One of the best known singles by the Fab Four was released on this day 44 years ago, at the time when the band was already on the brink of breaking up.
“Let It Be” was released on March 6, 1970 in the United Kingdom as a 7” vinyl record produced by George Martin under Apple Records, with “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” on the B-side. Its US release came just five days after. The idea for the song was inspired by a dream McCartney had of his late mother, Mary, when he felt “isolated” from the rest of the band. Because of a reference to “Mother Mary,” then, many have come to regard it as a gospel song. Nevertheless, McCartney doesn’t mind any interpretation that his fans might have come up with, saying, “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.”
“Let It Be” was recorded on different days between 1969 and 1970, and also has four official versions plus a few more unused mixes. Aside from the single, this song also appeared on the following Beatles albums: Let It Be (May 1970), Anthology 3 (October 1996), 1 (November 2000), Let It Be… Naked (November 2003), and Past Masters (September 2009). Although the song was credited under the power duo Lennon-McCartney, John Lennon later denied his involvement in the songwriting process:
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 Lennon
As we all know now, "Let It Be” has gone on to become one the Beatles’ biggest hits. Aside from making it to the top ten of various music charts in the UK, US, Canada, and other parts of Europe at the time of its release, it also won the Oscar award for Best Original Song Score (for the documentary film of the same name) and a Grammy Award for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special. Over the following decades numerous artists did their own covers of “Let It Be,” most notably that by Aretha Franklin, Joe Cocker, and the charity supergroup Ferry Aid (which included McCartney).
Check out more articles about The Beatles in the Lomography magazine!