On Let It Be, Forty Years On

Forty years ago today, The Beatles’ Let It Be arrived, and an era came to an end.

The band had already disintegrated in the summer of ’69. Paul McCartney announced that he had left the band in April, before the release of his solo album McCartney. It wasn’t just a Beatles album, it was the last Beatles album, and that brought it under more scrutiny than it probably deserved.

Let It Be, because of how it was created, planned to be the Beatles’ next film, a document of their return to the concert stage, resulted in extensive bootleg studio outtakes. Collectors can hear how the album came to be in a way, to an extent that we can’t with the other albums. I have an hour of just different versions of the song “Let It Be” I can listen to, the song “Get Back” probably two. I have the different Glyn Johns mixes that long predated the Phil Spector final mix. For a musical archeologist, Let It Be is a treasure trove.

I mentioned a few days ago that I have always loved Let It Be. Critics and fans often find it a lesser album — the music might not be as polished, the band’s strains were too apparent — but the album contains some of my favorite Beatles music. I cannot live without “Two of Us,” and the album version of “Let It Be” is magnificent. Putting aside the drama around the album’s creation, forgetting that the band began to come apart at the seams, the music itself holds up. Oh, I may wish for stronger George Harrison songs than “For You Blue,” but otherwise, I find little fault with the album. I simply enjoy listening to it.

Forty years ago today.

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