Call me slow, but I just figured out why I never used to be that keen on The Long And Winding Road but how recently I’ve come to like it — and even find it quite emotional.
It’s not just because I’m getting old.
It’s because for years all I had was the original version from Let It Be, and now I have the revised Let It Be — Naked version (as well as a similar version from Anthology 3).
What’s the difference? The originally released one, as much as any song on the album, has Phil Spector’s “Wall Of Sound” thing happening, with loads of noise piled on top of the band… choir, harp, brass, orchestra, the full bit.
And it ruins it. Any emotion in Paul McCartney’s vocals is completely lost. It sounds like some dull cabaret jingle or something.
In fact I see now, this text on Wikipedia:
Paul McCartney in particular was always dissatisfied with the “Wall of Sound” production style of the Phil Spector remixes, especially for his song “The Long and Winding Road”, which he believed was ruined by the process.
Some songs need a certain rawness for the emotion to come out properly. The live version of WPA’s For A Short Time is another that springs to mind. Cover it up too much, and the performance loses its impact. (That song tugs at the heart strings for other reasons.)
If you’ve only heard the Spector version of Long And Winding Road, I highly recommend you check out the stripped-down one if you get the chance. (Unfortunately it doesn’t appear to be available on iTunes.)
Update: Ah, found it:
Someone else has uploaded the Spector version too.