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Film: Let It Be
The last concert The Beatles ever held, right here.

"I'd like to say 'Thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!"

The last film The Beatles made before their break-up. It is a Documentary/Rockumentary that covers what was supposed to be the making of an album and the concert that followed. This didn't work out well because different Beatles had different ideas about what should be done with the project and how it should be done. The personal relationships between the members of the band were also decaying quite rapidly at the time, which the movie quite bluntly reveals; several scenes involve the members of the band arguing and sniping pettily with each other. The concert ended up being held on the rooftop of the building of Apple Corps.

This film was released about a year later than planned; it took that long for there to be any consensus about what the accompanying album would be like. Unfortunately, it was an incomplete consensus; while John Lennon and George Harrison were happy with it, Paul McCartney wasn't even aware of the finishing touches until they were a fait accompli. This led to a chain of events that led to the film being released in May 1970—and after Paul had issued a press release saying he was leaving the band indefinitely. Instant Harsher in Hindsight, since this film already depicted stressful relations between the Beatles.

Its Cult Soundtrack (which has its own entry) effectively became the last official Beatles album to be released as a result. It won the 1970 Academy Award for Best Score. "Let It Be", "Across The Universe", "Get Back" and "The Long And Winding Road" would become the band's final hits. Paul McCartney has always had a life long Creator Backlash about the album, because Record Producer Phil Spector added a lot of Tastes Like Diabetes choirs and other schmaltzy arrangements to the songs, without consulting the band about this. In 1995 the third album of The Beatles Anthology set a few things straight by letting the audience enjoy some of the material without Spector's Executive Meddling and in 2003 the album Let It Be... Naked was released, which showed the world how Macca intended their final album to sound: raw and simple.


