I saw the trailer for the, Meeting The Beatles in India documentary by Paul Saltzman and I instantly know that I wanted to have him on the show.
His unique experience meeting the Beatles in 1968 at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in India changed his life forever and this cosmic aligning story is one that reinstalls faith in finding purpose in the strangest of places.
Director Paul Saltzman returns to India as he reminiscences his time with the Beatles while they were on a spiritual retreat under the mentorship of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1968.
It’s honestly a remarkable once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of timing and positioning.
‘If you really want to look at yourself more carefully, you might want to get away from the environment you grew up in.’
Paul received this soul message at age 23, after having the realization that his life was lacking the substance of the soul and he was set to find answers.
The cosmic gods led him to India where, even though it cost him a lot financially and in his personal life, he was being pulled towards the existential resolve that that is healing through Transcendental Meditation.
On this pilgrim, it just so happened that Paul ended up seeking help to mend his broken heart through meditation at the same ashram as THE BEATLES and their loved ones. Integrating into the ashram community brought in the opportunity to photograph the Beatles during the duration of his stay.
He details this very shockingly positive-life-altering opportunity in his 2018 book, The Beatles in India, and in his 2020 documentary, Meeting The Beatles in India.
In 1968, the Beatles went to Rishikesh, India, studied transcendental meditation, and wrote music. These intimate photos are the only record of their time in this sacred retreat.
This new edition of The Beatles in India brings intimate images of the group, taken at an ashram in Rishikesh, India, to a wider audience than ever before. No photographers or press were allowed at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas, but the Beatles had no objection to fellow visitor Paul Saltzman freely snapping pictures during their time there. This unprecedented access resulted in an extensive collection of intimate photos of the world’s most beloved rock band during one of their most serene and productive periods, only two years before the official dissolution of the group.
Containing a wide-ranging narrative by Saltzman—about everything from the story of how “Dear Prudence” came to be to George Harrison’s description of the first time he picked up a sitar—this unique and exclusive exploration of one of the Beatles’ most tender and bittersweet periods is a must-have for all fans of the legendary rock group.
It was a pleasure speaking to Paul. Enjoy!
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Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 014
Alex Ferrari 0:03
I like to welcome to the show Paul Saltzman How you doing, Paul?
Paul Saltzman 0:06
I am Well, thank you,
Alex Ferrari 0:08
thank you so much for coming on the show I, I saw the trailer for your film, The Beatles in India and I just, I just feel like I have to have him on the show, I need to get the inside scoop of what happened. It's such a unique. I mean, it's honestly once in a lifetime opportunity of timing and positioning and a camera and so many things in the universe had to kind of collide for that moment to happen. And then for a filmmaker to be that person as well to eventually make a movie about it is pretty, pretty remarkable. So just wanted to to jump in what what made you go to India in the first place?
Paul Saltzman 0:55
The By the way, it was called The Beatles in India and then I changed it. So the actual title when I released the film is meeting the Beatles, because that's really what happens. Well, it's a it's an odd story. It really is. I was working out the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, it was the beginning of my filmmaking work. And, and I I thought everything was good in my life. You know, I had, I had already been a civil rights worker in Mississippi, I felt good about doing that I'd already posted my own co hosted my own youth public affairs TV show in Canada. I drove a sports car I dated everything was great. And I woke up one morning and I had really the shocking thought that there were parts of myself I didn't like that was the thought there were parts of myself I didn't like. And in that moment of confusion, in a way because I like I said, I thought everything was going fine. I sat up on the edge of my bed in my little rented room. And I said out loud without thinking. And this is very important because it was the heart talking. I said out loud without thinking, What do I do about that. And in the silence that followed that I heard my soul talk to me for the first time and my wife and I didn't believe in a soul I'd been brought up to believe there's no God, there's no soul, there's no spirit. And here I was, I heard this deep inner voice that was truly all calming, and all loving, which you can imagine is pretty remarkable. You know, what is all kind of calming and all loving in life, nothing except your own soul. And, and what that inner voice said was quote, well, Paul, if you really want to look at yourself more carefully, you might want to get away from the environment you grew up in. And I said out loud, in this strange conversation without thinking it was just happening. Like in the flow. I said out loud, where do I go? And that inner voice said India. And that was the end of that conversation. So I was so moved by that, that I got myself a job to record sound on a National Film Board film that was shooting in India. I had to lie to get on the on the shoot.
Alex Ferrari 3:23
They could fake it till you make it fake it till you make it.
Paul Saltzman 3:26
Yeah, because I didn't have enough money to buy a ticket to India. So what happened was I went up to the director in the lunchroom, in the cafeteria in Montreal at the film board. And I said I'd like to work on your film. And he said, Well, I'm not taking anyone from here. I'm hiring a cinematographer in London and I'm hiring, you're hiring a local sound man and in Bombay. And of course they were all men in those years. Thankfully, now there's a lot of women working in the industry. And then it was a pause. I didn't know what to say. And there was a pause. And in that pause, he said, Have you ever done sound? And lying through my teeth? Without a hesitation? I said, Absolutely. He said, he said, Well, if you get yourself to India, I'll pay you the same as I would pay the Indian sound man. And I said how much is that? He said $500 a deal? We shook hands. I went to the phone and called the airline. And luckily the trip to India return excursion ticket was 550 bucks. So I had my airfare. So that's what took me to India.
Alex Ferrari 4:31
And then so then you would say Okay, I understand the concept of the soul speaking to you and like in you, as many pilgrims have gone to India and in search of inner peace and the meaning of life and sometimes looking for a guru, things like that. But once you literally land in India, I'm assuming there's no roadmap of where to go what to do, right? Like how did you get to like, did you have a plan or you're just like, I'm just going to show up in India and I'll find whatever happens to me happens to me.
Paul Saltzman 5:01
Yeah, I know I did not have a plan. My plan was, I'm going to go to India to see if there is a different me to see if I can consciously change who I am. Because I was shocked that there are parts of myself I didn't like so I wanted to do something about that. But I didn't have a plan beyond that. I just had to get to India. So now I could get to India. So I worked on the film for six weeks. And my girlfriend Trisha and I, we loved each other greatly. And she had said to me, if you leave, I'll make myself stop loving you. Now, I didn't hear that. I remembered it later. And that was her way of saying, Please don't leave me. Even though I was not leaving her. I was going to do something and I don't remember it. You know, what I explained to her. I don't remember what I said to her because I just don't remember it. But whatever it was. So I worked on the film for six weeks, shooting on the road between Bombay up to New Delhi, got to New Delhi, got my first letter from her opened it with great excitement. And the first line was dear Paul, I've moved in with Henry. And I was devastated.
