Sunday, February 08, 2009

The most crafted song in modern history – Let It Be by the Beatles.

A little known fact is the origin of the word “amen” and its significance in both modern and ancient cultures. So let us take a moment and examine the significance of this word.
The word means literally “So be it, truly” and so is a gesture of affirmation. This comes from an ancient Hebrew concept of sacrifice, the bewildered spectator of a sacrifice finally accepting the act as the will of God.

The word originates in Ancient Egypt, and was a reference to her chief king, known either as Amen-Ra or Amen-Hotep and to the Egyptians literally meant “that which is hidden”. Early Judaism was very much influenced by the Egyptian “Book of the Dead” which predates their own culture by thousands of years.

From the Jewish use of the word to express communion of understanding and faith, but most of all trust in a higher power, the word spread to other languages, all the while maintaining this same meaning: In Islam, it is the standard ending to the Dua (supplication). A version of “amen” can even be found in Hinduism, “astu”, because it means the same thing – literally, “so be it.”

It is an expression foremost of faith, it cannot be challenged. When one utters the phrase it is because the phrase or phrases before it are so very fundamentally true that they cannot be challenged. Thus in the Jewish Law you have instances where you must say “amen” such as after the hearing of a blessing. Conversely, one must never utter “amen” if one is entering a room, hears the rest of the congregation reciting “amen” but has not heard the blessing itself. This has to do with the conviction one has in uttering the phrase – Do you truly accept this as God’s word and wish it therefore so?

Due to the Diaspora, it is not unreasonable to theorize that this concept of giving-in to the domination of the will of a great king would be an element in uniting a dispersed people. It is a part of Jewish law that one recites and therefore confirms this acceptance of the will of God in various contexts. It is thus a very important part of the communion of a people. It is used in exactly the same fashion in every culture that uses it – Christian, Islamic, Judaic and Hindu.
And it is not an unreasonable concept. Something put us here. Here we will be a light for some short time, and then the darkness will near. We should be able to put our faith in the will of whatever put us here that it is this same will that will take us out. We all fear our own mortality however much we know that it is inevitable. If only to lessen the anxiety, just let it be.
Therefore to name a song “Let it be” is quite the act of pomposity!

In 1964, in an interview with Maureen Cleave of the London Evening Standard, Lennon uttered these words: "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I do not know what will go first, rock 'n' roll or Christianity...We're more popular than Jesus now.” On May 8th, 1970, the Beatles released their final album with the title “Let it Be”. Very much written in the spiritual style, the song uses as a refrain of virtually every pronouncement of the singer with “Let it be.”

The Beatles aren’t shy about their view of themselves, as they express in the opening lyrics:

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me

To my understanding, Mary was the mother of Jesus, not John.

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
At least they didn’t attribute the wisdom to themselves.

And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Straight to the hour of darkness, the initial problem and the focal point of faith, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.Let it be, let it be.
YeahThere will be an answer, let it be.

Now we get to where the issues get muddy, both the issue of the true interest of faith (is it just to comfort us as we face death?) but also the use of the term “Let it be”.

Should Lennon and McCartney’s word receive the same uncritical acceptance as the words of Mary?

Nothing ever happened by accident in this band’s history.

This was the most carefully-crafted money-making, popular-culture influencing group of five-then-four people ever assembled. They knew the significance of how close “amen” is to “let it be” and they used it for all it was worth.

This was their swan-song, they had conquered the world, and so they could demonstrate this by usurping the place of the mother of God herself.

And when the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me,Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.

All four members knew that the Beatles by this time were on their death-knell. None could muster the courage required to go on. And yet this lyric again invokes that even in death, the light will shine on them. They don’t say it, but the lyric has a feel that this light will shine specifically on them and not others.

I think that I can prove again that this was intentional in the next lyric:

I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

This is the Beatles post-Beatles. Mother Mary, (whom they have usurped,) will come to them and their music which is heard at the dawn of their rebirth.

The song refrains-out in a glorious celebration, which is typical to the style of a sermon, which is always told as an uplifting and unchallengeable story of the presence of pure good!

Homiletically, this song is a piece of pure craftsmanship:

Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.Let it be, let it be,
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

One feels this rapture, and it is annoyingly difficult to get these lyrics out of one’s head once heard. Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be… By this point if anyone has any hope that the Beatles intended for this to be anything other than self-promotion then the Beatles have done exactly as they expected – Used the most sacred word of at least four world cultures for their own personal benefit.

And these are the thoughts that kept me out of any of the really good schools.


Post a Comment

<< Home