All songs composed by Lennon/McCartney unless otherwise specifed.
"After Brian (Epstien) died we collapsed. Paul took over and supposedly led us. But what is leading us when we went 'round in circles? We broke up then. That was the disintegration." - John Lennon
With the death of Brian Epstein two years earlier, Paul McCartney decided to take the role of leader and try to help keep the Beatles working together as a unit. But try as he might, the seeds of dissention were already being sown, with "the rot already setting in" by 1969.
Sensing the troubles and tension occuring during recording sessions for the White Album, Paul felt the Beatles needed to do the one thing they were capable of doing: performing live whether it was on film or in person.
Paul brought up the idea to the other Beatles about performing live or even a series of performances in small clubs. John Lennon felt the Beatles were over and suggested calling it a day. George Harrison was dead set against any kind of touring as the Beatles. Ringo Starr's response was unknown at the time. With that in mind, Paul suggested making a movie about the Beatles in the recording studio working on their latest album (the working title being Get Back). The other Beatles agreed and the Get Back sessions began in January, 1969 finishing up during May, 1969.
The sessions for Get Back/Let It Be were going to be recording sessions aimed at making a record without all the studio trickery that The Beatles had been using in earnest since 1966. The concept was simple: The Beatles playing straightforward rock'n'roll "warts and all" with live mistakes. During January, 1969, the Beatles tried to do just that with the results being far from spectacular.The Beatles were filmed at Twickenham studios in London as well as their new Apple Studios on 3 Saville Road. Miles of audio tape were recorded with most songs not getting very far. Two songs Get Back b/w Don't Let Me Down was the only finished product released as a single [Let it Be b/w You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) would be released later as a single]. Recording producer Phil Spector was later asked by John Lennon to go through all the miles of tape and make it into a listenable album. Criticism is divided to this day as to whether Phil Spector salvaged the album or just made it more "like a Mantovanni album" as Paul said later.
During the Get Back sessions, George Harrison brought in keyboardist Billy Preston to help ease the ongoing tensions within the Beatles. The Beatles knew Billy from their days in Germany. Billy Preston was a keyboardist for Little Richard, and Billy had befriended the Beatles during their trips to Germany. He plays organ on both Get Back and Don't Let Me Down, and is so credited on the single.
Despite this fresh approach to recording a new album, the tensions were still there, with George Harrison walking out on the group after an argument with Paul McCartney captured on film. He would return a few days later, like Ringo, and work continued on the new album/film. The finale of the Let It Be film finds the Beatles performing live on top of the Apple Studios roof on January 30, 1969 with a lunchtime crowd looking on. The concert would end up being stopped 42 minutes later due to complaints from store merchants on the street below.
The film (and album) was eventually changed to Let It Be, and the film made it's premiere in London on May 20, 1970 (It premiered in New York a week earlier). No Beatles attended the London premiere. The album did well in both the U.S and U.K with the album reaching #1 in both countries. Paul McCartney announced the breakup of the Beatles a month earlier, thus this album and film serve as the last piece of recorded music of four young men from Liverpool who gave the world a ride the likes of which will never happen again. The twentieth century's greatest romance lives on forever and ever!!