Registration with

register

lost password recovery

recover my password

sign in

  • If you registered before August, 2014, you will need to register again. Sorry for the inconvenience.
  • remember me
sign in

Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact

Sign up for our newsletter

Get the Newsletter

The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles

Album: Let It BeReleased: 1970Charted:
1
  • One of the last Beatles songs, Paul McCartney wrote this based on tensions within the band.
  • The road McCartney is talking about is the B842 which runs down the east coast of Kintyre and on into Campbeltown near his Scottish farmhouse. (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, WA)
  • McCartney: "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." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
  • The Beatles recorded this in January, 1969 as a fairly simple ballad. By 1970, The Beatles were breaking up and and Phil Spector was brought in to go through the tapes and produce the album. Spector was known for his "Wall Of Sound" recording technique, where he added many instruments and layered the tracks to create a very full sound. On this, he took out most of The Beatles instruments and added a string section and choir (The Mike Sammes Singers). The result was very different from what the group originally had in mind. Even though he wrote this, Paul McCartney didn't go to the sessions where Spector produced it. When McCartney heard the results, he made it clear that he hated what Spector did to his song, and tried to get the original version, which was mixed by engineer Glyn Johns, on the album. The band was already falling apart, and this caused further turmoil within the group, as Harrison and Lennon both supported Spector. Paul has not changed his stance over the years, and still believes Spector butchered it. Lennon and Harrison felt otherwise, and each had Spector produce their next solo efforts. Lennon said of Spector's work on Let It Be: "Phil was given the s--ttiest load of badly recorded s--t with a lousy feeling to it, and he made something of it."
  • The Beatles performed this in the movie Let It Be. Both the movie and album were the last The Beatles released. Abbey Road was the last album they recorded.
  • Paul McCartney offered this song to Tom Jones in 1968 on the condition it be his next single. He had "Without Love (There is Nothing)" set for release so he turned down the offer, something he would later regret. Speaking with Media Wales in 2012, Jones explained: "I saw him (McCartney) in a club called Scotts Of St James on Jermyn Street in London. I said to him When are you going to write me a song then Paul? He said, aye I will then. Then not long after he sent a song around to my house, which was 'The Long And Winding Road,' but the condition was that I could do it but it had to be my next single.

    Paul wanted it out straight away. At that time I had a song called 'Without Love' that I was going to be releasing. The record company was gearing up towards the release of it. The timing was terrible, but I asked if we could stop everything and I could do 'The Long And Winding Road.' They said it would take a lot of time and it was impractical, so I ended up not doing it. I was kicking myself. I knew it was a strong song."

    "Without Love" did well for Jones - it reached #5 in the US and #10 in the UK, but didn't have anywhere near the staying power of this Beatles classic. Jones did eventually record a Paul McCartney song, but not until 2012 when Paul wrote "(I Want To) Go Home," which was released on Jones' album Spirit In The Room.
  • This was the only Beatles song where John Lennon played bass. He was ordinarily their rhythm guitarist. Harrison and Ringo had their parts removed by Phil Spector, so they don't appear on this at all.
  • Alistair Taylor, the General manager at Apple Records, witnessed Paul McCartney's recording of the original demo version of this at 3 in the morning. He recalls in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: "He was picking out a melody and I said 'I like that, it's a fabulous melody,' and he said, 'It's just an idea.' He told the engineer to switch on the tape and he recorded 'The Long And Winding Road' then and there: it was full of la-las as he'd only written a few lines, but it was quite fantastic."
  • McCartney blocked release of the song as a single in the UK, but he could not prevent its release in the US where it topped the charts for 2 weeks. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2)
  • This was one of 5 Beatles songs McCartney played on his 1976 Wings Over America tour.
  • n 2002 a cover version by Pop Idol winner Will Young and runner-up Gareth Gates topped the UK chart.
  • In 2003, Apple Records released a new version of the album called Let It Be... Naked, with Spector's production removed. For this song, a previously unreleased take was used when it was remixed. This version is what McCartney had in mind when he wrote the song.
  • Ringo's drums can be heard both on the Anthology 3 version and Spector's version (Spector's version just has the strings on top of the Anthology 3 version). (thanks, Adrian - Wilmington, DE)
  • Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso begins his song "It's a long way" with the lines, "Woke up this morning singing an old Beatles song." A few verses later he says, "It's a long and winding road." The song is in his 1972 British album Transa. (thanks, Marcos - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Some of the many artists who covered this song: Tony Bennett, George Benson, Cilla Black, Ray Charles, Cher, Judy Collins, Peter Frampton, Aretha Franklin, Richie Havens, Cissy Houston, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Liberace, The London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Manilow, Mantovani, Johnny Mathis, Bill Medley, George Michael, Olivia Newton-John, Billy Ocean, Stu Phillips, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Kevin Rowland, Sarah Vaughan, Andy Williams and Nancy Wilson. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
  • In an interview shortly before he became British Prime Minister, after five years of Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron told Q magazine that this is his favorite Paul McCartney song. He explained; "It has a wonderful melody and emotion and pretty much sums up the life of the Leader of the Opposition."
or Register to post comments

