It’s 1965 and I just got home from Shea Stadium, ears still ringing from Beatles songs played full blast. It’s the best feeling ever.
The new documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years focuses on the first years of the band, as they exploded in a way that surprised the world and them. I love this film because it captures the contrast between the bubble around the band and the adoration coming at them like a firehose anytime they left their hotel. Ron Howard, the director, compares their experience to Das Boot—the classic claustrophobia movie about a Nazi submarine that cocooned its sailors while the depth charges floated all around. You feel, knowing the arc of The Beatles’s story, that same sense of foreboding.
But mostly, this movie is joy joy joy.
You can stream it on Hulu, either with a free trial subscription or as a subscriber. But good lord, this is a movie to see in the theater, because it’s loud and the Beatles are so spectacular and young, and you want to twist and shout and shake it up baby and hold their hand—and try not to think about anything but their utter joy as they perform their earliest concerts.
They are so good. So well rehearsed, so smart, so charming on stage. Elvis Costello, interviewed in the film, notices how tight the band is, performing at Shea Stadium with basically no monitors and 56,000 screaming fans making it impossible to hear themselves playing. Ringo kept the beat by watching Paul and John’s backsides!
The Beatles are my favorite music, the songs I play to match my every possible mood. Most striking to me is the way that this film lets me hear these songs—songs I’ve played hundreds and hundreds of times—as if they were new. It really worked, watching this movie. It transported me, time travel, all the way back.