Music surrounds people from the day they are born. It triggers feelings and emotions, influencing mood, and sometimes acting as a pacifier. The lyrics accompanied by the tune are an incredible creation. Music significantly impacts peoples’ minds and sometimes represents a melody filled with lyrics and a sacred message. Such messages are typically interpreted in different ways; however, some songs manage to convey the universal meaning. Many artists and bands create songs that result from historical, political, economic, social, or even religious events. One such band is The Beatles, who produced multiple music masterpieces that significantly changed music’s perception. Their song “Let It Be” hit all the worldwide playlists. Therefore, this paper investigates why this song has become a number one single and what story stands behind this creation.
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It seems necessary to prove the band’s background first and identify why they became famous. The Beatles were formed as an English rock band in 1960 by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison (Weber). They used to name themselves “The Fab Four”; however, they soon changed the title. They were considered influential in the 1960s due to the music they produced, which incorporated both classical tunes and pop elements but in an innovative manner. They were the pioneers in the world of rock due to revolutionizing the traditional perception of music and were often viewed as leaders of social and cultural movements. By 1964 the band became the international star who broke multiple record sales globally (Weber). Their records were hitting all the chart lists of that time.
In general, they produced the best music of all time and hit various charts, and were put on Billboard’s list of the most successful bands ever. The Beatles’ greatest hits are “Yesterday,” “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” Yellow Submarine,” “Help!”, and many others (Weber). Starting in 1965, The Beatles released what many consider their best material, including groundbreaking and widely influential albums (Weber). After they split in 1970, each of them enjoyed a successful musical career of varying lengths. McCartney and Starr, the surviving members, remain musically active. Lennon was shot in 1980, and Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001 (Weber). Although the band no longer exists, their songs are still played on many radio stations and music TV channels.
As mentioned above, one of the most influential band’s hits was “Let It Be.” The song was first issued in 1970 as a single (Weber). The song was produced and performed by Paul McCartney and was dedicated to the partnership with John Lennon. The song has reached its highest position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at that time (Weber). Not a song could ever displace “Let It Be” for several years.
The idea of producing the song came to Paul McCartney during the exhausting period after the White Album release in 1968. Those times were tough for the band as they were on the edge of splitting up because of the new album. In the last days of The Beatles’ existence, their business was not at its best due to a bitter management dispute, and the four guys, who had been close friends for years, began to fall apart. Back then, he saw his deceased mother in his dream. McCartney’s mother, Mary Patricia, passed away in 1965, struggling with cancer. Paul was only fourteen when he lost his mother (Weber). Later he confessed, that seeing her in his dreams felt pleasant, and he missed her much.
Moreover, he reported that she said something like, “stop worrying; just let it all go.” The words sounded soothing and pacifying and he was assured everything was going to be okay eventually. That very dream stuck in his head, and he came up with the “Let It Be” lyrics. Since then, the band released several versions of the song: as a single, as an album song, and as a remix. All of these versions gained much popularity and gave a variation to the listener.
Years later, the song is still played on the radio, and multiple artists recorded covers and produced their interpretations of “Let It Be.” The song reached such popularity that it was heard everywhere: in films and theatres, cafes, and restaurants. Its tune seemed so comforting, and the words were so meaningful that some people proclaimed it as their mottos. Indeed, the lyrics are the main thing that makes “Let It Be” sound incredibly pacifying.
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The rhythm plays right along with the soothing and relaxing sound of the rest of the song. It starts nice and slow with the piano to set the tone for the rest of the song. It remains relatively quiet even after adding guitar and drums. The reels are easy to play, as they only make a small sound, not a loud sound that is overpowering, even the symbols only tap lightly. All the instruments seem to flow together to maintain the soothing tempo of the entire song. This song has a tempo of 66 beats per minute, and it is this slow tempo that gives the tune its feel (Weber). It makes people think that soothing music is playing in the background, while Paul McCartney is assuring how good everything is going to be, and all the worries should be cast aside.
The lyrics are the most meaningful part of the song. What makes the words sound so comforting is the way Paul McCartney sings them. They flow into one’s mind as an assurance of peace and calm. It sounds as the singer himself assures the listeners that everything will be fine one day. Someday each person goes through troublesome situations, and all they need is someone who would appease them. Therefore, the song starts with the following lines:
When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be (Davies).
McCartney alludes to his mother, who came to him in a dream and said wise words to soothe his pain. Moreover, he makes a religious reference to the Virgin Mary in these lines assuming that one can rely upon God and angels in desperate times. Therefore, faith and God played an important role in the production of this song. Later he claims that his mother is always with him when something unexpected happens:
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be (Davies).
As mentioned, the song’s main theme is to keep hope inside and leave problems behind, and this General theme is emphasized by the use of particular vocabulary and phrases in the lyrics. For example, one encounters word-combinations such as “speaking words of wisdom”, “there is still a chance”, “there should be an answer”, “the light that shines on me”, and above all, the very title phrase “let it be so”, which is repeated several times throughout the song (Davies). In this case, the choice of vocabulary is ornately consistent with the transmitted text’s main idea.
Moreover, the idea of the lyrics is to accept the situation and take it as it flows. As for the phrase “the light that shines on me” mentioned above, there is a symbolic connection between the concepts of “hope” and “light”; the word “light” here serves as a starting point for the more abstract idea of hope (Davies). In general, these words represent faith, which is the most substantial power to solve problems.
Hope and faith are not the only messages delivered by McCartney. He later appeals to those people who argue over some things. These lines address everyday and acute issues that people fight over. He lifts the listener up and out of his own life, soon he is singing about all the broken hearts of people in the world, people who hate each other or are at war.
And when the broken-hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be (Davies).
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 (Davies).
This time, the words “So be it” have a different meaning. “Let it be so” here doesn’t just mean to relax about our problems and accept the bad things. It means “let it happen” – let some new world, happier and calmer, become a reality.
When Paul wrote this song in 1969, there were violent actions in Ireland; wars were going on in Vietnam and around the world. Thus, he talked about sad and angry people who are at war with each other all over the world. People still face similar situations today, when people with broken hearts are fighting each other in Pakistan and India, or Armenia and Azerbaijan.
However, some Catholics thought the song did not reveal any religious intentions. Later McCartney suggested that “Let It Be” can be interpreted in various ways. Therefore, some people could identify religious connotations and others imagined it as a mere solacing song. Despite the multiple perceptions of this masterpiece, Paul McCartney managed to envision his idea of peace and translate it to the listener.
To sum it up, “Let It Be” is a song that, inspired by a dream McCartney experienced, makes a good statement about his reaction to “times of trouble” and how to move on in life. Despite such troubles, anyone can find solace in some words of wisdom. Those who are in search of hope during the hardships can find the answer in this song. Those who lost faith can also resort to the music and feel slightly relieved. Religion used to be the central theme of many songs of the 20th century; therefore, “Let It Be” became the most successful hit of all times. Moreover, their music is not to be forgotten due to their perfect tune and meaningful lyrics.
Weber, Erin. The Beatles and the Historians: An Analysis of Writings About the Fab Four. McFarland & Company, 2016.
Davies, Hunter. The Beatles Book. Random House, 2016.
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