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Music

The “hell” John Lennon endured for this Beatles album

Being a band member means signing up to a democratic oath, and things don’t always follow each individual’s creative vision. Compromising was a vital part of being one of The Beatles, and on one album, John Lennon found the procedure “hell”.

Sometimes, Lennon had to bite his tongue and allow his bandmates to take the driving seat, which he found torturous. ‘Let It Be’ is a prime example of this. It was a song that arrived at Paul McCartney in a dream, and he was the only one who could do justice to the shot of imagination in his sleep.

The experience of creating the song explained why Lennon felt claustrophobic in The Beatles and decided to spread his wings with The Plastic Ono Band. However, it was his duty as a member of the Fab Four to be silent and leave McCartney to his own devices.

Speaking about the song, McCartney once explained: “One night during this tense time I had a dream I saw my mum, who’d been dead 10 years or so. And it was so great to see her because that’s a wonderful thing about dreams: you actually are reunited with that person for a second; there they are and you appear to both be physically together again. It was so wonderful for me and she was very reassuring. In the dream she said, ‘It’ll be all right.'”

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He added: “I’m not sure if she used the words ‘Let it be’ but that was the gist of her advice, it was, ‘Don’t worry too much, it will turn out OK.’ It was such a sweet dream I woke up thinking, Oh, it was really great to visit with her again. I felt very blessed to have that dream. So that got me writing the song ‘Let It Be’. I literally started off ‘Mother Mary’, which was her name, ‘When I find myself in times of trouble’, which I certainly found myself in. The song was based on that dream.”

There were many Beatles songs that Lennon was hyper-critical about, but, ‘Let It Be’ particularly riled him up, and he later distanced himself from the track.

In an interview with Village Voice journalist Howard Smith in 1969, Lennon lamented the recording process of ‘Let It Be’, and the album of the same name, which he likened to “hell”.

His stance only strengthened as the years went on, and in a 1980 interview with David Sheff, Lennon said: “That’s Paul. What can you say? Nothing to do with The Beatles. It could’ve been Wings. I don’t know what he’s thinking when he writes ‘Let It Be’. I think it was inspired by ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’. That’s my feeling, although I have nothing to go on. I know he wanted to write a ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’.”

While speaking about the film surrounding the album, Lennon was even more scathing:  “It was hell making the film, ‘Let It Be.’ Even the biggest Beatle fan couldn’t have sat through those six weeks of misery. It was the most miserable session on earth.” Considering The Beatles’ most recent release.

Admittedly, Peter Jackson’s documentary, Get Back, does suggest Lennon didn’t go through “hell” at all during the making of Let It Be, and perhaps, he just had an off day when he made the scathing remark in 1969.