|Let It Be|
|Released||8 May 1970|
January 1969 January 1970 March–April 1970
|Studio||EMI Studios, Apple Studio, and Twickenham Film Studios, London|
|Genre||Rock • blues • R&B|
Let It Be is the twelfth and final studio album by English rock band The Beatles, released on 8 May 1970 by Apple Records. Issued almost a month after the band's breakup, it was originally conceived as Get Back, a return to their earlier, less complicated approach to music. Rehearsals began at Twickenham Film Studios in London in January 1969 as part of a planned documentary film showing the Beatles preparing to return to live performance. A project initiated by Paul McCartney, the rehearsals were marked by ill feeling, leading to George Harrison's temporary departure from the band. As a condition of his return, the Beatles reconvened at their own Apple studio, where they completed the recordings with the help of guest musician Billy Preston.
Following several rejected mixes by Glyn Johns, a new version of the album was produced by Phil Spector from March to April 1970. While "Get Back" / "Don't Let Me Down" and the title track were released as singles before the album's release, the first and third songs were remixed by Spector for the album, and the second was not included on the final version. An alternative mix of the album titled Let It Be... Naked, which removed Spector's production work and used different takes of some songs, was released in 2003.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Tracks
- 3 Instruments
- 4 50th Anniversary
- 5 Trivia
- 6 See also
- 7 External links
Overview[edit | edit source]
While The Beatles were recording Let It Be, they were being filmed at almost all times. The footage would eventually be used for the film of the same name. Tensions were high in the studio, with George Harrison and Paul McCartney often feuding. John Lennon also brought his partner, Yoko Ono, to many of the sessions, which caused some of the band members to be uncomfortable.
The Beatles performed hundreds of songs during the then-called Get Back sessions. Many of the songs would be included on Abbey Road or were used on the band members' solo albums. The Beatles stopped working on Let It Be when arguments reached an all-time high.
Production[edit | edit source]
After the disastrous Get Back sessions, the album was shelved for a year until Phil Spector decided to produce it. Using the "Wall of Sound", Spector produced the album in a way different to Glyn John's. The Beatles, and the public were not satisified and called the album a "second class send off."
The Tracks[edit | edit source]
"Two of Us"[edit | edit source]
From the atmospheres that echo in the song it would seem that John and Paul, both on acoustic guitar and in a vocal duet, had regained a new harmony, ready to set sail for the teenage moments of Liverpool fifteen years earlier. Mark Hertsgaard plausibly maintains that some passages of the text would recall the experiences lived together by the two musicians. The "two" of the lyrics are Paul and Linda Eastman. It is she who confirms it, adding that the composition was written by Paul in the car, on a relaxing afternoon in which they had left the London rhythms behind to dive into nature.
The execution, titled On Our Way Home during the studio recording work, was performed in the style of the Everly Brothers and recorded on the days of 24, 25 and 31 January. Introduced by the voice of John announcing: "'I Dig a Pygmy', by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf Aids ... Phase One, in which Doris gets her oats!", The final tape is, compared to the first attempts, more incisive and convinced in the voices and percussions of Ringo and it does not appear to have overdubs, thereby respecting the initial agreement proposed jointly by Paul and John according to which, unlike in the past, the new album should have been "honest" and without "sound tricks", a return to their origins as a rock'n'roll group.
With the original title On Our Way Home, the song, intended to be launched as an Apple label single, was produced by Paul McCartney and performed by the Mortimer trio that Peter Asher had discovered in New York. For unknown reasons the project was never carried out.
"Dig a Pony"[edit | edit source]
Dig a Pony's text is by John, who continually modified it as the recordings progressed (the title originally was All I Want Is You), and the final version of which was the one recorded in the performance on the terrace of the Savile Row building. which housed the Apple studios. As in other previous circumstances, the author expressed dissatisfaction with his piece by calling it "other garbage".
"Across the Universe"[edit | edit source]
The song was composed by Lennon and recorded in February 1968. The author hoped to release it as a single, but Lady Madonna di Paul was preferred to him, and the Across the Universe tape was archived and later offered for a WWF charity.
The piece flows like others in John's house in Kenwood, in a moment between wakefulness and sleep and after yet another episode of tension with his wife Cynthia. It is Lennon who remembers that in those moments he had let himself be carried away by a flow of words formed by an extraordinary and unrepeatable meter that forced him to get up and go downstairs so as to fix it in writing. To the text he added the expression "Jai Guru Dev" ("long life to the guru Dev"), a phrase that in meeting the disciples of the Maharishi used as a greeting in deference to Dev, the swami of the guru.
