I can remember the precise moment I become a Beatle fan. It was in the late 1970’s, while I was attending high school. I was never one of those that could handle waking up to the traditional loud, buzzing alarm clock in the morning, so I always set my alarm to wake me with music. That particular morning, the minute the alarm went off, in started the very first note out of Paul McCartney’s mouth:
“T h e l o n g a n d w i n d i n g r o a d t h a t l e a d s t o y o u r d o o r . . . “
That very day after school, I headed down to a record store (ironically named Penny Lane Records) and bought my first Beatles album; The Blue Album, 1967-1970. It was a greatest hits compilation, of sorts, and all that mattered was that it had The Long and Winding Road on it.
This was the beginning of my long relationship with the Beatles.
At that point in my life, I was already considering a career in music, so my newfound fan-ship with the Beatles pushed me towards that goal and set a course in my life.
All Beatle songs written by either Paul McCartney or John Lennon, were always credited to Lennon/McCartney. The Long and Winding Road was truly and completely a McCartney composition. Also, it’s one of the few Beatle hits not produced by their regular producer, Sir George Martin.
Sir George Martin and I, Air Studios, London, 2002
The Long and Winding Road was actually produced by “wall of sound” producer, Phil Spector. George Martin did produce the original song, however it was re-produced by Phil Spector, or as George Martin puts it, “over-produced”. This was a result of a John Lennon whim (to use Phil Spector). Paul McCartney hated the final version of the song, as he didn’t like having female voices on any Beatle songs and the over the top orchestration, was not for his taste. This was all taking place right before the Beatles broke up, so this tug-of-war with producers only added fuel to the Lennon/McCartney fire.
The letter below is from the “Anthology” book. It was addressed to Allen Klein at Apple Corps Limited and dated April 14, 1970.Dear Sir, In future no one will be allowed to add to or subtract from a recording of one of my songs without my permission. I had considered orchestrating The Long And Winding Road but I had decided against it. I therefore want it altered to these specifications: 1. Strings, horns, voices and all added noises to be reduced in volume. 2. Vocal and Beatle instrumentation to be brought up in volume. 3. Harp to be removed completely at the end of the song and original piano notes to be substituted. 4. Don’t ever do it again. Signed Paul McCartney c.c. Phil Spector, John Eastman
A rough take of this song was recorded during the White Album sessions, which took place in 1968, two years before The Long and Winding Road landed on the Let It Be LP.
The actual long and winding road itself, that Paul McCartney is referring to, is literally the B842, which runs from Kintyre, Scotland to Campbeltown, where McCartney had a farm and lived with his family.
When Paul McCartney wrote the tune, he had Ray Charles in mind, to sing it. The song was offered to Tom Jones in 1968, though Tom turned it down, being involved in his own project at the time.
The actual story behind the song, in Paul McCartney’s own words is; “I was a bit flipped out and tripped out at that time. It’s a sad song because it’s all about the unattainable; the door you never quite reach. This is the road that you never get to the end of.”
Here is a link to the song, with lyrics:
There was a different version of the song, in the Beatles film, Let It Be. It’s a more simplified version of the song and, as you will hear, quite different from the Phil Spector produced Let It Be release:
My relationship with the Beatles has continued to this day and through the twists and turns of life, resulted in (somehow) this collection of memorabilia…
My Insane Beatle’s Collection (360 panorama)
…..all of this because of The Long and Winding Road.
Notes: Wikimedia Commons The Beatles Recording Sessions (Mark Lewisohn) Song Facts Beatles Anthology Many Years From Now (Barry Miles) Wikipedia