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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!

Here’s a jolly Buzzfeed interview with Paul, Ringo, and Ron. Here’s an interview from The Guardian with director Ron Howard. And 10 Things We Learned from Rolling Stone.

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.


  • Thanks for the tip — I must check this movie out! The Beatles have been my favorite since I was a kid.

  • Thanks for the heads-up. I was at the San Francisco Candlestick Park concert, which turned out to be their very last. I was 9 years old and remember that the venue was far from sold out, which surprised me.

    • I was 11 years old. We lived in San Francisco. A friend of my parents offered to take me, and I declined the invitation. I felt too shy to go! Like I was going to meet them, or something! I told her I would go the next time. Yeah. Right. At that time, Paul was my favorite.

  • Just last week I rewatched A Hard Day’s Night and fell for The Beatles all over again. So so great – sexy, cute, intelligent, musically amazing – it made me want to cheer and weep at the same time. And I’m pleased to say that even my 22 year old nephew has almost all their albums (literally, he loves vinyl) so I know they will live forever.

  • You said it all, Ann! We watched this last weekend and loved it. I just wanted to dance and sing, but did restrain myself a bit. It is the music of my life and this film has made me appreciate The Beatles even more. They have always been my favourite group and all our children grew up to Beatles music. All four of them sent me info about it this week, and were very surprised that we had already seen it….their old parents ahead of the curve, for once!

  • We have tickets for a theater showing tomorrow — can’t wait!

  • I saw this in Chicago the day it opened. My sister saw them twice, but I was just a little kid, way to young for a concert but old enough to love the music. What struck me was how very, very young they were, and yes, such an incredibly tight band. I could not take my eyes off Ringo, as perfect on a kit as anyone ever in the universe.

  • If you need a further Beatles fix, Google Chicago radio station WXRT. They have a program on Sunday mornings called “Breakfast with the Beatles.” Hits, B-sides, rarities, solo stuff, covers by other artists, interviews, etc. It’s 8 am to noon, Central time, and you can listen over the Interwebs thingy.

  • I had a Paul ring(he WAS the cutest)-one of those that changes pics when you move it up and down. We lived in Wichita KS and my mom would not let us see a Monkees concert becasue she said we’d get “trampled”. No wonder I have phobias as an adult!:)

    • My Mom wouldn’t let me go the Beatles concerts in Toronto; she was worried about the white slave trade!!!!! I think that worries about being trampled were more realistic. I did see The Monkes a few years later. That was my first concert and were great.

      • Too funny! I doubt if the Beatles had Wichita on their tour. I loved my mom but she was a worrier!

  • Eight days a week, I love love love them. Thanks for the heads’ up. (BTW we had a Beatles “band” when we were very young kids. I was Paul. We had fake guitars (but real drums), fake singing to their records, and it was SO much fun to play in the basement for our families. I think we charged our audience a nickel. lol )

  • Saw them in Carnegie Hall in, I think, 1963.. “Saw” being the operative word here. Not a note was audible over the roar of the crowd.

  • Perfect!

  • I think the post-film concert footage is in-theaters only, so that’s another reason to not just stream it!

  • Oh yeah, yeah, yeah! Go and see the movie in the theater to experience a rare moment of total shared pleasure and harmony as every head in the place starts bopping up and down in unison with Paul and John! We hope (and know) you will enjoy the show.

  • Ever since I heard about this film I’ve been itching to see it. The Beatles are my all time favs- Thanks for sharing the clip.

  • Thanks for this review. The movie sounds great! I doubt that it will be coming to our small town, but will look for it online.

    I also love the explanation about performing in a noisy stadium; “Ringo kept the beat by watching Paul and John’s backsides!” I sing in a community choir, and I find that the performing experience is as much about the visuals as it is the audio! Watch the director, listen to the accompanist and your fellow singers, and keep an eye on the person in your section who knows the music best—even if you can’t hear her from where you’re standing! Oh, and remember the words and music and where to stand and move!

  • Ooh, thanks for the reminder (and the review). I saw that the movie had come out, but it whizzed right through my mind and off into the ether. I want to make sure I get to see it while it’s still in theaters. My parents weren’t big on the Beatles because they had heard about the “drug culture” surrounding them, but my aunt – who always gives the best gifts – gave my sister and I each a tape player for Christmas with a Beatles tape. I think it was an eight track tape – lol – I just remember that it had Penny Lane on it. That was great!

  • When I was in third (or fourth) grade, I used to make artsy renditions of each Beatle’s name for friends. They would tell me their favorite, and I think I charged a nickel or something. I’d write it in cursive (remember those days?) and start adding lots of outlining, bright colors and patterns. I would work on them on the sly in class. My favorite Beatle at the time was George.

    Oh, man….they were a force. Nothing like them, ever. Can’t wait to see this film….

  • Oh, so that’s why you look familiar! I, too, was at Shea stadium in ’65 ( and again in ’66, seated just over the dugout.
    In the summer of ’65 I had a sixteen year old girl’s dream job: I worked for The Beatles in the office of their American lawyer, on 57th street. I answered fan letters, sent out photos, and did the work of chartering fan clubs.
    But it wasn’t all office work, though that was way cool: I also was at the taping of the Ed Sullivan show, and an early press showing of “Help.”
    Best of all – are you sitting down? – I went, with the two young women with whom I worked, and our boss, to spend an afternoon with the lads from Liverpool while they were holed up at the Warwick Hotel, with streets full of screaming fans outside. You can’t imagine how awesome it was!
    I still love their music, which is as compelling now as it was 50 years ago, and treasure all the memories and memorabilia that I have. Plus, it makes me very cool to my grandsons!

    Haven’t caught the film yet, but thanks for the positive review!

  • Ann, I agree, the movie was joyful and made me appreciate how talented each of the Beatles was. A memorable line was one of them saying how the four of them were like brothers who had each other to share the ups and downs of touring and fame with, whereas Elvis was on his own and we all know what happened to him. I loved watching the way they bantered back and forth and played off each other’s comments — they appeared to be of the same mindset. So good!

  • Watched it last night because of this post, and loved every second of it! Proceeded to put the White album on the record player directly after. There may or may not have been some living room dancing…

    I’m a fan of most all Beatles music but my favorites are the later albums. Watching this was so incredible because it documented everything that happened before those albums. Everything that had to happen in order for them to be able to record those albums.

    Crazy how after so many years, films like this can still be made and give us an even more intimate look into the lives of 4 young gents who changed everything. Lucky us.

  • I passed up a free ticket to the Shea Stadium concert in favor of camping out on the beach . Ask me how much I regret that!

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