The tormented story of the song spanned more than two years. On 4 February 1968 the base was engraved and the instruments were subjected to sound treatments, then the tape elaborated by cuts and stitched was ready to be overdubbed from vocal parts and a piece of "great beauty" came out. It turned out, however, that female voices were needed and for this two young fans, Gayleen Pease and the Brazilian Lizzie Bravo, were recruited to cover the parts in the verse "Nothing's gonna change my world". On the 8th of the same month John wanted to fill some steps with a mellotron, but dissatisfied with the result, he passed the assignment to George Martin with his plan. However both instrumental versions were disappointing and he resorted to a guitar played by John, and the author, not yet fully convinced, decided to put Across the Universe back in anticipation of different times, leaving the field to Lady Madonna and The Inner Light which side A and B of the single output. After several months of settling, the tape was resumed to be inserted in the album being assembled. On October 2, 1969, under the supervision of George Martin, in the Abbey Road studios the piece was spiced with the sound of chirping birds and buzzing insects, and the tape was speeded up. Three months later, technician Glyn Johns reworked the song and wanting to make it appear in tone with the atmosphere of the other Get Back recordings eliminated the female choral parts and those of the Beatles themselves, and also removed the sound effects. The final version that finds its place on the Let It Be album is the work of Phil Spector, who on 1st April - together with the choirs - overdubbed strings, brass and drums, played by a total of fifty instrumentalists.
The criticism of Across the Universe is divided. Lewisohn considers it "a beautiful, brooding and philosophical passage", a "superb singing test". Conversely, Ian MacDonald speaks of the author with "his amorphous pretensions and the indolent melody [which] are all too evidently the fruit of a greatness induced by acid and softened only by exhaustion." And he concludes caustically: «As long as he had been a Beatle, Lennon rarely sinned of tediousness. With this passage, he made an unwanted exception. " It should be noted that Lewisohn refers to the original version of February 1968, while MacDonald's opinion of "insipid apathy of the song" refers to the finished product which constitutes the third track of the album released.
"I Me Mine"[edit | edit source]
A waltz melody inspired by an Austrian fanfare broadcast on television, it has a seemingly nonsense title but which instead contains one of the cornerstones of Indian philosophy with which George Harrison became increasingly familiar. Individualism - what "I" has, which belongs to "me", which is "mine" - prevents one from reaching the cosmic consciousness in which there is no "ego".
It was in chronological order the last Beatles song on which the technicians worked on the editing in the studio. On January 3, 1970 (Let It Be therefore includes material recorded over a period of two years) the recording of tape 16 was decreed the best and on it piano and guitar (both electric), voices, an organ and an other guitar. On April 2 - after the addition of strings and choirs from the previous day - Spector disassembled, copied and reassembled the song, dilating it by about fifty seconds.
"Dig It"[edit | edit source]
It constitutes the fragment of a long jam session based on the three chords of a classical harmonic tour and in which Lennon improvises the text by combining free associations of ideas together.
Recorded on two dates, the heavily electrified recording of January 24, 1969 was put aside and only John's infantile voice announcing “That was 'Can You Dig It', by Georgie Wood. And now we'd like to do 'Hark the Angels Come' "(" This was 'Can You Dig It', by Georgie Wood. Now we would like to play 'Hark the Angels Come' "), tail-mounted phrase to connect the piece to the next Let It Be. Among the background vocalizations recorded two days later and to which also Heather, the six year old daughter of Linda Eastman, collaborates, on the wave of a tribute by Lennon to Bob Dylan (Like a Rolling Stone) some acronyms are highlighted and pitted names with no logical link: FBI, CIA, BBC, BB King, Doris Day and Matt Busby, historic Manchester United manager since 1945.
"Let It Be"[edit | edit source]
Considered to be a hymn to religion due to the title, the invocation to "Mother Mary" (identified with the Virgin Mary), the gospel structure and the agreements of the organ of Billy Preston, it is actually the re-enactment by Paul - as Lennon did in Julia of the White Album - of his own mother who died when the author was fourteen. Paul himself recalls that, in that very difficult period from an emotional and professional point of view, he had a soothing dream one night in which he met his mother Mary Mohin.
The recordings of the piece were made on 25 and 31 January 1969, and the 25 tape was the best, on which some overdubs were made. The piece was then taken up again on April 30 in the Abbey Road studios, and in that session George overdubbed the guitar solo there. After eight months, on January 4, 1970 Let It Be was re-recorded and winds and strings were overdubbed (low mixes and therefore not easily perceptible in the single version) while, for the variant of the album, the guitar solo of April 30th (which would have remained for the single) would have been replaced by George's line cut in January. That session was the Beatles' last musical experience as a group in a recording studio.
