Monday, May 18, 2015

let it be

The Beatles got back to basics and found themselves in times of trouble with the restless wind of this long unwinding epitaph.    Following the divisive sessions for 'The White Album', Paul McCartney came up with the idea to do a television special with studio sessions and a live performance.  During the recording of 'Let It Be' during January and February of 1969, tensions ran high with George Harrison actually quitting at one point.  He returned and agreed to continue work on the project if they would leave Twickenham Film Studios and go back to Abbey Road.   The film documents the band's final live performance on the rooftop at Apple Studios on January 30, 1969. 

Glyn Johns was the  audio engineer and did the mixing on the first versions of the album, then titled 'Get Back'.  Alan Parsons was the assistant engineer.   George Martin  produced the sessions and did the original mixing.   After the band rejected the 'Get Back' versions, the project was shelved as the group reconvened to record 'Abbey Road'.  Phil Spector was brought in as "re-producer" to do final overdubs and final mixing after the rest of the band had given up on it.  'Let It Be'  would not be released until May of 1970 to coincide with the release of the documentary film.  By this point, The Beatles had officially disbanded; but their legend was cemented in music history with a dozen classic albums (Please Please Me   and  With the Beatles  in 1963,   A Hard Day's Night   and  Beatles for Sale  in 1964,   Help!   and  Rubber Soul  in 1965,   Revolver  in 1966,   Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band    and   Magical Mystery Tour  in 1967,   The Beatles  aka  "The White Album"  in 1968,    Abbey Road  in  1969,   and  Let It Be  in 1970).   

'Let It Be'  features  John Lennon on lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar on "Get Back", lap steel guitar on "For You Blue", acoustic guitar on "Two of Us", "Across the Universe" and "Maggie Mae", six-string bass guitar on "Dig It", "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road", and whistling on "Two of Us";     Paul McCartney on lead and backing vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar on "Two of Us" and "Maggie Mae", piano on "Dig It", "Across the Universe", "Let It Be", "The Long and Winding Road", and "For You Blue", Hammond organ and electric piano on "I Me Mine", and maracas on "Let It Be";     George Harrison on lead and rhythm guitars, acoustic guitar on "For You Blue" and "I Me Mine", tambura on "Across the Universe", tuned-down six-string electric guitar on "Two of Us" and "Maggie Mae", lead vocals on "I Me Mine" and "For You Blue", and backing vocals;     and   Ringo Starr on drums and percussion on "Across the Universe";    with   Richard Anthony Hewson on string and brass arrangements for "I Me Mine" and "The Long and Winding Road";    John Barham on choral arrangements for "Across the Universe", "I Me Mine" and "The Long and Winding Road";    George Martin on shaker for "Dig It", string and brass arrangements for "Let It Be", and  production;    Linda McCartney on backing vocals for "Let It Be";   Billy Preston on electric piano for "Dig a Pony", "I've Got a Feeling", "One After 909", "The Long and Winding Road", and "Get Back", and Hammond organ for "Dig It" and "Let It Be";    and   Brian Rogers on string and brass arrangements for "Across the Universe".    


"In a nutshell, Paul wanted to make - it was time for another Beatle movie or something, and Paul wanted us to go on the road or do something. As usual, George and I were going, 'Oh, we don't want to do it, fuck,' and all that. He set it up and there was all discussions about where to go and all that. I would just tag along and I had Yoko by then, I didn't even give a shit about anything. I was stoned all the time, too, on H etc. And I just didn't give a shit. And nobody did, you know ... We were going through hell. We often do. It's torture every time we produce anything. The Beatles haven't got any magic you haven't got. We suffer like hell anytime we make anything, and we got each other to contend with. Imagine working with The Beatles, it's tough...There's just tension. It's tense every time the red light goes on...[It's a] strange album...We never really finished it. We didn't really want to do it. Paul was hustling for us to do it. It's The Beatles with their suits off."


"We started Let It Be in January 1969 at Twickenham Studios, under the working title Get Back. Michael Lindsay-Hogg was the director. The idea was that you'd see The Beatles rehearsing, jamming, getting their act together and then finally performing somewhere in a big end-of-show concert. We would show how the whole process worked. I remember I had an idea for the final scene which would be a massive tracking shot, forever and ever, and then we'd be in the concert.   The original idea was to go on an ocean liner and get away from the world; you would see us rehearsing and then you'd finally see the pay-off. But we ended up in Twickenham. I think it was a safer situation for the director and everybody. Nobody was that keen on going on an ocean liner anyway. It was getting a bit fraught between us at that point, because we'd been together a long time and cracks were beginning to appear ... They were quite good sessions once we got into Apple I remember you know sitting round quite enjoying the music, it was interesting music to play and we ended up on the roof...The whole Let It Be project was really to see work in progress to see the Beatles working...We'd made Let It Be we then mixed it once with Glyn Johns who'd done a very straight forward mix, very plain but I loved it, Alan Klein was around by this time and he sort of said I don't think it's good enough, he called in Phil Spector to try to sort of help reproduce it as it said on the record."


