Saturday, July 24, 2021

Something Rare for me, a TV Recommendation

This post is going to places that I've never gone before, and say things I've never said before.  I know this isn't going to appeal to all my readers, but I thought it was worth posting. 

About a year ago, we switched our streaming TV service to Hulu's offering, called "Hulu + Live TV".  The base Hulu subscription includes their own produced content and lots of things to watch, but while the "Plus Live TV" add-on is much more expensive, it's the only way to get live channels if you want to see things that aren't on the streaming service version.  I'd say over 90% of Hulu's productions don't appeal to me in the slightest, but we've watched a few of their things.  I couldn't care less about their interpretation of The Handmaid's Tale, or anything about young adult angst.  On the other hand, we watched their re-introduction of Spielberg's Animanics and we're awaiting the next season of that.  Plus, there are consistent reports they'll be carrying The Orville later in the year or in '22.  

This week, we watched a show that I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I did.  It's a 6 part (six half-hour shows with no commercials) called McCartney 3, 2, 1, a three hour visit with Paul McCartney to talk about the Beatles, Wings and his solo career after the Beatles.  All six episodes are in black and white, and all simply feature Paul McCartney and music producer Rick Rubin talking.  Many times, Rick or Paul will use the mixing soundboard they have to isolate tracks and point out things about the songs that I've never heard.  Other times, Paul goes to a handy piano or guitar to demonstrate something.  They talk mostly about how many of the songs we've all heard many times came to be.  To borrow a little from the McCartney project link earlier in the paragraph:

“Never before have fans had the opportunity to hear Paul McCartney share, in such expansive, celebratory detail, the experience of creating his life’s work – more than 50 years of culture-defining music,” said Craig Erwich, president, Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. “To be an observer as Paul and Rick Rubin deconstruct how some of the biggest hits in music history came to be is truly enlightening. It is an honor that Paul chose to return to Hulu to share this one-of-a-kind series.” 

In the series, Paul McCartney sits down for a rare in-depth one-on-one with legendary music producer Rick Rubin to discuss his groundbreaking work with The Beatles, the emblematic 1970s arena rock of Wings and his 50-plus years as a solo artist. In this six-episode series that explores music and creativity in a unique and revelatory manner, the documentary gives a front-row seat to Paul and Rick in an intimate conversation about the songwriting, influences, and personal relationships that informed the iconic songs that have served as the soundtracks of our lives.

The Beatles were the first band that appealed to me way back when I was a little kid.  When I first learned to play guitar maybe three years later, some of their songs were in the first things I tried to play.  Within a year of starting guitar, I was playing in a garage band that mostly did Beatles songs.  I thought I knew a lot of the stories, but I was continuously surprised by things Paul was revealing about the band, their relationships and how songs came to be. Paul talks about being a school boy of middle school age, riding the school bus and meeting George Harrison on the bus.  Both of them played guitar while neither knew the other one did; it led to not just working together but a lifetime friendship, with George dying 20 years ago.

Paul talks about when the group broke up and getting depressed about it; moving away from his old life, starting a farm, and discovering he still had the urge to create music in him.  He talks about John Lennon going from being one of his closest friends in life, to being so estranged that he didn't even know John had called him one of the best and most influential bass players in the world.  He talks about going from the Beatles being his job to being a band he's now a fan of, something that only happened after years of not being sure, and going from John being a guy he was extremely close with and worked with to thinking, "I got to work with one of the best songwriters and musicians in history."

If you're a Beatles fan or a Paul McCartney fan, definitely watch this.  If you're just curious about how some of these things came to be, watch this.  AFAIK, no other service is carrying this besides Hulu, but keep an eye out.  It could well get more widely available after some time exclusively on Hulu. 


  1. Boomers always go on about the comparison between the Beatles and the Stones. It’s a matter of personal preference, really, but the Stones never developed, never emerged; the Beatles left a rich creative legacy while Mick still struts across the stage singing “Honky Tonk Woman”.

    All these later I still love the Beatles; it took until now to truly appreciate their music.

  2. I just went to Hulu and marked the series to watch later. I was born in 1960, and so the Beatles are one of the groups that shaped my early musical tastes. I actually ended up playing in a rock band, in the 1990's, only I played the sax. But the guitar player and male singer came from Detroit, and was a Beatles freak, who knew just about every Beatles song, even their most obscure stuff.
    I eventually learned to play guitar, just from being in that group, watching for chord changes and the like, to keep up.
    I graduated in 1978 from high school, and was an All American Musician. At one time or another, I played nearly every wind instrument and most brass ones. I just play a bit of guitar at home now, for my own amusement. But I am a firm believer in the arts and athletics in K-12 education, as a way to help give young people a better and more fulfilled life, and to teach character.
    Thanks for this recommendation, I look forward to watching this. Another good documentary, that I have watched, is on the life of Colin Hay, called Waiting for My Real Life to Begin. He was the lead singer for the band Men At Work, and it is a great documentary I found on Amazon Prime Videos.

  3. While you old guys were listening to The Stones and Beetles I was rocking to Frank Zappa. Yup I was born mid fifties.

    1. We were listening to Zappa, too. They're not mutually exclusive.