The “Let It Be” Controversy: Who Did It Better?
The Beatles’ “Let It Be” is a cornerstone of their musical legacy, and it’s no secret that the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, released her rendition before the Beatles did. This has led many to wonder: was this iconic tune penned by Paul McCartney with Aretha in mind?
The story goes like this: McCartney, the man behind the melody, sent a demo of “Let It Be” to Jerry Wexler, the producer who brought Franklin into the Atlantic Records family. McCartney even gave Franklin the green light to release her version first, which she did, a full two months before the Beatles’ rendition hit the airwaves. Listen to the Beatles’ version:
Franklin’s affinity for Beatles’ music didn’t stop there. She also put her unique spin on other Beatles classics like “Eleanor Rigby,” “The Fool On The Hill,” and “The Long and Winding Road.” And listen to Franklin’s version below:
But the question remains: who did it better – The Beatles or Aretha Franklin?
“Let It Be” was the last single the Beatles released before their Anthology series in the 1990s. It was also the title track of their final album. McCartney wrote the song during the White Album sessions when he felt like the only Beatle who wanted to keep the band together.
The song was inspired by a dream McCartney had of his mother, Mary, who passed away when he was 14. In the dream, she reassured him that everything would be alright, which led to the creation of “Let It Be.” The song took on religious overtones, with many interpreting it as a reference to the Virgin Mary.
On the other hand, Aretha Franklin was a powerhouse vocalist known for her soulful renditions of popular songs. She was signed to Atlantic Records by Jerry Wexler, who was instrumental in shaping her career.