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"Let It Be"
The Beatles
The Beatles

At the very beginning of 1969, all four Beatles were fed up being Beatles. After six years at the “toppermost of the poppermost” they were weary of each other’s company, their business empire was crumbling and, crucially, they were no longer happy making music together.

Recording the album that became Let It Be was a dispiriting experience for everyone. Committed to a film deal, The Beatles reluctantly agreed to move in to a north London studio - where, despite having no finished songs, they would be filmed making a brand new Beatles album!

Lennon & McCartney
"Paul was forced into becoming the leader with the abdicating leader beside him."

John’s obsession with Yoko, George’s dissatisfaction at being a Beatle, Paul’s determination to get the band back on the road, the business and musical tensions … all were played out before the camera’s eye. Then, amidst all that turmoil, Paul McCartney had a dream. His mother Mary had died when he was 14, but now, as The Beatles sundered, Paul found solace in a dream of his mother coming back to visit him, to help him forget his problems - and just let it be ...

Paul McCartney
"I'd had a dream, it was a slightly rough period ..."

Despite being such an epochal song "Let It Be" was nailed in a couple of short sessions. McCartney was at the very top of his game. Of the final seven Beatle singles, five would be Paul songs - but even by his standards, "Let It Be" was McCartney in excelsis. Lennon, however, was particularly scathing about the song, and on the finished album prefaced this most beautiful of McCartney ballads with a facetious: “Now we’d like to do ‘ark the angels come...”

Paul McCartney
"This is how groups are ..."

But whatever Lennon’s reservations, others welcomed this stately and hymnal song as an oasis of calm during turbulent times. The idealism of the 60s had run out of steam, tarnished by Altamont, the Manson murders and Vietnam, and this song marked the start of a new and uncertain decade.

The release of "Let It Be" on 6 March 1970 had been preceded, just a month before, by Simon & Garfunkel’s continent-conquering "Bridge Over Troubled Water". Paul Simon acknowledged: “They’re both sort of hopeful songs, and resting peaceful songs.”

But the released album had been "re-produced" by Phil Spector against the band's wishes. It would be over 30 years until the preferred original would be released. It was the version Paul saw as closest to the Beatles.

Paul McCartney
"I loved it because it was just the Beatles."

No long preamble - a few bars in we hear "Mother Mary comes to me" as the gospel minor moves to the four chord, and the deal is done. Vocal inflections are understated - listen to the tenderness of "In The World Agree", the rise to the sixth on "They will see", to hold our interest. And the chorus simply re-states the tag of the verse. A masterpiece of economy.
Dominic King

Over the years "Let It Be", the last single released by The Beatles as a working band, has cemented itself as a classic. And recently its composer found further emotional resonance in the song when he performed it regularly at concerts around the world in the wake of the tragedy of 9/11. Now, 33 years after the original release, a new version of the song - as McCartney always intended it to sound - can be heard on Let It Be - Naked.

... evocative and yet strangely compelling and haunting ...

David Thomson, Stockport

  Listen to Paul McCartney on "Let It Be"

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