By: Amber Harvey
Forty-three years ago today, before parting ways and breaking the hearts of millions of fans worldwide, the Beatles released their final joint venture: Let It Be, one of the most celebrated and controversial albums in their nearly decade-long reign as the band that Rolling Stone named the greatest of all time.
Featuring hits such as “Across the Universe,” “The Long and Winding Road,” “Get Back” and the title track “Let It Be,” the Phil Spector-produced album was recorded in the group’s final days, amidst an environment that Spector once called a “war zone.”
When the Let It Be sessions (also referred to as the “Get Back” sessions) began in early 1969, the Beatles intended to create a live-studio album, accompanied by a movie. The group would soon postpone the ambitious project, however, to work on Abbey Road.
After the release of Abbey Road and almost a year after the initial recordings of Let It Be, bandmates George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr would convene with Spector to put the finishing touches on the album. During these final sessions, the Fab Four was down to three, as John Lennon had broken from the band and left for Denmark with his lover, the infamous Yoko Ono.
As many know, by this time in the Beatles’ career, Lennon’s relationship with Ono had become a major point of contention between band members. In a 1980 interview with Playboy, Lennon attested that the song “Get Back,” featured on Let It Be, was a stab at Ono made by McCartney, whom Lennon said would “look at Yoko” every time he sang the line, “Get back to where you once belonged.”
Despite their interpersonal issues, the Beatles’ Let It Be would be met with great critical acclaim, with its title track peaking at #1 on the Billboard 100 and its #86 ranking in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Their documentary film of the same name, also released in 1970, would go on to win an Oscar for “Best Original Score.”
Adding to the album’s legacy, in November 2003, McCartney would release Let It Be… Naked, a simplified version of the 1970 album that cut out Spector’s ornate audio stylings, removed the dialogue snippets found throughout the original album and left out the songs “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae.” The bare-bones album would peak at #5 on the Billboard 200.
To find out more about the legacy of Let It Be, head to the Beatles’ official website, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below!