On Favorite Beatles Songs

This weekend at Shore Leave, on Saturday evening at 5 o’clock, I’ll be moderating a panel on the Beatles. It’s an odd topic for a panel for science-fiction convention, and I admit I put it down on my list of suggested topics as a kind of a lark, and I still have no idea what I’m going to do with the panel, but it’s there, and it will be fun. 🙂

Though I don’t have a favorite Beatle, I do have a favorite Beatles song — “Let It Be.”

In fact, I was just listening to it this morning. (See this Tweet.)

While it’s usually George Harrison’s guitar solo in the album version of the song that I rave about, it’s really the message of the song that appeals to me.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be.

Paul McCartney wrote the song in early 1969 as he struggled with the day-to-day business of trying to hold the Beatles together. Having worked himself into near exhaustion and near depression, he had a vision of his dead mother — her name, Mary — and she gave him some advice. Today, she might say something like “Be Zen” or “Go with the flow.” The ghostly Mary’s words that January day were more universal.

“Let it be.”

Ian MacDonald is, I think, unfairly dismissive of the song in Revolution in the Head — he finds the song less profound than it imagines itself to be — but what MacDonald misses is the song’s capacity for uplift. For people who feel like the world has them down, for people who feel like they’re depressed and alone in the world, “Let It Be” has real resonance. Even if just for three minutes, the song eases the pain and, in its almost reverential, hymnal way, shines a light on the shadows cast by the loneliness of existence.

For me, “Let It Be” is a special song. I love it to bits.

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