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Behind The Song: The Beatles, “Let It Be”
Written by Paul McCartney

The Beatles’ “Let It Be” evokes a majestic quality, from its serene and straight forward melody to its crescendo and eventual crash of instruments. Written by Paul McCartney, the iconic band recorded the song for their 1970 album (of the same name). A piano base stretches up to the sky, and soon electric guitars wail in unison, giving the enduring classic a soothing, cathartic quality.

“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me / Speaking words of wisdom, ‘Let it be,’” Paul sings on the first verse. Contrary to some beliefs, he is not making a reference to Virgin Mother Mary from the Bible here; instead, it’s a nod to his mother,  and came to him one night in a dream, thus inspiring the song’s early roots.
“And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me / Speaking words of wisdom, ‘Let it be.’”

At first somber, then enlightening and rich, “Let It Be” was directly inspired by a dream McCartney once had. “I think I was getting, like, a little bit over the top with [the party fashion] – getting pretty tired and pretty wasted. And I went to bed one night and had a kind of restless night. But I had a dream where my mother, who had been dead at that point for about 10 years, came to me in the dream and it was as if she could see that I was troubled,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune.

“And she sort of said to me, she said, ‘Let it be.’ And I remember quite clearly her saying, ‘Let it be,’ and, ‘It’s going to be OK. Don’t worry.’ You know, ‘Let it be.’ I woke up and I remembered the dream, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s a great idea,’” he recalled. “And I then sat down and wrote the song using the feeling from that dream and of my mum coming to me in the dream.”
Creative division during the album’s recording is well documented, and reportedly, fellow bandmate John Lennon hated the song. Accomplished journalist and author David Sheff quoted Lennon in his 2000 book, “All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono,” as seemingly shrugging the song away. “That’s Paul. What can you say? Nothing to do with the Beatles,” Lennon said. “It could’ve been Wings. I don’t know what he’s thinking when he writes ‘Let It Be.’”

Lennon later added how McCartney, from his perspective, wanted to evoke Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” even though it was recorded 10 months after “Let It Be.” He said, “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.’”

The single version of the song was produced by George Martin, but Phil Spector later remixed the song for the official album release. “Let It Be” was released March 1970 as the band’s final single before McCartney’s departure. It bowed at No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot 100, the highest debut for a song at the time, and later climbed to the summit.



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He shot compelling portraits of the Beatles, Georgia O’Keeffe and many others and celebrated photography, and Life magazine, in books.

When Life magazine sent John Loengard to Miami to photograph the Beatles in February 1964, he had a quirky idea: Pose them in a swimming pool, as a Fab Four of bobbing heads. But on a very chilly day, he could find only an unheated pool.

The Beatles were reluctant to take the dip, but their manager, Brian Epstein, urged them in, citing Life’s importance. “It was very, very cold, and they were turning blue, so after a minute or two we let them get out,” Mr. Loengard told The Guardian in 2005.

The picture caught John, Paul, George and Ringo smiling and singing in the water during their introduction to the United States. To Mr. Loengard, it was his most American picture in 11 years as one of Life’s leading photographers.

Mr. Loengard considered this 1964 shot of the Beatles (clockwise from back: George Harrison, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and Paul McCartney) his most American picture in 11 years as one of Life’s leading photographers.Credit…John Loengard

Mr. Loengard died on May 24 at his home in Manhattan at 85. His daughter Anna Loengard said the cause was heart failure.



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The new book “Pattie Boyd, My Life Through a Lens”, is being published March 2, 2021, via Simon and Schuster’s Insight Editions imprint.

It was originally scheduled for last April 7. At one point, that date was pushed back to Sept. 15, 2020. And on June 3, Boyd noted on her Twitter account that her “editor has been unwell and more work was needed with the finishing touches.” It’s available for pre-order HERE and HERE.

In addition to her photos, Pattie Boyd: My Life Through a Lens will include drawings, paintings, and mementos, as well as her own memories collected from a life shared with pop culture icons.


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George Martin used to quibble over whether “The Ballad of John and Yoko” was even a Beatles song. “It was hardly a Beatle track,” Martin said in Anthology. “It was a kind of thin end of the wedge, as far as they were concerned. John [Lennon] had already mentally left the group anyway, and I think that was just the beginning of it all.”

Something happened on April 14, 1969, however, as Lennon and Paul McCartney worked feverishly to complete this new track: The scars from their most recent sessions began to heal. Martin was back at the helm, though he’d ultimately step aside for Phil Spector on Let It Be. Engineer Geoff Emerick also returned after having departed during sessions for 1968’s White Album.

Neither George Harrison nor Ringo Starr took part. George was on vacation, while Ringo was still filming Magic Christian. But Harrison laughed it off. “I didn’t mind not being on the record, because it was none of my business,” he said in Anthology. “If it had been the ‘The Ballad of John, George and Yoko,’ then I would have been on it.”

In their place, Lennon and McCartney improvised. McCartney played piano, bass, drums and maracas, while Lennon handled guitars and additional percussion. “John was in an impatient mood, so I was happy to help,” McCartney told Barry Miles in Many Years From Now. “It’s quite a good song; it has always surprised me how with just the two of us on it, it ended up sounding like the Beatles.”

More importantly, it ended up feeling like the Beatles to these former warring factions. At one point, the guitar-wielding Lennon turned to a drumming McCartney and said, “Go a bit faster, Ringo.” McCartney quipped, “OK, George!”

The beating heart at the center of the Beatles was whole again.
“The story came out that only Paul and I were on the record, but I wouldn’t have bothered publicizing that,” Lennon said in Anthology. “It doesn’t mean anything; it just so happened that there were only us two there. George was abroad, and Ringo was on the film and he couldn’t come that night. Because of that, it was a choice of either re-mixing or doing a new one – and you always go for doing a new one instead of fiddling about with an old one. So we did, and it turned out well.”

Everything unfolded in a single afternoon. Lennon brought the still-unfinished song over to McCartney’s London home on April 14, then they headed off to Abbey Road’s Studio Three at around 2:30PM. By 9, they were done.

“‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ was a very fast session,” Emerick says in Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. “It was a really good record too, helped by Paul’s great drumming and the speed in which they did it all.”