Tropes:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • "Maggie Mae"
    • "Mother Mary" and "Whisper words of wisdom, let it be..."
  • Album Filler: The inclusion of "Across the Universe" and "One After 909" on Let It Be couldn't be anything but filler. The former was recorded in early 1968, long before "Let It Be" was released, and the latter was one of the first songs Lennon and McCartney had ever written; they recorded a version of it in 1963, which was never included on an album because they were never satisfied with it. They recorded a new version of it for Let It Be. "Dig It" too. When the album was remixed as "Let It Be... Naked" in 2002, it was even dropped from the track list.
  • And Starring: Billy Preston on piano. The "Get Back"/"Don't Let Me Down" single was attributed to "The Beatles with Billy Preston". This was the only time the band shared billing with another artist.
  • Book Ends: The original Get Back album was supposed to have a 1969 photo of the Beatles in the exact same pose that they used for their breakout 1963 Please Please Me album. This idea was abandoned when the Get Back album was reworked into Let It Be, but the photo was eventually used for the cover of the 1967-1970 compilation album.
  • Broken Record: The word "everybody" in "I've Got A Feeling".
  • Changed For The Video: The filmed performances of "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road" from the 1970 Let It Be film are different from the versions which were later released. The "Let It Be" recording, both single and album versions, is based on take 27-A from the Jan. 31, 1969 session, while the film version, which has never been released as an audio recording, was the next take, 27-B. In the filmed video, McCartney sings "there will be no sorrow" in the last verse instead of "there will be an answer". Similarly, the filmed performance of "The Long and Winding Road" is from the Jan. 31 session, while the released song is based off a recording from five days earlier. Also, the live performance is in accordance with Paul's original conception of the song as a simple piano ballad, while the released version includes the stringed instruments and backing choir overdubbed by Phil Spector.
  • Concert Film: "Maggie May", a Liverpudlian traditional folk song.
  • Control Freak: A big reason why the band had so much fall-outs during the recordings.
  • Cover Version:
  • Documentary
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: "Let It Be" was inspired by a dream Paul had about his mother, who passed away when he was young.
  • Evolving Music: We see the band running through a hard rock version of "Two of Us" during the Twickenham sessions. When they play the finished version in the studio, it is a mellow acoustic pop song.
  • TheFifthBeatle: Billy Preston was nicknamed this after he joined the band for this album.
  • Finagle's Law: there were many disasters in the making of this film—many of them filmed.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "I've Got A Feeling" informs us that everybody "had a wet dream".
  • Grief Song: It's difficult to listen to "The Long and Winding Road", without thinking of it as a goodbye song to the individual Beatles and each one of them parting to go their own way.
  • It's All About Me: I Me Mine.
  • Last Note Hilarity: John's "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition", which he originally said at the end of the rooftop concert, but Spector edited it into the "Get Back" song.
  • Live Album: Let It Be was supposed to be this, with the band rehearsing and recording their new songs live. The sniping and tension within the band (as well as the creative funk John Lennon was mired in at this time) led to several songs being dubbed or altered in the studio, most infamously Paul's "The Long and Winding Road". However, despite all the band's problems seven tracks were still laid down live: "I've Got a Feeling", "One After 909" and "I Dig a Pony" from the Apple rooftop performance, and "Get Back", "Two of Us", "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae" from studio performances. ("Don't Let Me Down", left off the album after being released as the B-side of the "Get Back" single, was also recorded live.)
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "The Long And Winding Road".
  • Manipulative Editing: The film ends with the concert on the roof, but in fact the "Apple studio performance" (the takes of "Let It Be", "The Long and Winding Road", and "Two of Us") happened the day after the rooftop performance, on the last day of filming and recording, January 31, 1969. Phil Spector's Executive Meddling with the songs on the album could also count as this.
  • Numerological Motif: One After 909, a reference to the fact that Lennon considered nine his lucky number.
  • One Woman Song: "Maggie May".
  • Performance Video: Most of the movie, with the first portion being The Beatles rehearsing their new material and the latter portion being them playing the finished songs live. A careful viewer will notice that the finished products are mostly McCartney songs. George could not get the others to give his material equal attention, even while he was bringing gems like "All Things Must Pass" into the studio, and Lennon was at an all-time creative ebb.
  • Protest Song: "Get Back"
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • The film was originally conceived as a documentary of the Beatles' "rebirth" as a live performing band. Instead, by capturing the tension and infighting among the band members (including a famous spat between McCartney and Harrison), it became a chronicle of the band's break-up, lampshaded by the choice of name. When originally conceived as a chronicle of the band's rebirth, the project was entitled "Get Back". By the time the pieces had been picked up and enough footage cobbled together to release as an album and film, it had metamorphosed into "Let It Be", effectively serving as the band's epitaph.
    • "Get Back" was written as a Take That against the then recent anti-immigration laws in the UK.
  • Record Producer: Phil Spector.
  • Refrain from Assuming: The Rolling Stones album Let It Bleed was released in 1969, so their title was not a pun on Let It Be. Theirs appeared first.
  • Revisiting The Roots: The album was originally going to be called Get Back because this was precisely the idea (and that of course is also the reason the song was called "Get Back"). This was an attempt to return to the sort of spontaneous, energetic rock and roll they'd played at the beginning of their career - as opposed to the sophisticated and intricately produced music they'd moved on to. The recording sessions were a disaster, and they largely abandoned the "back to basics" approach for their last recorded album, Abbey Road.
  • Rooftop Concert: Trope Codifier. What most people don't remember is that the Apple rooftop performance only came after the band tried and failed to agree on anywhere else to play the planned live show—a North African ampitheatre, a cruise ship, the Royal Albert Hall, etc. After failing to come up with anything better they simply went to the top of their own building. And they still managed an iconic, much imitated rock music moment.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Lennon namedrops Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone", the FBI, the CIA, the BBC, BB King, Doris Day and Scottish soccer player Matt Busby during "Dig It".
    • "Across The Universe" uses the Sanskrit phrase "Jai Guru Deva". The Sanskrit phrase is a sentence fragment whose words could have many meanings. Literally it approximates as "glory to the shining remover of darkness," and can be paraphrased as "Victory to God divine", "Hail to the divine guru", or the phrase commonly invoked by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in referring to his spiritual teacher "All Glory to Guru Dev".
    • The Simpsons: Near the end of "Homer Barbershop Quartet" the B-Sharps perform on top of a roof. George Harrison, guest starring in the episode, drives by and says: "Eh... It's Been Done". As the end credits roll Homer quotes Lennon's final line on "Let It Be": "I'd like to thank you on behalf of the group and I hope we passed the audition", followed by the crowd laughing, then Barney saying: "I don't get it."
    • The Rutles: The Rutles released an album called Let It Rut and perform a rooftop concert and a song named "Get Up And Go".
    • The album cover of Gorillaz's Demon Days references the one on Let It Be.
    • The film Across the Universe lends its title from the Beatles song of the same name.
    • Paul's line "Thanks, Mo" in "Get Back" refers to Maureen, Ringo Starr's wife who was applauding nearby.
  • A Simple Plan: The Beatles had already tried to get out of their obligation for a fourth movie with Yellow Submarine. Failing that, this was probably seen as the next easiest thing to do.
  • Something Blues: For You Blue was originally titled George's Blues (Because You're Sweet and Lovely).
  • Studio Chatter: The second disc of "Let It Be...Naked" is a fly-on-the-wall recording of the band taking during the sessions for the song "Get Back".
  • Time Skip: Not that you would know it from the movie. The pause in recording that lasted more than a week, after Harrison temporarily quit the band, is omitted.
  • Title Only Chorus: "Don't Let Me Down".
  • Three Chords and the Truth: The album was intended as a back to basics to their original, simpler sound.
  • Train Song: One After 909.
  • Wag the Director — Paul attempts this, unsuccessfully.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: "Get Back".


The Beatles AnthologyConcert Film9 Songs
Kelly's HeroesFilms of the 1970sLittle Big Man
Last Tango in ParisCreator/Magnetic VideoThe Pink Panther
Yellow SubmarineCreator/United ArtistsBeing There
Yellow SubmarineFranchise/The BeatlesAcross the Universe

alternative title(s): Let It Be
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