Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years
Here is the thing about The Beatles. A half a century later, they still sound fresh. The music still sounds like it was recorded last week and when a song of theirs begins to play, that freshness is why you find yourself singing along. It also explains why you can travel the world over and find young people who are fans of this group even though they are a couple generations removed from when The Beatles exploded onto the world stage. That enduring stature unique to The Beatles also provides an opening for documentaries like this one, that give pretty good insight to what a Beatles' life was like during the touring years.
The Beatles were willing participants in this film. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were interviewed and even helped promote the film. Old clips of John Lennon and George Harrison speaking to relevant points were included in the film. But there is rare footage here of concerts from around the world, small clubs to big stadiums, including their last U.S. concert in Candlestick Park. There is also behind the scenes footage that lend a sense of pressure and road demands The Beatles dealt with 24/7. To say it was unreal is an understatement.
Eight Days A Week was directed by Ron Howard who joins a growing list of accomplished big feature directors who have turned their talents to documenting the world of music. These directors are doing us a favor whether we realize it or not because they are preserving our cultural heritage. I laugh as I write that because one of The Beatles in the film mocked the notion - during one of their first tours - that they were any part of cultural heritage.
A lot of people don't realize that The Beatles were not overnight sensations. It took years before they got their breakout. Equally, people forget that the band quit touring about 2/3rds of the way through their chart-topping streak. As they put it, they had become a freak show and it wasn't about the music anymore. In fact, you couldn't even hear the music most of the time during their shows and the band talks about how they struggled in places like Shea Stadium to even know where they were in a song.
What amazes me is that out of their frustration with touring came their best work. When they left the road and stuck to the studio, they wrote albums like SGT. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. They matured and found a new depth of creativity in front of their fans. It wasn't contrived or done to hit #1. There is still that being done for art's sake aspect one appreciates even now.
I really enjoyed this film. It showed us what being on the road with the Beatles was like but even more importantly, I think it reminded us - well, me anyway - what a treasure their music was and how much it really impacts us all even to this day. I definitely recommend this movie which gets a 5 by 5 on the rating scale.