"Maggie Mae"[edit | edit source]
Maggie Mae (elsewhere the spelling is Maggie May) was a traditional motif that had belonged to the maritime history of the port of Liverpool since the time of sailing ships, when Lime Street was full of pubs and teeming with prostitutes and one of them, Maggie May had become legendary and not only in the port area. The melody descended from Darling Nellie Gray, a minstrel song written in the mid-nineteenth century by the American composer Benjamin Russell Hanby, and which in 1957 the skiffle group The Vipers had resumed and interpreted in the version best known by Lennon and McCartney. The Beatles had recovered this fragment of the city's collective memory at the beginning of their musical career, performing it in the warm-up phase of their first live performances.
The album features a section of about forty seconds of the song, recorded in one breath on January 24, 1969. The composition is credited to all four Beatles and, between choruses and a short guitar line, the piece closes side A disk.
"I've Got a Feeling"[edit | edit source]
The frame of this song based mainly on two chords is mirror of that of A Day in the Life. Just as Sgt Pepper's masterpiece is formed by the initial and final parts of John that enclose the middle section of Paul, in I've Got a Feeling the supporting structure is by McCartney, Paul is the first and the last part, and in the central segment fits Everybody Got a Hard Year, which Lennon had so titled in relation to his last unpleasant personal affairs: in about forty days of the months of October and November 1968 Lennon had been arrested and imprisoned for drug possession , had officially divorced Cynthia Powell, and Yoko Ono, pregnant with John, had experienced a miscarriage in advanced pregnancy.
As for other songs destined for the album Get Back (project later set aside), the beginning of the recordings must be dated back to January 22, 1969. Taken in the studio on 24, 27 and 28, the song was produced live in two versions on 30 January - day of the Rooftop Concert - and mixing for the final version was carried out on the following February 5th.
"The One After 909"[edit | edit source]
Rock rough and dazzling, it makes use of a performance by the vocal duo Lennon / McCartney returned to the grit of the Hamburg years. The One After 909 (sometimes referred to as One After 909) was written in 1957 by Lennon and McCartney (although it was primarily John's) under the influence of Chuck Berry's rock'n'roll and had become part of the live repertoire of the Quarry Men before and after the Beatles until 1962. Recorded on March 5, 1963, this piece inspired by railroad songs imported from overseas and filtered by British artists - including Lonnie Donegan's Rock Island Line or Freight Train by Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group - seemed destined to become the third single of the group, but the recordings were not considered satisfactory and the song not suitable for publication, and for this reason it was shelved. After another six years of neglect, The One After 909 was fished out and recorded first in the recording studio on January 28 and 29, 1969 and the following day in the Rooftop Concert, with a tail of John mockingly closing the piece hinting the initial notes of Danny Boy, a song performed by Conway Twitty among others in 1959.
"The Long and Winding Road"[edit | edit source]
Intense, delicate and painful ballad in McCartney style, offered in a first clear version (although not without errors) of January 26, 1969 in which the heavy and sugary subsequent overdubs were made here by Preston's piano work, inspired by the B842, road winding which winds for twenty five kilometers along the east coast of the Kintyre peninsula and which the author traveled to reach his farm.
The song had a stormy history and constituted the trigger that led to the dissolution of the group. In the last few days of mixing and editing, the producer Phil Spector decided, without consulting with McCartney, to heavily season the original track with choirs and an abundance of strings. Spector's work in the studio was doubtful even to a docile and good-natured character like that of Ringo Starr, the only Beatle present in the room, who took aside a neurasthenic Spector and calmed him saying: «[The technicians] are doing better than can. Be good and calm down. » Brian Gibson, technical engineer that day, also said puzzled later: "In The Long and Winding Road, [Spector] wanted to overdub orchestra and choir but there were not enough free tracks on the tape, so he eliminated one of Paul's vocal parts to be able to put on the orchestra ».
Upon hearing of the change, a furious Paul McCartney first tried without being able to block everything and then, in that atmosphere of heavy misunderstandings, quarrels, grudges and small vendettas that slowly matured, he declared that he considered the partnership with the other three Beatles dissolved.
"For You Blue"[edit | edit source]
Blues song with a classic but flowing and relaxed structure, is dedicated by George to Pattie Boyd and in it Harrison, on the acoustic guitar, takes advantage to pay homage to Elmore James, American blues guitarist, quoting him during Lennon's solo on the slide guitar.
George's Blues, the original title of For You Blues which eventually became For You Blue, was recorded in one day, January 25, 1969. The lightness of the piece is confirmed by the author who would have declared: «It is a simple song in twelve bars which follows all the normal canons of the songs in twelve bars, except the fact that it is carefree! ».
