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Posts Tagged ‘Let It Be’

Today (January 30th) marks the 50th anniversary of the last time The Beatles played live together, in the infamous “rooftop” concert in 1969. Although they would go on to make one more studio album, Abbey Road in the summer of 1969; due to contractual and legal wranglings the rooftop concert, which was meant to be the conclusion to the movie they were shooting, would not come out until 1970 in the movie Let it Be.

It is also true to say that some of the songs on Abbey Road were performed “live” in the studio with very little overdubbing (as opposed to separate instrument parts being recorded separately as was done on e.g. Sgt. Pepper). But, the rooftop concert was the last time the greatest band in history were seen playing together, and has gone down in infamy. It has been copied by many, including the Irish band U2 who did a similar thing to record the video for their single “Where the Streets Have no Name” in 1987 in Los Angeles.

The Beatles were trying to think of a way to finish the movie that they had been shooting throughout January of 1969. They had discussed doing a live performance in all kinds of places; including on a boat, in the Roundhouse in London, and even in an amphitheatre in Greece. Finally, a few days before January 30th 1969, the idea of playing on the roof of their central-London offices was discussed. Whilst Paul and Ringo were in favour of this idea, and John was neutral, George was against it.

The decision to go ahead with playing on the roof was not made until the actual day. They took their equipment up onto the roof of their London offices at 3, Saville Row, and just start playing. No announcement was made, only The Beatles and their inner circle knew about the impromptu concert.

The concert consisted of the following songs :

  1. “Get Back” (take one)
  2. “Get Back” (take two)
  3. “Don’t Let Me Down” (take one)
  4. “I’ve Got a Feeling” (take one)
  5. “One After 909”
  6. “Dig a Pony”
  7. “I’ve Got a Feeling” (take two)
  8. “Don’t Let Me Down” (take two)
  9. “Get Back” (take three)

People in the streets below initially had no idea what the music (“noise”) coming from the top of the building was, but of course younger people knew the building was the Beatles’ offices. However, they would not have recognised any of the songs, as these were not to come out for many more months. After the third song “Don’t Let Me Down”, the Police were called and came to shut the concert down. The band managed nine songs (five different songs, with three takes of “Get Back”, two takes of “Don’t Let Me Down”, and two takes of “I’ve Got a Feeling”) before the Police stopped them. Ringo Starr later said that he wanted to be dragged away from his drums by the Police, but no such dramatic ending happened.

At the end of the set John said

I’d like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we’ve passed the audition.

You can read more about the rooftop concert here.

Here is a YouTube video of “Get Back” (which may get taken down at any moment)

 

 

and here is a video on the Daily Motion website of the whole rooftop concert (again, it may get taken down at any moment).

 

 

Enjoy watching the greatest band ever perform live for the very last time!

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At number 8 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Let it Be”. This Paul McCartney ballad is possibly one of the band’s best known songs, and is also the title of the last album which they released (although the songs were recorded before Abbey Road). The song’s lyrics were inspired by McCartney’s mother Mary, who died of cancer when he was 14 years old. The lines “When I find myself in times of trouble / mother Mary comes to me” speak of his longing for her, and of her coming to him in his dreams.

The Beatles released two versions of “Let it Be”, the single version was released in March of 1970, just before Paul McCartney announced that he had left the band. The album version, released in May of the same year, is slightly different. The album version has an additional guitar solo (played by George Harrison), some differences in the lyrics, and some additional orchestrations added by Phil Spector. The album version runs about 10 seconds longer than the single version. Surprisingly, the single only reached number 2 in the Disunited Kingdom, but in the USA and many other countries it reached number 1. “Let it Be” entered the US charts at number 6, which at the time was the highest chart-entry position for any song.

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At number 8 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Let It Be”

McCartney chose “Let it Be” as his contribution to the 1985 Live Aid concert for famine relief in Ethiopia. He was the closing act of the London concert (the USA one, in Philadelphia, started and finished later because of the time difference). I was lucky enough to be at the London concert, but unfortunately his microphone did not work for about the first half of the song. A few years later I saw McCartney perform in Birmingham, but I do not recall that he performed “Let it Be” on that occasion.

The B-side of the “Let it Be” single release was “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” which, if you haven’t heard it, is well worth a listen. It is possibly the strangest and most humorous song recorded by The Beatles, and pretty much unlike anything else you are likely to have heard by them.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken-hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted
There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Yeah, there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Ah, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music,
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, yeah, let it be
Oh, there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Here is a YouTube video of “Let it Be”, although I suspect that it will be removed fairly soon as Apple seems to be exercising an aggressive policy in getting Beatles songs removed from YouTube.

If/when this video is taken down, you can listen to “Let it Be” via one of the streaming services, for example here is a link to Let it Be  on Spotify. Or, you can listen to Paul McCartney singing it live in concert in New York city.

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At number 41 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Get Back”, which was released as a single in 1969. I have blogged about this song before here, to celebrate the anniversary of The Beatles’ famous roof-top concert. But, you can’t get too much of a good thing, so I am more than happy to blog about this wonderful song again. Also, the videos of them performing the song during the live roof-top concert do not seem to be available on YouTube anymore (and I’ve tried linking to two separate ones), Apple (The Beatles’ publishing company, not the tech company) keep removing it on copyright grounds.



