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Let It Be (Lennon/McCartney)

Paul wrote Let It Be at a time when constant fighting amongst the band made him feel like he was the only one who wanted them to stay and continue together. "Mother Mary," who gives Paul strength, is his mother, who came to him in a dream and lifted his spirits.

Two versions

The single version and album version are different - the main difference being the guitar solo. The two songs were mixed from the same master with both guitar tracks playing at the same time. The orchestration in the album version is also louder.

Paul and female vocals

It is worth noting that Let It Be contains backing vocals by Linda McCartney. After the Get Back tapes were reworked by Phil Spector, Paul very vocally bemoaned the inclusion of female vocals, claiming he would not have put female vocals on a Beatles record.

Quotes

"One night during this tense time I had a dream I saw my mum, who'd been dead 10 years or so. And it was so great to see her because that's a wonderful ting about dreams: you actually are reunited with that person for a second; there they are and you appear to both be physically together again. It was so wonderful for me and she was very reassuring. In the dream she said, 'It'll be all right.' I'm not sure if she used the words 'Let it be' but that was the gist of her advice, it was, 'Don't worry too much, it will turn out OK.' It was such a sweet dream I woke up thinking, Oh, it was really great to visit with her again. I felt very blessed to have that dream. So that got me writing the song Let It Be. I literally started off 'Mother Mary', which was her name, 'When I find myself in times of trouble', which I certainly found myself in. The song was based on that dream." - Paul

"Mother Mary makes it a quasi-religious thing, so you can take it that way. I don't mind. I'm quite happy if people want to use it to shore up their faith. I have no problem with that. I think it's a great thing to have faith of any sort, particularly in the world we live in." - Paul

"That's Paul. What can you say? Nothing to do with the Beatles. It could've been Wings. I don't know what he's thinking when he writes 'Let It Be.' I think it was inspired by 'Bridge over Troubled Waters' [sic]. That's my feeling, although I have nothing to go on. I know that he wanted to write a 'Bridge over Troubled Waters.' - John to Playboy, 1980 (note: Let It Be was recorded six months before Bridge Over Troubled Water and written a full year before Bridge Over Troubled Water was recorded)

Recording dates

  • January 31, 1969 (basic track)
  • April 30, 1969 (overdubs)
  • January 4, 1970 (overdubs)

Release history

Chart performance

  • #1, April 11 - April 18, 1970 (2 weeks), Billboard (US)

Awards

  • Nominated for the 1970 Grammy for Song Of The Year
  • Best Contemporary Vocal Performance By a Duo Or Group
  • Best Contemporary Song

Notable covers

  • John Denver (from Poems Prayers And Promises, 1971)
  • Gladys Kight & The Pips (from If I Were Your Woman, 1971)
  • Joe Cocker (from Sheffield Steel, 1981)
  • Ike & Tina Turner (from Workin' Together, 1986)

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