The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’: 4 Wisdom-Speaking Covers

Even if you don’t know much about the Beatles, you’re probably familiar with “Let It Be,” the No. 1 title track of the band’s last album.

As the story goes, Paul McCartney was visited by his late mother, Mary, in a dream one night in 1968, during sessions for the White Album. He began writing a song about the vision, but it would be two years before fans heard “Let It Be.” Billy Preston joined the Beatles for the sessions that produced the song, adding some Hammond organ and helping to smooth over tensions within the band at the time.

“Let It Be” was a huge hit when it was released as a single in 1970 and became a favorite of other artists from the start. The song has been covered by dozens of artists over the years. Some stick close to the original arrangement; others are by friends of McCartney. Even the song’s writer loves it: McCartney has played “Let It Be” onstage more times than any other song.

We take a look at 20 of our favorite “Let It Be” covers below.

1. Joan Baez

Joan Baez was used to reshaping popular songs and putting a graceful spin on them. Her cover of “Let It Be” was included on her 1971 album Blessed Are … , which also featured songs by the Band, the Rolling Stones and Kris Kristofferson. She also performed “Let It Be” onstage in the ’70s.

2. Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora

Because the annual Royal Variety Performance was held in Liverpool in 2007, it wasn’t a big surprise that Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora led a cast of performers in a rendition of “Let It Be.” Other guests that evening included James Blunt, Joan Rivers, Kanye West, the cast of Hairspray and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

The soundtrack to Jessie Nelson’s 2002 film I Am Sam, starring Sean Penn, was supposed to include original Beatles songs, but obtaining the rights proved difficult. So Nelson hired artists like the Wallflowers, Eddie Vedder, Sheryl Crow, the Black Crowes and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to record covers. Cave and his band check in with a straightforward version of “Let It Be.”

4. Ray Charles

One of the all-time greatest R&B singers brought his distinctive voice to “Let It Be,” the closing song on his 1977 album True to Life.

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