Paul McCartney Explains How He Accidentally Copied Shakespeare

During a segment of his podcast, “A Life in Lyrics,” Paul McCartney talked candidly about the beginnings of The Beatles song “Let It Be.” A fascinating story of how a passage from Shakespeare’s Hamlet accidentally made its way into the song’s composition was shared by McCartney during the debate. He clarified:

“It had been pointed out to me recently that Hamlet, when he has been poisoned, he actually says, ‘Let it be’ act five, scene two. He says, ‘Let be’ the first time, then the second time he says, ‘Had I but time as this fell sergeant, Death, Is strict in his arrest oh, I could tell you. But let it be Horatio.’”

It seems that McCartney was unaware that Shakespeare wrote the lines he dreamed about hearing from his mother. The vocalist went on:

“I was interested that I was exposed to those words during a time when I was studying Shakespeare so that years later the phrase appears to me in a dream with my mother saying it.”

Paul McCartney’s Mother Was The Inspiration Behind ‘Let It Be’

In the past, Paul McCartney talked about how a dream affected the song “Let It Be.” In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune in 2011, he talked about his late mother’s dream visitation. His mother had died ten years before. McCartney felt comfort in this dream scene because it seemed his mother understood his inner turmoil. In the interview, he said that her comforting words, “Let it be,” struck a profound chord with him.

“I had a dream where my mother, who had been dead at that point for about 10 years, came to me in the dream, and it was as if she could see that I was troubled. And she sort of said to me, she said, ‘Let it be.’ And I remember quite clearly her saying, ‘Let it be,’ and ‘It’s going to be OK. Don’t worry.’ You know, ‘Let it be.’

Additionally, McCartney described how he took something extremely personal and made it relatable to everyone:

“I woke up, and I remembered the dream, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s a great idea.’ And I then sat down and wrote the song using the feeling from that dream and of my mum coming to me in the dream.”

Paul explores the inner workings of 12 Beatles songs in his audio series “A Life In Lyrics,” revealing the true narratives that lie underneath the words. He provides an insight into the creative process in every episode. In the series finale, The Beatles’ creative process for “Helter Skelter” is explored, beginning with the origins of “Elenor Rigby.”

The whole Paul McCartney podcast episode on “Let It Be” is available to stream on Spotify below.

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