Here are the guts of my Facebook reasons for selecting Let It Be as my only entry. This also explains the photos accompanying this piece. Much of this will be old hat for you, my longtime music-nerd intimates.
10 of 10: I’m going to allow myself to break the one (long) sentence disposition I was given for this task, because this is my 10th and final entry and because this one sums up a lot about how music influenced me and how my own life influenced the music I gravitated toward.
Let It Be is not my favorite Beatles album (that would be Revolver), nor is it anywhere near their best album (that would also be Revolver – UK edition, in both cases, which includes the stellar “And Your Bird Can Sing,” as well as a couple other cool oddities not on the original US release). When I was a boy and the Beatles were still an operating group, my uncle gave me most of their records. I don’t recall if I get them all in one batch or if I got them in a couple of batches, but it struck me that there were albums on which the Beatles had longer hair, sideburns, and even mustaches or beards, and there were albums on which they were more clean cut, more “old fashioned” looking, from my perspective. This was all around the time when my parents, for some reason, took me to see a drive-in double feature of Easy Rider and some other biker flick – I always have to look up the title, but some biker guy in a WWI German and wearing rectangular glasses got it right between the eyes from a cop. When I was a boy, I wanted to be a hippie, man, and Let It Be was one of the most hippified representations of the group that was and still is my favorite set of musicians on earth.
On the Let It Be cover, John, Paul, George, and Ringo have long hair, including carryovers of the beautiful facial hair that first caught my eye on the Sgt Pepper’s and Magical Mystery Tour sleeves. To make the hair heroics even more spectacular, on the back cover there is a picture of John in a wool hat with a big beard as he’s ripping off a bend.
John with beard! John sans beard! When I was a boy, I’d flop back and forth between those images and marvel at his flexible, manly abilities to shift shape. When I was a boy, I felt so strongly about their hair that I updated my cover of Beatles VI, in which they looked particularly square – all buttoned up and wearing ties – to meet Sgt Pepper’s specs. I’ve included images from my 6-year-old penciled retouching work. I am available for hire.
The theme of the “clubhouse,” as I’ve mentioned throughout these postings, also resonated for me. Around the time it happened, I was conscious of when the Beatles broke up and I knew this was their last release, but with images of them at the mixing board, snippets of studio banter mixed between songs, a live recording concept (if not quite execution)…and then the monumental rooftop performance mythology…WOW, this album took me inside it all. Oh, the intimacy! More than ever, this was a world I wanted to inhabit.
Finally, I love most of the songs on this record. If it didn’t have the swing, all the clubhouse trimmings wouldn’t mean a thing. This is as underrated a Beatles album as it gets. I won’t launch into one of my patented riffs against another “Mother’s Basement” engineer remixing this album and actually robbing it of some of its glory in the quest to be more “honest.” Let it be, let it be.