Counting down the 10 WORST BEATLES SONGS – “Maggie Mae” is an old Liverpudlian sailors’ tune about a streetwalker and is just one of the many throw-aways churned out in the LET IT BE sessions of January 1969. While of some slight historic curiosity for its lyrics as a folk song, it is neither musically interesting nor particularly well performed. It is in fact emblematic of all that was wrong with the LET IT BE sessions, which started with a McCartney brainstorm that the Beatles had become too much mere studio sidemen for each other and needed to get back to playing as a band.
Paul figured they’d record the whole experience in the studio and get not only an album but a film out of it! And there was the rub. For Paul, the eternal camera hog, this must have sounded like bliss, but it was nobody else’s idea of a good time. The animosity among John, Paul and George was already bad and was only exacerbated by forcing them together in one room every day for a month with tape and camera rolling. What they got with the film LET IT BE was a painful document of four guys in dire need of a break from each other. The hours upon hours of tape became such a challenge to whip into shape as an album that it wasn’t even released until months after ABBEY ROAD (which was actually the last album they recorded). The critic Alan Smith nailed it as “a cheapskate epitaph, a cardboard tombstone, a sad and tatty end to a musical fusion which wiped clean and drew again the face of pop.” At least LET IT BE gave us that rooftop concert, a moment’s charming confirmation that the Beatles had never relinquished the chops and the showmanship to work as a live band. But it also gave us “Maggie Mae,” the worst 40 seconds of the worst Beatles album ever.