The next song on the Apple LP/CD "Let It Be" is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by Paul entitled "The Long and Winding Road". This piano ballad is considered one of Paul's favourites as he has been playing this song live in concert throughout most of his touring career.
A rehearsal run-through of the song with Paul solo on piano can first be heard during the Twickenham Studios rehearsals of January 09 1969.
The first proper recording of "The Long And Winding Road" took place on Sunday January 26 1969 at Apple Studios whereby the band ran through the song several times in order to teach Billy Preston the chords. After about an hour or so or rehearsal, a take of the song was recorded and used on the Glyn Johns version of the "Get Back" LP. It would also stand that the bases for this version would be overdubbed later and used on the official Apple LP/CD "Let It Be"; but more on that later. This particular version can also be heard on the Apple 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 3".
There are slight differences in my sources for this blog as to the next recording date for "The Long And Winding Road". This is specific to the performances of the song from January 31 1969 at Apple Studios, a day after the rooftop concert. Seven takes (13 to 19) of "The Long And Winding Road" were recorded. Take 19 can be seen and heard in the "Let It Be" film. The J.C. Winn source tells us that none of these takes were used for the Apple "Let It Be" LP/CD while Lewisohn suggests that take 19 was also used for the Apple "Let It Be" LP/CD.
Upon listening to both takes, it is clear that the January 26 1969 recording was more likely used for both the "Get Back" unreleased LP and the Apple LP/CD "Let It Be" commercial release. The liner notes of "Anthology 3" also tell us that the version heard on the Anthology and the commercial version are the same with the difference being the later overdubs.
And so the massacre began on April 01 1970 with Phil Spector in the producer's chair: Both EMI studio one and studio three were used to overdub strings, brass and choir onto "The Long And Winding Road".
The next day on April 02 1970, the stereo mix for "The Long and Winding Road" was a combination of two take edited together from a previous three attempts at the stereo mix. This mix was issued on the Apple LP/CD "Let It Be".
"The Long And Winding Road" was also issued as a single in North America on May 11 1970 with the catalogue number (Apple 2832). The B-side was "For You Blue".
"The Long And Winding Road" can be found on the following : Apple LP/CD "Let It Be", the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970", the Capitol/EMI 2-LP compilation "Love Songs", the Parlophone/EMI Capitol of Canada LP "The Beatles' Ballads", the Capitol/EMI compilation LP "Reel Music", the Capitol LP "The Beatles: 20 Greatest Hits" (north american issue only), the Apple/EMI compilation 2-LP/CD "1". The version heard on the Apple/EMI LP/CD "Let It Be...naked" is the version recorded on January 31 1969 (the same as heard in the movie).
Live performances by Paul McCartney include the 1975/1976 tours and a version of the song from this tour can be heard on the Capitol/EMI 3-LP/2-CD "Wings Over America". The version of "The Long And Winding Road" that appears on the movie soundtrack for "Give My Regards To Broad Street" was recorded at AIR studios in London in November 1983. This soundtrack version appears on the Columbia LP/CD "Give My Regards To Broad Street". Another live version came from a pre-tour rehearsal in April 1989 at Hog Hill in England. This is avialable on the Odeon/EMI (Japan only) CD "Flowers In The Dirt - Special Package". The song was also performed on the 1989-1990 tour resulting in it's inclusion on the EMI 3-LP/2-CD "Tripping The Live Fantastic" as well as the EMI LP/CD "Tripping The Live Fantastic - Highlights". The song was also performed at the 1993 "New World" tour. It was also performed during the 2002 tour and a version can be heard on the Capitol 2-CD "Back In the US" as well as on the EMI 2-CD "Back in The World". The song has also been performed at the 2005, 2008 and 2010 tours.