Robert Bunter: Just as the curtain is about to fall on the greatest band ever, we get one more look at the soft side of a man I like to call James Paul McCartney. This is the Beatle who's given us showtunes ("Till There Was You"), immortal ballads ("Yesterday"), geriatric softshoe shuffles ("When I'm 64," "Honey Pie:) and sweet goopy sugar confections ("I Will"). Now, this gentle soul is going to give us a little bit of the elegaic Ray Charles sound. Cornball harps and choirs threaten to overtake the vocal in a swampy soup of sweetness.
Richard Furnstein: Paul didn't make anybody happy with this ballad. The band seems weary (some signs of life are present in the "many ways" bridge), Paul seems bored and responds by being boring, and Phil Spector tried to spice up this bland chili by throwing swooning angels, Hollywood melodrama, and cozy strings all over this one. Paul later got all pissy about Phil's treatment (leading to the queefing angels free mix on the regrettable Christmas repackaging Let It Be...Naked), but Phil was just giving this pointless song what it deserved. Paul wrote some silver screen dreck, so Phil piled on layer after layer of cheese. You don't like it, Paul? Write a better song. No need to throw a handful of mozzarella on "Let It Be" because that is an amazing song. Seem simple? It is.
Robert Bunter: Like other late-Beatles tracks ("Two Of Us"), this is a song that could be sung to new love Linda Eastman or old buddy John Lennon. Of course, I'm voting for the latter option. The corny, roll-the-credits atmosphere is more tolerable when considered as the sound of McCartney's bruised heart, as he ponders an uncertain future ahead and laments "You left me waiting here a long long time ago / Don't keep me standing here." He's looking at the inscrutable, emotionally distant, heroin addicted wastoid across from him in the Apple studios and wondering what happened to the brilliant teddy boy with the sharp wit and the rock and roll spirit, who he'd once counted as his closest friend and brother? Where did you go, Johnny? I'm standing here looking at this long and winding road all by myself and it's miserable. Why have you forsaken me? Oh man. That's so heavy.
Richard Furnstein: I think the let-it-be-schmaltzy version is the only version of this song to hear. Ringo's gentle touch glides along the soft rock swoons while George and John's boring white squeezings are lost in the abyss of molasses. There are some genuinely beautiful moments in the mix, particularly when the faceless angels swoop in to raise the chill factor. You can almost hear their stupid wings flitting against the studio ceiling in the overblown ending. The angels were trying to get the hell out of dodge before George pushed out "For You Blue."
"Yeah yeah yeah yeah," Paul implores, a lovely call back to the early days of Beatlemania. It's as if Paul is saying, "Thanks for rocking with us, kids, I just traded years of musical innovation into my parents' collection of dusty 78s." I hope I die before you get old.