The Beatles FAQ

Fun stuff about the Fab Four. Linked to The Beatles Teaching Pack

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Which song broke-up The Beatles?

The B842, Kintyre, Scotland
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.
from Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now,Barry Miles

The recording of The Beatles took a physical and psychological toll on all concerned. By late 1968 the group was close to collapse. There were several fault-lines but the most significant was  between Paul — desperate to save the musical marriage — and John and George, who wanted out. The rupture was irreconcilable but nobody was yet ready to break up the group .

Personal relations inevitably deteriorated. Most of the animus was directed against McCartney, who, despite his cheery public persona, was deeply affected. He retreated to his remote farm in Scotland to lick his wounds  and - Paul being Paul - write some new material.

The conscious intention was  to write a commercial ballad for a mainstream singer - Paul specifically had Ray Charles in mind. Yet what comes though to the listener is  intensely, if obliquely personal.

 At itis a melancholic reflection on the breaking down of key relationships in his life.  Most obviously this applies to his relationship with with his fellow Beatles. It may also be a meditation on the break-up with his ex-fiancee, Jane Asher. 

It had been Asher, who had encouraged him to buy the farmhouse in 1966. And the 'road' of the title is a real one, with very personal associations for the former couple. It passes close to High Park Farm and stretches away into the Highlands. 

The record

McCartney's musical instinct proved as sharp as ever.'  would become one of the most covered Beatles songs: a  particular favourite with crooners and torch singers. The recording of the original record, however, proved problematic. And the post-production, carried out by Phil Spector at the request of John Lennon, would bring many underlying resentments into the open.

The alleged mistreatment of  'The Long and Winding Road' would eventually be discussed in the High Court. There it was cited by Paul McCartney in evidence to  support his case for breaking up The Beatles.

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