100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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'The Long and Winding Road'
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90. 'The Long and Winding Road'

Main Writer: McCartney
Recorded: January 26 and 31, 1969; April 1, 1970
Released: May 11, 1970
10 weeks; No. 1

McCartney wrote "The Long and Winding Road" as he watched the Beatles begin to spin out of control. In early 1969, creative and financial issues were fracturing the band. Lennon had already told the others that he was quitting, Starr had gone on a hiatus, and Harrison and McCartney disappeared for weeks. "It's a sad song, because it's all about the unattainable," McCartney said. "I was a bit flipped out and tripped out at the time."

Months after recording the poignant piano ballad, McCartney got a rude surprise: Producer Phil Spector, who had been given the tapes by Lennon, had reworked his take, adding a layer of strings and a choir. "It was an insult to Paul," engineer Geoff Emerick recalled. "It was his record. And someone takes it out of the can and starts to overdub things without his permission." Soon after, the acrimony became too much: In April 1970, McCartney released his first solo album and issued a statement announcing the end of the Beatles.

Appears On: Let It Be

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