McCartney Times

In the moment: ‘The Long and Winding Road’

In the moment: ‘The Long and Winding Road’

In the moment: ‘The Long and Winding Road’
February 20
10:29 2018

This past week as my husband Patrick and I were traveling, we took a break from our preferred news station and changed the channel to the Beatles station on Sirius XM Channel 18, where Peter Frampton produced a countdown of the top 50 romantic hits by the Beatles as chosen by listeners.

The satellite radio program served as a prelude to Valentine’s Day, with the title “All You Need is Love—The Top 50 Beatles Love Songs Countdown.”  Songs like “Here, There, and Everywhere,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,”  “Michelle,” “She Loves You,” “Something,” “Yesterday,” “Love Me Do” and on and on.

Frampton, a friend of the Beatles and a legendary musician himself, was tailored to the task of hosting the countdown, adding Beatle trivia and historical tidbits to keep the program flowing. Over and over, he posited the Beatles wrote some of the best-known love songs of all time. The messages of the 50 selected love songs were definitely about love and romance and sweethearts.

We felt as if we were going back in time, our imaginations full of memories, recalling the days when we were exceedingly young, when the Beatles first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and every American family had turned their TV to the sensational lads from Liverpool, with their long hair and unconventional, ultramodern rock songs.

One selection in particular that has been singing over and over in my mind is a song without the word love, but still a song that ranked high among the listening voters: “The Long and Winding Road,” written by Paul McCartney, but attributed to both McCartney and John Lennon.  No mistake; this was a McCartney composition.

McCartney says he created the title when he first traveled to his High Park Farm property in Scotland, which he had bought in 1966. It is a reflective piece, inspired by the road that stretched up the hills in the remote Highlands near Campbeltown.  McCartney wrote this in 1968, while on his farm at a time when tensions were growing among the Beatles.

As McCartney reported to Mike Merritt of the “Sunday Herald in 2003, “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.”

According to Frampton, the song had a somewhat contentious history, as he recalled how Lennon engaged American music producer Phil Spector, rather than George Martin, their regular producer, to help with the “Let it Be” album on which “The Long and Winding Road” is recorded.

The Beatles taped the song several times, but when Spector entered the picture, he overdubbed the song with a small orchestral group and a women’s choir.  McCartney found it distasteful.  At that point, he determined to dissolve the Beatles’ partnership, and taking his case to London’s High Court, he cited one of the reasons for the dissolution as “intolerable inference” by overdubbing “The Long and Winding Road” without his input and consultation.

It was the Beatles’ final number-one single on the “Billboard Hot 100” chart in America, but for many fans, the song captured sadness at the disbanding of such a talented group.  Brian Wilson of “Rolling Stone” is reported to have said:  “When they broke up I was heartbroken.  I think they should have kept going.”

Of this incident and the song, McCartney said:  “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.”

Still, the song may mean different things to different people; and whereas, when I was younger, it seemed to be of shared sentimentality and sadness, I now see it as a song of hope and inspiration, and of joy and love of good things to come.

The long and winding road

That leads to your door

Will never disappear

I’ve seen that road before

It always leads me here,

Lead me to your door.

JJ Abernathy is a community arts advocate, and may be contacted at

Source: In the moment: ‘The Long and Winding Road’

About Author

Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

Martin A Nethercutt is a writer, singer, producer and loves music. Creative Director at McCartney Studios Editor-in-Chief at McCartney Times Creator-in-Chief at Geist Musik President (title) at McCartney Multimedia, Inc. Went to Albert-Schweitzer-Schule Kassel Lives in Playa del Rey From Kassel, Germany Married to Ruth McCartney

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