In his prime, Phil Spector produced timeless tracks and numerous chart-topping pieces… so even if his later years wouldn’t be as bright, since he would spend his last days in prison convicted for murder, Spector was the ‘it guy’ if you were looking for a brilliant producer to help you dominate the charts in the late 60s.
So, it wasn’t long before none other than the Beatles contacted him for a collaboration, and Phil, we might guess, readily accepted the offer. Well, when it comes to British rockers’ history with producers, perhaps, there’s no need to say how lucky they had while working with producer George Martin, whose brilliance led people often call him ‘the fifth Beatle.’
There were even times when the band left Martin to his own devices, giving him their blessings to produce some of their beloved tracks the way he thought would be the best. So, it might be only fair to say that the Fab Four never had any significant problems or trust issues while working with their producers.
The productions of ‘Let It Be,’ however, differed from the rest of their celebrated discography since it had been quite challenging for the band to focus on their music with all the inner conflicts and complex personal relationships. The band was on the edge of falling apart, though they tried their best to keep things together and carry on.
However, things didn’t improve for the better after the recording sessions; and it became even more challenging to show up in the studio and supervise the production sessions. Some sources even stated the former Beatle buddies had started to correspond only via letters, not bothering to meet and figure things out face to face.
These strained times left ‘Let It Be’ producer Spector to his own devices, but it wasn’t anything the band wasn’t used to. What they missed out was, though, when they used to leave Martin or any other producer to play around with the songs on their own, either Paul McCartney or John Lennon would always be present in the studio to direct the sessions or interrupt them to change some elements when they needed to.
With Phil, however, none of the Beatles appeared in the studio to help him produce the sessions, so with no directives, he took the creative vessel into his own hands and produced the ‘Let It Be’ tracks in the way he saw fit… and to no one’s surprise, some of those songs didn’t come out the way McCartney would’ve wished.
However, what bothered Paul most was the final version of his beloved track, ‘The Long and Winding Road,’ as Spector wasn’t shy when adding different elements and dimensions into the song, such as string arrangements and chorus sections. McCartney, however, had wished for a more sublime, calming version of the track, so he was pretty pissed.
The singer reportedly took his anger out on their then-manager, Allen Klein, writing him a letter demanding all those parts to be removed while furiously ‘advising’ him and Spector not to do anything like this ever again. Paul thought his beloved song was ruined, after all, and he was really annoyed, but despite his furious letter, no changes were made, and the song was released the way Phil produced it.
So, although ‘The Long and Winding Road’ became a chart-topping hit and a timeless Beatles track for many, McCartney surely regretted not being present for those production sessions and directing Spector the way he wished. It was apparent that the rocker still had regrets even years later the song was released, so he decided to record a ‘naked version’ of the track and share what he had hoped for initially.