At number 41 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is "Get Back".

At number 41 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Get Back”.



“Get Back” is another example of Paul McCartney at his funky best; it is a wonderful song with such a fantastic driving rhythm from John Lennon’s rhythm guitar. Lennon always felt that it was aimed at Yoko, “Get back to where you once belonged” aimed at the woman whom McCartney maybe felt was coming between the two songwriting friends. I suspect we will never know, as it is not the sort of thing McCartney would ever confess to, but it is clear from the footage in the Let It Be movie that things were pretty strained between McCartney and the other members of the band by this time.


Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner
But he knew it wouldn’t last.
Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona
For some California grass.

Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged.
Get back Jojo. Go home
Get back, get back.
Back to where you once belonged
Get back, get back.
Back to where you once belonged.
Get back Jo.

Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman
But she was another man
All the girls around her say she’s got it coming
But she gets it while she can

Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged.
Get back Loretta. Go home
Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged.


As the live version from the roof-top concert keeps getting removed, here is a link to the studio version of the single (which differs from the version on the album). Enjoy!





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At number 46 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Don’t Let Me Down”, which is on their Let It Be album, and also is one of the songs in their famous January 1969 live concert on the top of the Apple building in London. As is true of much of Lennon’s work at this time, it is both about Yoko and is far more basic rock ‘n’ roll that the complex musical sounds with which he’d been experimenting for the previous several years.

“Don’t Let Me Down” was released as the B-side to “Get Back”, which was also performed during the roof-top concert. The released versions of these two songs were both recorded ‘as-live’ in the Apple recording studio in Saville Row (rather than at EMI’s Abbey Road studios), and by ‘as-live’ I mean with minimal to no overdubbing. It was part of an attempt during early 1969 by The Beatles to get back to basics, something which can be seen in the sprawling footage which would eventually become the Let It Be movie.

 

At number 46 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is "Don't Let Me Down".

At number 46 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Don’t Let Me Down”.


On the face of it, the song’s message seems like a plea to Yoko; Lennon’s relationship with her was still in its early days and he was probably full of insecurities. However, Paul McCartney has put a different slant on the song, claiming that some of Lennon’s apparent paranoia in the song was due to his and Yoko’s increasing use of heroin around this time (the withdrawal from which Lennon sang about in one of his most harrowing solo records – “Cold Turkey”).

Don’t let me down, don’t let me down
Don’t let me down, don’t let me down

Nobody ever loved me like she does
Oh, she does, yeah, she does
And if somebody loved me like she do me
Oh, she do me, yes, she does

Don’t let me down, don’t let me down
Don’t let me down, don’t let me down

I’m in love for the first time
Don’t you know it’s gonna last
It’s a love that lasts forever
It’s a love that had no past (Seeking past)

Don’t let me down, don’t let me down
Don’t let me down, don’t let me down

And from the first time that she really done me
Oh, she done me, she done me good
I guess nobody ever really done me
Oh, she done me, she done me good

Don’t let me down, hey don’t let me down
Heeeee, don’t let me down
Don’t let me down
Don’t let me down, don’t let me let down

Can you dig it? Don’t let me down

Here are The Beatles performing “Don’t Let Me Down” in their roof-top concert. Enjoy!

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At number 14 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest albums is “Abbey Road” by The Beatles.


At number 14 in Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 greatest albums is "Abbey Road" by The Beatles.

At number 14 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest albums is “Abbey Road” by The Beatles.


It shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone that The Beatles dominate the top 15 of this list of greatest albums. They have five (5!) albums in the top 14, with four in the top 10. This is testimony to the massive influence The Beatles have had on popular music, more than any other artist since “Rock ‘n’ Roll” came about in the 1950s. When The Beatles’ music finally became available on iTunes the advertising slogan Apple Computers (not Apple Corps, the Beatles’ record label) used was “The band that changed everything”, and that pretty much sums it up.

“Abbey Road” is one of my favourite Beatles albums. I have already said that the number one album in this list is their seminal album “Sgt. Pepper”. Personally, I prefer “Abbey Road”. My favourite Beatles album is “Revolver” (which is in the top 10), and my second favourite is this album, “Abbey Road”.

By the time this album was recorded, The Beatles knew the end had come. They were barely talking to each other, and each of them was pursuing their own projects. But, by all accounts, the recording sessions for “Abbey Road” were happy and harmonious, in stark contrast to the acrimony that beset the recording of what would become “Let it Be”. Maybe it was because they knew it would be their swan song.

The variety of songs on this album is quite breathtaking. George Harrison contributed two wonderful songs, “Here Comes the Sun” (which I included in this blog), and the song Frank Sinatra described as “the greatest love song ever written”, “Something”.

Even the songs written by John Lennon range from the funky “Come Together” to the heavy metal “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” to the beautiful “Because”. “Because” is the song I’ve decided to include here, not just for the wonderful lyrics, but also the beautiful three-part harmonies Lennon, McCartney and Harrison sing in the song.





Which is your favourite song on “Abbey Road”?

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Just time for a VERY quick post today. A wonderful performance of Get Back, live on the rooftop of the Beatles’ Apple headquarters in Saville Row, London in January 1969.


The Beatles during their impromptu rooftop performance, in January 1969.


It doesn’t get much better than this!



Enjoy.

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