Don’t Let Me Down: the story of John Lennon’s love song

The music of the Beatles is timeless and adored by the whole world. Their work is a subject of study in universities around the world and the places linked to the history of the Beatles are continuously visited by music pilgrims.

The story of the Beatles is dotted with crucial moments in the history of music and songs that have conquered the world. It is a story, however, that ended at some point, and there is a precise date that closes it: January 30th, 1969, the day when the Beatles climbed to the fifth floor of the building of the record label they owned, Apple Corps, at 3 Savile Row in London, and began a concert that lasted forty-two minutes: the famous Rooftop Concert.

It was the last time Fab Four played live together.

The recordings of Let It Be were in progress, and with them also the eponymous docu-film. The traffic stopped and a crowd gathered under the building, until the police arrived, climbed onto the roof and ordered the group to stop playing.

About that concert, Ringo Starr said:

There was a plan to play live somewhere. We were wondering where we could go – “Oh, the Palladium or the Sahara”. But we would have had to take all the stuff, so we decided, “Let’s get up on the roof.”

That day John Lennon sang a song that had been recorded a couple of days before, during the recordings of the single Get Back: its title was Don’t Let Me Down and it was one of the most sincere and touching love songs written by Lennon. That day, for the Rooftop Concert, Lennon sang it with Yono Ono’s gaze on him.

Don’t let me down
Don’t let me down
Nobody ever loved me like she does
Oh, she does, yeah, she does

The song is a return to simplicity, both in the lyrics and in the music, without psychedelic sounds or sophisticated contents. The lyrics are all about true love and its duration, and in those verses John manifests the fear that Yoko might betray him or abandon him. He looks incredibly fragile and in need of affection, like a man who fears being disappointed by others. It was a legacy of the bitter moments of his childhood, when as a child his parents let his aunt Mimi take care of him.

Other versions of this song were recorded, one included in the 1970 B side of Hey Jude and another in the soundtrack of the documentary Imagine: John Lennon. But the performance of Don’t Let Me Down on Apple Corps’ roof is still the most memorable version of that song.

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