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Secretly taped conversation in ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ reveals John Lennon’s “only regret”

A hidden microphone captured Lennon telling Paul McCartney that he wished he'd challenged him more often during the songwriting process

By Joe Goggins

The Beatles in the studio
The second part of 'The Beatles: Get Back' was released today (November 26). (Photo: Disney+)

A secretly recorded conversation between John Lennon and Paul McCartney reveals the former’s “only regret” about his time in The Beatles.

Aired for the first time in the second part of Peter Jackson’s ‘Get Back’ documentary, the discussion took place in the cafeteria at Twickenham Studios during the famously fraught recording sessions for ‘Let It Be’. The band’s two principal songwriters thought they were talking in private away from cameras.

However, intertitles in Jackson’s documentary inform viewers that a microphone hidden in a flowerpot caught the talk in which Lennon and McCartney discuss George Harrison’s growing disenchantment with the sessions, which had led to him departing the group days earlier.

After McCartney expresses his wish for more feedback from his bandmates, Lennon appears to empathise with Harrison’s frustrations, which stemmed from McCartney’s reputation as a songwriting perfectionist as well as his intimidating stature within the group.

“Now, the only regret about the past numbers is when, because I’ve been so frightened, I’ve allowed you to take it somewhere where I didn’t want,” says Lennon. He goes on to add: “And then, that my only chance was to let George take over, or interest George in it.” 

Lennon then urges McCartney to take a more conciliatory approach to the writing process. “If you give me your suggestions, let me reject them and pinch the one I like…” he says. “Same goes for the arranging, ’cause there was a period where none of us could actually say anything about your arrangements, ’cause you would reject it all.”

Harrison eventually returned to the group when his bandmates agreed to move production of ‘Let It Be’ from Twickenham to their own Apple Studio where they finished tracking what would become their final album. 

The second part of ‘Get Back’ was released exclusively on Disney+ today (November 26), with the final instalment to follow tomorrow (November 27).

The documentary, which was pieced together from more than 60 hours of video footage and 150 hours of audio, has been generally well-received by critics.

In a new BBC interview this week, Jackson discussed the band’s failed attempt to make a film adaptation of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ years before Jackson himself did.