Let It Be' Is Revealed to Be the Joyful Documentary It Always Was

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

In 1970, it looked like a portrait of the Beatles breaking up. Now it looks like the first rock 'n' roll reality show — and a vision of them coming together.

I first saw “Let It Be” when I was a kid, in the summer of 1970, just weeks after it was released. My family was coming off one of those “Vacation” road trips. During the miles of driving, we listened to Top 40 radio, which meant that several times a day I got to hear “The Long and Winding Road,” which I thought was the most beautiful song I’d ever heard. (To this day, I adore the Phil Spector heavenly-choir orchestral-layer-cake version and have never understood Paul McCartney’s aversion to it.) I knew that the first thing I was going to do when we got back was go to see “Let It Be” — and, in fact, it was the first Beatles thing I was old enough to connect to as it was happening.

The Beatles, in their early years, looked alike (same hair and suits, same lemon-shaped smiles), and even after they’d entered the psychedelic zone with “Revolver” and “Sgt. Pepper” they dressed and coiffed themselves with a splashy coordinated harmony. They were unified. And that made a kind of supreme sense, since they were the larger-than-life pop avatars of love. They sang about love and made a mantra of it; love was the centrifugal force that held their music together. But “Let It Be,” starting with that plaintive shrug of a title (which seemed to be telling a planet’s worth of fans that the dream was over), had a very different vibe.

Source: Owen Gleiberman/


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