During the latter stages of The Beatles’ career, it became less and less frequent that Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote together in the same room, with their songwriting partnership suffering the effects of their crumbling friendship. In truth, their creative marriage became nothing more than a convenience for business purposes rather than a true reflection of how the Fab Four operated.
On one song, in particular, John Lennon would later say he had “nothing to do with The Beatles” in what is a damning evaluation of how the mechanism inside the group had altered over the years. However, although his remark does come across as a scathing attack on his former collaborator, the song in question was of such personal significance to McCartney that it needed to be carried out entirely in his vision.
Lennon’s perplexing comment referred to ‘Let It Be’, a number that was born from words McCartney’s late mother passed on to him during a dream. McCartney was only 14 years of age when she passed away, and this hallucination was akin to a religious experience for the musician. The origin of the song remains an intimate memory for Paul, and for that reason, the creative process worked in a strict manner.
At the time, McCartney struggled with his mental health. His anxiety was primarily due to the perils of fame and the ongoing stress that the music industry placed on his shoulders. When he needed it most, his mother appeared in his dream, providing the comfort McCartney was desperately crying out for. While he understandably felt a profound connection to ‘Let It Be’, contrastingly for John Lennon, it was just another song.
“That’s Paul. What can you say? Nothing to do with The Beatles. It could’ve been Wings,” Lennon told Playboy’s, David Sheff, before adding: “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’.”
Lennon’s admission that he didn’t know “what he’s thinking when he writes ‘Let It Be'” shows just how blasé and indifferent he felt towards the track. He was never invested enough to ask McCartney to discover the dream which sparked the song.
Reflecting on the out of body experience, McCartney later said, “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.’ 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.”
Due to the sheer weight of emotions that fueled the track and the pertinence of his mother, McCartney refused to collaborate with his bandmates in fear that the message of ‘Let It Be’ would become diluted. In isolation, they might only be three simple words, but, for McCartney, it was a mantra sent down from beyond the grave by his mother, and he felt it was his civic duty to share it with the world.