If anyone is ever going to compile and release a Let It Be box set, there’s going to be an absolutely insane amount of material to work with. Beyond the Let It Be movie that remains stubbornly out of print, there’s more than 100 hours of film from the album sessions. Somehow or another, the audio from all of that leaked to bootleggers many years ago. It’s an absolute treasure trove of candid conversations, early renditions of tunes and cover songs.
On January 28th, 1969 the Beatles were 17 days into the album. They kicked off the day by covering Duane Eddy’s “Shazam” before running through “The Long and Winding Road” and then 17 takes of “I’ve Got a Feeling,” some of which featured John Lennon on lead vocals instead of Paul McCartney. To unwind after that, they played a bit of Bob Dylan’s 1966 hit “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” with John on vocals. It was clearly not meant for posterity, and peters out after the first verse. You can hear it right here.
(Other covers songs they did during the Let It Be sessions include Chuck Berry’s “Around and Around,” Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me,” Buddy Holly’s “Early in the Morning,” Cole Porter’s “Friendship,” Marvin Gaye’s “Hitchhike” and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line.”)
Later in the day, they ran through the George Harrison tunes “Something” and “All Things Must Pass.” He couldn’t get them to focus on the latter song, though it ultimately wound up as the title track of his 1970 solo album. Near the end of the session, they went back to Dylan and played a bit of “Positively 4th Street.” Never in their wildest dreams did they ever think people would hear this stuff since the first bootlegs wouldn’t hit shelves until that summer. Let It Be tapes began trickling out not long afterwards, but the flood of them was a long ways coming.
Just two days later, the Beatles climbed onto the rooftop of Apple Records for their famous final public performance. It’s been called a concert, but it’s really more of a recording session in a place where the public could hear what was happening. The footage wound up in the Let It Be movie. It’s been widely speculated that the film remains locked away because McCartney doesn’t like how he comes off, but hopefully he’ll get over that in time for the 50th anniversary in 2020, if not sooner.