The Long And Winding Road (Lennon/McCartney)
After the Beatles had been completely inactive in the studio for 6 months following Abbey Road, the master tapes from the Let It Be sessions were given to American producer Phil Spector by the Beatles manager Allen Klein for rework. Spector slowed down some songs, added choirs, and added orchestrations, most notably to Paul’s The Long and Winding Road. When Paul heard it he became furious and, soon after his request to remove the rework from his song was denied, left the band.
Sabotage by John?
Phil Spector defended his remixing of The Long And Winding Road, claiming that John’s performance on bass was poor. Writer Ian MacDonald called John’s bass performance “atrocious” and suggested he might have played poorly on purpose in order to sabotage the song. John later claimed in an interview that Paul subconsciously tried to sabotage his songs Across The Universe and Strawberry Fields Forever.
Paul countered Spector’s claim by arguing that he (Spector) could have edited the track or used a different recording.
“I just sat down at my piano in Scotland, started playing and came up with that song, imagining it was going to be done by someone like Ray Charles. I have always found inspiration in the calm beauty of Scotland and again it proved the place where I found inspiration.” – Paul
“The album was finished a year ago, but a few months ago American record producer Phil Spector was called in by Lennon to tidy up some of the tracks. But a few weeks ago, I was sent a re-mixed version of my song ‘The Long and Winding Road’ with harps, horns, an orchestra, and a women’s choir added. No one had asked me what I thought. I couldn’t believe it.” – Paul
“It was his record. And someone takes it out of the can and starts to overdub things without his permission.” – Geoff Emerick, engineer
“Paul had no problem picking up the Academy Award for the Let It Be movie soundtrack, nor did he have any problem in using my arrangement of the string and horn and choir parts when he performed it during 25 years of touring on his own. If Paul wants to get into a pissing contest about it, he’s got me mixed up with someone who gives a shit.” – Phil Spector
- Paul McCartney – vocal, piano
- John Lennon – 6-string bass
- George Harrison – electric guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums
- Billy Preston – Fender Rhodes
- Uncredited orchestral musicians – 18 violins, 4 violas, 4 cellos, harp, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 2 guitars, 14 female vocals
- Let It Be (1970)
- 1967-1970 (1973)
- Love Songs (1977)
- The Beatles Ballads – 20 Original Tracks (1980)
- Reel Music (1982)
- Anthology 3 (1996) [no overdubs]
- 1 (2000)
- Let It Be…Naked (2003) [Let it Be…Naked version]
- Anthology Highlights (2011)
- #1, June 13 – June 20, 1970 (2 weeks), Billboard (US)