"I think the original idea was Paul's idea to rehearse some new songs and then we were going to pick a location and record the album of the songs in a concert. I suppose kind of like they do these days on unplugged except you know it wasn't to be unplugged it was to do a live album ... They were filming us having a row. It never came to blows, but I thought, 'What's the point of this? I'm quite capable of being relatively happy on my own and I'm not able to be happy in this situation. I'm getting out of here.'  Everybody had gone through that. Ringo had left at one point. I know John wanted out. It was a very, very difficult, stressful time, and being filmed having a row as well was terrible. I got up and I thought, 'I'm not doing this any more. I'm out of here.' ... Twickenham Studio was very cold and not a very nice atmosphere so we decided to abandon that and go up to Saville Row into the recording studio ... Billy [Preston] came down and I said, 'Remember Billy? Here he is – he can play the piano.' He got on the electric piano, and straight away there was 100% improvement in the vibe in the room. Having this fifth person was just enough to cut the ice that we'd created among ourselves. Billy didn't know all the politics and the games that had been going on, so in his innocence he got stuck in and gave an extra little kick to the band. Everybody was happier to have somebody else playing and it made what we were doing more enjoyable. We all played better and that was a great session. It was more or less just as it is on the record."

"I think it shows on the record that when we were excited the track's exciting. It doesn't matter what we're going through as individuals, you know on a bullshit level when it gets to the music you know when you can see that it's really cool, we've all put in a thousand percent ... I like what Phil [Spector] did, actually. He put the music somewhere else and he was king of the 'wall of sound'. There's no point bringing him in if you're not going to like the way he does it – because that's what he does. His credentials are solid."


rooftop performance:

let it be rooftop performance by yoshiyuki-harada

"Two of Us"

According to Linda McCartney:    "As a kid I loved getting lost. I would say to my father - let's get lost. But you could never seem to be able to get really lost. All signs would eventually lead back to New York or wherever we were staying! Then, when I moved to England to be with Paul, we would put Martha in the back of the car and drive out of London. As soon as we were on the open road I'd say, 'Let's get lost' and we'd keep driving without looking at any signs. Hence the line in the song, 'Two of us going nowhere'.   Paul wrote Two Of Us on one of those days out. 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."

"Across the Universe" 

Lennon:     "I was lying next to my first wife in bed, you know, and I was irritated. She must have been going on and on about something and she'd gone to sleep and I'd kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into sort of a cosmic song rather than an irritated song; rather than a 'Why are you always mouthing off at me?' or whatever, right? ... But the words stand, luckily, by themselves. They were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom! I don't own it, you know; it came through like that. I don't know where it came from, what meter it's in, and I've sat down and looked at it and said, 'Can I write another one with this meter?' It's so interesting: 'Words are flying [sic] out like [sings] endless rain into a paper cup, they slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe.' Such an extraordinary meter and I can never repeat it! It's not a matter of craftsmanship; it wrote itself. It drove me out of bed. I didn't want to write it, I was just slightly irritable and I went downstairs and I couldn't get to sleep until I put it on paper, and then I went to sleep.  It's like being possessed; like a psychic or a medium. The thing has to go down. It won't let you sleep, so you have to get up, make it into something, and then you're allowed to sleep. That's always in the middle of the bloody night, when you're half awake or tired and your critical facilities are switched off." 

"Let It Be" was released as a single before the album in March of 1970 just before Paul announced his departure from the band with the release of his solo album 'McCartney' in April.   It was a number one hit in around the world.   McCartney reveals:    "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 thing 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."

The Beatles - Let it bi by renato_2007

"I've Got a Feeling" combined two songs by Lennon and McCartney.  The titular section comes from Paul and the "everybody had a hard year" bit is John's.  

I've Got A Feeling by supergeorge7000

"One After 909" was one of the first songs Lennon and McCartney wrote together.   Paul says:   "It was our childhood coming back to us it was the sort of raw energy from our youth and I think it reminded us of those teenage years and so it surfaced as did Maggie Mae and a few things like that during the Let It Be sessions where we were just dredging up anything."

