What George Harrison Actually Liked About the Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ Film and Album
While we await the release of Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back, we already know where the living members of the Fab Four stand on the documentary’s release. Both Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney expressed their approval of this alternate look at the Let It Be sessions.
As for George Harrison and John Lennon, we only have their takes on 1970’s Let It Be — and both recalled the period as extremely unpleasant. ““It was just a dreadful, dreadful feeling and, being filmed all the time, I just wanted them to go away,” Lennon said in Beatles Anthology.
Harrison said more or less the same thing. “For me, to come back into the winter of discontent with The Beatles [during the Let It Be shoot] was very unhealthy and unhappy,” he recalled in Anthology (in the ’90s). At another point, Harrison described it as “painful.”
Originally, Harrison saw Let It Be in a far more positive light. In a March ’70 interview with the BBC, he described the film and record as “a good change” from previous Beatles releases. He liked the imperfections the project revealed.
George Harrison thought ‘Let It Be’ was the opposite of the ‘clinical’ records by The Beatles
By March ’70, Harrison knew The Beatles were approaching the breakup, and he sounded like someone with a weight lifted off his shoulders. Speaking on the BBC Radio One program Scene and Heard, he focused on the positives of the Let It Be experience — and the album in particular.
“It’s very rough in a way but it’s nice, because you can see our warts,” Harrison said. “You can hear us talking, you can hear us playing out of tune… It’s the complete opposite to this sort of clinical approach that we’ve normally had.”
Harrison liked the idea of having the asides, mess-ups, and other extras you’d never get from an album like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). And he pointed to the songs he liked on the LP: “Let It Be” and “Don’t Let Me Down.”
Though he didn’t hype either of his two songs on Let It Be, Harrison did mention “For You Blue.” He also mentioned the jamming between tracks, which led to Lennon’s “Dig It.”
Harrison said ‘Let It Be’ was like a demo but yet ‘worth so much more’ than other Beatles albums
In other interviews, Harrison spoke about his dislike of the band’s approach on Sgt. Pepper. With the final Beatles release, he liked the idea of going in the complete opposite direction. “People may think we’re not trying because it’s really like a demo record,” he told the BBC with a laugh.
“But on the other hand, it’s worth so much more than those other [Beatles] records,” Harrison continued. “Because you can actually get to know us a bit more. It’s a bit more human than the average studio recording.”
Though Harrison quit the band during the Let It Be filming, he stood by the product of the sessions. From that point on, he could focus on his own recording career. And Harrison got off to an incredible start with All Things Must Pass later that year.