Deep Dive: Let It Be
The Beatles' official final album is Let It Be. Album #12 was released in 1970, and again has an iconic cover. Notice the red behind Paul's picture? That sparked more "Paul is dead" rumors. (I didn't write about those in reference to other albums, maybe that will be an entirely separate blog post.)
It's said that Let It Be was an attempt to breathe new life into the group by having them perform together live in the studio again, instead of record separately and put them together in post-production via overdub. In essence, Paul wanted the four to go back to their roots. Unfortunately, this attempt only led to the continuation of the clash of the group that had been going on since 1968.
The album was also released after the group officially broke up. It was commercially successful, but ended up getting mixed reviews with critics saying Abbey Road was a much better final album than Let It Be.
The opening track is, "Two Of Us," which Paul claimed was about Linda and he, who he married weeks after the song's recording. Linda didn't have any doubt about that, saying: "It's about us. We just pulled off in a wood somewhere and parked the car. I went off walking while Paul sat in the car and started writing. He also mentions the postcards because we used to send a lot of postcards to each other." Fans often feel this song is an attempt at alluding to the joy of Paul and John together as a duo. It's also said that John and Paul recorded their vocals singing into the same microphone, much like they used to do in the old days of the group.
The second track is, "Dig A Pony." Lennon sings this one, and in a 1972 interview goes on to say, "I was just having fun with words. It was literally a nonsense song. You just take words and you stick them together, and you see if they have any meaning. Some of them do and some of them don't."
"Across The Universe" is the third track and is a much beloved later Beatles track. It's a very poetic song. It starts with, "words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup, they slither wildly as they slip away across the universe. Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind, possessing and caressing me...jai guru deva ohm." John considers "Across The Universe" to be some of the best lyrics he's ever written, "in fact, it could be the best. It's good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin' it. See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don't have to have any melody, like a poem, you can read them."
The next track is by George and is the title of his autobiography. "I Me Mine" reflects on our obsession with self and ego. George says, "There are two "i's": the little "i" when people say 'i am this': and the big 'I' - is duality and ego. There is nothing that isn't part of the complete whole. When the little 'i' merges into the big 'I' then you are really smiling!" It's said that this was the final song that The Beatles recorded, on January 3rd of 1970. Lennon was absent from the recording session. "It's sadly fitting that 'I Me Mine' is a song about creative division and inflated egos, two elements that played a huge role in the breakup of the band" (Genius).
"Dig It" is a short 50 second bit with John singing. "Like a rolling stone...Like the FBI...And the CIA...And the BBC...B.B. King...And Doris Day...Matt Busby, dig it, dig it..."
"Let It Be" is a classic Paul Beatles hit. It's one of the more iconic ballads, and is always a pleasure to see Paul perform in concert. Paul has explained that the inspiration for the song came from a dream that he had with his dead mother where she advised him "let it be."
"Maggie Mae" is the seventh song on the album and is more of a traditional Liverpool/folklore song. Not one of my personal favorites, but it's here nonetheless.
"I've Got A Feeling" is a rock and roll song Paul sings. I absolutely love this song and love seeing it live. There's such emotion in his voice on the track. It's said to be the combination of three unfinished song fragments; McCartney's "I've Got A Feeling," Lennon's "Everybody Had A Hard Year" and "Watching Rainbows."
The next track is "One After 909" and it's a collaborative song between Paul and John. It has a sort of country sound to it.
"The Long And Winding Road" is another classic McCartney ballad from The Beatles era. It is a reflection of The Beatles career and their journey as a group. On this track, strangely enough, Lennon is playing bass and makes some amateurish mistakes. Some critics accused him of deliberately trying to sabotage Paul's song. That's pretty petty, if so. But funny. It's a great ballad. I love ballads.
Next up is another George song, "For You Blue." It's a really sweet soft love song. I have nothing bad to say about this song. It was supposedly written for Pattie Boyd, George's wife.
The last song of the album is "Get Back." It's not one of my favorite Beatles songs and certainly not my ideal close to their music catalog. But the fans love this song at concerts. Paul often does it in his finale set.
Overall, Let It Be is a great album, but it doesn't compare to Abbey Road and the legacy and medley that came with it. The fact that Let It Be was released post Beatles breakup does make it seem kind of thrown together, with tracks like "Dig A Pony," "Dig It," "Maggie Mae," and "One After 909."
I won't say this isn't a great album, because that would be a lie. But it's not my personal favorite. It saddens me that it was their last album, but they all did such great things solo post Beatles that it is more of a bittersweet feeling than anything.
The Beatles live on forever with their music and message. They are so timeless and cannot be touched. It's just a fact.