“Let Me Roll It” is the mysterious, jammed-out love song from Paul McCartney’s Wings, which was the band he formed with his first wife, Linda, and Denny Laine after the Beatles called it quits at the end of the 1960s.
The song comes from the massively successful third Wings album, Band on the Run. Released in 1973, Band on the Run is McCartney’s biggest post-Beatles album, and also contains the two hit singles “Band on the Run” and “Jet” (for which “Let Me Roll It” was the B-Side).
Stylistically, some critics have accused McCartney of emulating John Lennon with this song. They suggest that he mimicked John’s style with the use of a tape echo, heavy bass, and wailing lead guitars.
McCartney has spoken on this several times, including during a notable 1994 interview with Club Sandwich:
“Let Me Roll It” was not really a Lennon pastiche, although my use of tape echo did sound more like John than me. But tape echo was not John’s exclusive territory! And you have to remember that, despite the myth, there was a lot of commonality between us in the way that we thought and the way that we worked.McCartney on “Let Me Roll It”, 1994.
As for the lyrics, “Let Me Roll It” has two meanings.
The first is more direct. McCartney uses the image of his heart as a wheel as a way of inviting his love interest to open her heart to receive him. Hence the line, “Let me roll it to you.”
However, as a result of people thinking that he wrote the song about his friendship with John Lennon, McCartney also clarified that it is not in any way about John Lennon.
Rather, the double meaning is about rolling a joint. This he said to Clash in 2010:
To tell you the truth, that was more (about) rolling a joint. That was the double meaning there: “let me roll it to you”. That was more at the back of mind than anything else. ‘Dear Friend’ (from 1971’s ‘Wild Life’), that was very much ‘let’s be friends’ to John.”Paul McCartney on the meaning of “Let Me Roll It”.
There are very few lyrics to “Let Me Roll It”, as it is written simply as a couple of short verses surrounding a chorus.
Nevertheless, let’s take a look and see what this double meaning is all about:
You gave me something, I understandFirst verse to “Let Me Roll It” by Paul McCartney & Wings.
You gave me loving in the palm of my hand
Paul is talking both about love in the physical sense, as in this person gave him a love that he could understand, and he appreciated it.
However, McCartney also understands cannabis, and some might say that cannabis is something like “loving in the palm of my hand.”
Next up, we have the chorus that contains the main metaphor of the song, as well as the borrowed Harrison lyric:
I can’t tell you how I feelChorus to “Let Me Roll It” by Paul McCartney & Wings.
My heart is like a wheel
Let me roll it
Let me roll it to you
Let me roll it
Let me roll it to you
Instead of telling this person how he feels, he simply offers the analogy of a heart and a wheel, in hopes that this person might understand what he means.
Paul is also smoking a joint with this person, and he wants to be the one to roll it.
In the second verse, he addresses both this love interest and the joint that he just finished rolling:
I want to tell you, and now’s the timeSecond verse to “Let Me Roll It” by Paul McCartney & Wings.
I want to tell you that you’re going to be mine
He feels that this is the time to tell the person how he truly feels about them, and finally make the relationship that he’s dreamt of come to life.
Paul is also admiring his fine handiwork on the roll job, turning the joint over in his hands and preparing to light it with excitement.
The chorus is then repeated two more times, and the song ends with a repetition of the first verse.
Listen to “Let Me Roll It” by Paul McCartney & Wings below.
Also, for any Deadheads reading, the Jerry Garcia Band performed an excellent cover of “Let Me Roll It” in the late 1970s. My personal favorite is from 7/30/77, from the official release Pure Jerry: Theatre 1839. Check that one out below.