Tim Tai, Photography Editor

An ode to a cornerstone of British rock made an early appearance on campus on December 8.

“If These Walls Could Sing,” a documentary about the history of Abbey Road Studios, was screened in advance of its Dec. 16 release in the Humanities Quadrangle. This event was open to the public and featured a discussion with the movie’s director, Mary McCartney.

“I really want the viewers to feel that they have been invited into Abbey Road, they’ve been taken through a lot of the main… historic things that have happened there,” McCartney said. 

Although Abbey Road Studios are most commonly known as the namesake of the Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road, this location was the preferred recording studio for many other artists, including Elton John, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and conductor John Williams.

“If These Walls Could Sing” recovers old footage of these artists recording in the studio and features interviews with them in the present day. Although the documentary covers events in roughly chronological order, it also touches on the artists’ emotional connection to the studio. The documentary also explores how film scores such as John Williams’ compositions for the Star Wars franchise brought the studio back to life amid a decrease in overall record sales in the 1970s.

The film’s director, Mary McCartney, is the daughter of Paul McCartney, bassist and co-lead singer of the Beatles. She hosts the vegetarian cooking show “Mary McCartney Serves It Up” and is the author of multiple cookbooks. “If These Walls Could Sing” will be her feature documentary debut.

McCartney shared how she was approached by the documentary’s producer John Battsek and offered the job of director. This differs from how she approached her cooking show, which she remembers starting from the ground up.

McCartney, who lives near Abbey Road, remarked on how she often saw tourists visiting the exterior of Abbey Road Studios. Due to the studio’s busy schedule, though, visitors never enter the building.

“I filmed the interiors and some of the tape machines, and some of the details to make the viewer feel that they’ve been inside,” McCartney said. “When I go into Abbey Road I get this, really this feeling, this sort of a magic feeling…that’s what I’m aiming to give.”

McCartney said that she does not currently have plans to direct another documentary, but is looking for another opportunity. She said that although it was challenging, she “loved the process” of directing and interviewing. 

When asked why she held a screening at Yale, McCartney explained that her family has a particular connection to the University: 

“My son, Arthur, went to Yale and my dad has an honorary doctorate,” she said. “I really admire it, I love the museums and the culture.”

Following the film screening, Rachel Fine, executive director of the Schwarzman Center, moderated an audience discussion with McCartney. 

Fine, who officially took on her role on October 24, said that events such as this documentary screening are crucial to her goal to expand the Schwarzman Center’s role across campus and New Haven. 

“There’s no better way to do that than to collaborate with other Yale departments in supporting the work of and presenting an outstanding artist with a transformative cultural project and warmly inviting the community in to experience it,” Fine said.

When asked about the screening’s intended audience, Fine said that the documentary was accessible and intended to “strike a chord — no pun intended — with anyone who is passionate about music.”

Joe Edwards, GRD ‘23 attended the screening on Thursday. 

“I came for the Beatles side of things, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the other artists that had worked there,” he said. 

“If These Walls Could Sing” was officially released by Disney+ in the United States on December 16, 2022.