#342: Let It Be, The Beatles
How now, The Beatles?
It’s fitting that the record released a month after they broke up is also the last Beatles record we’re going to see on the RS 500 list. Funny, since I’ve done nothing but complain about them they appear. But I have a right to complain, because I love them, always have and always will.
I hate talking to people who think they’re better than the Beatles, of which there are a great, great many. People who think they’re better than the Beatles are the worst, because they believe it’s some bold, provocative stance, as if half the world hasn’t decided that the Beatles are overrated. Worse, they act like they’re doing the world a SERVICE by disliking the Beatles, like snubbing their nose at history is incredibly brave.
Besides, pretending the Beatles “just weren’t that good” is willfully ignoring all the completely valid reasons to dislike the Beatles — like John Lennon ‘fessing up to being abusive in Playboy two days before his death, or the whole “more popular than Jesus” thing, or their association convicted murderer Phil Spector, who mixed this record. (Although apparently not all the Beatles’ loved Spector’s production…) Take your pick of reasons not to like them, but “they were just not that great”? You’re exposing yourself as a nonthinker.
WHEW. Can you tell I had a conversation like this recently?
Anyway: by the time they were recording this record, the Beatles were ready to leave each other behind. You can tell by looking at basically any picture of them from this time or by listening to these songs. It’s a great record, but the lines are so clearly drawn between them.
For instance, even though most of these songs are credited to Lennon-McCartney, Paul McCartney wrote all the best songs. “Let It Be” is a masterpiece (and is probably my favorite scene in the movie Yesterday) and “Get Back” is flawless. His dedication to Linda McCartney, “The Long And Winding Road,” is a forgotten classic. (Side note, did you know that Linda McCartney was the first woman to take a photograph that was on the cover of Rolling Stone?) McCartney wasn’t just the cute Beatle, he was their melodic center.
Not that I’m a Lennon hater. (Although the abuse thing doesn’t exactly endear him to me.) “Across the Universe” is so mystical and beautiful that it inspired a terrible movie. “Don’t Let Me Down,” another Lennon creation, wasn’t included on the original, but their performance on the rooftop of Apple Studios is their most-viewed video on YouTube, and is one of their most desperate love songs. His tribute to Yoko, “Dig A Pony,” is not a classic like Linda’s tribute is, but it is kind of fun and weird, just like Yoko.
George gets some writing credits on here too, probably much to everybody else’s chagrin. (I wonder if Ringo threw his hat in the ring, or if he just sat this one out.) “I Me Mine,” the last song they ever recorded as a group, has one of their most clever rhythms, but “For You Blue” drives me NUTS. Which is a shame, because he wrote it for his wife, Pattie Boyd! Sorry, George, you lose.
There are a few true John/Paul collaborations, the best one being “Two Of Us,” which is also a fantasy where John and Paul get along. The other two, “I’ve Got A Feeling,” and “One After 909,” are both grimy fun, but a little inconsequential. And the two songs credited to all four moptops (short and snarky “Dig It” and an arrangement of folk song “Maggie Mae”) are flukes. But you know what? I like them even more for the flukes.
As for you? You don’t have to like any of them. You don’t have to like their best songs. You have a right to hate “Let It Be,” and all the other overplayed songs that they put out into the world.
But don’t get it twisted. They really were that good.