With a brand new documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, Peter Jackson looks at The Beatles’ most turbulent period and, with that on the way, we thought there was no better time to visit the Let It Be sessions—most notably their inspired cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’.
50 years on from the sessions that would spell the end for The Beatles it is easy to see the tensions between the four members. Slowly you can see the friendship between Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr beginning to wane dramatically.
It was in large parts down to the sessions themselves which would put extra weight on already fraught bridges. The group had originally started filming the Let It Be sessions with a view to making a TV programme about their recording process at the end of the new album leading up to their first show since 1966. But, after Lennon and Harrison vetoed the notion of a gig, it was beginning to look like a treacherous idea.
In those sessions, there is footage of the band essentially falling apart. As they turned down Harrison’s tracks like ‘All Things Must Pass’, the studio became an ice palace, Harrison even quitting on film for a small period. It made recording time difficult and saw the band members always looking to keep the creative juices flowing and the blood moving around their bodies.
It led to the band singing and performing many covers during their time at the mics. Covers of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Tommy Dorsey, Carl Perkins, and Little Richard were sung to kill the time but perhaps the best is their cover of Bob Dylan.
No footage remains of this particular recording session but a bootleg had been around for some time and offers up an insightful glance into the sessions as well as what would have been the band’s inspiration for ‘Let It Be’, the brilliant Basement Tapes. Dylan has often reciprocated and suggested The Beatles were a constant influence on him.
The below cover was recorded on the first day of sessions and sees the band without tension and in full-flow. Take a listen to The Beatles covering Bob Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’ from the Let It Be sessions below.