Alex Ferrari 6:19
Paul Saltzman 6:21
Yeah, I was I was shattered. Yeah, I was shattered. And somebody said to me, man, I knew for three days and my wife. I've tried to find him. I think, Tim for what I'm about to tell you. But I've tried to I tried to find him recently to thank him on a more deep level. His name is Al Bragg. He's an American, and there are several outbags and I haven't found the right one yet. But he said to me wanting to try meditation for the heartbreak. I said, I'll try anything. He said. I'm going to see the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi speak at New Delhi University tonight. Do you want to come though I didn't know who that was. But I said yes, because I what I didn't know what else to do. And we we squeezed in at the back of the auditorium, it must have been 400 people there for the for the talk he was giving. And I only remember one thing he said, but it truly was what I needed to hear. He said, and this is a quote he said, meditation takes you beneath and below your daily worries and concerns to a place of inner rejuvenation, from which you come back renewed and refreshed. And I thought that's what I need. So in that way that life can be magical. I didn't go up to him or his people afterwards, in the auditorium and say, I'd like to learn meditation because they would have said, well come to the office and downtown and we'll teach you I took a train to Rishikesh because I knew he had an ashram there a retreat center there, a Learning Center, which is what an ashram is usually meant to be on a spiritual level but and, and I got there and I got to the gate. I didn't know where it was I asked the cab driver, the cab driver said on the other side of the river, I took a boat across the boat man said Maharishi ashram that way and pointed down the river. So I'm walking down the river, which is a scene you see in the film. That's why I filmed it this way. And I go out to the front gates and I said, I've come to our meditation and the young men who spoke to me said, I'm sorry, the ashram is closed, because the Beatles and their wives are here. And I said, you have to teach me and I told him why that I was in agony. And I it what ended up happening was that I was not allowed in at that point. But I waited outside the gate, I slept in a tent. For eight days, the young man Raghavendra, who turned out to be an angel said to me, you know, you're welcome to sleep there. It was a tent they had set up for some unknown reason. And we'll send you our simple vegetarian meals. So he said, he fed me for eight days as I waited. And then I got in and I learned meditation, it took less than five minutes. And the first meditation was an absolute miracle. I meditated for 30 minutes. And I came out of it in a state of bliss in which the agony was gone. The knife in the heart was gone. I still love Tricia, and it took me a couple of years to let go, to really not try and get back with her. But yeah, that's that's that's
Alex Ferrari 9:39
how it happened. So when you when you get to the front door and say, say, maybe you were in such such agony that you didn't even like it didn't even faze you, but when they said the Beatles were there. Did you just go this is odd.
Paul Saltzman 9:53
No, no, I didn't. And I can say honestly, it was bad news was bad news. They were there. Because I couldn't get in and and what was what was uppermost in my emotional and mental life was the agony. You know, when you, when you have that kind of a shocking heartbreak, it's a tough thing. So, you know, in that sense, No, I wasn't thinking, Oh, good. I wish that I was just trying to get through the day and get through the night and get to the next day. And till Finally, I was allowed in.
Alex Ferrari 10:26
So you get into the ashram and you, you know, you're among essentially, the most famous people in the world. At the time, arguably, still some of the most famous people in the world, easily the famous, most famous band in the world. And they're, what what did you What did you expect to see when you met them? And what did you actually get when you met them?
Paul Saltzman 10:50
Well, the the, the, the beauty of what happened. The magic of what happened was that when I came out of the meditation, 30 minutes later, I was in a state of bliss. I was stoned, I was buzzed. When I sat when I sat with George Harrison later, and we were sitting alone. He said to me, I get higher meditating than I ever did on drugs. And I knew what he meant, because I had done my own experimenting with drugs. And I knew exactly what he meant. So I came out of the meditation room after that first meditation, and I was in an altered state. And I'm walking through the ashram, which wasn't big, and the Beatles were literally not even in my mind. Though, there was unimportant what was important was, I was so relieved not to be an agony, and I was high buzzed, and in a state of bliss and an altered state. So I'm just walking through the ashram and I'm just looking around at the trees, and there's some monkeys and there's some lovely big green parakeets in the trees, and I'm just in a state of joy in a state of bliss. And at one point, I look over to the right and I see john lennon sitting at a table about 150 feet away by the edge of the cliff, overlooking the Ganges River down below. And I see Paul, I can recognize the back inside of his head, he's sitting talking to john at this table. And honestly, I didn't think, oh, Beatles, I didn't think I'll go over. What happened was, I honestly literally found myself curving in their direction. It was this altered state, right? Yeah. And, and I get halfway to them. And I notice, in a very detached way, I notice, oh, my heart speeding faster, but I wasn't attached to it. I wasn't, it wasn't
Alex Ferrari 12:48
something something in your body was like you're walking towards the Beatles, but your mind was like, Hey, man, it's all good.
Paul Saltzman 12:55
Exactly. That's a very, that's a very good way to put it. So, so I get to the edge of the table. And when I get to the edge of the table, I can see john paul, George and Ringo. John's first wife Cynthia George's first wife, Patty Boyd ring goes first wife Maureen Starkey. Jane Asher, Paul's girlfriend is sitting there Mia Farrow, the American actress Donovan, the Scottish folk singer, Mike love of the Beach Boys and Mal Evans, their roadie, so there's 12 people sitting at this long table covered by sort of vines over a trellis. So it's shady. And it's, I forget maybe 20 feet from the edge of the cliff overlooking the Ganges. And they're talking. So I just stand there quietly, because I'm not trying to interrupt. And I'm in a state of calm and a state of bliss. And they realize somebody standing there after a few moments, so they stopped talking. And john looks up at me. And I just say, May I join you? Just like that, you know, easy peasy. It's like, you know, you're in a park. And there's somebody sitting on the bench and you say, May I join you? And he says, Sure, mate, pull up a chair. Paul looks at me, and he pulls the chair over and says, Come and sit here and I sit down. And then three magical things happen. And by the way, magical is a word I use in a particular way. And I was wondering, so I know what I mean by it. But I wonder what the dictionary says. And I have one of these big Oxford etymological dictionaries and I go look it up a bunch of years ago. And there's 25 meanings to magic. And as I read 1234 or five, I realize because it's the dictionary is not one of my you know, favorite books or anything, I realized that the number one meaning is the most common. And the number 25 is the least common usage is how they set up the book. So down around 23 or 24. I'm looking down this list I find exactly what I mean. And it says, quote, magic that way. is real, but we as yet do not understand that which is real. But as yet, we do not understand. That's exactly how I mean it. So I sit down, and three magical things happen. The first is that as soon as my bum hits the seat to my shock, I hear in my head a scream in my head ache, it's the Beatles.
