Ukulele Video Lesson - The Long and Winding Road

This ukulele video lesson covers The Long and Winding Road, by The Beatles. This is one of their most well known hits and, like many of the songs that they wrote around this time in their career, it is complex, orchestrated and very well-developed melodically.

Chords and Structure

The Long and Winding Road is a classic ballad, using lush orchestration to emphasize the emotion in the lyrics and having a very soft interlude that is nearly impossible to forget. The song makes use of quite a few different chords, including Bm, G, D, D7, G, F#m, A and Em. In short, for a beginning player, this song presents plenty of opportunities to develop good chording skills and to develop good skills for transitioning between chords.

The song follows a relatively simple structure overall, with two verses sung in succession, an interlude, another verse, a coda and a variation on the verses to end the song.

The lush orchestration on the recording may make it difficult to follow the chord changes precisely. This is made more challenging by the fact that the chord changes don’t predictably follow the structure of the verse, and there is a great deal of slack sounding passages where McCartney transitions from one section to another before the rhythm picks up again.

There are also portions in the song where there is a noticeable feel of a slowing in tempo and dynamic changes that make it even more challenging. For an ensemble, this is a challenging piece to play but, done properly, it is also very striking. Even scaled down and played on far fewer instruments that are featured in the recording of the song, The Long and Winding Road is a powerful piece of music.

A Little About This Ukulele Video Lesson

Listening to the lyrics of the song, you may get the idea that McCartney talking to a former lover who abandoned him, but that is not the case. The song is actually about what was going on within The Beatles as a band, with the tension levels between the members rising at this point in their careers. The band, in fact, at that time, was well on their way to breaking up. The song was released in 1970, becoming one of the bands many number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

It is also notable for being the last number one song that the Beatles whatever have in the United States. After the song was released as a single, the band would never release another single again during the time that all of the band members were still living.

The song has a great deal of orchestration and an incredibly full sound. This is because it was produced by Phil Spector, who is famous for being able to create what was called a “wall of sound”, a technique that is used very well here.

Because of the wall of sound that characterizes this recording, it would be very difficult for an ensemble to pull off all of the parts. Fortunately, the song was actually written by Paul McCartney sitting in front of the piano and he didn’t have a huge orchestrated piece in mind when he wrote it. For that reason, it scales down very well and is still well worth the effort for a small ensemble wanting to learn to play one of the Beatles most well known songs.

The song has been covered by other artists over the years and remains one of the definitive songs of the Beatles ending era. It has also been rereleased in recent years, in a version that doesn’t have the wall of sound that Phil Spector added to the most well known recording.

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