther helped write for these albums.

Here are the songs J.D. co-wrote (mostly with Don Henley & Glenn Frey):

”Doolin’-Dalton”, “Best Of My Love” (#1), “You Never Cry Like A Lover”, “James Dean”, “New Kid In Town” (#1), “Heartache Tonight” (#1), and “The Sad Cafe”.  That’s three #1 singles, and they’re on some of the best-selling albums of all time.

Three decades later (2007), the Eagles released J.D. Souther’s “How Long” as a hit off their final studio album, Long Road Out Of Eden.  The song won the Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group.  It also was a hit on the Adult Contemporary charts.

Besides the Eagles, J.D. Souther helped with the success of one-time girlfriend, and lifetime friend, Linda Ronstadt.

Here are the songs J.D. Souther wrote that Linda Ronstadt recorded (including duets on which he sang):

”I Can Almost See It”, “Don’t Cry Now”, “The Fast One”, “Faithless Love” (duet), “Prisoner In Disguise” (duet), “Silver Blue” (duet), “Simple Man, Simple Dream”, “White Rhythm And Blues”, and “Hearts Against The Wind” (duet on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack).

Obviously, with the extreme popularity of Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles, J.D. Souther was earning an amazing living as a songwriter.  He would see limited success as a solo artist starting in 1976, but first…a band.

There was an attempt to form a “supergroup” by putting J.D. Souther, Chris Hillman (of The Byrds), and Richie Furay (of Poco) together as a band.  It resulted in two albums (I bought), and some success.  The albums reached #11 and #39 in 1974 & 1975, but the group split up after the second album.  It was partly because they were put together by their label, rather than having come together naturally.  Next were the solo albums.

I picked up the first three of these albums as they were released in 1976, 1979 and 1984, and then the fourth in 2011.  The Black Rose album included several songs Souther had written for Ronstadt, plus more originals.  As a young man, J.D. had been influenced by Jazz artists, so besides the Country Rock feel, there are touches of Jazz in some of the arrangements.  It’s a good album, but only made it to #85 on the Top 200 chart.

J.D. Souther’s greatest solo success was in 1979.  His single “You’re Only Lonely” went to #7 on the Top 100 chart, and spent multiple weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  The You’re Only Lonely album peaked at #41, his best solo showing.  It’s also his best album.

Between albums in 1981, James Taylor & J.D. Souther released the duet “Her Town Too”.  It went to #11 on the Top 100 chart, and hit #5 on the AC chart.  The song was written by the two singers, and guitarist Waddy Wachtel.

Neither of Souther’s next two albums, Home By Dawn and Natural History charted, but the latter one featured cool stripped-down versions of some of the songs he co-wrote with the Eagles.  At this point, Souther dropped the periods from his initials, and became JD Souther.

You might have caught JD on TV.  He had a significant role on season three of Thirty Something (1989-1990), and more recently was a recurring character in the country music show Nashville (2012-2017).

While not well known by the general pubic, JD Souther is famous with musicians and songwriters.  He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2013.  John David Souther has had an impressive career…with maybe just the right amount of fame.

Extra:  In case you’re not familiar with his recordings, here’s a recommended playlist of JD Souther songs you can stream.  The first six songs are from You’re Only Lonely, and the next six are from Black Rose.

  1. You’re Only Lonely
  2. The Last In Love
  3. If You Don’t Want My Love
  4. Songs Of Love
  5. White Rhythm & Blues (Phil Everly on Harmony)
  6. Til The Bars Burn Down
  7. Simple Man, Simple Dream
  8. Silver Blue
  9. Midnight Prowl
  10. I Can Almost See It (Demo)
  11. Faithless Love
  12. Doors Swing Open
  13. Go Ahead And Rain
  14. Hearts Against The Wind (with Linda Ronstadt)
  15. The Sad Cafe
  16. It Might Be Mine (with Linda Ronstadt)
  17. The Heartbreaker (with Souther-Hillman-Fury Band)
  18. New Kid In Town
  19. Something In The Dark
  20. I’ll Be Here At Closing Time