Alex Ferrari 15:25
It finally it finally caught up with it was like a delayed delayed train that was coming towards you. And finally
Paul Saltzman 15:31
it's exactly and, and I had seen them live in Toronto in 64. And it was the most electric magical concert I've ever been to. But I wasn't screaming anything I, I had my hands cupped over my ears and the cheap upper seats, 18,000 people in a hockey arena screaming their heads off. And I'm just trying to hear the length the words, right. So. So as soon as this voice in my head, the scream stops. Before I have a chance to think this is very, very important. The head is a wonderful computer. It's a shitty guidance system. The heart is a wonderful guidance system. It's a shitty computer. And the way to live in truth is to integrate the head and the heart. So before I have a chance to think before I get distracted by the mind, I hear my soul talk to me for the second time in my life, this deep, all calming, all loving voice. And it says these words that says hey, Paul, they're just ordinary people like you. Everyone farts and is afraid in the night. That's what it said. Yeah, very true. very girly. And and the result of that was that from that second on, I spent a week with them. And I never thought of Moe's The Beatles never I I was meeting these new people, I was hanging out with these 12 new people. And so as soon as that voice in my head, the soul finishes talking again, before I have a chance to think this is the blessing. We have to watch our minds. They want to take us on a trip very often and often a weight away from our hearts. Right. So. So before I have a chance to thank john turns to me. And in his ride, teasing, digging, playful, brilliant wit. He says to me, so you're American then. And it's not a compliment, right? Remember the British, the British rule the world? The Americas was the breakaway colony, right? So he's he's toying with me. He's teasing me. So you're American then. And I say no Canadian. And he serves to the rest of the group. And he says, Ah, he's from one of the colonies. So now we're, we're all laughing. And he turns back to me, and in that same tone of bride digging with he says so you're still worshiping Her Highness, then meeting the Queen of England, right? And I say no, not personally. And then Ringo and Paul start teasing me about having the Queen on our money, which we still do. And I say, well, we may have the Queen on our money, but hey, she lives with you guys. So we're all laughing which point at which point Cynthia linen down at the end of the table says Come on, chaps leave the poor guy won't he's just arrived meaning she she's very dear Cynthia was a very dear and lovely compassionate bright woman. Sadly gone too young, you know? And, and clearly they were she knew that they were you know, they were a teasing playful group those four young men God so that's so that's what she says. And then john turns back to the rest of the group. After she says leave the poor guy won't he's just come john turns back to the group and he says, You see, they still have a sense of humor in the colonies. And and that was it. They just took me into their group I hung out with them for the next week. I could have stayed I could have hung out with them for the next you know, month and a half. I came home to see if I could get back together with Trisha which didn't work out. But you know, it was it was perfect and you know something in terms of of the mind
when I didn't think of them as the The Beatles anymore. I had lots of film because I had a I had a Pentax camera in literally in my backpack that I was traveling with. And I bought film because I was thinking I will go around the world you know after India I'll keep traveling. And but I only took out my camera twice and I only took 54 ektachrome slides. with anyone famous in them, in fact, I only took 72 ektachrome signs in my whole two weeks at the ashram the week sitting outside on the weekend side. And that was because I just didn't think of them as beetles. In fact, they really did genuinely, warmly kindly Take me into their group. And I could have had pictures with them funding around arms around each other. I could have had autographs I literally never thought about it. Yeah, it's one of those interesting things.
Alex Ferrari 20:32
Did they have an issue with you taking pictures of them? Because it doesn't seem like they did. I mean, I'm assuming that they're there to get away from the world. And then there's this dude that just shows up with a camera and starts taking pictures. I would imagine that it could be off putting, but I mean, I've seen the picture. So obviously they didn't, but I'm just curious.
Paul Saltzman 20:49
Well, in fact, what happened was that and by the way, the world's press kept arriving at the gate every day. 2030. Photographers, camera people, sound people, men, women writers. Sorry, the ashrams closed, they all came to interview the Beatles, what are you doing here? What's this all about? And, but the ashram was closed, the gate was blocked. So the Maharishi would come out every day, once a day and give a press conference so people could get what they wanted and go away. Next, and the next day, another 2030 Press, people would show up whether the same ones or different ones. But what happened was as as I was sitting with them, George had a fancy Nikon, and Mal Evans had an icon, and Ringo had an icon, and they would take pictures of each other, like a family outing. And that was the that was the feeling that was the mood among them. It was like a family outing. And so I after a couple of days of seeing this, I just asked each of them separately, because I didn't want it wasn't about a group thing. I asked each of them separately, do you mind if I take pictures and each of them because of what had happened? In our connection, each of them said, Oh, take as many as you want. So there was no issue at all. And I, and I never ever said, Hey, john, click, I never I never did that at all. That would be you know, you wouldn't, you wouldn't kind of do that. I never thought of it. So I just took pictures hanging out. And like I said, I only took out my camera twice the very, the very formal, the most famous picture, which is the group all all sort of dressed up and with all the other people around those other people were there on a meditation course. But we didn't see them very much. They were getting separate instruction from the Maharishi and they were meditating very long hours. So we didn't see them much. But that picture was not a setup. For me, that was a setup, the Maharishi arranged to kind of do a class photo and everyone who was there, got a print of this photo of the whole group. But I just was there. So ringgo called me over and said, Hey, can you take some for me and handed me his camera Mal, seeing this called me over and George called me over and I had, so I had three Nikon's around my neck plus my Pentax and I took pictures for all of us.
Alex Ferrari 23:17
And can you tell me, you know, obviously, the movie is focused on the Beatles. And, you know, obviously, the Beatles are extremely, you know, famous. But can you talk a little bit about your experience with the Maharishi I mean, because he's also quite famous and has impacted the world as well.
Paul Saltzman 23:34
True? Well, there's a, there's a great story of that. And it's in the film, one of the joys in making the film for me as a filmmaker and as a person was a I got to go back to the ashram which I had, I had not been to in all these years. And I got live into it, but not, not. First time, I went back to see the ashram was about 2013 because I have a kind of hobby, which is I lead small, joyful tours to India, small groups. I've done it four times, and I'll be doing it again in 2022. Really, to share my love of India. And and, and we traveled from the south to the north, and we ended up at the ashram. And we ended up in Rishikesh, which is a very peaceful spot in the world. But Sorry, I am so visual. I was just back in Rishikesh. What was the question again?
Alex Ferrari 24:34
What was it? Can you tell me about your experience with the mahari? Right?
Paul Saltzman 24:39
Yeah, so it's one of the joys of making the film was not only going back, but being able to use graphic novel illustrations to tell stories for which there are no photographs and no film footage. And that was a joy to be able to tell those stories. So one of those stories is that a couple of days after I'm allowed in And Raghavendra, my angel who, who fed me and brought me in and taught me meditation. He said on that first time, he said, You're now welcome to spend your days in the ashram and take your meals with us. Those were his exact words. But there's no extra bed so you'll have to still stay in the tent. I said, Great. Thank you very much. And a couple days later, he came to me and he said, Come, it's time to meet the Maharishi and I thought, great, so we go to the Maharishi's bungalow, and we take off our sandals, and we go inside, and it's a meditation room, maybe 20 feet by 20 feet, with only white futons on the floor and windows and light streaming in. And there's a little low Deus platform for the Maharishi to sit on low to the ground, and we sit down cross legged on the futons in front of it me and rug vendre and we're waiting for the Maharishi and I hear voices and then I hear sandals being taken off and incomes john and Paul and George and Ringo and their their three wives and their partner. And now they all they cuddle up with us. So now there's the now there's the 10 of us cuddled up together in front of this little platform waiting for the Maharishi George's knee is about. We're sitting cross legged, his knee is about three inches from my knee. We're all cuddled together to wait for the Maharishi Maharishi comes in. Never notices me, which was no, not a problem. I never got to speak to him, which was not a problem. Because what happened was really magical. What happened was Maharshi comes in. And he puts his hands together no mistake, we all say no mistake to him, which is a traditional greeting of respect. And, and he sees the George has brought a little black tape recorder and one of those 1960s with the buttons on the end, and it's a cassette tape recorder. And the Maharishi who was funny and had a really lovely sense of humor. He said to George, is that a new song? Or would you like me to recite the Bhagavad Gita, which is like, would you like me to recite the Bible will be there, it'll be there for weeks. And George says, No, it's a new song, and he pushes the play button. And out of the tape recorder comes the inner light, which I'd never heard it was brand new. And George who's sitting right next to me start singing. So George is singing out loud. And play tape recorders playing. Like I said, the Maharishi never noticed me, but what a magical moment. So that was my experience.
