Fifty years ago today a quartet of Liverpool lads passed their first audition.
What better time for Beatles fanatic Seth Swirsky to start pre-orders for “Beatles Stories,” his tribute to the Fab Four, on Blu-ray and DVD.
“Beatles Stories,” which also will be screened tonight in London, Manchester and, of course, Liverpool, lets the singer/songwriter do more than spin Beatles-esque melodies on remarkable albums like “Instant Pleasure” and “Watercolor Day.”
The documentary invites everyone from Davy Jones to Art Garfunkel share their personal stories concerning the band.
“It’s off beat stories you haven’t heard before,” Swirsky says of a project four years in the making. The singer-turned-filmmaker wouldn’t settle for snippets of famous faces recalling the first time they heard “I Saw Her Standing There” or “Hey Jude.” He sought specific stories that helped define both the band and its influence.
“Beatles Stories” features Peter Noone, Graham Nash, Sir Ben Kingsley, Smokey Robinson, Jon Voight and Brian Wilson recalling how their paths crossed with those of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
“These people shared with me a real deep love of the Beatles,” Swirsky says of his subjects in the film. “They were fired up … and so happy to be part of the project.”
It still took some time for Swirsky to track down some of his interview subjects. Others he literally stumbled upon and scrambled for his video camera.
Swirsky met one person who remembers meeting Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, as they drove up to the studio where the ex-Beatle was recording “Venus and Mars” with Wings. The lucky photographs she snapped at the time help frame her story in the documentary.
“It’s not a film about just famous people,” he says, even if the Beatles traveled in celebrity circles.
Swirsky appears throughout the film, but don’t expect any Michael Moore-style theatrics.
“I’m kind of Joe Everyfan,” he says. “I needed to include that in there to make it feel like you were there, too.”
Swirsky packed 52 “Stories” into his film, and the Blu-ray and DVD serve up an additional 20. The home video also includes a director’s commentary track and a featurette with 84-year-old Norman “Hurricane” Smith, the engineer who worked on many classic Beatles recordings like “Rubber Soul.”
“Beatles Stories” ultimately serves as Swirsky’s mash note to the Fab Four.
“I thought, ‘they gave me so much.’ I became a song writer [due to their influence],” he says. “This is me giving back to them … if you see this [Paul and Ringo], thank you.”