The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

See The Beauty In The Creative Messiness …

A few years ago, almost 60 hours of unseen footage of The Beatles recording their final album was discovered.

Peter Jackson was hired to clean it up and put it together to make a program that would give a glimpse of the inner-workings of the band that almost no one had seen.

The result is Get Back … a 6+ hour show that reveals a band who couldn’t help being creative even when they were on the cusp of breaking up.

Someone I know described the show as basically watching one long creative review – and they’re right.

The whole show is full of the review rollercoaster.

Body language.

But there’s one bit in the whole documentary to me that best sums all that up … that best sums up the whole creative process.

Watch this:

What you’ve just watched is Paul McCartney plucking the song, ‘Get Back’ – one of the bands most famous songs – out of the air.

Literally pulling it from out of nowhere.

One second he’s stumbling in the dark trying to find some sort of a melody, the next second he has just written one of the bands most recognisable songs.

That’s a level of magic even Harry Potter couldn’t pull off.

OK, so McCartney probably had a loose idea of a loose idea … but in 2 minutes 20 seconds, we get to see the magic of the creative process unfolding in-front of our eyes.

Where we go from a distant galaxy, where you can’t really see where things are … to one that you feel is inside of you.

No warning. No indicators. Just landed with all its engines roaring in harmony.

And this reveals a truth about creativity people are seemingly trying harder and harder to deny.

It’s messy.

You have to try things. Get past the obvious things. The ‘alright’. The ‘makes sense’.

The reality is coming up with something that does the job is relatively easy, but coming up with something that has the energy that takes the idea to somewhere else, isn’t. But that should always be the goal. An idea that has the energy to pull others in … that lets them sense and see the possibilities of what is being created. That gets them on board to push things further and sharper.

I say this because we’ve seemingly become obsessed with forcing creativity into processes, frameworks and eco-systems.

Where the ambition appears to simply be ‘does it say what we need it to say’?

And while I understand the pressures of business means time has a competitive advantage … thinking anything is OK as long as it’s quick is a false economy.

Now the normal response to that sort of statement is …

“… but that situation is so rare, it’s a better use of our time to say what we need to say and move to the next”.

But most of the time, that’s more a convenient excuse than a true reflection of reality.

Because the reality is the reason the work doesn’t get to the standards they want is because they don’t let them happen.

There’s a ton of reasons for it – from not briefing properly to wanting to someone rather than talking to everyone to not knowing who they really are or where they’re going to not valuing quality but speed – but underpinning all of it is not understanding how creativity is born.

You see while there is absolutely a place for processes, eco-systems and frameworks … the most valuable thing creatives can have is the time, space and openness to explore and find the energy in the idea before they start crafting the idea.

I get that can be annoying to people.
I get that it may result in putting pressure on some other areas of the business.
But in my experience, if you give creatives that gift, they not only can work pretty quick with everything else … they can give you something that is great rather than OK.

So said another way, more ‘Get Back’ than ‘You Know What To Do’ … a song so bad, they never even released it while they were a band.

17 Comments so far
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Excellent post Rob. Even if the incredible “Get Back” moment has now been written about by a lot of people because you decided to give us a long rest from this blog. Joking aside, this should be a must read for all clients because the big take out is if you want to make something good, you give it the space and time to give it a chance.

Comment by George

It is the most amazing moment.

Comment by DH

Hahaha … yes, very true.

But the thing that I feel people writing about it have missed is that while it’s utterly incredible, they had also created the environment to enable them to do that. A place and space free of pressures beyond their own songwriting imagination and standards.

This doesn’t mean this is the only thing stopping the World from having countless new versions of The Beatles, but it is a key reason why we don’t have as much imagination in the creative work being produced.

Comment by Rob

you better mean attitude rather than fucking bean bags.

Comment by andy@cynic

I just spent a fortune on some bean bag outdoor furniture so I can assure you, they would be the last thing I’d ever suggest creates an environment of creativity. Anger and discomfort maybe, but not creativity.

Comment by Rob

“watching one long creative review” is the review of all reviews.

Comment by DH

an hour of interesting stretched into 6 mindfuckingnumbing hours.

Comment by andy@cynic

for someone who once called mccartney the andrew fucking ridgley of the beatles, youre being very fucking nice about him now.

Comment by andy@cynic

They do have something in common.

Comment by John

campbell or ridgely?

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by Lee Hill

This is a very good post Robert.

I regard McCartney as a genius but I do believe the environment he was surrounded by enabled it and allowed it to flourish.

There is plenty of discussion in corporate circles about the importance of employee brand right now. From what I have read, many don’t understand what it means and what that requires them to do, or not do, as is the case. Maybe rewatching The Beatles documentary after reading this post would aid them.

Comment by Lee Hill

I loved the documentary and your post raises really good points. I wonder if there is a lesson in the way Harrison was made to feel. Left out, not valued, made to feel lesser. Agencies and clients do that to each other all the time. Doesn’t have to be the case, but it becomes an exercise in power and control rather than creativity quality.

Comment by Pete

All we are saying is give brands a purpose.

Comment by John

Hahahaha … they all have that these days. Maybe what they need more of is sense.

Comment by Rob

All we are saying is give brands a stance.

Comment by John

I have been just silently reading here for a long time but now I just want to hug you. It should actually be obvious, but apparently it is not anymore.

Comment by Seb

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