"Get Back"[edit | edit source]
It was Paul McCartney who composed this rock piece that was originally born in the author's intentions as a satire against racism towards the Africans and Asians who populated the United Kingdom. Considering the delicate situation that had arisen with the entry of thousands of Asians and the consequent preaching of the neo-Nazi party of the National Front, the words not properly calibrated by Paul risked being gasoline on the fire resulting easily a source of misunderstanding, so much so that make some commentators hypothesize a "racist period" that would vein the group. Paul denied this interpretation, even if verses such as "Don't dig no Pakistanis taking all the people's job, get back to where you once belonged" ("I don't go down with the Pakistanis who come to steal people's jobs, go home yours ") could understandably mislead, with the danger of being explosive in that social context. So the text was radically distorted, becoming the harmless hint of Jojo, an American from Arizona, and sweet Loretta Martin, suddenly finding himself a man.
On this whole story remains the testimony of John Lennon according to which, every time Paul sang the verse-guide "Get back to where you once belonged", he turned his gaze to the omnipresent Yoko Ono. It is not clear what John wanted to allude, nor if the fact was true or if it was Lennon's rancorous imagination towards his rival friend. Paul, in his defense, said: "If there was a group that was not racist it was the Beatles: all our favorite musicians were colored."
The single and album versions highlight some diversity. The single has a more refined mix and has interesting echo effects which the album version lacks; and while the single closes with a decisive Ringo that gives the attack for the finale, the album version opens with John's irreverent joke (absent in the single) humming "Sweet Loretta Fart she thought she was a cleaner but she was a frying pan "(" Sweet Loretta Scoreggia believed she was a cleaner, instead she was a pan ") and ends unusually with the subdominant note that gives the piece a sense of incompleteness.
Tracks[edit | edit source]
All songs written by Lennon/McCartney, except where noted otherwise.
Side one[edit | edit source]
- "Two of Us" – 3:36
- "Dig a Pony" – 3:54
- "Across the Universe"– 3:48
- "I Me Mine" (Harrison) – 2:25
- "Dig It" (Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey) – 0:50
- "Let it Be" – 4:03
- "Maggie Mae" (trad., arr. Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey) – 0:40
Side two[edit | edit source]
- "I've Got a Feeling" – 3:37
- "One After 909" – 2:53
- "The Long and Winding Road" – 3:38
- "For You Blue" (Harrison) – 2:31
- "Get Back" – 3:07
Credits[edit | edit source]
- George Harrison:Lead and Backing Vocals.Electric and Acoustic Guitars.Sitar and Tambura
- John Lennon:Lead,Harmony and Backing Vocals.Electric and Acoustic Guitars.Six-String Bass Guitar and Lap-Steel Guitar
- Paul McCartney:Lead,Harmony and Backing Vocals.Bass and Acoustic Guitars.Piano,Electric Piano,Hammond Organ and Maracas
- Ringo Starr — Drums,Maracas and Percussion
- Billy Preston — Electric Piano, Organ
- Phil Spector — Producer,Shaker and Arrangements
- George Martin — Producer and Arrangements
- Uncredited :18 Violins,4 Violas,4 Cellos,Harp,3 Trumpets,3 Trombones,2 Guitarists,Tenor Saxophone and 14 Backing Vocals.
Instruments[edit | edit source]
- Fender Telecaster
- Gibson Les Paul Standard
- Epiphone 230TD Casino
- Hofner 500/1
- Gibson J-160E
- Martin D-28
- Fender VI
50th Anniversary[edit | edit source]
Unfortunately, May 2020 came and went without sign of an anniversary edition. It was announced that the movie (Peter Jackson's documentary The Beatles: Get Back) would premiere on September 4, 2020, but it was delayed to August 31, 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. To soften the blow, a book would coincide with its release.
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Trivia[edit | edit source]
- When The Beatles broke-up, Paul McCartney filled for a lawsuit for the band's dissolution and the treatment of "The Long and Winding Road" was one of the six reasons for doing the lawsuit.
- "The Long and Winding Road" remains the only Beatles song to have more than 3 version recorded; (Not counting George Harrison's song "Not Guilty" that was left of The White Album, despite being recorded 102 times) The first version being the 26 January 1969 take with Phil Spector's edits, the second version was the same January 26 take but without Spector's edits that was released on the Anthology 3 album in 1996, and finally the third and final version which was the January 31, 1969 take which was seen in the Let it Be film and later released in 2003 for the Let It Be... Naked album.
- "I Me Mine" was the final song recorded by The Beatles before their break-up in 1970.
- "Don't Let Me Down" was released as a double A-side single, but was later included as a track replacing "Dig It" in the Let It Be... Naked album from 2003.