Publication in: Spring 2023 Issue

“Get Back” to Reality: Deconstructing a Common Narrative in Beatles’ Biographies
Ava Tomkins
Faculty Mentor(s):
Brian Felix
Abstract / Summary:
Biographies written about the Beatles have helped define the widely-accepted “truth” regarding the band’s history. In effort to adhere to this truth, Beatles’ scholars and fans may not question the legitimacy of these biographies or the constructed narratives that are commonly considered to be Beatles’ canon. This paper explores the Beatles’ musical sessions for their single “Get Back” and album Let It Be through biographical narrative versus filmed reality. Relevant sections from prominent Beatles’ biographies are compared to corresponding scenes from the recently-released documentary series, The Beatles: Get Back, in order to identify any major discrepancies between the two portrayals. This paper finds that the biographies heighten the most negative and dramatic aspects of the “Get Back” sessions to account for the band’s alleged tensions and coming breakup, whereas the series scales down those same aspects and shows more of the joy, harmony, and brotherly love shared between the Beatles while they made music. This paper also finds that the biographical depictions of Yoko Ono and her role in these sessions are heavily influenced by discriminatory stereotypes set forth and perpetuated by the media. This paper presents enough new information from the series to deconstruct the common narrative around the sessions and expose the biographies’ reliance on misconstrued information. By identifying the major factors that contribute to a constructed narrative (dramatic influence, distorted quotations, limiting characterizations, and negativity bias),, this paper ultimately calls into question the biases that commonly influence stories about the Beatles, as well as the motivations and credibilities of those who choose to tell those stories.
Publication Date: