Friday, May 08, 2015

The Beatles' Swan Song

Forty–five years ago today, the Beatles released "Let It Be," the last album they would release as the Fab Four. It was also the soundtrack for the movie of the same name.

It was released on this date in the United Kingdom. The album was released in the United States 10 days later — after the movie hit the theaters.

In the years ahead, there would be compilation albums released exploring various themes. There would be a concert album that combined tracks from concerts in the Hollywood Bowl recorded about a year apart. There would even be a couple of singles that were made by combining recordings of the long–deceased John Lennon and the then–three surviving Beatles.

But there would be no more new, original albums.

Anyway, "Across the Universe" is my favorite song on the album. I have long said it is my favorite Beatles song of all, and it probably is although there are several songs that are worthy of that designation.

As it has been with many Beatles songs, there are plenty of cover versions of "Across the Universe" out there — and, as I have admitted many times before, as a rule I'm not a fan of Beatles cover songs — but I think my favorite is the one Fiona Apple did for the movie "Pleasantville."

Her voice always seemed right for that song — well, to me it did.

The title track is certainly a fan favorite. It was ranked the 20th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone, and I am certain that it is one of the most recognizable Beatles tunes ever recorded. Probably more recognizable than "Hey Jude" or "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" — or even "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."

I've heard — more than once — that Paul McCartney wanted to write the Beatles' equivalent of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," arguably Simon and Garfunkel's signature song, so he wrote "Let It Be." That would be plenty for most people — to have inspired a Beatles song — and I like both songs, but I think Simon and Garfunkel's song was better.

(Even though Paul Simon, who wrote most of the song, loathed the part that Art Garfunkel wrote — "Sail on, silver girl ..." — and reportedly came to believe that he, not Garfunkel, should have sung it on the record.)

I would certainly list "Let It Be" as one of the favorites from the album. It was the title track, after all.

Another favorite is "Get Back," which was performed in the famous rooftop concert on the roof of Apple's (that's the recording company, not the computer company) headquarters in London in January 1969 — the last public appearance of the Beatles.

If you get the chance to see the movie, you can see portions of the 42–minute concert that drew a crowd of curious onlookers, including British police who broke up the show.

If you listen to the album, you'll hear several songs that aren't generally well known to non–Beatles fans — like "One After 909," "Two Of Us," "I Me Mine" and lots more.

But nothing can compare to the feeling I get when I see the Beatles performing "I've Got a Feeling" for an audience.

Wish I could have been there.