Chrissie Hynde‘s reverent, heartfelt cover of the Beatles‘ “Let It Be,” which will appear on the upcoming, star-studded Paul McCartney tribute comp The Art of McCartney, is now streaming online. The recording finds the Pretenders frontwoman stretching her delicate voice across lush textures of piano, gospel backup vocals and, at its apex, a full rock band, complete with a bluesy guitar solo; at its most delicate, Hynde sings over a Beatlesesque acoustic guitar part. A behind-the-scenes video revealed that the singer specifically chose “Let It Be,” which The Wall Street Journal premiered, as her contribution to the comp.
“‘Let It Be’ sounds like a hymn, and because it says ‘mother Mary,’ people assume it’s a religious song, but it isn’t,” Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn said in a behind-the-scenes clip. “‘Mother Mary’ is Paul’s mother Mary – his mother was Mary McCartney – and Paul was 26 when he wrote this. He was 14 when his mother died, so only 12 years earlier that she had died….. [In the song] he’s in trouble, he’s having a troubled moment, and his mother comes to him and says, ‘Don’t worry, son, everything will be all right. The answer will come. Let it be, let the answer be.'”
Elsewhere in the clip, Lewisohn also revealed that McCartney had originally offered the song to Aretha Franklin, but that the Beatles released their version first. “Let It Be” was the last single the group would release before its breakup.
The Art of McCartney finds a number of notable musicians contributing their renditions of tracks from throughout the singer-songwriter’s careers with the Beatles, Wings and his solo work. Bob Dylan, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Brian Wilson, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson and more all contributed recordings to the compilation. The full album, which comes in 34-track and 42-song editions, will come out on November 18th.