One after 909 / The Beatles by beatlesuploader7000

One After 909 by world8899

"The Long and Winding Road" took on a completely different feel with the wall-of-sound production done by Phil Spector.   It would be their last number one single.   McCartney:   "I was sent a re-mixed version of my song 'The Long And Winding Road', with harps, horns, an orchestra and women's choir added. No one had asked me what I thought. I couldn't believe it. I would never have female voices on a Beatles record. The record came with a note from Allen Klein saying he thought the changes were necessary. I don't blame Phil Spector for doing it but it just goes to show that it's no good me sitting here thinking I'm in control because obviously I'm not."

Let It Be Movie 04 (The Beatles) by yoshiyuki-harada

"Get Back" made it's debut at the top of the charts in the UK when it was released as a single in April of 1969.    It hit the top of the charts everywhere.   McCartney:    "We were sitting in the studio and we made it up out of thin air... we started to write words there and then... when we finished it, we recorded it at Apple Studios and made it into a song to roller-coast by...Many people have since claimed to be the Jo Jo and they're not, let me put that straight! I had no particular person in mind, again it was a fictional character, half man, half woman, all very ambiguous. I often left things ambiguous, I like doing that in my songs."

Los Beatles - Get Back by guzmanpedro

'Let It Be' 

full album:

All songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney, except where noted.

Side one

1. "Two of Us"   sung by McCartney and Lennon 3:37
2. "Dig a Pony"  sung by Lennon 3:55
3. "Across the Universe"   sung by Lennon 3:48
4. "I Me Mine" (George Harrison) sung by Harrison 2:26
5. "Dig It" (Lennon–McCartney–Harrison–Richard Starkey) sung by Lennon 0:50
6. "Let It Be"   sung by McCartney 4:03
7. "Maggie Mae" (trad. arr. Lennon–McCartney–Harrison–Starkey) sung by Lennon and McCartney 0:40

Side two
1. "I've Got a Feeling"   sung by McCartney and Lennon 3:38
2. "One After 909"   sung by Lennon and McCartney 2:54
3. "The Long and Winding Road"   sung by McCartney 3:38
4. "For You Blue" (Harrison) sung by Harrison 2:32
5. "Get Back"   sung by McCartney 3:09

'Get Back' was the working title of the project and two versions of the album were compiled by engineer Gly Johns:    "I originally put together an album of rehearsals, with chat and jokes and bits of general conversation in between the tracks, which was the way I wanted Let It Be to be - breakdowns, false starts. Really the idea was that at the time, they were viewed as being the be-all-and-end-all, sort of up on a pedestal, beyond touch, just Gods, completely Gods, and what I witnessed going on at these rehearsals was that, in fact, they were hysterically funny, but very ordinary people in many ways, and they were capable of playing as a band, which everybody was beginning to wonder about at that point, because they hadn't done so for some time - everything had been prepared in advance, everything had been overdubbed and everything, and they proved in that rehearsal that they could still sing and play at the same time, and they could make records without all those weird and wonderful sounds on them.  That became an obsession with me, and I got the bit between my teeth about it, and one night, I mixed a bunch of stuff that they didn't even know I'd recorded half the time - I just whacked the recorder on for a lot of stuff that they did, and gave them an acetate the following morning of what I'd done, as a rough idea of what an album could be like, released as it was...They came back and said they didn't like it, or each individual bloke came in and said he didn't like it, and that was the end of that. A period of time went by and I went to America to work with Steve Miller, and when I came back, I got a call from John and Paul asking me to meet them at EMI, which I duly did. They pointed to a big pile of tapes in the corner, and said, 'Remember that idea you had about putting together an album?' and I said, 'Yes'. They said, 'Well, there are the tapes - go and do it'. So I was absolutely petrified - you can imagine. I was actually being asked to put together a Beatle album on my own. So I did - I went off and locked myself away for a week or so and pieced an album together out of these rehearsed tapes, which they then all liked, really liked. This was some months after the thing had actually been recorded, and we'd actually started work on Abbey Road about the same time."

'Let It Be... Naked' was released in 2003 with the Spector production stripped away.  Yoko Ono:    “I think because [John] had an experimental nature, he would have liked the idea of bringing out something different.  The original is there, it didn’t disappear. This is not an improvement, it’s a different version. Paul did not get to do this version the first time around, and it is karmically good for all of us that we are bringing this one out now.”

All songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney except where noted.

1. "Get Back"   2:34
2. "Dig a Pony"   3:38
3. "For You Blue" (George Harrison) 2:27
4. "The Long and Winding Road"   3:34
5. "Two of Us"   3:21
6. "I've Got a Feeling"   3:30
7. "One After 909"   2:44
8. "Don't Let Me Down"   3:18
9. "I Me Mine" (Harrison) 2:21
10. "Across the Universe"   3:38
11. "Let It Be"   3:55

'Let It Be' 

full film:

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