Comments: 79

To Michael (Southsea) I'd like to see you get up in front of an audience and perform this and not go off-key. Doubt you could do it.Hugh Mcphee - Wick, United Kingdom
Absolutely love this song. I often think of this song as I stroll hand-in-hand with my wife. It reminds me of when we were dating and I lived in a different village than her. Have to admit I do get a wee bit teary eyed when I hear this song now and again on the radio. BTW I don't think there is a hidden message. It is just a bittersweet song about love.Hugh Mcphee - Wick, United Kingdom
Mr Paul from Portsmouth, VA says "I feel this is not about a love relationship at all. Many times a Higher Power speaks through such artists when they become very inner reflective with a view to what life is all about."... I wouldn't underestmiate the power of love relationships in an artist's inspiration. Just see how many great John Lennon's songs were written for Yoko.Diego - Milano, Italy
First song requested to be played at my funeral...........a real tearjerkerPete - Melbourne, Australia
This song is a masterpiece.Poetry set to music.One of the greatest songs ever written.It has such a powerful message,and the melody is equally stunning.This is a power ballad.I like what Paul from Virginia said.You are right on.I agree with you.It was well said.George - Belleville, Nj
Prior to Specters enhancement and any release public the original version can see performed at the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0pfFkdC6oE&feature=related

