Story of a Song: Let It Be

This inspiring song has long been a favorite of Beatles fans around the world, but not everyone understands its origin.

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Posted in , Jun 23, 2022

Paul McCartney; photo by MJ Kim/MPL Communications Ltd via Getty Images

“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me / Speaking words of wisdom, ‘Let it be….’”

Most people are familiar with the opening line of the classic Beatles song “Let It Be,” written by Paul McCartney. But the Mary in the song might not be who you think it is.

In the fall of 1968, McCartney was 26, still haunted by tragedy. When he was 14, his mother had died suddenly during cancer treatment. It was a loss that drove him to practice the guitar, almost obsessively, and dedicate his life to music. It also cemented his friendship with bandmate John Lennon, who had lost his own mother as a 17-year-old. Despite the Beatles’ success, McCartney was in a dark place. He was doing drugs, partying, not sleeping much.

One night, he had a dream. He saw his late mother, Mary. She offered him comfort and advice: It’s going to be okay. Just let it be.

McCartney woke up, reassured and inspired. He penned “Let It Be” shortly after. It became a modern-day hymn.

“It was really like she had visited me at this very difficult point in my life and gave me this message,” McCartney recalled in Marlo Thomas’s book The Right Words at the Right Time. “‘Be gentle, don’t fight things, just try and go with the flow and it will all work out.’”

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