WRITTEN BY John Lennon and Paul McCartney
PERFORMED BY The Beatles
APPEARS ON Let It Be (1970); Past Masters, Vol. 2 (1988) Let It Be...Naked (2003)
John Lennon never liked "Let It Be," the Beatles great song of consolation. He said that he couldn't hear the Beatles in it and guessed that Paul McCartney wanted to write a version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," which he didn't intend as a compliment. Lennon was partly right about his first contention and all wrong about the second: McCartney wrote "Let It Be" before "Bridge."
"Let It Be" is an atypical Beatles song, in that it is constructed around the introductory piano chords instead of the guitar chords that informed most of their music. But McCartney knew what he was doing: The piano lends a degree of intimacy that he probably couldn't have found in a guitar. Billy Preston's organ enters, quietly at first, to add a gospel element, then Ringo Starr's drums slowly add rock to the mixture. George Harrison adds an anthemic guitar solo and suddenly we do have a Beatles song: A sampling of styles and influences that cohere into an organic whole, perfectly summoning forth the spirit of maternal warmth and consolation at the heart of the song.
And that's what "Let It Be" is about: As troubles mount, set them aside and take perspective. How bad are they, really?
When I find myself in times of troubleMother Mary comes to meSpeaking words of wisdom: let it beAnd in my hour of darknessShe is standing right in front of meSpeaking words of wisdom: let it beLet it be, let it be, let it be, let it beWhisper words of wisdom: let it beAnd when the broken hearted peopleLiving in the world agreeThere will be an answer: let it beFor though they may be partedThere is still a chance that they will seeThere will be an answer: let it beLet it be, let it be, let it be, let it beWhisper words of wisdom: let it beAnd when the night is cloudyThere is still a light that shines on meShine until tomorrow: let it beI wake up to the sound of musicMother Mary comes to meSpeaking words of wisdom: let it beLet it be, let it be, let it be, let it beWhisper words of wisdom: let it be