"Any way you've always known the many ways I've tried" is how it was first written and soon changed to basically the only way you hear it now.
"Any way you'll never know...."
Paul - Portsmouth, Va
I also have been very interested in this song and the lyric change from the original to what is mostly heard and sung, not only by Paul but other artists as well. I feel this is not about a love relationship at all. Many times a Higher Power speaks through such artists when they become very inner reflective with a view to what life is all about. Let us not forget what the lads were going through in these years, having gotten away from teenie bopper love songs into the deeper and more philosophical side of life, which is of course an under-statement. "Anyway you've always known the many ways I've tried" was original as can be seen from the first raw recordings prior to Spector's ganishment. I have identified with this song in my search for life's meaning in Biblical and many other sources. This to me is a cry in anguish to the Almighty as to why I and doubtless others are led to a certain point only to be left high and dry, depressed and still searching. I believe I read once where Paul simplified this song in a nutshell as 'an expression of the way it feels to leave things unfinished'. Yes,... I still, at this point question and plead, as I close this comment, "Why leave me standing here?" let me know the way.
Paul, Portsmouth, Virginia, USA
Paul - Portsmouth, Va
paul Mccartney didnt like what phil spector did to this songMarigold - France, Bermuda
Not the only song in which lennon played bass on.
See BACK IN THE USSR,ROCKY RACOOON,HELTER SKELTER, LET IT BE, DIG IT,that rock n roll medley on the LET IT BE album (RIP IT UP, SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL AND BLUE SUEDE SHOES).
and I can hear Harrison and Starr on the track.
Andre - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
I have always felt that this was a beautiful song, I have always been moved by it every time I hear it. I never new there was a different version then the Specter one. After reading the comments here, I will have to get it. As Paul said this is a sad song which can be interpreted in different ways. While it is clearly a song about longing for the love of another, I don't always think of a romantic love,the song has inspired me to think of my Mother & Grandmother who passed on and who I miss very much, anyway that is what I feel when I hear itJoe - Ithaca, Ny
It would be nice if people could get these facts right. This song was not written about the tension between the band. In fact, it was tentatively titled "River Rhine" (from a session named River Rhine; you can find the bootleg online) and was messed around with at least a long while before the Get Back Sessions. It's definitely more Ray Charles-ish in its humble beginnings and not anything like what it later turned into. The only similarities were the lyrics. It's actually better sounding than what TLAWR became, but it's more bluesy than Paul's normal fanfare. Find the bootleg if you can. It's worth a listen. Lots of other neat medleys, too.Ruth - Indianapolis, In
Let me please say that 'Hey Jude' was written about John's son Julian, not TLAWR.
Let me also say that
-Michael,Southsea,England
Has confused intonation with being off key. It is excusable when you are struggling with the amount of ignorance that
-Michael,Southsea,England
is obviously drowning in.
Colin - Stafford, United Kingdom
That's not right! I think it's supposed to say that George and John were taken out for the Spector version, because it says later that Ringo's drums are under the strings.K - Nowhere, On
this song makes me cry. period.K - Nowhere, On
sorry Paul, your my boy and all but the Phil Spector version is my favorite. how could you not love the violins in that song?!! shivers....Nick - Seattle, Albania
The nake version is great AND the Spector version is great. What makes them both great is the genius and talent of Paul McCartney. The other Beatles (and Spector)have a glory of their own, but there can be no denying that Paul outshines them all (is there a lyric for a song there?). Anyway, any critic of Paul is like what Paul refers to in The Fool on the Hill when he sings "he knows that THEY'RE the fools" (not him).Craig - Fayetteville, American Samoa
the naked version of this tune reveals, at least to me, that it is not much of a song....
but the added dimension of spector's orchestra makes it worth listening...sorry, mr. mc cartney, but that's the way I feel...
Steve Dotstar - Los Angeles, Ca
Long And Winding Road is my all-time favorite Beatles song.The naked version sounds like a demo.The Spector version sounds like a record.If Mc Cartney's naked version was released it would have got to Number 17 .Spector's version made this an easy Number One and an immortal classic.It looks like you guys just want to follow Paul.Paul's a great guy.But Paul I disagree.Spector made your song an unforgettable masterpiece,one of the greatest songs ever written.And it's the Spector production we cherish.Sorry,Paul.You are the writer,you have a lot to be proud of.James - Diamond Bar, Ca
i always think of one of my best friends when ever i hear this song. when theres even the slightest mention of a road in our conversations, she starts belting this out. haha. love you, kt.Chloe - St. Louis, Mo
"This was the only Beatles song where John Lennon played bass" This fact is not correct. John also played the bass on "Let it be" and other songs (Like "Back in the USSR",6-string bass).Grenz - London, United Kingdom
"..and he explained to me that this song was written by McCartney about Lennon's son Julian.." That is Hey Jude!Grenz - London, United Kingdom
I have a freind who is a very well versed in his beatleology and he explained to me that this song was written by McCartney about Lennon's son Julian. I guess Lennon picked being a Beatle over being a real father to his son, and made very little contact with his son despite how his son tried to reach him. Paul was freinds with Julian and wrote the song in tribute to him. "You left me standing here along long time ago." Well I don't know for sure if that what its about but it does make good sense.Just another theory.Andy - Haverhill, Ma
Ringo said he talked to Paul on the phone immediately after Paul had heard the Phil Spector production and said Paul seemed to like it and "didn't put it down." Years later, when the LET IT BE...NAKED version (stripped of Spector's production) was released, Spector said, "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 sh**."Susan - Toronto, Canada
just extremely beautiful poetryTam - Baton Rouge, La
Am I the only one here who has anything to say about the differing lyrics between the original and the ...Naked version?
You know, how the original goes: "Many times I've been alone and many times I've cried__ Anyway you'll never know the many ways I've tried" , and the ...Naked goes "...Anyway you've ALWAYS KNOWN the many ways I've tried".
I mean, those two words change the entire meaning of the song.... it's either saying the person this song is being sung to was unaware or maybe hadn't gave it a thought on how hard the singer has tried to keep their love going(the "...never know...") OR it's saying that they had always known how hard the singer has tried to keep their love going, but the person it's being sung to could care less how hard they had tried(the "...always known...")....
Matt - Around, Ct
"The Long And Winding Road" was also the name of a Beatles documentary made by Beatles' friend and Apple manager Neil Aspinall in 1970-71. None of the group agreed to participate in it, so the unfinished project was shelved until the early 1990's when it was expanded and had Paul, George and Ringo's participation. This was the basis of The Beatles Anthology video. documentary.Ken - Louisville, Ky
On the "naked" version, it seems to me that Paul feels the emotion at one point and his voice breaks. Does anyone else notice this? It makes the song for me.Cannie - San Antonio, Tx
THIS SONG REMINDS ME OF MY VERY FIRST LOVE FROM HIGH SCHOOL. WE WERE SO IN LOVE BUT THEN HE HAD TO LEAVE. HE WENT BACK TO CHICAGO AND I STAYED IN PORTALES NEW MEX. BUT TO THIS DAY WE HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN EACH OTHER.Arabella - Portales, Nm
I haven't heard the version on "Let It Be Naked" but the version on "Anthology 3" is great.Phil Spector should have left it alone.Mistergreg - Evanston, Il
I always think this song is clearly about a man's one way love with a girl. They probably go out, do things together as friends. He is deeply in love with her. However she does not feel what he feels. He has been longing for her love. She never returns that. But she is always nice and closed to him, just not the real love he's long been expecting for. Every time he tries to let her know, she ignores that. It's like he's been trying to find the way to her heart but he couldn't make it. And he has been devastated many times.

