John Lennon 1969 Interview Says The Beatles’ `Let It Be’ Sessions Were `Hell’
By Tony Sokol | December 08, 2015 09:50 PM EST
In an interview from 1969, John Lennon talks about the new album The Beatles had just finished. The wounds are still fresh as John Lennon describes the sessions for The Beatles' "Let It Be" album as "hell." "Let It Be" was recorded while The Beatles were being filmed. It would wind up a documentation of the breakup of The Beatles.
Lennon talks about the new album The Beatles had just finished. The wounds are still fresh as John Lennon describes the sessions for The Beatles' "Let It Be" album as "hell." "Let It Be" was recorded while The Beatles were being filmed. It would wind up a documentation of the breakup of The Beatles.
The John Lennon interview was recorded in Toronto, when Howard Smith, a Village Voice critic and radio personality, sat down with John Lennon and Yoko Ono shortly after The Beatles finished recording the album that would be "Let It Be." The album would go through several post production mixes before it would be released. Glyn Johns mixed a version that was called "Get Back," which was the original intention of the recordings, for The Beatles to Get Back to their roots. Just four guys, some guitars and live takes. No overdubs. No studio bullshit, as Lennon reportedly told George Martin, their long-time producer. The Beatles didn't like Johns' "Get Back" album and pulled it from their release schedule. Howard Smith sat with John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono for an hour.
In the interview, John Lennon says, "We were going through hell. We often do. It's torture every time we produce anything. The Beatles haven't got any magic you haven't got," he continues. "We suffer like hell anytime we make anything, and we got each other to contend with. Imagine working with the Beatles, it's tough. There's just tension. It's tense every time the red light [in the recording studio] goes on."
The Lennon statements reflect those of fellow Beatle George Harrison, who said in an interview for "The Billboard Book of Number One Albums," "It wasn't very much fun. Everyone was fed up and everyone wanted to leave the band. Although we salvaged it and we did some good tracks, it generally was done in a depression. It was done in a trough." George Harrison died of cancer in 2001.
The Beatles' "Let It Be" came out in May 1970. It was recorded before the sessions that would become "Abbey Road," which almost had the title Everest until Paul McCartney said he didn't want to make the trip for the cover photo shoot and they just nipped out of the studio and shot the cover on the street. "Let It Be" was last album The Beatles released that featured.
In a published report, Glyn Johns said, "About 18 months later, after the band had split up, John decided he was going to take the tapes and give them to Phil Spector and make an album for the tapes that I had recorded, which was basically all rehearsal tapes. Phil Spector turned it into this sugary, syrupy pieces of sh-t with strings and choirs all over it."
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr took the initial mixes, before Phil Spector added his wall of sound in 2003 and released it as "Let It Be...Naked."
The interview is on two audio tape reels that were found in Howard Smith's apartment in New York, where its' been for 40 years. According to New Hampshire-based RR Auction, the tape-recorded interview will be put up for auction as be part of the "Marvels of Modern Music" online auction that runs from Sept. 19 through Sept. 26 at RR Auction's website. Bidding starts at $300, but Bobby Livingston, the vice president of RR Auction expects it to sell for between $5,000 and $10,000.
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