Alex Ferrari 27:39
So for all those years ago, that you actually saw them in concert, when you had the the nosebleed sections, you had a much better seat, this good point, much, much better seat. And arguably, the material was fresh. So. So you You said that you learn meditation in five minutes. And I know you learned my Rishi taught Transcendental Meditation. He's the one who brought Transcendental Meditation to the west. I've been meditating now for about four or five years heavily, doing, you know, hour to two hours every day. And it's changed my life. Completely. What? And I know, transcendental meditation, there's, I mean, I know a little bit about transcendental meditation, and you need to get a someone to teach it to you and all that stuff. How has meditation? Well, obviously, when you were there, you were meditating. So it obviously changed your life. And you explained that, how has it changed? Just your experience as a human being? How is it your daily day, your day to day over these, you know, decades of doing meditation?
Paul Saltzman 28:49
Well, great question. My personality type is that I tend to be very active and outwardly directed. That's probably why I've made so many films, it's because I'm, you know, I sort of am out there and I want to do something and then I go for it. sitting alone, sitting quietly is not in my basic habit pattern. So I don't meditate often, but I do talk to my soul almost every day. And I hear my soul almost every day. And of course, if we're open to being in touch with our own soul, our own divine inner connection you know, somebody who taught me a lot about consciousness said to me you know, if you can't hear your higher self call it that's one Lang piece of language I use my higher self, you know, which is in a sense soul. If you can't hear your higher self, or you can't hear your soul, it's not because they're absent. It's because you're not tuning in. So I meditate from time to time. I meditate usually briefly, 510 15 minutes, 20 minutes. I probably only do it once a week. But then like I said, being in touch with my soul, my higher self. To me that's a feminine energy. It's not really feminine nor masculine. But as I visualize, it's a feminine energy. So I, I am in connection with that inner self.
Alex Ferrari 30:34
Great answer. That's a great, great answer to that question. Now, the, the Beatles obviously, at the moment that you met them, we're the biggest band in the world. It's hard for anybody to comprehend how big the Beatles were at the height of their powers. And they were close to the height of their powers at that point, if not at the height of their powers. This is before this is before the White Album, right?
Paul Saltzman 31:02
It's before the White Album. It's after Sergeant Pepper. No, they were they were at the top of their game top of their form.
Alex Ferrari 31:10
Right. So for the Maharishi, who's trying to bring Transcendental Meditation to the world and bring it in, you know, to get it to as many people as his he can, as part of his mission in this life. Having the Beatles as kind of ambassadors for his message must have impacted the world in a way that many don't understand. I mean, I mean, when I saw the cover of Sergeant Pepper, and I saw Yogananda, Baba, Ji, Lahiri mahasaya, all these kind of Indian gurus in mixed with all the other people that were on that album cover. I mean, the Beatles had such a powerful effect on consciousness of the of the world. What's your take on that being? You were like, in the center of the storm, essentially, almost.
Paul Saltzman 32:10
Yeah, well, you're right about all of that. The way I the way I would put it is, in 1968, which is what we're talking about. The word yoga was not a common word. You know, finding yoga studios on every street forget, it didn't exist. there probably was the odd yoga studio. I never saw one or heard of one in my youth, because they probably were rare. Meditation was not a common word in the language. Literally. People didn't talk about meditating, the word mindfulness didn't exist. That's a word in the last, whatever, 10 years or however long it's been out there. And in terms of common usage. So yeah, when when the Beatles went to India, the reason that 20 or 30 Press people a day showed up, it was like, what, what are they doing? Like? They are the most famous people on the planet? What is an ashram? And who's the Maharishi and what are they doing in there? And so, so the consciousness of the world was truly changed, or a great part of the world was truly changed by the gazillions of fans and the gazillions of people who knew of The Beatles even if they weren't fans starting to talk about meditation and, and, in effect mindfulness without using that word. And then yoga became as well a common usage. So I would say the Beatles and The Maharishi knew that that would happen and and it wasn't sinister. The Maharishi's devotion was truly to bring a consciousness a higher consciousness to the planet for the purpose of world peace. That's what he was about. The, the negative stories that have sometimes come out and really it's one negative story was not true. You know, it was, you know, that it's so his his intent was in fact pure. And he understood and the Beatles understood to that by by mentioning or promulgating, or bringing meditation to the world was an act of making peace. It was a very loving act and, and the Beatles lending their name and their presence to it. For the time that they did, that was those were acts of worship, really.
Alex Ferrari 34:35
I mean, and Paul said it said it in one interview years ago, I heard him say, like, you know, most of our songs 95% of our songs talk about love. Exactly. It's like that's what we do. Not Not too bad. interview, like
Paul Saltzman 34:50
not too shabby. No, fantastic. And you know, something, john in his last interview, which I think which was played Boy and I think it was only a couple weeks before he was murdered. He he I remember he said, two things that surprised me. One was, he said, if you want to know about the Beatles listened to our music. And that was a profound comment, because as they got more conscious, you can see their song start changing. So, so for me personally, the first time I heard tomorrow never knows. And again, I was so delighted to be able to tell this story with graphic novel illustration in my film, because it made it come alive again. I was lying on the front lawn of my house, rented house with three friends and Tricia and I were lying there, we'd smoked a joint, it was a sunny day, I'd taken a little taper a little 45 or rather a little tape turntable outside. And we were listening to revolver that I bought that morning that had just come out. And, and the last song tomorrow never knows cuase. And this is all new to me, right? And they're saying turn off your mind and float downstream that is not dying, it is not dying, go towards the light, it is shining, it is shining, the thought the song ends, I absolutely remember what happened. I thought to myself, What are they talking about? And the next thought was, well, if it's something real, it's something my teachers and my parents haven't told me about. And my third thought was, well, it feels like they're speaking about something they know. And that was my first curiosity about is there an inner journey.
Alex Ferrari 36:40
And if it happened to you how many other people in the world today, the day, you know, inspire, to start looking inward or start asking questions to journey to search for for these, either the meaning of their own lives or the meaning of other people like the world. It's remarkable. And that's why I love I love the story so much is that, you know, you know, I love reading in obviously Autobiography of a Yogi and paramahansa Yogananda who, in the early part of the century, brought over meditation yoga, in the 20s which was can you imagine the 60s, it was a little bit even more people were more open to it but in the in the 20s and, and having someone like the Beatles, pushing that message out into the world, and you could just see it I mean, from Sergeant Pepper, you can start seeing how it their music started to change completely so it's not Can't Buy Me Love anymore. You know, you're going down those kind of loops that you just said it's a remarkable story and to have someone like yourself who was frontline while they were writing some of their greatest songs that they've ever written. How many songs did they write while they were at the ashram because I I know they were there just for a week some some were there longer some of their shorter.