Maybe I'm wrong but the lyrics clearly tells this. It's not about some material road! It's a long and winding road to the heart of the girl he loves.
Anthony - La, Ca
This is one of my favourite Beatles songs.Sarah - Usa, Ia
This is my second favourite song of the Beatles, after Something...
Spector's version or the original one are just wonderful..so wonderful. It remains a master work of Paul..
Aziz - Ballina, Ireland
I thought it was "Its too late" John Lennon said at the end of the song because he considered it wasn't possible any more to go on with Paul.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
After McCartney says the line "Don't leave me waiting here" at about 3 minutes and 18 seconds, Jonh Lennon in the background says "Do it"Ethan - Franklin, Tn
I like some Spector songs better than Paul's preference and some Paul versions better than Spectors. I'm with McCartney on this one and to Michael,Southsea,England, that off key vocal is what makes this song one of the most powerful of all the beatles song. Shows true emotion.Jon - Oakridge, Or
I love this song so much! It's beautiful.Michelle - X, Pa
Phil Spector's instrumentation even drowns out Paul's vocals at times.Reid - Ocala, Fl
That's a good one, it seems that since 1976 every time sir Mac is giving a concert, he sings the Phil Spector's version, nevertheless he never stopped criticize the version of Phil Spector, that's what they call a real hypocrite.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
That makes 2 because me too I adore the version of Phil Spector, it's just super, super good.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
I guess I am in the minority here, but I think the Spector version is much better. I think it makes the song more moving. I think the worst McCartney vocal on a Beatles song is on Hold Me Tight, and it's not that bad.Steve - Fenton, Mo
very bland song. its one of the baddest songs in my "bad song list". Rest I think I like all the beatles songs'.Sum Sum - New Delhi
Just an interesting fact; After Paul wrote the song he played a demo for John. The demo caused John to sink into a state of depression because he felt it was the perfect song, better than anything he was capable of writing. It was his opinion that this would be the song people remember when they think of The Beatles years later, which was obviously very difficult for him to accept.Jim - Cumberland, Ri
Sorry, I made a mistake, I wanted to say that everybody may have his own opinion. I am a fan of Phil Spector, today more than yesterday and tomorrow more than today. "Wall of Sound" I just love it, Phil Spector you are the best.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
The Beatles were a part of my life and can be considered as one of the bests of the 60's. I don't like all their songs, but most of them are very good. About Phil Spector I can only say that I admire his great talent and other people may have an other opion, no problem for me. I think I'm more a Phil Spector's than a Beatles' fan.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
I was just saying Teresa, that there are plenty of people who don't agree with your comment.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Phil Spector is just perfect, his "Wall of Sound" makes this song so beautiful. Paul MacCartney doesn't sing good at all and I think he doesn't like Phil Spector's version because he(Mac)knows he will never have the talent Phil Spector has. I still consider Phil Spector as the best and I give him an 11/10.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
spector's version is cheesey and horrible. the naked version is beautiful.Jake - Bellevue, Wa
A message to Dan : consider always someone as innocent until it is prouved he is guilty. That's the way it is and has to be in a "State of Right" like Belgium or the United States.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
In a "State of Right" like Belgium someone is considered innocent until it is prouved he is guilty and someone is considered saying the truth until it is prouved he lies. As Phil Spector claimed several times he is innocent, I consider him as innocent.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
Ha ha, that'd be really cool and funny if that was trueLaura - Santa Fe, Nm
I hear that this song is really sort of a joke. I hear that it was about how Paul was walking to one of the other Beatle's house and the road there was really long and winding. So the joke is that people would think it's got some way deeper meaning, when it's really just Paul walking to the other guy's house.
I don't know how accurate that is, I got it through word of mouth so I don't have a written source. Take it as it is or don't take it at all.
Mike - Chicago, Il
Though I like Spector´s approach to a lot of songs, what he made of this is just ridiculus. Completely with no idea of the age it´s recorded in, making it sound like some Ronnetes-song.Maarten - Groningen, Netherlands
This is my favorite ballad. Its a very beautiful song. I much prefer the stripped down version the way Paul intended. The song sounds so much better with only piano.Mark - Manassas , Va
Henry, I don't mind the strings on "Let it Be," but I agree that Spector butchered this. The album version is sooooo overblown.Nessie - Sapporo, Japan
I've only heard the abbey road version of itZizoiz - Santa Fe, Co
I think that this song is so beautiful because of Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound", he's just great, my numer 1. I give a 5/10 at MacCartney and a 11/10 at Phil Spector. Bravo, Phil Spector, you are the very best.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
The Spector version is repugnant. The Anthology 3 and Naked versions reveal this song's true beauty.Henry - Victoria, Canada
The tune of this was used in a GM commercial with a bunch of kids talking about drunk drivers and car crashesEllen - Nashville, Tn
Phil Spector didn't remove anything. He just buried it in strings and choir. George and Ringo can be heard in the original release.Mike - New Point, Va
I know McCartney would probably want to have me strung up for saying this but I prefer the "Let It Be" version to the "Naked" version aswell. A song that always makes me feel poignant.Daniel - Leeds, England
I'm sorry, but I like the song better with the "fluff" Sounds cool and more filling than "Let It Be...Naked" version of the song. (by the way did anyone notice the awful beard Paul McCartney sported when he recorded this song?)John - Boston, Ma
About this song: to Spector, Paul said something to the effect of, "You've destroyed my career." It's everything wrong with Spector: syrupy, violined to death, overshadowing the artist. Too much playing in the snow.Tirebiter, Sector R - Corvallis, Or
I think that some songs were better with spector's additions? and some weren't. Though this is far from my favorite beatles song, the Spector version over fluffs it. this song was meant to be a simple ballad, not a grand glorious string and choir piece. Let it Be, on the other hand, works well with strings and choir. It is a song that has more motion and power to it, and I think that the strings really help there.Loretta - Liverpool, England
What a beautiful song.Madeline - Yakima, Wa
yea? i's long and winding alright???

