Let It Be: The Beatles Break-Up Hit That Became a Zen Mantra

Let It Be: The Beatles Break-Up Hit That Became a Zen Mantra

The Fab Four had many, many hits, but for some reason, Let It Be has become the ultimate tattooed lyric.

When I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone on the planet earth who hasn’t heard a Beatles song, or at least a cover of a Beatles song. John, Paul, George, and Ringo made up one of the most popular bands of all time, hitting on a zeitgeist in the last years of the ‘50s in the UK, rising to global fame throughout the ‘60s, getting weird in the ‘70s, and subsequently breaking up, going solo, and inspiring hundreds of thousands of television references, weird movies, other bands, other songs, memorabilia, and sundry other things. The Beatles’ existence laid the foundation for boy bands, pop music, instrumental arrangements, music litigation… They’ve touched every corner of music and pop culture possible.

The Beatles Apple logo with Let It Be (via IG—tauntontattooco) #PlayItAgain #LyricTattoo #MusicTattoo #TheBeatles #LetItBe

And in my hour of darkness

She is standing right in front of me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

It comes as no surprise that many adoring fans have tattooed Beatles lyrics onto their skin. The Fab Four’s power is pretty much divine by this point, and love them or hate them, they’re a major part of our cultural fabric. The thing about The Beatles is that even when they’re being dark and weird (see songs like Happiness is a Warm Gun and I am the Walrus), they’re still somehow filled with platitudes and an even-keel. There’s nothing controversial about The Beatles now. So it shouldn’t shock that the reassuring, calm single Let It Be was recorded and released right before Paul McCartney announced his departure, and it’s rife with open-ended thoughts and lots of room for interpretation. The song was meant, according to McCartney, as a tribute to his late mother, but it’s a song that fans can glom onto in whatever way they desire.

Hitting number one on the UK Billboard, and number six in the US, Let It Be was a typical Paul song. The fact that is was a primarily McCartney composition speaks to the fact that the boys were on the breaks, and John Lennon confirmed as such in an interview with Playboy in 1980, “That's Paul. What can you say? Nothing to do with the Beatles. It could've been Wings. 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.”

The dismissive and generally churlish nature of Lennon is no surprise if you know your Beatles, but regardless, the band’s own muddled break-up hasn’t really affected the fans who connect with Let It Be. It makes sense: the title alone is a nice, blank sentence, and couple that with some of the more pseudo-religious lyrics, you’ve got yourself a basic zen mantra.

Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be

And there will be an answer, let it be

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