Paul Saltzman 38:04
Yep, well, Ringo was there, Ringo and Marina were there for 11 days, and I left with them. There were two taxis Mal Evans there roadie was in one taxi with them to take them to the airport in Delhi to fly home. I was in the other taxi with two friends of Donovan's who asked if they could jump a ride with me because I was heading home. And, and I asked Ringo as we're getting in the taxis and I said, Hey, well, how come you guys are leaving? Those were my exact words. And he said, Well, we're missing the kids. And Maureen doesn't like the flies. Now, there she had a phobia about insects, because I don't remember any more flies than you'd see on a summer's day, you know, in North America. But the whole story about food, and it was the food is not true. That's just, you know, that was maybe a cover story, because what he said was what he said. So Ringo, was there 11 days. And then I left to Paul was there five weeks? JOHN and George, were there 57 days I think, if I remember right, and there's too few there's several opinions about how many songs they wrote. And one of my another one of my joys of making the film and going back to India, is I took Mark Lewisham who's generally considered the leading Beatles historian in the world. I took him back with me and he was delighted. He'd never been to India. I'd never been to the ashram and he'd been wanting to go for 50 years. So we, and we got along just like brothers, it was very dear meeting meeting, sort of soul brother in it, which is always a surprise, but a lovely surprise. So one of the conversations we had, which you saw in the film, sitting outside the bungalow where I took some of the key photographs was about how many songs they wrote and I and And I was told that they wrote 48 now the person who told me that they wrote 48 songs in less than seven weeks was Dennis Odell and Dennis Odell arrived. The day I left and took gringos room. And Dennis was the head of Apple films, The Beatles company, Apple films. I asked Dennis when I met him years later, I said, How much do you know how many songs they wrote at the ashram? And he said, quote, I know exactly how many songs I said, How many? He said, 48. I said, How do you know? He said, I was sitting with john and Paul, after they came back. And I asked, and john said 48, Mark lewisohn, the historian said, well, as far as we can see, as historians, they only wrote 30 because there's only 30 we can find that we can identify as being written at the ashram. So it was a very lovely conversation between me and him. The the the report times, he said, You know, I believe that that's the conversation you had, and I know Dennis Adel, but all I can find is evidence of 30. So they wrote between 30 and 48 songs, I believe the numbers 48. Mark believes the numbers 30. Cool, no problem, and of which 16 are on the White Album. So the whole White Album was not India, but 16 of the white album songs are written at the ashram.
Alex Ferrari 41:24
That's, that's remarkable. And you can, you can just sense it in the White Album, when you listen to it. You can sense their energy of what they went through. At the ashram, I have to ask you, what is the biggest lesson you took away? From your time in the ashram?
Paul Saltzman 41:41
Oh, that's easy. That's easy that that meditation is a magical tool for inner peace, inner calm, inner healing. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 41:53
that was, I mean, that's a pretty big one. Yeah. Now, you took all these photos? And essentially, you just they didn't come they didn't become public until when? When did you decide to bring them back out into the world?
Paul Saltzman 42:08
Well, there's a very, there's another cool story involving the word magic again. So I came home, and I was broke. Because I didn't have any money. I needed to rent an apartment a flat. So I went to Canada's national magazine. And they were keen to have me write a story because they wanted the photographs, which nobody had at that point. And I wanted to write the story for two real reasons. Yes, I needed to make money that was one made, but I also was highly excited to tell people Hey, there's this great thing meditation. Hey, no, try it. So. So I did a cover story for them. And when I heard when I finished the story, and submitted the final draft of the story, I was sitting in my van rented third floor kind of Garrett, little tiny apartment that I could rent. And I realized I was feeling bad. I just delivered the story. I come back home. And I realize I'm feeling that. And I just said out loud without thinking again, I said, Why am I feeling bad? And I heard my soul talk to me for the third time, right? First time, Montreal, second time at the ashram third time back in Toronto. I said, so why am I feeling bad? And my soul said, You're talking about it too soon. You need to let the experience go deeper within yourself. Very wise. And so what happened was that I took the three plastic containers of ektachrome colored slides that held the slides. I remember I wrapped an elastic around them. I took a magic marker, Sharpie, and I wrote India 1968. And I put them away. And I remember thinking, I don't want to do anything more with these. That was literally the thought.
Alex Ferrari 44:07
But they were public. But they were published at that time.
Paul Saltzman 44:10
Yeah, the one article,
Alex Ferrari 44:12
you didn't publish all the pictures, you've probably just published two or three pictures.
Paul Saltzman 44:15
I think I think they were four or five in the magazine article. Got it. And and then I literally they were out of sight out of mind. Now I now understand how how it worked that because what I've learned is that the subconscious takes things literally, you know that Do you know the story? The little Engine That Could? Of course. Yeah. So the little engine for those who don't know the story, it's a it's a little children's cartoon book. And the little engine is very curious. And he wants to go over the mountains and see the bigger world and the big old, the bigger engines, the old engines, they Oh, you can't do that we couldn't get over the mountain so you can't, but the little engine keeps wanting to get over mountain to see the bigger world. And he goes up the mountain and he says, I think I can i think i can i can i can and he gets over the top of the mountain. Whether the writer realizes it or not, that's a story of the subconscious. Because if you tell yourself you can't, you probably won't. If you tell yourself you can, you probably will. Now, let's be reasonable. If you tell yourself you can fly and step off of 44 building, you will not fly. Unless you know, unless you know something the rest of us don't know. Exactly. So when I put the pictures away, and I thought, I don't want to do anything more with these, the subconscious takes that as an instruction. And I literally didn't think about them for the next 32 years, honest to God, I married a woman from India never told her I met the Beatles in India, my best male friend and my best female friend who were best friends for, you know, 1520 years, I didn't mention that I'd met the Beatles in India, not because I thought it and didn't tell them I never thought about telling. So what happened was that one day, my daughter, it turns out that the only person I ever told was my eight year old daughter and a bedtime story because she's half Indian, her mother's from India. And she said, Tell me about the first time you went to India dad. And apparently I told her that I met the Beatles in India and took some pictures of them as part of the story. Cut to eight years later, she's 16 years old. She's a Beatles fan. Now with her three best girlfriends having nothing to do with me. I wasn't playing the music in the house, because I usually don't play music at home. And she walks into my study, she's 16. And she says in this sort of quizzical voice, didn't you tell me that you met the Beatles in India? And I said, Yeah. And she said, didn't you tell me you took some pictures of them? And I said, Yeah. And she was like, Can I see them? Literally? I think she says she didn't say that. But I think that was the feeling. And what happened is it took me three weeks to find them because I hadn't seen them in 32 years. And what happened and I'll tell you this, because it's about the soul. The fourth time I heard my soul talk to me. What happened was, I searched my house and I searched my coach house, which was my office. And I couldn't find them. So I asked my assistant to search the code. So she couldn't find them. I asked her to search again. I said, you know, just look through everything she couldn't find. I found my father, I asked him to search his house. And he searched his house and said, No, he couldn't find them. I said, Can you search again, do it really slowly. And then he called back and said, No. And then I thought to myself, well, before I get really pissed at myself for losing them, not about not about fame and book beetles and pictures about just sharing them with my beloved daughter. I thought before I get pissed at myself, I'm going to take a day off work, not a weekend, and I'm self employed, I'm going to take a day of my own workweek. And I'm going to do a thorough search, because I want to know if they're, they're not. So I do that. And I start on the third floor of my house and I literally go through every sock every piece of underwear behind every book on every bookcase behind under the sinks. In, you know, in every box. I'm now down in the basement. It's a three story house. I'm now down in the basement. I've searched the furnace room, I've searched the crawlspace as I've searched everywhere, I'm in the last room, which is the TV room. And there's a couch and L shaped couch and behind the L shaped couch. There's a bunch of cardboard boxes that we didn't have room to put anywhere else. So they ended up behind the couch. And I searched through about 15 boxes working my way to the end and now there's three boxes left. And I search I searched the third last box. No, and I'm about to give up. I have literally I'm going to give up. There's two boxes left. I'm gonna give up.