www.audiogalaxy.com/articles?&a=159
Loretta - Liverpool, England
There will never be another group that left the impact The Beatles left. You are so right, Annabelle, they are and will forever be, the best.Shirley - Ocean, Nj
I definetly disagree with you, Michael! This is one of the greatest songs ever, and I think Paul's vocals sound wonderful. Listen to the Let it Be Naked version- the one that Stupid Spector didn't mess up. It RoCKS!!Sarah - Santa Rosa, Ca
The LET IT BE...NAKED versian is better.Scott Baldwin - Edmonton, Canada
Phil Spector ruined this song.Don - Philadelphia, Pa
Dan of NZ, that bit where George snaps at Paul is actually in the film (or footage of the film).Paulo - New York, Ny
It's classy and romantic....This kind of romance can be done by Paul McCartney and Paul McCartney ALONE. Who cares if some parts ARE off-key? He's singing this from his heart, and it certainly shows. Beautiful.Mia - Elk River, Mn
Annabelle, you couldn't be more right!Adrian - Wilmington, De
One of the most beautiful, poignant, heartbreaking and masterfully composed songs of all time, though it must be argued that Phil Spector wrecked it with the overly elaborate and mushy string and choir layers which all but drown out the simple yet touching charm of the song and vocals. Instead of letting Paul McCartney's powerful voice, stately piano playing and lovely melody take the lead, Spector embellishes it to the point of melodrama. This version, on Let it Be (1970), does not do the song or Paul McCartney justice. The versions on Let It Be...Naked (2003)and Anthology 3 (1996), the proper ones, however provides a nearly perfect example of why The Beatles are and will forever be the best.Annabelle - Alliston, Canada
The Long And Winding Road to me is a song that personifies the long realationship between John and Paul. Of course arguments are apart of any relationship but i believe that theirs was the most successful, and most influential of all time, the final argument is the straw broke the camels back, and Paul put in words what he was feeling at the time about what was happening, so i'd say its a very emotional song.David Grixti - Perth Western Australia, Australia
Paul wrote and recorded this song playing the piano and singing using as inspiration the soul musician RAY CHARLESDave - San Rafael, Argentina
The most beatiful song wrote ever by a male (McCartney) to another (Lennon). Supposedly soft Paul anew surprising us with an splendid sad performance for bewilder and ungrateful John. In original naked version the rest of Beatles are off beat (incidentally?).Piti - El Ferrol, Spain
When recalling the tension in the studio during the recording of these 'Let It Be' sessions (of which this song was included) George Harrison claims to have told Paul McCartney "I'll play what you want me to play...just tell me what to play and I'll play it!". These were not happy times.Dan - Auckland, New Zealand
Oh please, Thats showing EMOTIONsStykman - Little River, Sc
Probably the worst vocal on any Beatles song by Paul McCartney - listen to how off-key he is at times.Michael - Southsea, England