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“This 4 January session,” says Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, “was the last recording date by the Beatles [as] a band.”

And that is sort of true. The session on August 20, 1969 was and would forever remain the last time all four were in the studio together. But though there would be many occasions during the Seventies when two Beatles worked together (one of them was always Ringo), this was their last time as a trio until the Beatles Anthology sessions in 1994. At that point it would be the same three that worked on “Let It Be” at EMI Studios today, with the subtle yet key distinction that John would not be merely absent but dead.

The recording history of “Let It Be” is long and tangled, tracing all the way back to Paul debuting the song for the others at Twickenham Studios on January 3, 1969. Several versions were recorded at Apple Studios in late January, and in April George recorded the guitar solo that would appear on the single version:

Today George recorded a new solo, which is the one that was used on the album version. Other overdubs added today were:

  • Backing vocals by Paul, George, and Linda McCartney
  • A new bassline by Paul, replacing the one previously recorded by John
  • Brass, woodwinds, and cellos played by session musicians
  • More piano and maracas by Paul
  • Additional drums by Ringo

The result sounded something like this, at least until Spector got ahold of it:

And that seems like a fitting enough place for the Fabs to end their recording career. One wishes that John were more present, but then one would be wishing that for many years to come, right up to the present day.

I am tempted here to once again invoke Mr. Lennon’s famous words,

The dream is over.

But then the end of one dream always makes room for the beginning of another, doesn’t it?

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