I hear my soul talk to me for the for the fourth time in my life. It says keep going to words that deep, that deep all loving all resonate, resonant voice said keep going. The next box I opened it up and there are there's the three things with India 68 and the elastic wrapped around them. And I don't remember who was home but I remember screaming Yes. And I opened up the first box and I thought to myself Dear God let them be okay because slides can lose color. It had been 32 years sometimes depending on the film. I Kodachrome can do this and those years, you could, you could find that there had been a fading and what was left are magenta images. So I open up the first box, and there's just a little bit of dust and I bow a little bit of dust. And I look at the first picture, it was like, they'd come out of the lab the day before, thank God. So that night, I show them to my daughter, I load them into a slide projector carousel, and I show them my daughter in the living room or house. And she asks all the normal questions, what were you doing there? What were they like, etc. And when we finish, she says these words, she says, gee, dad, they're really great. You should do something with them. And for the next week, I asked myself internally, I asked myself, so how do I feel about doing something with them now? And each time I heard my higher self say, oh, that would be fun. So my daughter and I were going on a trip and we were going through London, England, and I found out that sort of the leading authority on rock and roll memorabilia, certainly one of them or maybe the leading authority on rock'n'roll memorabilia, was a man named Steven Maycock, and he was curator of rock'n'roll memorabilia at Sotheby's auction house in London. So I called and I made an appointment. And I, I took the pictures to a lab and I had dupes made and I put the original pictures in a safety deposit box, I'm not losing them again.
And I take the dupe slides, 54 of them. And we go to Sotheby's, my daughter and I, and we sit down over a lightbox. And I spread out the 54 pictures, and there's me and my daughter and Steven and his assistant. And he takes a loop, you know, the magnifying glass. And he leans over and he looks at the first picture and he goes, huh, and he doesn't raise his head. And he moves to the second picture. And he looks at the second picture, and he goes, wow. And he sits up and he looks at me. And he says, You're sure you're not a professional photographer? I said, No, I've never been I was just a kid with a camera. He looks at all the rest without speaking. And he sits up and he says, one of the sweetest things. He says, we look at everything, for moments like this. Some of these are the best intimate shots we've ever seen of them, but you want to do with them. And I said, I don't know, what can I do with them? And he says, Well, we could auction them off if you want. And I said, so how does that work? And he said, Well, we'll auction them and and they'll get whatever money they get. And I said, well, who would who would they sell to? And he said, Well, it depends who's in the room. But it's quite likely it would sell to Apple because the Beatles company tries to buy back as much of the brand as they can to control the brand is what he said. And he said, or it could be a photo agency like sigma, or gamma or Getty Images, or it could be a collector who buys them. He said whatever it is, you can keep copies of all of them, but you have to sell the copyright. And you'll have to sell the originals. So you can't do anything more with them. Other than have your own collection of them. And I said so how much would they get? And he said, Well, depends depends on the bidding, but 20 3040 50,000 pounds, which at that point was like 100,000 Canadian dollars, which I could have used. But it's one of those interesting, one of those very interesting things. Alex, I, I said out loud without thinking again, I said, Gee, that sounds boring. Maybe I'll do something with them myself. Do you think there's a book here? and Steven said, Oh, for sure. And if you ever need any help, let me know. So he wrote the introduction to my first book called The Beatles in Rishikesh. When I went to India. I wanted to go write it there. And I wanted to go write it there for the fun of it the inspiration of being there. So I went back to the ashram and I was taking pictures on the whole trip. I didn't know if I'd include any in the book. And I ended up writing it on a beach in Kerala, which is like, you know, paradise. And, and but when I was leaving for India, I said to my two best friends, like I mentioned, one man, one woman friends for 1520 years. I said, I'm going to India. Oh, how come you're going to India? I'm going to write a book. What are you gonna write a book about? Like, what? Yeah, cuz I'd never written a book, right. What are you going to write a book about? I said, I'm going to write a book about the Beatles in India. They said, Well, why are you doing that? I said, Well, I spent a week with them in India. 1968. You know what both of them said, Alex said, you never told us that. And I said, didn't tie.
Alex Ferrari 54:55
It's like I don't even know you, Paul.
Paul Saltzman 54:59
So you know The old subconscious, that's how it works. The subconscious takes things literally. So when I decided I don't want to do anything more with them, I just never spoke about it except once to my daughter, thank God
Alex Ferrari 55:11
and your daughter up, someone was talking to her on her side and said, Hey, poke him and say, it's time, it's time to do something that I mean, literally, you were sitting on, you know, in the world of beetle memorabilia and beetle, you know, archeology, you were you were sitting on the almost a holy grail, because it's just something that didn't exist that did these images in exist of this candidness. And seeing the pictures, you just look at them. It's just it's just them doing just being human. It's not them posing, it's not them being the Beatles, they were being john, Paul, George and Ringo, not as the Beatles as human beings. And that's what's so magical about those, those images and that time, and it kind of just cuts just the energy comes right off of the screen. And then at what point did you say, Well, I did the book. Now I'm gonna make a movie about this a documentary.
Paul Saltzman 56:06
So I did the book in 1999, the first book, and it was published by Penguin Putnam, I had a literary agent friend in New York. So I said, Do you think there's a book here? And he said, Yes, um, we I went to New York, and we pitched publishers and of the publishers, to publishers bid on the book, not gobs of money, but enough for me to write it. And, and so penguin pump, penguin Putnam, published the book, the guy who was the head of the imprint, it was published under the Viking imprint, he was somewhat dismissive. I said, I'd like to go see the book being printed. They were printing it in China, I said, I'd like to go see the book being printed off pay my own way, because I'd never done a book. Hey, I'd like to see it being printed. I'm a curious person. And he said, No, we do that. And he wouldn't, basically wouldn't tell me where it was being printed. I got the book, and it's beautifully designed, but it was printed very poorly. They use the wrong paper. And the paper that they use soaked up, it wasn't paper meant for photography. And so it's soaked in the ink.
