Candid Cinema

‘If These Walls Could Sing’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

There’s a connection to music that people feel more than others. Only other musicians can understand the feeling. Or in Mary McCartney’s case, she grew up surrounded by music, lyrics, and a community of artists. If These Walls Could Sing is the untold story of Abbey Road studio and explores its rich history. McCartney interviewed many incredible musicians who had the opportunity to make music in studio one. First, she interviewed her father, Sir Paul McCartney, who walked her through the early stages of “The Beatles” and the progression of the 60s. After the war, music and culture in the UK completely changed. The musical journey for these artists changed with the sociopolitical landscape resulting in their music changing. 

The timeline of events on screen is detailed by what Sir Paul McCartney experienced while “The Beatles” became a phenomenon. Even if the outside world got a bit crazy, they found sanctuary at Abbey Road. Mary McCartney made some excellent choices in using the voices of the artists while showing the empty studios. You don’t realize how many artists walked into Abbey Road with a little tune and walked out with some of the best records ever made. It became a haven for artists because they could freely express their lyrics and tunes without pressure. After watching this documentary, there’s a level of respect for these artists and the community built inside Abbey Road. You could tell that these artists felt at home, which helps with the project’s creativity. 

Mary McCartney stylistically captured the essence of the 60s, and it worked. It didn’t even feel like watching a documentary at times. It felt like a story-time setting, and the audience was gathered in a circle at Abbey Road, just listening. McCarthy made sure to have this sense of comfort from the beginning to have the communal atmosphere of Abbey Road come through the screen. In doing so, artists like Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John and John Williams shared their experiences at Abbey Road, and goosebumps were felt. Understanding their process in making some of the greatest pieces ever adds more of a connection to the place they created them in. This documentary had such a homey feel that it made you want to stay in the studio with them.

If These Walls Could Sing is a warm and heartfelt documentary. Mary McCarthy saw things through a different lens than her father, and that’s why this angle worked so well. She knew that Abbey Road felt like home to many others and presented that through her direction. The walls at Abbey Road are filled with memories, and each artist has a special connection with the studio. The title works well because many lost songs are embedded in those walls. Songs that were left unfinished or songs that were changed into something else. Music is another form of storytelling, so combining her love of documentary filmmaking and her childhood experiences with her father was something special to see. 


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