Wednesday, December 22, 2021
George Harrison's Residuals and Apple
Now that I have finished grading exams, I can return to loftier thoughts. I have watched the first episode of "Get Back," Peter Jackson's edition of the recordings that preceded the Beatles' last live concert. Here's a teaser with a typically overlong introduction from the director:
I'm enjoying it. We paused our viewing not because we lost interest but because we want to watch with family who will be with us over this holidays. Still, I write to raise a contractual question to which the Internet has been unable to provide an answer.
I don't think it's really possible to provide spoilers to a documentary about a fifty-year-old recording session, but of course George's abrupt (and fortunately fleeting) departure from the band is one of the more dramatic moments in the documentary. After George leaves, the Beatles' road manager says something about paying George his residuals, but then someone (I'm not sure who, maybe John) says, “He shouldn’t be bothered with that. You know, that’s why we’ve got Apple, so we attend to it ourselves.”
It's rather shocking how quickly the focus moves from making music and creating immortal songs on the fly to contractual concerns. But also, what are they talking about? George's residuals from what? From everything the band had done up until the moment he pissed off? From the planned live concert performance of a proposed fourteen new songs? And did these musical geniuses also have the legal acumen to create a corporation that would seamlessly address all contingencies, including George walking out in the middle of a session? Beatles lives and Beatles lore has been picked over with fetishistic obsessions. Has anybody unpacked their corporate structure?