Paul Saltzman 0:07
So I got the book, and it's beautifully designed, but because they'd printed it on the wrong paper, you know, George's eye on a close up, as you can see, as I it's all dark Well, I'm the original picture Hello, you can see the eyes. So it was, it was badly printed. And in that moment, I said to myself, I'm going to do it myself one day, because I realized, if you don't pay for it, you don't get to call the shots, and forth. Fortunately, five years later, in 2005, I could afford to do it. And so I published I self published, the limited edition books that come in a box with the DVD and the CD. And, and I didn't know how to manufacture a book, I knew how to manufacture films. So I, I found a company in San Francisco called insight additions, which is a fabulous company that did limited edition books. And they did the first limited edition Star Wars books with Lucas and all this kind of stuff. And I called up the head of it, who himself was a brilliant designer. And I said, I've got pictures and a story to tell. And I'd like to do a book. And he said, Well, can I see some of the pictures? So I sent him low res images. And he called me back and he said, this is marvelous. We'd like to publish it. And I haven't learned my lesson said, well, that's very kind of you. I'm honored. But I don't, I want to publish it myself to retain creative control. But can I pay you to manufacture it? And he said, we'd be honored. So I worked with them. And so all the fabrics and all the vellum pages and the copper pages and so on. And so I went to China and and as they say I was on the presses for three days and three nights hardly sleeping. Because you you, you do have to, you know that wonderful expression, you sign off on something, right? Well, they give you a page. And if you don't like it, you work with them on it. And if you like the color and how it all works, you sign that page, you sign literally sign off on it. So the book was published, and I did those then. And then the film was still not in my mind, really. And as the 50th anniversary was coming up a couple years later, so the 15th anniversary was 2018. So around 2016 I started thinking, I'd really like to make a film, there's a really lovely story to tell. And it's a very personal film, as you've seen, and it's a very intimate film. I've never put myself in one of my films like that before. And so there's certain vulnerability You know, you're talking personally about hearing your soul talk to you, you know, people can, people can be rather nasty. And
Alex Ferrari 2:57
on the internet, stop it. Are you kidding?
Paul Saltzman 3:03
But the film, The film has been an absolute treat to make and I'm very happy with it. And David Lynch, who's in it loves the film. And I got I got feedback. I can't say who right now. But I got feedback by one of the top filmmakers in the world who wrote me and said, I've watched it twice. I love your film. I'm going to watch it again tonight.
Alex Ferrari 3:25
That's amazing. That's amazing. Well, I mean, first of all, anyone listening to the show needs to watch the film. Where can they watch the film?
Paul Saltzman 3:36
It they can see it online at www dot gather ga thr gathered without the www.gthr.com
Alex Ferrari 3:50
and just type in meet meeting the Beatles in India.
Paul Saltzman 3:53
Yeah, meeting the Beatles in India. Now it will, it will come out. It will come out eventually on T VOD, and, and and VOD, and svod. But right now, that's the only place you can see it. And it's by the way it's going to play and it's going to play in three theaters in London starting September one. And there are a couple of other possibilities of theater theatrical showings. But of course with the pandemic, just getting in theaters is pretty challenging.
Alex Ferrari 4:24
Well, just getting anybody into a theater is pretty challenging, let alone getting in it. Now I have to ask you a couple questions I asked. Most of my guests. What do you think your mission is here in this life?
Paul Saltzman 4:42
That's a great question. First of all, I think we are all here to learn to love and create. I think we're all here to learn to live together and We're all here to enjoy, not to kill. I think this is Earth school. I think we are, as I've read the phrase, we're spiritual beings living a human experience. I think we are spirit beings and, and, and in the physical for a reason. And I think that reason is to learn about love like the Beatles saying and so many of their songs to learn about love to love, as opposed to hate to create as opposed to destroy. So what do I think my mission here is, it's that it's to be aware of that. And it's to live that as well as I can to be the best person I can be in terms of caring and loving and not harmful and not hurtful and not destructive. In terms of my work, there's a particular thing that that you're bringing, you're reminding me of, in my 20s, I had an epiphany, a true epiphany. And it went like this, it was it was something I thought, I thought, I can make junk food for people's psyches and my films or I can make health food for people's psyches. And I have an obligation not to make junk food because that'll hurt people. So I don't make films that I'm not proud of. And I don't make films that I'm not proud of that, that they will that they're constructive to living life well as opposed to destructive to living life. Well.
Alex Ferrari 6:32
Very great answer to that question. And just out of curiosity, did you ever did you ever speak to any of the Beatles again, to Paul the tango? No.
Paul Saltzman 6:42
So when I was leaving the ashram literally saying goodbye at the long table by the quiff, and Ringo was getting ready to leave and so on. And I said goodbye. And it was all very warm and very dear. And I turned to walk towards the taxi. And john said, john lennon said, Hey, Paul, will you send us some of your pictures? So I turned around, came back to the table and said, Sure, and Jane Asher, Paul's girlfriend said here, take my home number. If you call Apple you'll never get through to them. So I took her home number and six months later, I was working on the first IMAX film, I was the production manager and second unit director. And we were moved, we were shooting in London. So I printed up four photographs I couldn't afford color color was very expensive. And I just didn't have the money. But I printed up for poster like film poster size pictures and black and white, one port, my favorite portrait of each of them. And interesting. I've never printed them in black and white since except to give them and they're very beautiful and black and white. They really are. And so I met Jane Asher I called her at home and I met her for tea in Kensington, we spent about a half an hour together, it was very dear. She's a lovely person. And I handed her a tube with the four photographs. And she said she would give them to him. And I had a moment where I thought of giving her my card. So they had my contact. And I literally remember the thought the thought was, these guys don't need new friends. Their wives are crazy. And I had gotten, you know, I'd gotten what I went to India for which was the meditation and the inner peace. And I had an I had hung out with them, which was like icing on the cake. I didn't need anything from them. So she took the pictures. And that was the last I heard about. Actually, I want to tell you one little anecdote if you have time. Sure, of course. So I get in a cab I say goodbye to Jane, I get an A black, London cabbie. And I give them an address. And a friend of mine from the National Film Board of Canada was in England producing a film. And he said, Hey, we're going to screen the film. Why don't you come we're going to see the film for the first time. So I take a cab and I go and I get out at a place called look listen productions, which I gather is George Martin's place. And I go in and I meet my friend Bob Bayless, and he introduces me to two people, I think Peter and john. He says, one of them was the editor of the film, the others, the Assistant Editor, and we go down the hall into a mixing theatre screening room. And they put on the film, and it's the first release print out of the lab. None of them had seen the finished film. It was yellow submarine.
Alex Ferrari 9:31
Did you did you mention your story at that point? Did you keep it close to the cuff at that point?
Paul Saltzman 9:35
I didn't mention it because first of all, the film is running. And then someone It wasn't me someone passes around a big joint. So we're all smoking up. We're all watching the film. Now. We're all singing along to every song. And it was just like a great, great moment, right? Just serendipity serendipity.
Alex Ferrari 9:57
So that's and then you never spoke to any of them else. ever got?
Paul Saltzman 10:01
Yes. So, so then about 2007 my phone rings in my house right here where I'm sitting. And a woman says is this Paul Saltzman? Yes. Is this the Paul Saltzman who was in Rishikesh? And I said yes, who is this? So she introduces herself and she says, Paul McCartney asked me to call you I'm in charge of all of his audio visual materials that MPL productions in London. He's going to be doing a benefit concert, and the Radio City Music Hall for the David Lynch foundation. Ringo and Paul are going to play on stage for the first time and there'll be other people there. Paul would like to use your photographs to do a slideshow on the back of the stage on a screen at the back of the stage. When he sings, cosmically conscious, which is going to be the second last song of the, of the concert. And I said, cool. And she said, Would it be okay to use your pictures? And I said, Sure. And she said, I'm going to give you word for word, I remember word for word, this conversation, she said, How much will that be? And I said, Nothing gratis. I wouldn't have these pictures if it wasn't for their kindness and their silence. I was
Alex Ferrari 11:21
not used to that.
