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(Credit: Mary McCartney)

Music

Paul McCartney plays ‘Let It Be’ with Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and more at the Hall of Fame

@TomTaylorFO

With ‘Let it Be’, Paul McCartney crafted a Beatles classic that may very well live forever. What better place to play it, therefore, than the home of where music enters museum territory: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Back in 1999, McCartney was finally inducted, and he treated those. In attendance to a scintillating performance of the Beatles classic complete with guest performances by Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Robbie Robertson, Eric Clapton, The Staple Singers and just about anyone else who could fit on the stage. 

The moment might have been full of fanfare, but the song itself transcended the notion of ceremony.  In the late 1960s, there was a beautiful blossoming of creativity amidst the tumult of turmoil that dominated the streets. It was a time of unrest and the prevalent music scene of the time mirrored this. By the late 60s, the situation in Vietnam and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy had left an indelible mark on a, rightfully, indignant music industry. 

Amidst the musical outpouring, however, was a simple song of transcendence that seemed to run counter to the rhetoric of the day with the uncomplicated message of ‘Let It Be’. It was an equanimous epithet with a simply incredible back story. “I had a dream in the sixties,” Paul McCartney explained during an episode of Carpool Karaoke, “where my mum who died came to me in a dream and was reassuring me saying: It’s going to be okay. Just let it be.”

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At the time Paul was suffering an anxiety dream owing to ongoing stresses with the band, the industry, the trappings of fame and the same day to day worry that we all carry around. His mother, Mary McCartney, who had passed when Paul was only 14, came to him as a benevolent apparition in his slumber. As McCartney puts it himself, “She was reassuring me, saying, ‘It’s going to be ok, just let it be.’ It felt so great. She gave me positive words, [..] So I wrote the song ‘Let It Be’ out of positivity.”

It is a beautiful backstory to a gorgeous piece of music, however, it is one that does not go uncontested. Malcolm Evans was a fundamental figure behind the band’s management and acted as a sort of personal assistant and therapist rolled into one. 

Speaking to David Frost in 1975, a year before he was killed in a confrontation with armed police, Malcolm stated, “Paul was meditating one day and I came to him in a vision, and I was just standing there saying “let it be, let it be…” And that’s where the song came from…”

Adding, “It’s funny because we were coming home from a session one night, and it was 3 o’clock in the morning, raining, dark in London, and Paul was telling me this, saying I’ve written this song. ‘It was going to be Brother Malcolm, but I’ve had to change it in case people get the wrong idea!”

At times, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame might seem like a back-pat to the stars, but when a slew of stars get together to send up a song of such spiritual magnitude it seems quite the opposite. This rollicking rendition of ‘Let It Be’ may well be one of the greatest Hall of Fame performances of all time (even if the nineties fitted suits leave a lot to be desired)!