I have been a firm believer in the idea that everyone has the capacity to be creative so I read a piece on The Conversation discussing how creativity doesn’t occur in a vacuum with great interest. In particular, the article discusses Edward P. Clapp, of Harvard University’s Project Zero reflections on a recent Beatles documentary which employed lengthy archival footage of the band’s work creating the Let It Be album. Clapp asserts that songs like “Get Back,” sprung forth from Paul McCartney’s mind in two minutes, as a result of years of social context and the artistic dynamics in the room.
But he also emphasizes principles highlighted by researchers who have examined the phenomena of creativity: in this solitary time, they draw on past collaborations. They also engage with the technologies or tools of predecessors and they “work in relation to an often complex polyphony of current and historical audiences.”
For example, there was a social movement in England at the time to have black immigrants from former colonies to go back to their countries. Likewise there is a pervasive undercurrent of class distinctions in England which can lead to a sense of imposter syndrome. Apparently, McCartney’s desire to get back to live touring is a frequent topic of discussion in the documentary. And, of course, the band was going through a fair bit of conflict and tension during the recording of the album.
Similarly, during the “Let It Be,” recording sessions, the band played/jammed on over 400 tunes of all genres, all of which created a mood and informed how the members and participating musicians were thinking and processing the experience.