Tag Archives: the Beatles

Beatles Let It Be

Beatles Let It Be

“The Long and Winding Road”
June 13, 1970

The Beatles were essentially no more in 1970. Only a few recordings and slim hopes remained.

Apple had released the Let It Be album on May 18. It had the highest number of advance orders for any album in the US record industry, with an astonishing 3,700,000 orders placed. The album retailed at $7, creating a gross sales figure of $25,900,000 before it was even released. [Beatle Bible article]

Despite crushed hopes, on June 13, 1970 we fans gave our musical brothers two #1s: a single and an album.

Beatles Let It Be
YouTube “Long and Winding Road”
Beatles Let It Be

Long and Winding Road

Their last #1 single.

“The Long and Winding Road” single seemed to say it all. Especially when Paul sang, “The wild and windy night that the rain washed away/Has left a pool of tears crying for the day/Why leave me standing here, let me know the way.

Wasn’t he singing what we were thinking?

Beatles Let It Be

Tells the story

In an ironic twist, the song reflects the progression of the Beatles’s demise. First, Paul McCartney did have the Beatles’s disharmony in mind when he wrote it. They (and Billy Preston) first recorded it in January 1969. It was a simpler version than the one that Phil Spector produced in April 1970. Those orchestral embellishments upset and maddened McCartney. So much so, that later, in his legal citations for the break up, he used those embellishments, done without his permission, as one of the reasons.

Allan Pollack says this (and much more) about the single:  in spite of his [McCartney’s] unabashed and sometimes even shameless sentimentality, he comes up with an affecting, durable torch song with “The Long And Winding Road”. The secrets of his success are to be found in the manner in which novel approaches to form and harmonic structure underscore the emotional core of the song, and belie whatever curbside surface clichés it has which may initially turn you off.

Beatles Let It Be

Let It Be

The Let It Be album was released on May 8, 1970. The Beatles last release. They had already broken up. The date most often used for that breakup is Paul’s public announcement on 10 April 1970.

They had actually recorded the album before the previous one, Abbey Road, thus forever creating fodder for fans to argue that Let It Be is the penultimate and Abbey Road the last.

Horseshoes and hand grenades.

Get Back was Let It Be’s original title  and intended, like its name suggested, to be a return to their musical roots. The single Get Back certainly gave that impression. A proposed album cover echoed their first album’s cover:

Beatles Let It Be

Disruption after dissension delayed and delayed again the completion of the album.  Abbey Road intervened.

As they say in baseball, “You need a scorecard.”

Let It Be was not a critical success. However as I said previously about John and Yoko’s Some Time In New York City,  the Beatles on a bad day were always better than any critic on any day.

Beatles Let It Be

John Paul Record Ballad

John Paul Record Ballad

John and Cynthia

John Lennon met Cynthia Powell when they were students at Liverpool Art College in 1957. In 1962, she became pregnant. John apparently said “There’s only one thing for it Cyn – we’ll have to get married” and on  August 23 that’s exactly what they did.  

On the verge of succeeding as a band particularly with many female teenagers, manager Brian Epstein kept the marriage low key.

On April 8, 1963 Julian Lennon was born.

John Paul Record Ballad

John meets Yoko

On November 7, 1966, John  visited the Indica Gallery in London. He met Yoko Ono displaying her art.

Ballad of John and Yoko
poster for Yoko’s exhibition

Of that meeting, John later reflected, The old gang of mine was over the moment I met her. I didn’t consciously know it at the time, but that’s what was going on. As soon as I met her, that was the end of the boys, but it so happened that the boys were well known and weren’t just the local guys at the bar.” (from All We Are Saying, by David Sheff)

On November 8, 1968 Cynthia Lennon and John divorced.  Cynthia had filed for divorce in August 1968 no longer able to ignore John and Yoko’s relationship.


On November 21, 1968,  Yoko suffered a miscarriage.

On March 20, 1969 John and Yoko married in Gibraltar.

John Paul Record Ballad

Ballad of John and Yoko

On April 14, 1969, John Lennon and Paul McCartney recorded “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” John had written the song in the days following his and Yoko’s marriage. Work on the Let It Be album had often been contentious among the then less-than-Fab Four.

A break-up was imminent, but Paul McCartney later reflected, “John was in an impatient mood so I was happy to help. It’s quite a good song; it has always surprised me how with just the two of us on it, it ended up sounding like The Beatles.” (from Many Years From Now by Barry Miles)

They recorded the song at Abbey Road’s Studio Three in a session beginning at 2:30 pm and ending at 9 pm.

It was then mixed for stereo, and was finished and ready for release by 11 pm. According to George Martin, Yoko Ono was present in the studio, although she appears to have played no part in the recording.

John Paul Record Ballad

George Martin

George Martin later said in Anthology, “I enjoyed working with John and Yoko on The Ballad Of John And Yoko. It was just the two of them with Paul. When you think about it, in a funny kind of way it was the beginning of their own label, and their own way of recording. It was hardly a Beatle track. It was a kind of thin end of the wedge, as far as they were concerned. John had already mentally left the group anyway, and I think that was just the beginning of it all.” 

In 1966, John comments regarding the Beatles and Christianity had gotten no reaction in the UK but blew up in the American press. Some radio stations refused to play Beatle music.

Aware that the Ballad line “Christ you know it ain’t easy” could re-ignite that controversy, the song was kept “secret” until its release.

Apple released it on May 30 in the UK and on June 4 in the US. True to expectations, some top-40 US stations refused to play it and some played a version with the word “Christ” reversed in an attempt to avoid criticism.

Ironically, the Spanish government had no issue with the word Christ, but did have a problem with the line “you can get married in Gibraltar near Spain” as Spain considered Gibraltar part of Spain not the UK.

Ballad of John and Yoko
cover of John and Yoko’s wedding album


The lyrics tell the story:

Standing in the dock at Southampton
Trying to get to Holland or France
The man in the mac said
You’ve got to go back
You know they didn’t even give us a chance(chorus) Christ you know it ain’t easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They’re going to crucify me Finally made the plane into Paris
Honeymooning down by the Seine
Peter Brown call to say
You can make it O.K.
You can get married in Gibraltar near Spain(chorus)Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton
Talking in our beds for a week
The newspapers said Say what’re you doing in bed
I said we’re only trying to get us some peace(chorus)Saving up your money for a rainy day
Giving all your clothes to charity
Last night the wife said
Oh boy when you’re dead
You don’t take nothing with you but your soul, thinkMade a lightning trip to Vienna
Eating chocolate cake in a bag
The newspapers said
She’s gone to his head
They look just like two gurus in drag(chorus)Caught the early plane back to London
Fifty acorns tied in a sack
The men from the press
Said we wish you success
It’s good to have the both of you back (chorus)

John Paul Record Ballad