The Long and Winding Road
- Paul McCartney - lead vocals, piano
- PJohn Lennon - bass
- PGeorge Harrison - lead guitar
- PRingo Starr - drums
- PBilly Preston - Hammond Organ
Paul McCartney wrote The Long and Winding Road in Scotland in 1968. It is a piano ballad inspired by Paul's worries about the increasingly troubled relationships within the Beatles. It was released on the Let it Be album in May of 1970. It was also released as a single, accompanying For You Blue on the flip side. It would be the Beatles' last number one single in the US charts.
Phil Spector's manipulations of the mix, made long after the Beatles had recorded the song, infuriated Paul. In subsequent litigation, he cited Spector's bowdlerizing of The Long and Winding Road as one of principal reasons why the legal entity of "The Beatles" should be closed down.
McCartney made a demo recording of The Long and Winding Road in September of 1968, while the group was in session to make the tracks for The White Album. It is a melancholy, loosely-structured song about "the door you never quite reach" or the "road that never ends." In reality, Paul had in mind a sinuous road in Scotland, thirty-one miles long, known as B842. The song is written in E-flat major, with bits of C minor in the chord changes.
Recording took place on January 26 and again on January 31, 1969, the day after the famous "Rooftop Concert" at Apple Records. John played bass, and Paul was on piano. Ringo and George participated as usual, and Billy Preston played the organ. These sessions were for the unrealized Get Back project. Glyn Johns, who mixed it, chose a take from the first day as the basic track, which is also available on Anthology 3. Spector also used the same track in the Let it Be mix.
On April 1, 1970, Spector added a 35-piece orchestra (including a harp) and a female choir. This musical concept was a sharp departure from the objectives of the Beatles when the song was first recorded. Ringo was the only Beatle present for this step in the process. When Paul found out about it, he was enraged. Nine days later he announced the official ending of the Beatles. On April 14, he sent a famous note to Allen Klein, who was now managing them, ending with "Don't ever do it again." He was ignored. George Martin agreed that the Spector treatment was "so uncharacteristic" of The Beatles.
In 2003, the remaining Beatles and Yoko Ono released Let It Be... Naked. On this version, a take from the January 31 recording session was included, and without the Spector orchestra, harp and women's chorus. The same take was used for the film, Let it Be.