Paul Saltzman 11:23
It was it was really a wonderful moment. The silence was this long, beat, beat, beat, beat. So I say, because she's saying nothing. I say, Why Does that surprise you? She says, this has never happened before. I say, What do you mean? She says, well, when people know, it's Paul McCartney, they want a lot of money. And I said, Well, I don't want anything. I just I'm happy to give them on one condition. She said, What's that? I said, you make a high resolution copy of the slideshow and give it to me calm I archives. She said done. And we have we ended up signing a one page agreement. She offered me tickets to the concert. And I have no idea. I cannot remember. But I had an obligation that would not have been honorable to cancel. Oh, so I didn't go to the concert. Oh,
Alex Ferrari 12:17
that must have been a hell of an obligation.
Paul Saltzman 12:19
There was no I mean, I was I think I was doing a screening and a talk at a university. And they had already put out the public PR, and they'd already printed the posters. And it's like,
Alex Ferrari 12:30
I can't get Yeah, you can't, you can't turn away and go. Wow. So you never you haven't spoken to Paul since?
Paul Saltzman 12:37
Ah, I'm sorry. I seem to be telling you this in bits and pieces. So. So then, then when I decided I wanted to make this film in about 2015, I got in touch with Paul's assistant MPO and told her who I was and what I was doing. And could I meet with Paul London, Paris, Hong Kong, Timbuktu I'll go anywhere. I want 15 minutes with him. And so she said, Yes, he's coming to Toronto to do two concerts, we'll set up an appointment. So he comes to Toronto to concerts, I go to the green room at the at the appointed time. And it turns out that I'm not the only one in this big green room there is there his long his long time and his Auntie lived in Toronto. And there's a number of other friends of his there's like five groups of us spread around the room. Okay, you wait here he'll come in. And he's an hour late. So he goes around the room, and I'm the last. And he says to me, I'm really sorry. We had trouble with the sound system, he turns to his said, he says let's get a picture together. And then he turns to his assistant and says book them into tomorrow because they were doing a second concert the next day. So I got a picture with Paul, one of those pose. He's being funny, and we're all smiling. And, and the next day is assistant phones and says we're delayed. And I get five calls of delay. And the final call is I'm really sorry. CNN has just flown in unexpectedly to interview Paul, we won't be able to do it. And I was never able to get in touch with them again. Never. I tried. So. So that happened. Now I got a call one day from someone else who said, I work with Ringo Starr. He's going to be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as the first solo drummer. So as a solo inductee. We're going to be having an opening reception and a show of his photographs and things. And Ringo would like to use some of your photos. And I said great. And she said how much will that be? And I said nothing. No gratis because I wouldn't have them without his kindness on one condition and she said What's that? I said you give me two tickets to the opening party of this show at the Grammy Museum. So I went with my sweetheart Annie Who's the love of my life? We've only been together about three months. So we fly off to LA. And we go to this we go to this and you know the induct in, he's inducted and it's in. It's in a theater with a stage and famous people. And afterwards there's a reception in the, in the room with the display and my pictures and other people's pictures. And it's so crowded Alex that it's no, it's it's literally shoulder to shoulder. So I've got I've got Annie's hand, and she's following me and I'm going through, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. Heading to Ringo. So we get to Ringo. And he's there with his wife in the middle of a crush of people. And I put out my hand and I said, Hi, Ringo, Paul Saltzman, The Beatles and Rishi cash, I figured he'd remember. Complete blank, which is no problem. You know, I don't expect to be remembered. You know, I don't, I don't, I don't need to be remembered to feel I'm you know, okay. So no reaction. But at the same time, I'm pulling me forward. And this is my sweet art. And a piece, he puts it, he puts, wraps his arms around her gives her a big hug. And she is delighted. Of course, that was that was the end of that, because then other people were pressing in.
The only other thing that happened is when I finished the film, and I tried to get Apple to work with me. For two years, I wanted to interview the, you know, Paul and Ringo for the film. No, I want to use Beatles music, which I would pay for No. And I tried for about two years, and I just couldn't get past, you know, the front office, so to speak. When the film was about to come out. The concern was, you know, we have we, I had my lawyers go through the film with a fine tooth comb because you don't want to be sued by Apple. And Apple. Apple has been known to be fairly litigious, I'm told. And they've got endless pockets, and I am not a well, wealthy man. So I want to be careful. But everything that lawyers clear it i'm not i'm not contravening copyright, except in one small instance that you see in the film, that that is allowed under fair usage. But they could they could they could make a problem with it. But David Lynch wanted to use the film to as a fundraiser, which I was delighted with. And so he had, he sent the film to Paul's people and rangos people. That's how it was said to me. And what came back was they had no objection. So that was wonderful.
Alex Ferrari 17:50
And that was and that was the last time that you were ever in contact with them. I mean, it's it's remarkable. And David Lynch, I mean, I mean, who is a filmmaker? I mean, David Lynch's David Lynch, I mean, yeah, that must have been an amazing conversation. Just that. Hey, David,
Paul Saltzman 18:07
you want a little story about that?
Alex Ferrari 18:09
Why not? I have to, you know, this is this is now just you and me talking at this point they gave but yeah, we're still recording, but I, you know, I have to know.
Paul Saltzman 18:17
So I want to interview David Lynch, because I want his take on meditation and what it means to him. It's not about the Beatles, but for my film, because my film is about meeting the Beatles in India, but it's also about the inner journey and meditation. So I get in touch with his assistant. And his assistant says, Well, I'm sorry, David, just yesterday, told me no more interviews for a year. It's like, Oh, so I said, If I send you an email about this project, would you be okay sending it to him, and maybe he'll be willing. So he said, Sure, send me an email. He's in Paris today. I'll forward it on. The next day, I write an email and I say, whose This is who I am. And this is what I'm doing. And this is why I want to talk to his assistant phoned me back the next day. He says, I'm surprised David said he'll do it. So at some point later, you know, a couple months later, I fly down to LA to film there. And I'm told to come to his house and to use the side door which leads into his recording studio. So he as a recording studio at home for mixing films, but also in his recording studio is all the instruments for a rock band. David is a very good guitarist that turns out as well as being a very good painter. And he comes in and I'm told he's got half an hour, and he spends almost an hour with me and we have this really lovely conversation which you see in the film because he starts asking me questions, which wasn't my intention, but it was very beautiful. He said he loves the film. And and, and I've had a number of people, including him say, and I loved the pieces in the film of you with your daughter because I have my daughter in the film. Because as I said, you know, without her there would be no film without her there would be no books without her, they would still be sitting presumably in a brown paper box in a boy basement somewhere
Alex Ferrari 20:21
right behind your couch. Well, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you, I am so glad that that people will hopefully see this film and you know, think about meditation a little bit differently. And if the entryway into meditation is the Beatles, that's not a bad doorway to walk through. To get to define define meditation and their lives and what it could do for them, but I truly appreciate your time and, and you putting all this together and releasing the film and everything. So my friend, thank you so much for being on the show.
Paul Saltzman 21:00
Alex, thank you very much.
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