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

This story is part of the book:

Mama Mia Let Me Go!
A journey through the most intriguing lyrics and stories in rock music

Buy it on Amazon

The music of the Beatles is timeless and adored all over the world. Their work is the subject of study in universities globally, and the places linked to the history of the Beatles are continuously visited by music pilgrims.

The history of music’s most key moments contains a great many references to the band and their songs, which conquered the world. It is a story, however, that ended at a precise date: 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 for forty-two minutes. It was 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, 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.

Talking 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 their recording of the single Get Back. It was called Don’t Let Me Down and it was one of the most sincere and touching love songs he ever wrote. That day, for the Rooftop Concert, he sang it with Yoko Ono’s gaze on him the whole time.

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 the music, lacking the psychedelic sounds or sophisticated content that the Beatles had been experimenting with. The lyrics are all about true love and its duration, and in those verses, Lennon manifests the fear that Ono might betray or abandon him. He appears 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 was included on 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 the song.

This story is part of the book:

Mama Mia Let Me Go!
A journey through the most intriguing lyrics and stories in rock music

Buy it on Amazon

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