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Let It Be (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


"Let It Be" is a song written by Lennon & McCartney (although thought to be the sole work of Paul McCartney). The song was first recorded by The Beatles and released as a single in March 1970 and later the same year as the title track of their acclaimed album Let It Be.


Although the song's lyrics are interpreted by some as being a hymn to the Virgin Mary, the song was written as a tribute by McCartney after he had a dream about his mother, Mary, who died when he was fourteen. [1] (John Lennon was allegedly critical of the song upon McCartney's introduction, assuming that 'Mother Mary' was merely an allusion to Christianity.) However, whether consciously or not, the words 'let it be' quote Mary’s words to Gabriel in the Gospel of Luke 1:38...depending on the translation, some versions of the bible read "may it be" (New American Standard Bible) while others are simply "be it unto me" (American Standard Version), but the message is the same.

Recording and version history

The master take was recorded on 31 January 1969 as part of the 'Apple studio performance' for the project Get Back. Paul played the piano (a Blüthner Flügel from Leipzig/former East Germany), John played the bass, Billy Preston played the organ and George Harrison and Ringo Starr assumed their conventional roles. Paul's lead vocal was backed by John and George (as seen in the film Let It Be). The master take included a quieter guitar solo by George (which can also be seen in Let It Be).

The track was mixed by Glyn Johns for inclusion on the first (unreleased) Get Back album in April[2], but it was decided a new guitar solo was needed to bring the track up to standard. George recorded an overdub on April 30, 1969. This second solo is the one heard on the single version.

There are four recordings of the song that have been 'officially' released.

Single version

It was originally released as a single in 1970, backed by "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" and produced by George Martin. This version includes orchestration and backing vocals overdubbed in 1970 under the supervision of Paul McCartney. The backing vocals include the only known contribution by Linda McCartney to a Beatles song [3].

In these sessions George Harrison recorded a third guitar solo as an overdub. The intention at one point was to have the two solos (April 1969 and January 1970) playing together. However, this idea was dropped for the final mix and only the April 69 solo is used. The final mix tones down the orchestration as well; possibly to tie in more with the 'live sound' concept and the film version.

Album version

In April 1970 Phil Spector remixed the song for the album Let It Be. This version features the more stinging January guitar solo and more prominent orchestration.

Anthology version

An early version of the song also appears on the third Anthology volume 3.


"Let It Be...Naked" version

Finally, another retooled version of the song appears on the 2003 album Let It Be... Naked. Ringo's drumming was augmented by echo effects added by Phil Spector on the album version. Ringo disliked this mix, so Let It Be...Naked features his original drumming.

The guitar solo used in this version was taken from the subsequent take as seen in the film Let It Be.

The "Final" Song

During Linda McCartney's funeral in 1998, this song was played.

Anomalies and quirks

2 minutes and 59 seconds into the song, a 'wrong' chord is played on the piano.

Cover versions

  • Less than a year after The Beatles' original release, Joan Baez included "Let It Be" on her 1971 album Blessed Are.... She also released the song as a single.
  • Floyd Cramer recorded an instrumental version of "Let It Be", which was used in his "Floyd Cramer with the Music City Pops" album.
  • Singer-songwriter Bill Withers covered "Let It Be" on his 1971 debut album Just As I Am.
  • Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist and vocalist Danny Kirwan recorded a version of "Let It Be" for his 1976 album Midnight in San Juan (released in the USA under the name "Danny Kirwan"). The song was also released as a single in the USA.
  • Leo Sayer covered the song for the 1976 ephemeral musical documentary All This and World War II.
  • Charity ensemble Ferry Aid, featuring McCartney amongst others, recorded a version which reached #1 on the UK singles chart in March 1987.
  • The Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe covered "Let It Be" on her 2004 album Tidings.
  • The American singer Aretha Franklin covered "Let It Be" on the album Come Together, A Soul/Jazz Tribute to the Beatles.
  • Popular British duo Journey South also released a cover of "Let It Be" on their debut self-titled album Journey South.
  • Australian rock musician Nick Cave recorded a cover of the song for the soundtrack to the 2001 film I Am Sam.
  • Pianist/keyboardist Bradley Joseph introduced his instrumental arrangement of "Let It Be" on his 2005 album, For The Love Of It
  • The song was translated into Hebrew. The Hebrew version was written and played by Naomi Shemer, the same composer of "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav"
  • British soul singer Beverley Knight has covered the song live several times, and included a recording as a b-side to her 2006 single "Piece of My Heart".
  • Main vocalist of Taiwanese group Nan Quan Mama, Lara Veronin, performed a shortened live acoustic version for promotion of their album on GTV in June, 2006.
  • Their version of Let It Be on the introduction of Atlanta's boy band quintet B5 on their self-titled debut album.


  • The children's television show Sesame Street parodied "Let It Be" with the song "Letter B".
  • The parody band Beatallica did a version called "The Thing That Should Not Let It Be", which also parodied the Metallica song "The Thing That Should Not Be."
  • The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Alternative Rock band The Replacements named their seminal 1984 release Let It Be after this song. The now-defunct Let It Be Records in downtown Minneapolis is named for the Replacements album, not the Beatles song.
  • The French group Les Bidochons parodied "Let It Be" with "Les Petites Bites".
  • An episode of Hannah Montana parodies Let It Be by calling one of the episodes "Debt It Be."

References & notes

  1. ^
  2. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. Hamlyn Publishing Group. ISBN 0-600-55784-7.
  3. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (1996). The Complete Beatles Chronicle. Chancellor Press. ISBN 0-7607-0327-2.
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