Paul McCartney originally wrote “Let It Be” for Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, on stage, July 1989

Aretha Franklin (Photo: LIFE)

Paul McCartney wrote “Let It Be” for Aretha Franklin. He offered the song to her with the right of first release. Aretha recorded it, but then she hold up the release. So she only released it after the Beatles had a smash hit with it (according to Jerry Wexler and David Ritz in the liner notes to the CD “Aretha Franklin – The Queen of Soul”, 2007).

I think this story makes sense. “Let It Be” has a strong spiritual undertone and I imagine that Paul McCartney thought it a fitting song for Aretha Franklin who originated from gospel music.

There’s also a rare version of “Let It Be” by Tennessee Ernie Ford (thanks to Dusty Fingers for pointing this out), who during the later part of his career recorded many spiritual albums.

Tennessee Ernie Ford: Behind The Hillbilly Camouflage


His name sounded very hillbilly: Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919-1991). But don’t get fooled: hidden behind the hillbilly camouflage was a versatile singer and sophisticated entertainer. Tennessee Ernie Ford sang raw rock ‘n’ roll, country songs,  standards and spiritual music. He had his very successful TV shows in the nineteen fifties and nineteen sixties.

Have a look at some wonderful duets with guitar player and singer Merle Travis (1917-1983). Who by the way wrote Ernie’s signature hit “Sixteen Tons”. The duets are from “The Ford Show”, aired  1960 on November 24. They just sing some ditties, but the joy and positive energy is overwhelming.